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  • Joshua Harmening

Step 2: Grow Your DATABASE Using Platforms and Offers




Most businesses have similar goals. We want everyone who isn't a

customer to become one. When they become customers, we want

them to keep buying from us for life. It sounds nice and all, but it

doesn't happen automatically. If we're going to increase

conversions with prospects and stay connected with our

customers, we'll need an effective system to communicate our

Unique Selling Points to them. But there's a small problem. In order

to communicate with our prospects and customers, we need them

to give us permission to contact them as well as their personal

contact details. For example, in order to send an email explaining a

new innovation, we'll need their email address. In order to have a

sales associate call and share about how we're better, we'll need

their telephone number. If we want to send a postcard highlighting

a new service guarantee, we need their mailing address. Logically,

this only makes sense. In this chapter, we'll outline how to get your

prospects' and customers' contact details as well as permission to

communicate with them.


The Age of Information & Educated Customers & Prospects


In the old days, pushy salesman would walk you through a

five-minute pitch. After a quick pitch, they'd expect prospects to be

ready to buy. If that didn't work, added pressure, sales gimmicks

and even the enlistment of the manager were used to close the

deal. This is still used in some industries such as some car

dealerships and timeshare sales. The majority of you reading this

would probably agree that those strategies are dying. In today's

world, people don't like to be pressured. They don't want to be sold

on something. Instead, they want to be educated so they feel like

they are making the best buying decision. The same rules apply

with your current customers and prospects. Right now, they are

deciding. Prospects are asking themselves if they will buy. They are

weighing their options. Customers are asking themselves if there is

something better. Will they remain customers? In our last chapter,

we learned about Unique Selling Points and that overall value is the

biggest reason why someone decides to make a purchase.

However, your business should also master the psychology of

WHEN prospects buy and WHY customers will remain faithful after

their initial purchase.


The A-Z Buying Spectrum


From a small pack of gum to buying a franchise, your customers

and prospects are feeding on information to determine if they will

buy, pass or try something new. From friendships, mainstream

media, news or even their gut feeling on the inside, they are

looking for signals to support their decision. All data affects their

decision to buy. For prospects to convert to customers, and

customers to remain loyal, they must continually feel like they are

making the right buying decision. We learned in our last chapter

that Unique Selling Points are key pieces of information to increase

conversions and overall customer satisfaction. Unique Selling Points

are the WHY! Consider the A-Z buying spectrum; it is the decision

making process that we all go through before making any

purchase. The Z position represents a buyer and a committed

customer. The A-Y positions are prospective positions. For example,

"A" would mean someone who is not very likely to become a

customer. "Y" would mean the prospect is close to converting. If

they're an existing customer, "Y" would mean that they're likely to

buy again. No matter how big or small the purchase, everyone goes

through the A-Z spectrum before deciding WHEN to buy.

Sometimes this process takes weeks and other times it happens

within 30 seconds. Regardless of the decision you make, your brain

evaluates the data and information it has and then makes a

decision.


Are you considering dining out and selecting a restaurant? Your

brain thinks of past experiences, the mood it is in, and then blurts

out a thought. Want a candy bar? Your brain says you're hungry

and you compulsively put it on the counter jumping right to the "Z"

position without thoroughly considering the decision. Are you

thinking about selling or purchasing a home? The first time the

thought came to you, you were in the "A" position. For six months

you've been thinking about it and looking at new homes. You're

now at the "L" position. The real estate agent visits your home and

tells you that you could get $20,000 more than you thought if she

listed it. You're now sliding down to the "T" position and are more

likely to move closer to the "Z" position, which is when you sign the

papers and close on your home. In summary, the A-Z buying

spectrum is a timeline for when people buy.


We Googled You... Here's What We Found Out


Did you know you're in the education business? That's right, you're

providing an education to prospects and customers about your

business and services. Whether you're a family owned operation or

a fortune 500 company, people are researching and becoming

educated about your business. Prospects are sifting through your

business online to decide if they’re going to work with you.

Customers are analyzing your services and products and deciding

to stick with you or go elsewhere. What few businesses realize is

that there is indeed an education process that led these prospects

and customers to you— or sadly, away from you and to your

competitors. You see, before a prospect or customer ever comes in

contact with you, they've likely already researched you, your

competition and have some preconceived ideas about who they

will work with. Before you even know who these people are, they've

already read your online reviews. They found a blog post from two

years ago highlighting a bad experience. They've Googled you

upwards and backwards and read the first two pages of

information. Lastly, they've even posted on social media to get

feedback from their friends. What you might not realize is that

everything that exists online about you is part of their education

process. Remember, they're judging you based upon what they can

find out without contacting you or committing to a business

relationship.


It isn't just online though. The education process goes even further.

Every experience they've had with your staff, whether good or bad,

is also part of that education. From how your staff treats them

when they enter your location to how you package your products is

all part of the ongoing education. Was someone rude to them? Did

they have to wait a long time? Was the person who answered the

phone nasty? Were they offended by something that happened?

Remember, they're judging you, right or wrong, based upon their

experience. Each experience pushes them in a direction on the A-Z

buying spectrum. Good experiences point them to the "Z" position.

Bad experiences move them away. Finding a positive review points

them to the "Z" position and finding a complaint with the Better

Business Bureau pushes them back the other way. Unfortunately,

very few businesses realize they're indeed in the education

business. You see, they're learning all about your business without

you. It should only make sense then, to take control of the

educational process and own it. After all, nobody knows your

business and the value you can bring like you do.


