Friday, May 02, 2008

Measurement in Marketing

The concept of measurement to the topic of marketing. 

There are a lot of different ideas that people have about marketing and what influences people to buy or enter into a business relationship, but not all of those ideas or perceptions are accurate. 

Measurement and record keeping is a tool that I want to introduce to you so that you can test the things that you believe about marketing or the things I’m going to tell you about marketing to find out which ones are true, which ones are effective, and how to make the right kinds of adjustments to the way you’re doing things right now so that you produce better marketing results.

Let’s start with a basic question. How many times do you need to approach someone and present them with your product or service before they make their first purchase? As I have watched a lot of people market in the past, either they’ve never thought about this question or they’ve just assumed that people are going to buy from them on the first or second time. And if they don’t buy on the first or second time then that’s it, it means this person is really not interest. I’m going to tell you right now that, that kind of thinking is wrong. 

Studies show that it takes five to nine contacts with a person before they buy any kind of high ticket product or service. What that means is that when you’re introducing a new product or service to someone, that’s not just some cheap item like toothpaste or a Snickers bar that they can just buy for 50 cents and have it in their hot little hand without even thinking about it, then there’s a process that they have to go through before they change a buying habit.

The Chinese have a saying that at the first meeting, you’re new. At the second meeting, you’re familiar. What that means is, when you meet someone, you’re going to be new to them, they’re not going to know you, but the very second time that you see them or meet them, you’re going to be someone that they’ve met before and that puts you in a whole different light in their mind and in their comfort level with you. 

The first time they meet you, they’re probably going to be  relatively uncomfortable. It is simply the way people feel with the unfamiliar, which includes how they feel when they meet anyone for the first time or anytime they meet a stranger. But if you can make any kind of connection with them at all, the second time you meet them, it’s much more likely that their reaction to you is going to be “Oh, that’s a friend.”

Whether it’s someone I’ve known for ten years or somebody I just met yesterday, when I see them my first impression is “Oh, that’s somebody I know, a friend.” And a friend is much more likely to buy from you.

The other implication that comes from that Chinese saying is that nobody is going to buy from you the first time that you meet them. I realize that there’s going to be exceptions. Maybe you’re introduced by somebody. Maybe you have some totally irresistible sales pitch. But most of the time, as a general rule, the first time people meet you, you’re going to be new and unfamiliar. If you can do anything to establish any kind of comfort level or familiarity with them on that first meeting, what you’re doing is setting yourself up for the second meeting. You want them on a second meeting, or in some cases it will take you a couple meetings, when they see you that next time, you want them to have that feeling, “Oh, here’s somebody I know. Here’s a friend.”

There’s a reason why this concept is so important in marketing. When I watch a typical person do marketing, I see them make the first contact and if the prospect isn’t falling all over them to buy from this person, then they never call back. That’s it – one contact and they’re out. 

Now if you like cold calling, that’s a great recipe for marketing because that’s all you’ll ever do and you probably won’t be very successful. Now I see a smaller group of people that market and make two contacts. They’re smart enough to follow up on that first visit, but if the person still isn’t showing any evidence or excitement for buying from them after that second visit, then they give up. Now let me ask you, based on the principle I’ve told you about how many times it takes to get a person to convert and become a customer, is that approach any better than the approach of the people who give up after one visit? I don’t think it’s any better. 

I think the same  fundamental problem is at work in the mind of these marketing people, and it is something to the effect that if people really wanted my products, they’d communicate that to me on the first or second visit. That’s not the case at all. So there are at least three things that we want to do differently in our marketing once we understand this principle.

First, you need to use measurement. Count how many times you’ve visited each of the people on your list. Even if it’s people that you cold call, keep track of when you contacted them and what you did, so that you can be absolutely certain that you contact them at least five to nine times before you give up on them. Keep track of what you did, so it’s not like you’re cold calling them every time. 

Build on that first contact and take it to the second contact, and third contact and keep taking it through the process so that you have five contacts that relate to each other. If those contacts build on each other in proper sequence, then on the fifth to the ninth contact if there’s any chance at all that this person is going to buy from you, you’re going to close that sale with them or create that relationship with them. 

Now there’s a lot of things that we’re going to be able to measure, or keep records of that are going to help us with that.

That brings me to the second point that I want to make about how we should change our approach to marketing when we understand this concept, and that is planning. You have to plan five to nine steps to building a new relationship with any prospective customer. 

If your plan is cold call on the telephone or stop by their office and introduce yourself and see if they have any interest and that’s where your plan ends, then the first visit, the second visit, the third visit, the fourth visit and the fifth visit are pretty much all going to be the same. And if they are all the same, then it’s not going to feel to the prospect that you’re building any kind of familiarity. 

When you come that second, third, fourth and fifth time, you’re probably not going to seem like a friend. In contrast, if you have a plan to do something different on the second call, the third call, the fourth call and the fifth call, then a relationship is going to begin to develop. Perhaps your goal for your first contact with anyone isn’t to try and make a sale at all. Perhaps the goal of your first contact is just to give them your name and your business card and say something that tends to spark a little curiosity or interest. Maybe the goal of your first, second and third contacts is to gather a little bit of information about them which you can use the next time you come by. 

For example, let’s say on your first visit, you just want to find out three pieces of information: Are they married, do they have kids and do they have pets? Knowing that, on your second visit, you can ask them how is the wife, the kids and the dog? That demonstrates to the person that you remember the first visit. You remember whether they were married, whether they had kids and whether they had any pets. You demonstrated that you have some familiarity with them. You demonstrated that you care enough to remember something about them. Those are characteristics of somebody who is my friend. 

When people recognize and remember things about me, I like that. It’s like a compliment. It makes me feel like, hey, they are a friend, I like that person, they make me feel good. So this information gathering should be a part of the record keeping that you use as part of your measurement system in marketing. 

Measure what  you’ve learned about people—whether you are learning three things or thirty things in your marketing process. I’m not suggesting that whether they’re married, have kids or have a pet is the kind of information that you really need in a marketing circumstances. They are probably other things that you could learn about people that are even more effective and even more important, especially when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of what it’s going to take to make the sale of your particular product. 

Picking those items is the topic of a different module, however. The purpose of this module is to get you thinking along the correct lines with regard to marketing.

This brings me to the third topic that needs to be addressed when we understand that marketing involves building a relationship over five to nine contacts. That is you need to analyze the data that you’re keeping. 

Find out, on average, how many contacts does it takes you to build a buying relationship with someone. If it takes you nine times, maybe there are some adjustments you could make to your prospecting that can shorten it down to five times. If you’re doing it in five times, maybe you’re doing it effectively. If people aren’t showing an interest after six, or seven, or eight times, it’s time to drop them as prospective customers. 

Maybe you’re spending $500 to try to wine and dine people on the first five and six visits and maybe that’s not producing any better results than the people you spend $5 on for the first five visits. That suggests that you don’t need to spend the money. You can reduce the cost of acquiring new customer relationships, because you’ve measured and identified what’s making the difference and what’s important and how many steps it takes you on average to develop a new client relationship. 

As you begin to use that data, you can both make your time spent  more effective and make better decisions about what approach you’re going to use and how long you’re going to go after a single person before you decide to turn your focus somewhere else where it might be better spent.

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