Don’t Take Your Customer On A Journey To Nowhere
Each element of your marketing/messaging should have a designated purpose. No exceptions. Each should be moving the target (customer or influencer) through some element of your selling cycle. This sounds very obvious and nobody would think that their own marketing plans have “dead ends” embedded in them. Au contraire – these dead ends are fairly prevalent, and it is not just “those other guys”.
Remember, marketing is all centered around driving behavior change. After someone has experienced your marketing activities, you expect them to do something differently. Buy something, call your toll free number, go to your web site, etc. You are expecting them to DO SOMETHING. So . . . you have to make it easy for them to know what to do next. Simple right? The harsh reality is it is “so simple” that it is often overlooked.
Each marketing activity, large or small plays a role in advancing the target toward your ultimate goal. In other words – each component of your marketing mix has a role in guiding your target along the conversion path (changing their behavior in some way). Each activity the target is exposed to is one step on this journey. Every activity should prepare them for their next step in the process. Therefore it is critical you make sure it is clear what that next step is! See my post on Customer Journey Mapping
I have seen many instances in which firms dedicate web pages to “FYI content” with no clear indication as to what they should do next. Unfortunately this leads to a dead end – with the user left with a virtual instance of throwing their hands up in the air. In this case – the “what’s next” is likely to be leaving the site. Although they may actually nod their head in agreement before clicking out of your site.
Examples of Dead Ends (Digital and Non-Digital)
Some additional real-life examples of not considering “what’s next” include:
- Pages on the site with product information with no clear path to purchase
- Printed literature pieces that describe products or services with no listed mechanism for the target to obtain additional information
- Home pages dedicated to about us information with no easy path to the user to “learn more”
- Just saw this one: A printed listing of “Upcoming Events” with dates listed but no times or location listed. There was a phone number. It is a stretch to think people will make a phone call to get information that should have been clearly presented to them.
To avoid placing your valuable targets in limbo, always ask the question “When the target is done consuming/experiencing this activity, what’s next for them? If you have provided them with a clear path that they can easily navigate, fantastic. If you cannot answer that basic question, you have created a dead end in your customer journey.
Providing your targets with a clear next step is no guarantee they will take that step. However, not having it clearly defined guarantees a dead end for the target and poor results for your marketing efforts.
To Succeed Faster, Consider Embracing Failure
No one builds a marketing campaign to fail, right? While you certainly don’t want to fail intentionally, it is the failure itself that often paves the way to future success. Think of small failures as progress, not as setbacks. Thomas Edison “failed” 10,000 times before he hit on the right combination of elements for the first light bulb. When asked about his “failures” he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. Edison knew that each failed attempt brought him one step closer to success.
Marketers often set out to try to construct a “perfect” marketing campaign— (with all of the associated time and money spent developing), only to discover that it doesn’t remotely match expectations when it actually goes live. The thrill of the launch is often quickly met with extreme disappointment. Those same marketers are faced with not only the poor performance of the campaign itself, but also the extra time and money spent on it. Worst of all, the window of opportunity may have closed, with customers often moving on to something else while marketers keep working away in their ivory tower.
There’s a better way, but it involves a different mindset. You need to embrace failure—failing quickly and more often. Why? Because the quick failures allow you to realign strategies and get you much closer to success. A dynamic campaign with a responsive feedback mechanism allows you to make necessary adjustments on an ongoing basis. The feedback you get on these less-than-perfect early efforts makes it possible to make real progress quickly, making valuable changes that your customers will respond to.
So, how do build a marketing campaign to fail (succeed faster)?
- Build your campaign in “chunks”. Deploy in phases which will make adjustments easier (and faster).
- Start with a concept test and get quick feedback. There’s no reason to build a whole campaign around a concept that doesn’t engage your customers.
- Act on your feedback as quickly as possible. Your feedback system must gather your metrics and present them to the development team for analysis and next actions.
- Tweak the effort Now that you know what your customers like and what they don’t, time to make some quick adjustments.
- “Rinse and repeat”. Re-deploy it, get feedback, and make more changes.
The faster your campaign fails, the faster you can get to work on improving it, and turning it into something that your customers will respond to.
When you are developing your new marketing campaign, Don’t try to be perfect—it takes too long and you’ll end up missing your window!
Yesterday we mentioned the importance of following the first key step in marketing – finding out what the customer wants.
For some reason even thought his is EXTREMELY important, it often goes ignored. We often kid ourselves into thinking we are so smart we can “figure out” what the customers need. After all, we are “experts”.
The true leaders in this field do not even bother wasting their time to “figure it out”. In fact, the best of the best don’t even worry about asking people their opinions and desires (they could get some bias – more on that another time). They realize that actions speak louder than words, and devote their energies to observing behavior.
So the goal is to figure out what customers want – spend most of your time on this. If you can’t practically observe customer actions and tendencies, then go ahead and ask them. Once you have this, finding a way to get it to them becomes much easier.
Spending over 25 years doing marketing of various sorts, I have come to realize some simple truths. First of all many folks try to paint the profession of marketing as some sort of elusive pursuit that can only be accomplished by a select few who have been blessed with the genius required to unlock these mysteries and create an effective marketing campaign.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of examples of “bad marketing” out there in this world of ours. However a lot of it originates from these so called “experts”. My point here today is to explain to you that you dont have to be a “genius” to create and implement an effective marketing plan. It involves two key steps.
- Find out what the customer wants.
- Find a way to get them what they want
There it is – the secret recipe for marketing genius! Simple – yes. Easy – NO!!!! people often get wrapped up in trying to figure out what number 2 is, that they forget the important first step.
More on these key steps in our next post. Stay tuned!