Marketing masterclass: How a 2% effort can create a 127% return

Really effective marketing, by which I mean marketing that delivers actual and sustainable sales results, looks at this sort of stuff last. The very best marketing operations are built from the bottom up.

I’ve identified thirteen touchpoint leaks across a typical considered buying decision, and I’m yet to encounter a single business that couldn’t see better return on their marketing effort by tweaking at least one.

1. Fix your bucket…

Filling a leaking bucket is a fool’s errand. There are already too many demands on your resources to risk leaking any precious funds unnecessarily. Keeping the customers you spent money acquiring is essential to making a profit.

To do this you’ll need to pay special attention to how the relationship starts, and to keeping them interested in what you do. The word ‘relationship’ is key. And, real relationships are based on an emotional connection

Ask yourself these questions, in this order, to see if you have a hole in your bucket…

Leak #1 – Forgotten customers 

Do you have a consistent customer communications that proactively addresses any service needs and keeps your business in their minds?

Leak #2 – Poor on-boarding 

Is there a structured approach to communication with your new customers as they settle into their relationship with you which demonstrates that your service is consistent with the expectations they had?

Leak #3 –  No emotional connection 

Does your visual and written style have a personal touch that’s friendly and allows people to make an emotional connection with your business?

2. Make sure you have some funnels…

If all of your customers come from just one source, you’re either missing a trick or you’re on dangerous ground. The most successful businesses have identified a number of different ways of getting themselves noticed. This is not least because different people respond to different things, but also to reduce the chances of someone turning off a single tap, and with it your income. This means you’ll also need a number of funnels to channel new customers to your bucket.

Where people were initially interested, but then drop out of the process, these questions can help you work out where you lost them:

Leak #4 – No gateway 

Does your business offer a coherent set of products that lead helpfully from one to the next with the inclusion of a stepping stone that allows people to understand what it’s like to be a customer before they are one?

Leak #5 – No critical approval 

Is there a clear way of educating, or helping your buyer educate, anyone who could veto the purchase decision?

Leak #6 – No proof 

Are you systematic about signposting some sort of proof against every promise or claim that you make?

3. Only then should you turn the taps on!

When you find a source of leads that works it can be tempting to run it at full pelt. A smarter approach is to have a number of metaphorical taps generating a steady, and predictable, flow. This means that when one dries up, another can be adjusted.

It also means that you have time to tweak your systems downstream to make sure you’re ready for what’s coming.

A deluge of new business can seem like a nice problem to have. But, in an increasingly connected world, there’s nowhere to hide if you get a soaking. So, it’s well worth remembering, once spilt, water – like a person’s good opinion – is tough to channel uphill.

To get that flow, well… flowing, ask yourself these questions:

Leak #7 – Information overload 

Do you have a steady stream of relevant information that invites people into finding out more?

Leak #8 – How 

Is your content available in a range of familiar and novel formats so that people can engage with ease and enjoyment?

Leak #9 – Where 

Are there at least three places to put your materials that you know your potential buyers already access?

Leak #10 – When 

Have you made a commitment to timing the release of your materials so that people are most likely to notice it?

Leak #11 – Who 

Is there a way of getting people talking about your business so that buyers hear something good about you regardless of who they turn to?

Leak #12 – What 

Do you have an absolute clarity of purpose in telling people what your business does?

Leak #13 – No emotional impact 

Do you strike an emotional chord with your potential buyer that means they can’t help but notice you and they feel compelled to take action?

Just two per cent improvement can make a difference

If answering these questions has made you go a little faint at the seemingly mammoth task of fixing all 13 leaks… here’s some serious comfort. You do not need everything to be perfect to see a big difference. In fact, small (and totally manageable) tweaks can have a dramatic effect.

I say, stop pouring energy into the top and address this picture from the bottom up. What you’re after is something functional at each step, and a small fix at each leak.

If you went up through this model and improved conversion from one step to the next by just two per cent for each of the leaks… well, it’s borderline alchemy.

That two per cent improvement, against each of the Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks, gives you an uplift in sales of 127 per cent. In this worked example, that means 2.5 loyal and profitable customers where the previous set-up delivered 1.1.

What this shows is that if you address the leaks in the right order, even small (not scary!) changes can make a huge difference.

This article is adapted from Bryony Thomas’ book Watertight Marketing (Panoma Press £14.99) – an entrepreneur’s step-by-step guide to putting a marketing operation in place that delivers long-term sales results.

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