How long for marketing to really work?
Whatever you do, don't hold your breath while waiting for marketing to take affect. Instead, hold your horses because it's not going to happen instantly. How long does it take for a prospect to become a customer? Well, let's first look into the chemistry of prospects. Prospects are like you except that they're probably doing business with one of your competitors. Fortunately for you, that competitor most likely doesn't know the full meaning of follow-up, with the result that most customers feel ignored after the sale.
These are among your hottest prospects. They already do business with a company such as yours and may be disenchanted because they've been left alone after making their purchase. That's why guerrillas identify their best prospects and then begin the courtship process. It is a courtship and it is a process. Armed with that insight, you can transform them into customers.
Most business owners contact prospects once or twice, and if they don't show an interest, the business owners move on to greener territories, on to the non-existent Land of Instant Gratification. Guerrillas continue romancing those they are courting. Eventually, those prospects feel so cared for, so important, so attended to, that they switch over and begin to patronise the guerrilla who never stops courting.
How long does it take until this happens? Try seven years on for size. That's the outside. It could happen in a month, even a week or less if the prospects are in the market right now and neglected by their former supplier. But it probably won't happen soon and it most assuredly won't happen if you ignore them after contacting them once or twice. Remember that prospects have minds that are more open than you think. Allegiances that are lost every day, allegiances gained every day. The guerrilla marketers don't lose them because they recognise the slow motion process of gaining them. When they speak to prospects, they do not talk about their businesses or their industries. They talk about the prospects themselves. When guerrillas talk about the problems facing prospects, they gain even more attention. And when they talk about solutions to these problems, they still see things from the prospects' points of view and talk from that mindset.
People patronise the businesses they do for an enormously wide variety of reasons. Often, it's location, though the internet is changing that in a hurry. Frequently, it is mere habit. Guerrillas know in their bones that the prime reason is the buyers have confidence in the sellers. That is closely followed by the quality of the offering. And next comes service. After service comes selection and fifth comes price. To some people, fewer than 20 per cent, price is the number one criterion. But those attracted by price make the most disloyal customers. Guerrillas build their businesses on loyal customers. Possessed with that insight, they do all in their power to maintain loyalty, by recognising the customer and using his or her name, by talking about personal things, by listening very carefully and sincerely to what their customers are saying. Listening is considered one of the most crucial parts of follow-up. It's no surprise that people patronise businesses that listen to them.
Many marketers create their marketing under the ridiculous assumption that prospects are asking "Who are you? What is your product or service? When are you open? Where are you located?" The only real question in the prospect's mind is "Why should I care?" Here's what they're thinking: It's not "tell me a story about you." Instead, it's "tell me a story about me. Tell me how you can save my time, increase my income, reduce my stress, bring more love into my life, cause people to think highly of me." If you can't talk to them about those things, leave those prospects alone because you're wasting their time and your money.
Another insight possessed by guerrillas is that people patronise business that can offer things to change their lives for the good. Sometimes these are huge things, such as cars and computers. But usually they're not. After all, how much can a new shirt or a new paper stock for stationery change a life? Not much, but you've still got to be thinking in those terms. Keep in mind that people are attracted to businesses that have established credibility. You get it with superb marketing and commitment to a plan. Marketing continues to be a blend of art, science, business and patience. It works. But it rarely works instantly. That's why the most crucial ingredient in the blend called marketing is your own patience.
- The author has written the Guerrilla Marketing series of books. The views expressed are his own
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