March 23, 2015
Lead Generation Marketing
Beneath all the industry jargon, marketing is a lot like dating. And everything it takes to build a good dating relationship. Trust. Listening. Empathy. Time to get to know each other. And commitment. When we see marketing through this lens, it helps to think through the customer journey from the perspective of the customer. The relationship starts cold - strangers meeting for the first time. Then a steady stream of interactions and early impressions lead to decisions that build your relationship while shifting their status from stranger to evaluator, customer, and eventually, promoter. So without further adieu, here’s how marketing is like dating.
Generating leads is like finding dates
Notice any similarities? In your lead generation strategy, before you jump to “Do I need to be on Twitter?!” or “We need to buy ads now!!”, there’s foundational questions you need to ask. Questions like:
- Who is our ideal audience?
- What do they care about?
- What are their problems?
- Where do they hang out?
- Where do they go for information?
This is the beginnings of studying your customer, rooted in empathy. When you know who your customers are and what that makes them tick, quality customer journeys will naturally flow out of that. Making it easy to find you is key for marketing and dating. Putting yourself on a dating website is the digital marketing equivalent of search engine optimization, blogging, social engagement, and nurturing. If what you’re offering is remarkable, there’re people out there looking for you. From the list above, the most effective way to meet a qualified lead (date) is being intro’d by a mutual connection who knows both of you. Because there’s already trust. You already trust the person making the introduction, so a portion of that trust is passed on when the introduction is made. Once you find each other, up next is seeing if it’s a good fit.
Qualifying leads is seeing if you’re interested
Early on in the dating relationship there’s a lot of important questions that need be answered: Am I attracted to this person? Do we have similar values? What stage of life are they in? Do they smell weird? These are high-level dealbreakers. If they don’t match up, this relationship isn’t going anywhere. The same is true for marketing. Early on in the relationship you and your potential customer are asking important questions too: is this a person or company we want to work with? Is the pricing within budget? Do we have similar values? Does this product meet my needs? Especially at this stage, tailored, personalized messaging is key. This’ll help leads decide if you’re right for each other. Even if someone isn’t a fit for your product or service because of budget, timeline, or need, don’t be a jerk in breaking it off because you’ll never know who they’ll refer you to. Customer stories spread widely, especially bad ones.
Nurturing leads is about getting to know one another
If you ask someone to marry you the first time you meet them, odds are they’re going to say no. Just like if you ask for a sale the first time someone hears about your product, you’re going to get rejected most of the time. In fact, only 27% of new leads are ready and willing to engage with sales while the remaining 73% are not there yet. Staying engaged with the 73% is essential. The relationship needs nurturing, as timing is everything. The customer is trying to find out: Can you be trusted? Do you know what you’re talking about? Will you play your part in the relationship if we move forward? At this stage of the relationship, you’re showing expertise and nurturing your cold leads into becoming warmer leads who are ready to engage further to discuss business. You want to stay on the mind of these early-stage researchers by providing valuable content, including industry insights, best practices, community reviews, and customer case studies. In other words, help them out. And mix in some humor, beauty, and surprise along the way to keep it interesting. The lead nurturing toolkit gives you the best of breed apps you need to get going for this stage of the relationship. Signs that you are close to re-engaging directly are when a qualified lead visits the pricing page, clicks on multiple emails, or downloads numerous whitepapers. This means a buying cycle is near, and it’s time to assign this lead to a real person or escalate them into a track that creates a more personal experience.
Assigning leads is when the positive tension builds
Once your lead is assigned or escalated, the serious flirting starts and you know a decision point is coming soon. Whether this a free SaaS trial, a meeting with a sales rep, or a visit to the store, it’s going to go one way or another. Sale or no sale. Couple or no couple.
Closing leads is like tying the knot
Your lead closes or converts and you make it official. It takes an incredible amount of trust to pull out your wallet and buy something. Especially if it’s a big purchase. Just like it takes a lot of trust to become an item with someone else. At this point, in both dating and marketing, there’s enough trust, connection, and commitment where everyone involved is willing to take the risk of this next stage in the relationship.
Becoming customers for life is like sharing anniversary after anniversary
Becoming a customer is a big milestone, but only the beginning of a lifelong relationship. Ideally. There are many benefits to staying in a long-term relationship. Reduced illness. Longer life. The same is true with your customers. It’s cheaper to keep customers than it is to acquire new ones, and increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. It pays to keep customers happy. So do everything you can to avoid losing them. And have some fun with it. Not to mention, the longer people are your customers, the more likely they are to refer a friend to you or just talk about you all the time. The best example of this are Apple fanboys and fangirls. They’ll wait for days to score a new iPhone or bring up Mac products in every single conversation. Your goal at this stage is to keep solving customer problems, keep delivering great products, keep creating great content, keep refining your customer journeys, keep inviting to events, keep talking, and keep listening. To keep investing in the relationship. From time to time, it’s important to do a status check of your relationship by assessing your Net Promoter Score. More than almost any other business metric, this gives you no-BS insight into how your customers feel about you, as well as easy directions on quick wins and ways to improve so you can live happily ever after.
Tying it all together
Better customer relationships are profitable. Trust leads to more purchases and recommendations. Empathy leads to better products and services. Loyalty leads to higher customer lifetime value. This isn’t fluffy BS marketing speak. It’s common sense. Building better relationships will build your business for the long haul. Marketing is a lot like dating. But, there is a big difference between dating and the marketing: you can use marketing software like Autopilot to automate a lot of the process. Automation doesn’t work with dating ;). Do you think marketing is like dating? Or do you think we’re wacko? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.