Help your audience understand why you’re the right choice for them
This is the third in a series of articles covering the Hanlon Full Funnel methodology for systematizing marketing initiatives to improve results and enhance efficiency. In the previous articles, the top of the funnel (the awareness and consolidation stages) were discussed. In this piece, we will move towards the bottom of the funnel to address the third stage: preference.
“Let your audience know how making the final decision to choose you will positively impact their lives.”
At the top of the funnel, your outreach was focused merely on getting your name out, attracting attention to it, and helping your audience better understand where you fit into the broader market place. At the preference stage, it’s time to start making your case a little more strenuously.
If you were successful at the top of the funnel, the groundwork for a conversion has been laid. Someone who formerly knew nothing or little of you now has a good idea of your brand and product or service, and that you offer a potential solution to a problem they are having. They have done their due diligence, investigated the options available to them, and now they are ready to form the intent to make a final decision.
Hard sales tactics are never appropriate at the top of the funnel where a durable relationship has not yet formed. Closer to the bottom, conversely, it can be acceptable and effective to make a more direct call to action.
Whether you choose to harden your sales approach depends on the nature of your brand. Some never take that route, continuing to give the prospect space to make an informed decision free from overt pressure. Others decide that their brand identity doesn’t require as much subtlety and prefer to make a bold and unambiguous pitch to an audience they have primed to hear it.
If you do take that route, instilling a sense of urgency can move the needle, such as when ecommerce brands like Amazon add a tiny bit of text under the buy button letting shoppers know “Only 3 left!”
Also, make the sales process as seamless and easy as possible. Many brands have succeeded in moving leads down its funnel only to lose them right before conversion because their transaction system was too complex, asked too many questions, or was just simply unattractive and unappealing. Design failures, whether in systems or visually, lead to leaky funnels.
At the top of the funnel, you are competing with literally the entire market. Everyone else who sells a solution to your prospect’s problem is a potential rival. As you approach the bottom of the funnel, not only have you weeded out disinterested parties, but the prospect has eliminated most of the competition.
“Many brands have succeeded in moving leads down its funnel only to lose them right before conversion because their transaction system was too complex.”
By the preference stage, they have often narrowed down their list to just a handful of options, which is why your marketing outreach has to be more specific. You aren’t just claiming you have a generally great product or service at a fair price. You are explaining why you are different, superior, and preferable to your closest competitors. This is where your competitive analysis becomes crucial. You have to know what the others are selling, how they are selling it, and how your audience is responding to their marketing.
The tools for encouraging leads to continue down your funnel at the preference stage include well-crafted unique value propositions, a statement that succinctly explains why your product is worth your audience’s attention and money — and why competing offerings are inferior. It’s also smart at this stage to offer testimonials, reviews, and case studies that provide evidence for your claims.
Importantly, make the value the product or service delivers for your audience the focus of all your marketing communications. Earlier in the funnel, your leads were digging into features, prices, and options. They already know what you are selling. Now you need to help them understand how making the final decision to choose you will positively impact their lives. What does their day look like after you’ve solved their problem?
“Make the value the product or service delivers for your audience the focus of all your marketing communications.”
Customize your case study content to your audience. The success stories you share should look like the prospect. Enterprises want to see you have delivered for other enterprises. Small and medium-sized businesses want to see that you know how to treat smaller entities and they won’t get lost in the mix. Individuals need to understand that someone just like them formed the intent to do business with you and were happy with their decision.
Put Your Values Front and Center
In addition to aligning your outreach to your audience’s external characteristics, make sure you express the intrinsic values that you share. 64-percent of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason they have a relationship with a brand. If your market research has shown the leads in your funnel support sustainability initiatives, let them know how your brand is doing more than your competitors to promote environmentally-responsible corporate stewardship.
“You have to know what the others are selling, how they are selling it, and how your audience is responding to their marketing.”
If there are indicators that they are rugged individualists, don’t smother them with unwanted help and recommendations. In fact, that piece of advice is useful more generally because 67-percent of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative. Let your leads know you are there to provide help and support when needed, and then let them make the next move.
Regardless of how you tailor your outreach at the preference stage, consistent branding and strict adherence to your established brand guidelines and tone are vital. Consistent branding is important at the top of the funnel because it helps engrain your name and story into newcomers minds. At the bottom of the funnel, it’s necessary because it lets your leads know that your values and brand promise aren’t a thin veneer that will be pulled away once the transaction is complete.
Prove you are who you say you are by sticking to your stated principles. If you’re a glossy, high-tech brand, every interaction should have a high level of polish. Likewise, if your brand is down to earth and modest, too much glitz will undermine your identity. The results will show up on your bottom line: Brands with consistent branding earn 23-percent more annual revenue than the brands that are inconsistent.
At the bottom of the funnel, you have invested a lot of time and other valuable resources towards nurturing a lead. Use every tool available to ensure that effort pays off.
Need help patching leaks in your conversion funnel? Contact Hanlon today to learn more about optimizing your marketing with advanced analytics and cutting-edge best practices.