Chain of Marketing

The Chain of Marketing pictures how a stranger transforms into a repeat customer who gives referrals for you.

Chain of Marketing - How Marketing Works

Links of the Chain of Marketing

Stranger - Interest

Every customer is just a stranger at first. The first link in the chain of marketing is creating interest; you cannot sell - anything, to anyone, ever - without interest.

You usually create the interest with advertising, but it's not by any means the only marketing method for pulling customers to you. For example referrals create much more interest than any advertising.

Effective marketing does NOT aim at interesting as many people as possible. The goal is to interest the "right" people.

Well-planned marketing is aimed carefully to the right people. The way you create interest greatly affects the rest of the chain of marketing and how each link works.

Listener - Connection

When the bystander is interested, you can create a personal connection. You don't necessarily have to talk with them personally. You can create the connection with the properties of the product, placement of you marketing, packaging, etc. The point is to tell the customer that your product is a good choice for them.

Your primary goal in this link is to get the customer to trust you and your product. "Insecurity and doubt kill the sale"; you won't even take a look at a product you don't believe to fit your needs.

If you chose the people you interested well, creating the connection isn't all that difficult.

Friend - Offer

You should never make the offer (or the call to action) before you've created the connection to the listener and built trust. A strong trust that you built earlier leads to easier sales. In the base case the customer trusts your judgement even more than their own.

The call to action tells the person what to do next. The action may not be buying, but instead signing up for an email newsletter etc.

The greater the trust you've built, the greater the action you can ask for.

A poor offer is a sure way to lose sales, but the more common problem is poor trust building. How much and how you need to build trust varies a lot. The necessary trust is directly proportionate to the action you're asking for.

Customer - Escalation

Customers who have purchased from you previously, are always easier to sell to more. But getting return customers isn't obvious.

Conditions for getting return customers:
  1. You need to have something more to sell. Not just any other product, but something that's valuable for them specifically.
  2. You need to know how to make a re-call to action. Upselling is both profitable and effective, you cannot shy away from it.
  3. You need to leave the idea of coming back. It doesn't matter if you did upsell or didn't; your customers always have to leave with a positive feeling.

The goal of escalating your relationship is upselling, but the condition for it is increased trust. The trustworthyness of your customer service is usually the biggest incentive or the biggest obstacle for upselling.

Return Customer - Referral

All people avoid risks in most situations. The most usual risk we face is something new.

There's always a risk involved when you try something new, so you tend to stick to what you already is good enough. New products, services, people, and companies always need to convince you of their harmlessness first.

A trusted referral often gives you more trust towards a company than your own experience.

You can and you should encourage your customers to give referrals. Referral marketing is a great way to get a steady flow of customers, but most companies completely forget to think about it.

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Content Marketing

Search for information

In the internet there are two types of people you can convert to customers. There are those who are actively looking for your services. And those who don’t know you have something to offer for them. Both types of people go to Google and look for keywords related to your products/services. To turn them into your customers you only need to be the source of the content they find. Simple? Yes. Easy? Yes?

Create useful content

Lets say you sell cars. Your potential customers can type these keyword phrases into Google: “how to buy a new car”, or “which Volvo is the best”. If you write an article that answers one of these questions your chances of being found increases. If you write a hundred similar articles, each answering one question, you’re even more likely to get new customers. But just writing these articles isn’t enough. They need to be found. The most important rule here is that the content has to be useful. Even if you get 1,000 new visitors but they all leave as soon as they come to your website, you gain nothing. At the same time if the content is useful there’s a chance they become your customers and tell their friends about you and your article. How to rank well in Google and other methods of being found are a topic for another post. Here I’ll concentrate on the types of content you can produce.

1. Answering questions

People use the internet to get answers to their questions. Your competitors are probably already using this opportunity. Chances are your niche is already populated with answers to the most common questions. But what about the less popular ones? “Where to buy a Volvo” gets 133,000,000 results, but “which one to buy V70 or S40″ only gets 30,400,000 results and none of them answer the question. This means you’d find it hard to rank well with the first phrase but the second would be quite simple. And with the second one you could illustrate your expertise. Writing similar articles isn’t difficult for an expert. And ranking well in Google with these articles is easier than with almost any other kind.

2. Customer service

This is actually a subcategory of the previous one about answering questions. Many people look for an answer from the internet before calling customer service. So many companies encourage people to go to their website first that it has become a habit. If you write your own FAQ and articles that cover the typical customer service inquiries you free up time from answering simple questions. (The downside is not speaking to customers and losing the possibility to create a relationship/sell more. In many situations it’s still more profitable to have the basic questions answered on your website.)

3. News

Whenever your company does something, yes anything, write an article about it. It can be really short even. As long as it’s something someone could find interesting: new products arriving, setting up a bargain sale, or even hiring a new person. You can write something about all of these topics. There are a few advantages to writing news (even small ones).

You seem active. Have you ever visited a company’s website where you see “Latest News”? And the latest update is a year old? It makes you wonder if the company even exists anymore.

You get found. A commonly agreed SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tip is to update regularly. This means more and regular updates (news) results in better rankings in Google (and other search engines).

They’re easy to write. It doesn’t take much time or effort to tell what’s going on at your company. Obviously you can make the story more interesting by writing well, but getting a simple message across is valuable too.

You create a relationship. Writing authentic stories about the life of your company and its employees builds relationships to readers. Readers feel like they know you even if they’ve never heard of you before. When they call you and you say something about a topic they read about, the feeling gets stronger.

4. Reviews or comparisons

Even if you sell cars you can review them and be credible. But you can only do this if you’re authentic. It’s always difficult to trust someone’s review if they also sell the product but there’s a way around this. Instead of reviewing individual products, compare two or more. And don’t make it a sales pitch! Everyone can see right through them. “This is the best option if you’re looking for this and that. And this is the best option if you’re looking for that and this.” these types of articles will only undermine your credibility. If you’re not willing to admit what’s not so great about a product, why should anyone trust you. But if you honestly share your expertise it will be valued by readers.

How to publish content?

A blog is the easiest way to publish content regularly. If you’re not quite sure what a blog is read this article. Ask your webmaster to create a blog function into your current website. Using it is as easy as writing with Microsoft Word. An emailing list is another great way to share content to interested people. The most popular (and probably the best) solution for managing an emailing list is AWeber. With it you can easily gather subscriptions and customize the emails (or make a template that is automatically sent with the latest blog updates). One especially beneficial way to use emailing lists is using a sequence of prewritten emails. The sequence starts when someone subscribes to your emailing list. Usually the first message is a welcoming message that tells what they can expect. Then maybe a week later they’ll receive their first prewritten email. It can highlight some of the best blog posts you’ve written or anything else you want them to find. The next email could be themed around a specific problem/product/idea. Along with the sequence emails regular emails about updates to your blog/news section will be sent automatically or manually if you so choose. An emailing list is a great and very cost-effective way to engage interested prospects. If you haven’t done so yet, I suggest you at least try it.

Do you use content marketing? How do you share the content you create? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences so share them in the comments below.