Touches to Transactions

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Modern marketing wisdom holds that in today’s advertising-saturated world, it takes at least seven to 30 “touches” or reminders before a consumer takes action. Although that may seem like a lot when you first hear it, if you think about how you act when you’re the consumer, it begins to make sense.

Your social media sites can account for several of those 30 touches. But to be effective, you need to think about how touches become transactions.

Touches and trigger points

We manage to ignore tens of thousands of advertising messages every day, mostly because they promote products we aren’t currently interested in buying. The key phrase there is “currently.” When you realize you need a product or service, all of a sudden, you tune into the messages related to the product/service that you had been screening out.

The situation that changes everything is a trigger point. It’s an event that moves you from someone who hasn’t thought about making a purchase or who has been casually window shopping to someone who needs to buy right now. The seller usually can’t change the trigger point (although they try to influence it with sales and specials), but you can make sure you’re making enough touches so that when a triggering event moves a prospect from looker to buyer, he or she thinks about your company.

Let’s use a car purchase as an example. If your car is reasonably new and in good working order, you may not be thinking at all about buying a new car. You probably tune out car ads, emails from dealerships, or radio commercials about great specials. Or maybe you’ve been thinking about buying a new car—sometime. You might be casually reading car ads, going out to dealer web sites, paying some attention to commercials, even slowing down when you pass the dealer’s lot for a good look. But for now, it’s all still window shopping.

Then a triggering event occurs. Your existing car is in an accident, and it will cost more to fix it than it’s worth. All of a sudden, you’re in the market for a new car, and you need it right now.

Until that triggering event happened, there wasn’t much the car dealers could do to hurry up your purchase. You bought the car based on your schedule of when you needed one, not on the dealer’s schedule of when he wanted to sell one. Business owners often forget that it’s the customers’ need that drives the purchase cycle more than it is driven by sales and specials. But there’s a very important thing to remember: When a customer moves from shopper to buyer, the company that has made the most marketing touches is first in line to get his business.

Go back to the car example. When that prospect was window shopping, the dealership with the best web site, or the showroom that was polite about a test drive without a commitment is likely to be the first place that prospect goes when he or she moves from shopper to buyer. Those “touches” pay off in top of mind awareness.

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