The beginning of a potential romance between two people can sometimes be a disastrous situation. Come on too strong, say the wrong thing, or try to rush into something one of you may not be ready for, and you've ruined all potential for a relationship. But for every laughable or miserable first date, we've all had an experience that stands out because of how nicely it started.
Every conversation I've had with my co-workers about this topic always comes to the same conclusion: the way someone expresses interest in you plays a huge role in whether or not you will be interested in return. And since we work in marketing, this of course brought us to the realization that dating is eerily similar to the process of winning clients and customers.
Check out our advice on courting your prospects, and make sure your relationships with customers not only start in the best way possible but continue to flourish for years to come!
First impressions matter
The way you introduce yourself to prospects and follow up with leads can make a big impact on whether or not you ultimately get their business. You want to seem put together, interesting, and worth learning more about. That's why nailing the first impression is so important. The more impressed they are, the more they'll want to learn about you. But don't go overboard in the first exchange!
When you're first reaching out, it's almost like a first date. You want your customer to recognize what your company does, but you don't want to give away too much. Make them want to learn more! Tease them with helpful content on your website and share it on social media. Don't immediately follow them on their own social accounts, but maybe do a little subversive stalking (we call it digital listening) to find out what's floating their boat. Let them come to you. Once they've made their interest in your company known, you can then follow up to see if you're a good fit. Which brings us to our next step...
Achieve the perfect balance
You wouldn't propose on a first date, so why would you expect your customers to bite the bullet and sign a contract with you right away? Don't come on too strong with an offer too soon. Spend time getting to know your customer, their challenges, and their needs. Then, let them learn a little more about you along the way.
Think of this stage in your sales cycle as the relationship that follows the first couple of dates. Let them learn more and more about you through a branding campaign that may include digital advertising, outdoor, traditional media and friendly events marketing. Capture email addresses as it makes sense and the experience feels right to your potential customer - especially from visitors to your website, those who express interest via downloads and interactive experiences, event attendees, one-time shoppers, etc. - and funnel them into an email lead-nurture campaign designed to be helpful and interesting.
By achieving the perfect balance of being helpful without being too sales-y, your prospects will grow more interested in what your business has to offer and move closer to making a purchase.
Timing is everything
Just like you wouldn't want to rush into the next step of a relationship before you're ready, you don't want to rush your sales process. With a targeted marketing campaign that nurtures your leads each step of the way, you will be able to tell who is engaging with your content and seems interested enough to make a purchase. You're don't want to risk "I love you" without hearing "I love you, too."
If this were a romantic relationship, this would be the point when you feel like you know the person is right for you and can start looking towards the future together. Now is the time to provide them with an offer for your product or service. You'll know enough to personalize your offer and can confidently spend the money and time designing high-quality creative that will deliver a solid return. Direct mail is worth the investment at this point.
Need a matchmaker?
So how do you meet people in the first place? You could wait for a serendipitous meet-cute, but that generally only happens in the movies. You can ask your friends to set you up, but they may not know anyone who's available. Or you can go online! Dating apps use algorithms designed to match you up with others who would potentially be good fits for you.
In marketing, we call this Marketing Science.
And at Alcott, the nerdy way we do it is by analyzing customer data to find out what kind of people you're already attracting, identifying which ones among them are the absolute best fit for you, then locating lots of others in the world who aren't already your customers, and - finally - turning those prospects into your customers. Check out this graphics-oriented page for more details on how we do it.
Continue the courtship
After all of your well-planned and strategic marketing efforts, you and your new customer can ride off into the sunset together. Right? Well.... Not exactly. You can't expect your love to flourish if you suddenly stop doing all those nice things you did to win it in the first place. Remember birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates - and say thank you regularly for their business. Surprise your people with special somethings and delightful new initiatives. A loyalty program is a great idea for your existing customers, as is a regular newsletter to let them know what you're up to. So is being plain old thoughtful.
Need help winning and keeping customers?