In previous newsletters we have talked about the "Buy Cycle" of our customers' customers. Today I want to talk about the "Buy Cycle" of
our clients and prospects.
Many of you have shared with me that calling on prospective customers is harder today than ever. Business people are worried about saving their companies and buying advertising is the last thing on their minds. Getting them to talk with us depends on our approach. We covered the approach we should use in the April 8 newsletter.
- A prospect must have a problem and be willing to admit it.
- The prospect begins to develop criteria to solve his problem.
- The prospect investigates options to obtain those criteria.
- The prospect evaluates the risk.
- The prospect makes a decision: Yes, No, Not at this time.
- The prospect implements the decision.
- He evaluates the results.
Step 1: In previous times, when we called a prospect, we didn't know if he had a problem or what that problem might be. Today we know that
every business we call has a problem: COVID-19. How COVID-19 affects each business will be different (completely shut down, serving remotely, less staff, drop in revenue) but we know the problem is there.
Step 2: By this point in the crisis, the prospect has already
developed criteria to deal with COVID-19. He may have laid off staff, applied for government programs, changed his method of serving clients. Cutting advertising may be an option to save money. Only the bold businesses think of adding advertising.
Step 3: If the business has made substantial changes in how they serve customers, they will need to
let potential customers and current customers know how their methods have changed. I saw an abundance of banners outside businesses stating "Curbside service" "Take out only" "Drive through" and thought that the banner business was doing a banner business! Some may have turned to radio to get the message out. I HOPE you were reaching out to your current customers to change their messages early on. That was the secret to mitigating damage for our stations and for our clients.
Step 4: If we have offered a prospective business a plan to help them deal with the results of COVID-19, they will
evaluate the risk in saying, "Yes" to our plans. Whether they buy or not is all about "risk" versus "reward". It's our job to minimize the risk. Is this hard to do right now when information about "risk" is all we are hearing? You bet. But it's our job to do so. And may I offer that "price" doesn't do much to mitigate the risk. It may help a bit, but showing we are partnering with the customer, maybe by adding extra commercials to schedules, may do more. Business people want to feel we are in this with them, not trying to take advantage. IF you genuinely believe that using radio NOW will help businesses to weather this interruption better and will position them to rebound higher and more quickly when it passes, then you can pass that belief to your prospects.
"The quickest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want."
Step 5: Your prospect will
make a decision. Some will say, "No" either because they view the risk as too great or truly have no money. They were on the edge before and COVID-19 has pushed them over. Some will say,"Not right now". I know you've heard that a lot as current customers push back schedules, take a hiatus, or cancel. Some will recognize the opportunity to increase market share with greater share of voice and will say, "Yes".
Step 6: He will
implement the decision.
Step 7: Over the next few days or weeks, he will
evaluate the results. If a business is completely shuttered but continues to advertise anyway, seeing measurable results will need to wait for some time. Those who are open may hear response quickly. Changes in operating hours, serving methods, new delivery options will communicate quickly to customers. But no matter which option your prospect chooses, stay close to them. If they have said, "No" or "Not now" they may quickly ascertain that it's not working. Things are getting much worse. They may recognize that the business down the street that IS messaging is much busier.
Business people need us more than ever before. They are too busy keeping their business going to think about advertising messages. Most aren't particularly good at this even in normal times. This is our job! We are the marketing experts. We know how to craft messages to move customers. If we may provide solutions to our current clients and our prospects in these challenging times, we will create long-term lasting relationships. We will become the "go-to" person for marketing advice.
Meet your prospects at Step 1 and 2. Give them options in Step 3. Reassure with stories of successful businesses who advertised even in the worst of times in Step 4. Whatever his decision in Step 5, walk with him through Steps 6 and 7.
This crisis will pass and when it does, the relationships we have strengthened during these few months will propel us upward.
Happy Serving and Happy Selling!