A hot topic in marketing circles today is “customer lifecycle marketing.” That’s a big term and it sounds really complicated. In a nutshell, customer lifecycle marketing is the process of engaging your prospects with the right message at the right time and via the right medium to get them to the next stage in the buying process.
It’s not simple, to be sure. But with careful planning and the guidance of someone who’s been around the block, it’s achievable. There are lots of different models for the customer lifecycle out there, but the continuum we like best is:
One stage leads to the next, which leads to the next and which, if executed well, results in customers advocating for your company and its products. Before you step on any customer lifecycle marketing train, you Must.Do.This:
Know Your Prospects
Inside and out. Become obsessed with the different segments of people who are inclined to purchase the products or services you provide. (For information on that, read our whitepaper on customer profiling.) Once you achieve this, you’re ready for customer lifecycle marketing. Join us on a journey from zero awareness of your product to a customer who sings the praises of entire company at every opportunity.
Ted and his wife are interested in exotic travel, and Ted’s on the hunt to find a travel company that can get them to Cuba. Your business sells specialized and exotic tours to places like Cuba. Let’s go:
Mission: Let Ted know that you offer tours to Cuba. Not every travel company in the US is authorized to do this. Because you know the characteristics of customers like Ted, you already know where he’s likely to go for information about specialized educational tours. Internet search? Friends and family? Ads previously seen on the National Geographic Channel? What influences (and there will likely be several) will capture Ted’s attention?
Mission: Make Ted take a second look at your tour package to Cuba.
Ted has located information about other tour providers and one of his options is your small group EDventure tour. Because you know customers like Ted, you are in tune with his demographics, psychographics and what appeals to him. Therefore, what information can you communicate to Ted that will make him take an interest in your company and your Cuban tour and want to learn more? What’s the best time to communicate this to Ted? The best venue?
Mission: Persuade Ted to want to travel with you, versus any other company. Ted has narrowed his options down to three. What do you communicate to Ted that makes him desire your tour over his other options? What’s the best time to communicate this? What media would perform best?
Mission: Make Ted buy your Cuban EDventure tour. What will you say to Ted (and when and how?) so he ultimately says YES to your company and your tour package?
Mission: Ensure that Ted’s total experience with your Cuban EDventure tour — and, just as importantly, your company — is so phenomenal that he will think of no other company for his future specialty tour needs. It’s a thousand times easier and cheaper to retain a current customer than to earn a new one, so it’s critical to show Ted the love so he keeps coming back. At this stage in the customer lifecycle, get to know and communicate with Ted as an individual, not just someone in a demographic/psychographic group. Drawing from his tour package purchase and other customer data, offer him valued-added information and content that will position your brand as a trusted partner.
Advocacy (and even Unsolicited Promotion)
Mission: Ensure that Ted loves your company so much that he sings its praises to his friends, family and anyone else he comes in contact with – maybe without you even asking.
Word-of-mouth is the most powerful and efficient form of marketing there is, so bolster Ted’s relationship with and loyalty to your company so that he preaches the word about your Cuban EDventure tour to everyone he knows – and on his own.
After that, the customer lifecycle starts for a new prospect – Ted makes his BFF Ned aware that you have the best small group educational tours to exotic places, particularly to Cuba, on the market. For more info on customer loyalty, see our latest research.