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When it comes to growth and increasing your sales figures, everyone knows it’s far easier to sell to your pre-existing customers than selling to completely new prospects. But, a lot of businesses struggle with how to sell to their pre-existing clientele.
Other than the odd seasonal promotion, the majority of the marketing efforts are normally directed towards the acquisition of new clients.
After all, they have already bought from you, they know where you are and how to order, surely marketing to them is just overkill and a waste of budget?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many businesses fail to reach their true potential, simply due to not having a dedicated marketing strategy in place for their pre-existing customers.
To make sure this strategy is as effective as possible, there are certain things that need to be taken into consideration – one of these being buyer behaviour.
By examining how our buying audience behaves, we cannot only influence (in a positive way) them into making a purchase, but we can speed up the frequency with which they make repeat or complementary orders from us.
The first thing to consider is why your customers bought your product or service?
This may seem like a daft question but "because they wanted it" is not an adequate answer. We need to dig deeper, we need to understand why they really bought.
So, ask yourself why did they want it? Keep asking why till you run out of answers. Every purchase made is either because the buyer wants or needs what the product can give them.
They either believe it will alleviate a problem/make life a little easier, improve their status with a peer group or fulfil a legislated requirement (such as car insurance).
Which category does your product fall into?
If it was to solve a problem or improve their status, what is it about your product that does that? Or was it because it can improve the customer’s perceived status?
Some people will refuse to admit it, but we all make purchasing decisions based on status. We buy a particular brand or latest innovation because our friends, family, colleagues or peers will admire us for making the decision to buy that particular item.
Once we understand the reasons why someone would buy, the next consideration is to examine standard behavioural traits and stages that every buyer goes through.
By understanding this behaviour, we can ensure that our follow-up marketing has maximum impact.
Below are the common stages that your buyers will go through, in order from when they have made the purchase, with suggestions on the type of marketing material you should be using during this phase to ensure they come back to make another purchase as quickly as possible!
During this phase, your purchaser will be on a high! Before the purchase is made, the anticipation of that purchase and excitement crescendos. Whilst a buyer is waiting for an item that will be delivered (e.g. from an ecommerce style of business), dopamine is released in their brain.
Following a study that examined a “cue, work, reward” sequence with chimpanzees, it was found that the more frequently the reward was given the higher the level of dopamine released. In other studies on dopamine release and shopping, it was found that human brains act in a similar way. The anticipation was found to be the most rewarding part of shopping, as our brain releases dopamine to make us feel good about the purchase we are about to make.
It’s because of this natural "high" that the best time to ask any buyer if they want something else is at the point of purchase. The classic McDonalds tactic of asking "do you want fries with that" is based around this principle.
By asking your customers if they want something extra, not only are you increasing your average purchase order but something else happens that’s incredibly powerful...
All the studies on brain chemistry agree that the higher the reward (or, in other words, the more someone buys – in terms of monetary value) the higher the level of natural high. Increasing the high at this point is making the purchaser conditioned to buy again.
So, are you able to make an up-sell, down-sell or cross-sell offer on each of your customer’s purchases?
The next phase is commonly known as the period in which your purchasers will suffer buyer's remorse. Our aim with this phase should be to ease their mind and remove the remorseful feeling, whilst also turning this remorse into a selling opportunity.
Each purchase that your customers make is risk-based - they are risking the money they are paying you, based on the reward/product/service they will receive in return. Buyer's remorse sets in when the natural dopamine high they experience before and during the purchase subsides. The "realities" of their purchase kicks in and they begin to wonder if they made the right decision by making the purchase.
One of the best ways to counteract this is to send them follow-up marketing as soon as the purchase is made. Focus on marketing your brand as opposed to an individual product or service - you should be reminding them of why doing business with you is a great idea. Combine this with further marketing on the benefits (or uses they may not have thought of) for your product or service that they have just bought.
Provide as much social proof as possible, including testimonials/case studies, industry awards, accreditations, etc.
The purpose of this style of campaign is to reinforce the original buying decision and extend the period in which their excitement (the dopamine-releasing phase) on making the purchase is at a high.
In doing this, you can also introduce the purchaser (in a subtle way) to other complementary products or services. One of my favourite tactics to use here is to include case studies or testimonials that also mention the complementary product.
Follow the case studies up with a special offer for the complementary product/service offered. This could be done via a voucher included in the delivery of what they just bought, or as an email offer a week after they have seen the case study if you are more service-based.
An important point to remember is to ensure the products you will be promoting are complementary and add to the value of the first purchase without being a "required" item to make the first purchase work.
Nothing turns buyers off more than feeling they have been duped with a low price that suddenly becomes more expensive if you actually want the product to work!
The inflation phase occurs around the successful completion of the transaction. Your product or service has been delivered in full and your purchaser will feel a level of satisfaction at making a good purchase.
Although they won't be experiencing the natural high and level of excitement from the first phase, they will be extremely receptive to further offers or a request for a testimonial or review.
You have proven yourself - the potential risk the buyer faced in making a purchase from you was, in reality, lower than the limit at which they found taking the risk acceptable. This means there will be much less resistance for them to make a second, third, fourth and fifth purchase from you.
This is the time that you need to capitalise on - ask them for a review or testimonial. The act of writing the review will set the good experience and happy purchase firmly in their mind, whilst also providing you with further marketing material to use moving forward.
Introduce them to your full product/service catalogue to just let them know about the other things you have to offer and why they may be of benefit to them.
Now is also the most opportune moment to ask for a referral. Ask if they could introduce you to three contacts of theirs who would benefit from your product or service.
Asking for a specific number of referrals will help to focus their mind and think about who they know, giving you the best chance of at least receiving one good solid lead. Create a referral program to reward them for successful referrals and encourage more.
In the final phase, your purchaser goes back to their normal, everyday existence and the novelty of your product or service wears off. Your aim in this phase is to encourage them to come back to you, by reminding them of how it could feel to buy from you and how worthwhile making their previous purchase was.
Marketing to purchasers in this phase very much depends on what industry you operate in.
The first thing to ask yourself is whether your product is classed as a consumable and/or would have an expiry date? If so, you should plan your marketing around the timescales of consumption of your product.
Make sure the purchaser will be seeing your brand and products again by using retargeting ads and maybe even direct mail pieces as they are coming up to the time that most of your ideal customers would normally be running low on your product.
If they don’t make another purchase, is it worth sending them an offer to try and draw them back in? Or perhaps sending more credibility-building information to further indoctrinate them with your brand.
If your product is not a consumable, what complementary items or services can you offer the customer? Maybe you operate in an industry such as real estate, where the customer is highly unlikely to make another purchase with you, but what other things would they need?
Could you create a strategic joint venture partnership with an interior designer or kitchen fitter? Could you promote other products and services for a commission?
A year after they have bought the property, could you send them a "happy moving in anniversary" card with offers from other businesses that your original customer would now be interested in?
The only limits here are how far out of the box you can think....
With strategic joint ventures, the opportunities to make a further sale and make additional profit are potentially endless, as long as you understand the behaviour and psychology of your customers and market in the right way for where they are up to in the psychological buying cycle.
To bring all this together, by understanding the behaviour of your buyers at each stage of the buying cycle, you can really supercharge your follow-up marketing.
It allows you to ensure that it not only carries the right type of message but also hits them at exactly the right time for maximum impact!