If there is one person who needs to see the big picture, clearly it’s your CEO. So here’s an elegantly simple, easy-to-explain model for how all of the new marketing works. You can hang virtually every piece of modern marketing on this model and make it as simple or complex as you choose.
First you have to be on the prospect’s radar. Brands don’t necessarily start out with awareness, so step one is to get noticed. This has always been the job of advertising and, despite all of the changes, it still is. However, acquisition marketing is probably the most costly marketing you will do, so the idea is to do as little of it as possible.
The good news is that acquisition marketing doesn’t have to carry the entire burden of the value proposition anymore. It can still show you how beautiful the car is, but the game is usually won or lost in digital channels, or at the point of sale.
Selecting the right acquisition tactics to connect your brand to your prospects should be based on the Consumer Decision Journey. This is like the path to purchase, but goes farther to include after the sale. Plot the Consumer Decision Journey for each customer segment that you are targeting. The purpose of making these maps is so you can identify the key touch points, decide where you should engage, and get insights into the consumer psychology at each connection point so you know how to engage.
In constructing the “Connect” piece of the plan, there are, of course, many digital and traditional tactics to choose from. The advantage of digital tactics, however, is that prospects are only a click away from what should be the strongest presentation of your value proposition that you can create.
When you connect with a prospect, you open the door, but it’s only a beginning. The mission then becomes to “Cultivate” that initial awareness into some measure of brand preference. Most people need to be cultivated over time before they become buyers.
The goal is to have brand preference established before the final purchase evaluation begins. Imagine if you could identify everyone who could, at some point, be interested in buying your brand, connect to them, and then create a relationship channel that stays open and active. When the time comes that they become ready to buy, you would already have a proprietary marketing channel into them. And if you’ve previously laid out your value proposition and created brand preference, then most of the heavy lifting would already be done.
We all talk about creating relationships, but what you are really looking for is an ongoing dialogue where the consumer gives you information in exchange for the value they receive. You capture and use that information, through the open connection you’ve created, to make your pitch more personally relevant and thus more compelling and persuasive.
A cultivation program can take many forms, but overall it should, over time, get smarter about each connected consumer and deliver increasingly personalized value. This requires capturing data and using it to inform tactics and communications at the segment and individual level.
The third component is “Convert.” As the name implies, this describes what you are really looking for: the conversion of all this effort into sales. It also includes the idea of making converts, or brand ambassadors, who will spread the word with user-generated content (UGC) in social channels and in life.
Conversion can happen in many ways and has many influences. But in an effort to direct and manage it, you have the opportunity to present the most compelling case for your brand on your Web site and on your social properties. One of your first priorities, therefore, becomes to drive prospects to these controlled environments where you can give them the most comprehensive, personalized presentation of your value proposition. Of course, it’s not quite that simple because most people will not close on the first try; that is where cultivation through a CRM program and marketing automation step in.
As you grapple with this increasingly complex marketplace, “Connect, Cultivate and Convert” is a useful framework that ladders down to the whole panoply of marketing execution.