Regardless of your definition of marketing, there is a process associated with marketing your business, products, and services. This process or plan should be framed as one or more goals (I prefer SMART goals), underlied by one or more strategies (a defining statement of action or policy). These strategies are then accomplished by using a series of tactics, or action steps.
Quick Marketing Definition
Before we get to the 8 Touchstones of Marketing, let me prop yet another definition of marketing up in front of you:
Marketing is a two-way interaction with the public, prospects, and peers to present them with the best face of a business. You do this to inform and persuade them of the benefits of purchasing from that business.
The 8 Touchstones
I see a lot of small businesses whose marketing plan is merely to open their doors – physical or digital – and hope for people to storm in. As has been said elsewhere, “Hope is not a strategy.”
The next step up is to open the doors, and then find a way to shout, “I’m here!” That’s a little better, but what do you do when people actually show up?
Your marketing plan should include tactics for informing people about the benefits of doing business with your company. But once contact is made, you need to move them along a path to keep them informed and happy, and lead them to a place where they’ll purchase from you.
Your marketing plan should have these touchstones, in this order:
- Find leads (“A lead is anything with a heartbeat”) by communicating with the public
- Turn these raw leads into prospects (people who have an interest in your product or service) by starting an informative relationship with them
- Help persuade prospects to make a purchase
- Help new customers find joy in their purchase (minimize buyer’s remorse)
- Persuade existing customers to purchase more/more often
- Help people move from being customers (purchasers of services products) to fans of the business
- Help fans find more prospects (become unpaid marketing/sales reps for the business)
- Start the cycle all over again
Line vs Spiral
Essentially, your marketing plan is about helping – or guiding – people through steps from being a lead, to a prospect, to a first-time buyer, to a happy repeat customer, to fan, to unpaid marketing & sales representative.
Many entrepreneurs think of moving through this marketing process as a line. Probably not a straight line, but they see it as following the steps – first A, then B, on to C, etc. However, this process is actually a cycle; it starts in one place, and then moves around until it arrives at that starting point once again.
Sure, when you arrive at the starting point, you can pick up more people to insert into your marketing process. But one of the objectives of moving people along this process is to raise them higher than they were. For instance, one cycle can be explained as taking a person from being a lead, to a prospect, to getting them to make their first purchase. Now they’re back at Point A, and this is where a lot of marketers drop the ball. They leave the new customer on the same level as people who’ve never bought from the company! The idea here is to raise these new customers up a level, and help them become comfortable enough to make more purchases from the business. While the strategy is the same (“Help them feel happy enough to make a purchase”), the tactics are different on this level (for example: instead of a price discount on a single item, you give them a larger discount based on volume purchases). On this cycle, you want to move them from first-time purchaser, to happy repeat customer, to fan of the business.
These cycles should be an upward spiral. You might be bringing the customers over “the same old ground,” but since both of you are familiar with the process, you can use more detailed and intricate techniques to interact with them. As an example, you might have added a prospect to your list with just their first name and email address. When they make their first purchase, you can add more detailed info to their record; last name, address, birth date, and phone number. You might then go on to ask them for even more detailed information about themselves. If you’ve developed the relationship well enough, they should be happy to provide it.
Of course, the 8 Touchstones by themselves are nearly useless. You have to put together a plan of effective tactics that allow you to aid people in moving through all 8 Touchstones. We’ll be discussing those in much more detail soon!