Owning the Educational Process


The goal of step 2 is actually very simple. To aggressively pursue a

relationship with prospects and customers and gain permission to

communicate your Unique Selling Points to them. So, instead of

hoping they find something nice about us, we'll proactively create a

marketing process that shares our Unique Selling Points with them

on a consistent basis. These proactive pieces of information,

shared at specific times, will help your prospects move along the

A-Z buying spectrum until they become buyers. Customers who

have purchased from you will receive specific information

encouraging them to become life-long customers and advocates

for your business. This process doesn't happen by chance or luck. It

is a system your business creates to nurture relationships. Your

message and communication will be consistent so that no one slips

through the cracks. You'll learn about this communication system a

little later in this book when we discuss Marketing Automation . Right

now, the important thing is to focus on how the relationship is

formed.


Getting Permission to Communicate


In order to effectively communicate in this relationship, we'll need

our customers' and prospects' permission. Additionally, we'll need

their personal contact details such as their name, address, phone

and email address. While this is pretty logical, you might be

wondering why people would give up this information. After all,

how many times have you been to a website inviting you to join

their email list. It might as well say, "This is a Space Filler" because

on average, less than 3 people out of 1000, opt-in to a mailing list.

However, that's not what we're talking about here. Remember, this

is a relationship. To get permission to communicate with our

prospects and customers, we need to do something better. We

need to think about what interests them. What do they care about?

What intrigues them? To gain permission to communicate, we need

to think about what would be almost irresistible for them to pass

up. In other words, we're going to BAIT THEM in order to get their

contact information. Did we say BAIT THEM? Really? Yes, but we're

not talking about anything unethical or in poor taste. You can call it

"incentivizing" if that makes you feel better, but in order to start

this relationship, we need something good to give away.


Baiting Them with Your Offer


The first part of step number two is your company's free Offer . The

Offer is something that you give away for FREE without any sales

pressure, requirements or gimmicks. The only caveat is that your

customers or prospects must share their personal details to claim

the free Offer . They'll also be giving permission to communicate.

This is the bait we'll use to continually increase your ability to

communicate. In other words, you'll start off by finding something

to give away for FREE that provides real value for your prospects

and customers. This will be your company's Offer.


The free Offer can be almost anything. The secret is finding

something that is perceived as valuable. Even though the Offer

might be valuable to your prospects and customers, that doesn't

mean it should be expensive to produce. It means the contents are

perceived as valuable. It can be a free e-book, printed book,

information package, DVD, Audio CD, one time coupons, videos,

food, beverages, gift cards, trial offers and any number of other

things which fit into your business model. For example, a

restaurant might give away a free dessert as their Offer . A bar might

offer a coupon for two beers for 10 cents. A retail outlet might give

away a 30% off coupon that can only be claimed once. A lawyer

might send a DVD outlining the three secrets to maximizing an

injury claim. Obviously, the Offer is something that is unique to that

business. Remember, the free Offer is given away without strings

attached or any future obligation to buy. Our goal is to simply build

a system, which allows us to gather their contact details for future

follow-up.


Everyone who requests your free Offer will be stored in your

company's database. Don't let the word "database" scare you or

confuse you even for a minute. We're talking about somewhere

that you will securely store your customers' or prospects'

information. There's a wide variety of easy to use and even free

applications to manage your database. Just think of a database as a

bucket containing prospects' and customers' information. By now,

hopefully you understand that the free Offer is the starting point.

You'll use it as the bait to grow your database. As you continue

reading, you'll see why your database is so critical to your success.


Identifying the Best Fishing Spots


Every business is unique and interacts with their customers and

prospects differently. Part of the strategy in step 2 is to clearly

identify all the places your business comes into contact with

prospects and customers. Think of these as the best places to go

fishing with your free Offer . We call these fishing spots Platforms

because they serve up our free Offers . To simplify everything, just

remember that Platforms are anywhere you provide an Offer and

gather information from a prospect or customer.


In case you're wondering - yes, your business has Platforms . Indeed,

every business has at least one Platform . For example, if you have

local clientele with walk-ins, then your business location is a

Platform . Your staff has the perfect opportunity to point out your

Offers . When the Offer is requested, their personal contact details

go into your database and they're given the option to claim the

Offer immediately. It could be a coupon, free food or perhaps a

combination of a few things. Your website is also a Platform . When

someone visits your website, they should be offered something

valuable there as well. This could be an e-book, video series or free

trial. Do prospects and customers call your business? If they do,

then that's another Platform . You see, when someone calls your

office with a question, it's the perfect opportunity to share your

free Offer.


Growing Your Database on Purpose


Obviously, the implementation of Platforms and Offers serves one

purpose— database growth! Prospects' and customers' personal

information are stored in your database and should be treated like

gold. Smart businesses realize that every customer or prospect that

goes in the database represents future revenues and referrals. It's

a virtual bank account that will continue to pay you as prospects

convert into customers and customers remain loyal to your brand.

By providing value through our Offer , we've received permission (at

least for a time) to educate and communicate with our prospects

and customers.


It's probably best to end this chapter by giving you a few gentle

words of caution. If you stop reading here, you're going to miss the

big picture! We understand that entrepreneurs and business

leaders are extremely busy. More than likely you've thumbed

ahead to learn more about the Four Steps. Based upon our

experience with entrepreneurs, we know you're probably feeling a

little skeptical. Unique Selling Points ? Platforms and Offers ? Do I really

need to give something away for free? How does any of this work

together? How long will it take to work? Obviously, it doesn't all

make sense just yet. There are still two more steps to cover. If you

keep reading, everything will make sense.

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