Editor’s note: Over the past several weeks, Boating Industry has presented a series of articles by marketing consultant Thaddeus Kubis about adapting to the changing realities of marketing to today’s consumer. This is the final installment – click here to read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five.
We are almost at our destination; our journey has taken us from our homeport to the new port of new business, growth and profits. Now we need to enter the harbor of profits and enjoy our efforts.
Most marketers look to a sale as the end, the last stop on the buying train, and some are relieved when the sale is made. WRONG! The sale is the beginning of a relationship that will provide referrals, cross-selling and the ability to up sell, and a long-term plan to allow you to develop trust and make your brand an evoked brand—one that is looked at as that one safe, secure island in a world of storms, bad business practices, and, in some cases, even worst-liked brands.
Don’t kid yourself or your firm. The end result for MOST marketing efforts is a sale. The timeline of that closing may be quick or extended, but in the end a sale is the goal. Customers/prospects know this, and they will play the game to get the most out of you at every turn. Buyers, those that are identified via your sales funnel as being the closest to a sale as possible, need to see you play the game, and each prospect has their own rules to play by.
Buyers need to be kept in the groove, the sweet spot of the pre-sale via the correct balance of marketing materials—devices that are based on the AIDA/RIIM processes mentioned earlier. All your sales tools must be consistent with your brand and the consumer/customer-centric messaging you have developed. Caveat emptor, or “let the buyer beware,” is now caveat venditor, or “let the seller beware.” The bulk of buyers, no matter what demographic, are more knowledgeable, interactive, and reliant on content, context, messaging, and media than ever before. The media selected, the messaging presented, the integration, and the interaction with the response tools will impact your message and, yes, the social image your brand has developed.
Look to leads not as buyers but a resource to learn how to get them to buy a product that they want or to consider a product that you offer. Not every lead is a sale; not every lead is worth the effort. Knowing what leads are potentially sales is often more important than the lead itself. Buyers become a sale, but dialogue and engagement does not end there. This is the starting point of what you hope will be a long and jointly profitable experience.
A sale does not always mean profit, but a sale is the start of a new expanded relationship, built upon all your marketing efforts to date. A sale, as with the customer/prospect, must be correctly nurtured. Once you “sell” a boat, the relationship, now changed, begins anew. New tools, new messaging, and a new POV is needed and, more importantly, expected. Customers, those leads that become prospects, now look upon themselves as a your “A-Team”, a private club that trusted, bonded, believed, drank your lemonade, and made a complex decision positive on your behalf. They are looking each and every day to verify, prove they made the correct decision. And, in turn, those that make the leap of faith to your brand need to be “evangelized” constantly.
A satisfied customer is open to cross- or up-selling. A satisfied and engaged customer can be considered your referral portal. What can you do to get that happy evoked customer to “sell” your products others? The tools you use, the messaging, the contact you provide during the post-sales segment are future-looking sales tools.
Referral, up-selling, cross-selling programs are the foundation of your profitable future, but if you leave the customers on their own as soon as they make the purchase, much of your marketing effort has been wasted. Have you ever considered what brands focus extensively on their award type efforts, why they will do almost anything to survey you after the sales process? Future sales are easier to make if the customer is a happy boater!
Profits and the end game
Our end result, our businesses, are built on the ability to grow, based on profits. The end game is a term I use to determine what is the goal of my marketing efforts. Is my desire, or goal, to build brand (low immediate profits expectations), sell products (high, short-, and long-term profit expectations), gain leads, introduce a new product, change my product line, communicate with prospects or customers? Determining your end game means understanding your goals and expectations as well as activating a marketing effort based on M+EPIRB=P.
Over the past years, I have purchased many sailboats, a few powerboats and endless supporting accessories. Few brands met all my expectations, most did not even meet some, or a fraction of my expectations. Only one brand exceeded my expectations, far exceeded in fact. That is my evoked brand, a brand that will get my money as soon as I make the decision to buy a new boat. That does not mean I did not like each product; no, in fact I loved each and every product (excluding accessories) I purchased, loved them in different ways. What I did not like was the feeling of exclusion after the sale was made, the feeling or expression from the seller that silently stated, “We got this one. Let us move on.”
No brands I ever supported, even my evoked brand, invested in attempts to upsell or cross sell me. Most called on the anniversary of my purchase (for a few years) and asked how was it going, and that was it. My experience in the non-luxury boating industry is not alone. Nearly all my friends and business associates who have made the boating leap of faith feel the same. All have experienced this lost process. Many feel that their decision to make the “buy” was their decision, owned by them, and, in many cases, that the “seller” lost the “sale” multiple times during the process. But, as buyer, they were committed to forgo the mistakes and make the buy. Part of this success was the engagement process and a full commitment to the M+EPRIB=P program.
Think about what your sales, your profits, what your future would look like if you had the buyers or your side and kept them happy and made their day!