Do you ever get frustrated by the fact your ideal clients are out there, right now, buying your product or service from someone else? Chances are you are not talking to your customers early enough in their buying process. You see, as Bob Dylan says, the times, they are a-changin’. There is a total shift happening in the way your customers are making their buying decisions and those businesses that don’t fully understand this sea-change are going to be left struggling. If I can borrow from Bob Dylan again… You better start swimmin’ Or you’ll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin’
The Buying Conversation
So, what is this sea-change all about I hear you say? It used to be that people had very few options when it came to finding out about a product. If you wanted to a buy a new typewriter back in the day, you would have to rely on the advertising messages from typewriter suppliers for most of your information. In this way, companies like IBM were able to really control the “conversation” around a product. If you wanted a typewriter, you’d see an ad and then, if you wanted any further information, you’d have to either walk into a typewriter store or call or write to a typewriter supplier. This put the seller at the centre of the “buying conversation” really early in the purchasing process.
The Rise of the Self-Directed Buyer
Today, that “Buying Conversation” is taking place WITHOUT the seller being involved until the very last moment. For example, a report by Forrester Research found that your customer could be as far as 60 to 90% of the way through their buying journey before contacting you. That means the “Buying Conversation” is almost over before you even get a chance to make so much as an opening remark. Google reported that 84% of all Americans engage in what they call “Zero Moment of Truth” activities. That is, all the research and engagement with a product is done even BEFORE they get to your store or engage your services. This is giving rise to “the Self-Directed Buyer” – a consumer who does their own product research using a variety of information sources and makes their buying decision independent of the seller. And there are now more sources of information available to your customers than there are Bob Dylan songs! The times really are a-changin’. And they’re changing fast.
Back in 2010 the average customer consulted 5 sources of information before purchasing.
By 2013 that number had MORE THAN doubled to 12 sources of information.
So, that means your perfect client is currently online making up their mind about your product without you even knowing about it. Perhaps they’re:
- Using Google to search for interesting blog articles
- Watching a Youtube video
- Posting on Facebook asking their friends for recommendations and referrals
- Consulting a peer review site like Yelp or Trip Advisor
- Downloading a checklist
- Reading an eBook
- Reviewing an Infographic
- Taking an online quiz
Where are YOU in the new Buying Conversation?
One of the most effective ways you can:
- Find your customers earlier in their Buying Process
- Influence the Buying Conversation
- Get more sales
Is to create a Lead Magnet. A Lead Magnet is a value-added piece of information, designed to be attractive to your ideal client when they are in their pre-purchase phase. You typically offer your Lead Magnet for free in exchange for your customer’s details. Examples of lead magnets include:
- White Papers
- Tools and calculators
Anatomy of a Good Lead Magnet
A good lead magnet will: 1. Solve a specific problem you know someone looking for your product or service is currently experiencing 2. Provide much-needed information that will help someone looking for your product or service move further along their buying journey For example, say you are a personal trainer. Think of the key problems someone considering hiring a personal trainer might be experiencing right now…
- They may not know how to tell a good trainer from a not-so-good trainer
- Or how much they should expect to pay
- Or they may be nervous or apprehensive about what a personal trainer might expect of them (especially if they haven’t done a lot of exercise for a while)
…and then look at how you can solve that problem. In the above example, you might prepare a checklist that gives people 12 things to ask when interviewing a personal trainer. Or an eBook that takes them through the process of finding, evaluating and hiring a personal trainer. Or even a tool to help them calculate their current fitness level. This is the kind of information someone will be interested in, or searching for, early on in their buying process. And because it is valuable to them, they are often prepared to enter their name and details in exchange for it. This approach makes the Lead Magnet strategy one of the most powerful list building and lead generation tools available for businesses today. Once your prospect has opted in to get your lead magnet, you now know who they are and you can continue the Buying Conversation; positioning yourself as a trusted expert from early on, so that you’re a top contender when it comes time for a purchase decision to be made.
Here’s an outline of the Lead Magnet optin process:
Of course, it’s imperative, once someone has opted in for your Lead Magnet, that you continue the conversation via ongoing value-added communication and offers, which can include:
- email marketing
- blog posts
- product demonstrations
- and even live events and presentations
All aimed at guiding your ideal clients towards buying from you. As today’s consumers get more and more sophisticated, it will be the businesses that provide valuable information early in the buying process and establish themselves as trusted advisers who will thrive. The change is already well and truly here. Your customers expect more. The Buying Conversation is happening whether you are in it or not. The question now is, how quickly you can adapt? As Bob Dylan says, “Your old road is Rapidly agin’ Please get out of the new one If you can’t lend your hand For your times they are a-changin’. ”
Lead Magnet expert Michelle Falzon has produced dozens and dozens of campaigns using lead magnets. Michelle will be taking business owners through a step-by-step process for choosing the right lead magnet during the upcoming Turn Your Leads into Sales webinar.