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), underlined by one or more strategies (a defining policy or action statement). These strategies are then accomplished through the use of a series of tactics or action steps.
Quick definition of marketing
Before we get to the 8 touchstones of marketing, let me introduce you to another definition of marketing:
Marketing is a two-way interaction with the public, potential customers and colleagues to present the best side of a company to them. He does this to inform and persuade them of the benefits of buying from that company.
The 8 touchstones
I see a lot of small businesses whose marketing plan is simply to open their doors, physical or digital, and wait for people to come in. As has been said elsewhere, “hope is not a strategy.”
The next step is to open the doors and then find a way to yell, “I’m here!” That’s a little better, but what do you do when people really show up?
Your marketing plan should include tactics to inform people about the benefits of doing business with your company. But once contact is made, you need to take them along a path to keep them informed and happy, and take them to a place where they will buy from you.
Your marketing plan should have these touchstones, in this order:
Find potential customers (“A potential customer is anything with a heartbeat”) by communicating with the public
Convert these raw leads into prospects (people who have an interest in your product or service) by starting an informational relationship with them.
Help persuade potential customers to make a purchase.
Help new customers find joy in their purchase (minimize buyer regret)
Persuade existing customers to buy more / more often
Help people go from being customers (buyers of service products) to business fans.
Help fans find more prospects (become unpaid sales / marketing reps for the company)
The cycle begins again
Line vs Spiral
Essentially, your marketing plan is about helping, or guiding, people through the steps of being a lead, a prospect, a first-time buyer, a happy repeat customer, a fan, a sales rep, and unpaid marketing.
Many entrepreneurs think of moving through this marketing process as one line. It’s probably not a straight line, but they see it as following the steps: first A, then B, then C, etc. However, this process is actually a cycle; it starts in one place and then moves until it reaches that starting point one more time.
Of course, when you get to the starting point, you will be able to select more people to insert into your marketing process. But one of the goals of moving people through this process is to lift them higher than they were. For example, a cycle can be explained as taking a person from being a potential customer to a potential customer, to getting them to make their first purchase. Now they are back at Point A, and this is where many marketers drop the ball. They put the new customer on the same level as people who have never bought from the company! The idea here is to raise these new customers a notch and help them feel comfortable enough to make more purchases from the company. While the strategy is the same (“Help them feel happy enough to make a purchase”), the tactics are different at this level (for example: instead of a discount on the price of a single item, you give them a higher discount depending on the volume of purchases). In this cycle, you want to go from being a first time buyer to a happy repeat customer to a business fanatic.
These cycles should be an upward spiral. You may be bringing clients onto “the same old ground,” but since you are both familiar with the process, you can use more detailed and intricate techniques to interact with them. For example, you may have added a lead to your list with just their name and email address. When they make their first purchase, you can add more detailed information to your record; last name, address, date of birth and telephone number. You can then continue by asking them for even more detailed information about themselves. If you’ve developed the relationship well enough, they should be happy to provide it for you.
Of course, the 8 touchstones by themselves are almost useless. You have to put together a plan of effective tactics that allow you to help people move through the 8 Touchstones. We will discuss them in much more detail soon!
I welcome comments, questions, and suggestions. Just post them below!