Imagine that you ran an ad, mailed a brochure, or sent an email ad to a new list of people who fit your target market profile and everyone who saw it responded right away and made a purchase.
Has this ever happened to you?
Of course not. The first time people hear about your products or services is the least likely time for them to buy.
When you go out for a night on the town, do you go to a new restaurant you’ve never heard of or do you typically go to one that you know and like? Similarly, who is the most likely to buy your products and services, someone who doesn’t know you or someone who has experienced the high quality and the results you provide? Clients who have bought from you before, are the most likely to buy from you. Think about it.
If long-term prospects and clients are your best source of revenue, where should you focus your strategic marketing? I occasionally make a sale the first time someone visits my web site, but more often it’s the people who I have been in contact with for months that become my best customers and clients. Why is this?
The longer you’ve had a relationship with a prospect or client, the more they know and trust you. Once they buy or use your products, they’ve experienced the quality you provide and are even more likely to buy again. They are also more likely to recommend you to others.
Marketing research has shown that people are more likely to buy after six or seven contacts. Some web businesses use this as the basis of their marketing and provide a tutorial series you can sign up for with one sent out each week for six weeks. While this is an improvement on the one time spot ad, it misses the boat.
The problem with this approach is that you don’t know when your prospects will want to make a purchase. What happens if they need help on week eight but have lost your contact information?
What you want to do is build long-term relationships so that whenever a new prospect or past client has a need, they think of you as the expert to go to or to refer someone else to. The longer you are in contact with prospects and clients the more opportunities you have to demonstrate how helpful you or your products are and to earn their trust.
Depending on what you’re marketing, you may need to establish a little or a lot of trust. If you sell major label music CDs for $17, it may not take much work to convince people you can ship them what they want. If you provide financial services and want prospects to trust you with their life’s earnings, it can take longer. It may be six to seven months before your prospects will consider even having a conversation.
Use the following three steps to build long-term profitable relationships:
1. Focus on your prospects’ needs and wants and offer something for free to motivate people to contact you.
2. Contact your prospects regularly and give them tips and ideas they can use.
3. Couch your offers in terms of what your prospects are looking for.
Which is more important, new prospects or existing clients?
The answer of course is both. To grow your business you need to constantly grow your network of contacts, of people who know how you can help them. At the same time, focus your efforts on building long-term relationships so that prospects become clients and clients become repeat clients. Do this and you’ll have more people interested in what you offer and more people buying your products and services.