Any short marketing course must include a quick look at how using an Action-Path will help you get better results from your ads, emails, websites, talks, trade shows, presentations, networking or just about anything else you do to try and get new customers. Mastering the Action-Path will help boost your business results while reducing the risks involved with spending money on marketing that often brings in no customers.
In our short marketing course today, let’s take a few minutes to understand what an Action-Path is and how you’ll want to use it for everything you do to bring in customers.
Too many people create ads, presentations, websites, emails, etc that do not deliver the results they want. I get people all the time in my short marketing courses asking me, how can I get more people to actually buy?
When I look at what they’re doing, often the answer is obvious. They simply do not understand the buying process from the buyer’s perspective. Too often people think, all I need to do is show the buyer what I’ve got. If they like it, they’ll buy.
But in this short marketing course today, let’s understand that except for impulse items like candy-bars, from a buyer’s perspective the actual buying process doesn’t work that way for most products and services.
Instead, there are three basic steps:
- Consider, and
CONTACT means they somehow need to become aware that your product or service exists.
CONSIDER is where they evaluate what you have, whether it solves a need or problem they have, and whether they are comfortable buying from you.
And BUY is the actual process where the pull out their cash, check, credit card or purchase order and commit to the purchase.
As we must understand in this short marketing course, each of these steps may take several actions and considerable time before your buyer passes through to the next step.
For example, it may take several contacts before a buyer is finally comfortable or ready to actually buy what you are offering.
That’s why so many marketers try to capture the buyer’s email address or contact information as early as possible. In this way you could have several contacts with them until they are ready to “consider” actually buying.
This short marketing course technique even applies to a restaurant located in a food court, where it may take several visits before a customer is comfortable buying from you.
For many products and services, the buying process itself may require the customer trying a sample first, as a crucial step before they pull out their cash, check, credit card or purchase order.
An easy way to convert more prospects to buyers, is to fully understand the buying process from the buyer’s perspective, by drawing on a whiteboard or paper, what I call an Action Path.
An Action-Path is pretty simple to do, but it could make a dramatic difference in the effectiveness of every marketing activity you do, and that’s why I’m including it in this short marketing course. It’s amazing how many people, including supposed experts, who do not do anything like this.
An Action-Path is a listing of every step the buyer will go through, from first contact to actual purchase, to their coming back and buying more.
You don’t have to be fancy. Just list or draw out every step from the initial contact to the actual purchase to their coming back to buy more.
For the purpose of this exercise in our short marketing course, let’s say you have restaurant-stand in a mall’s food court.
A buyer comes to the food court wanting to buy lunch. Now that they’ve arrived, what do they do next? Step One: They scan the different signs for something that catches their eye. So, does your sign grab their eye? Does it tell them exactly what you are selling? Does it have appealing colors and graphics? How could you make it even more fun and appealing?
Then what do they do next? Step Two: They look at the counters and the people standing out front to see if any of the restaurant-stands looks appealing. Many marketers will hand out free samples just to create a crowd out front, and to entice potential buyers. Sometimes dropping off free coupons at a nearby business will get enough people standing out front and ordering during a busy period, that it creates the impression their restaurant is popular. I know someone who had family members order food to create the impression a restaurant is popular.
Then they leave, perhaps never to come back again. I’ve advised restaurants to give customers a bring-a-friend, buy one meal and get a second one free — coupon to get them to come back, and to bring someone else.
See how drawing out the Action-Path of how someone buys can help identify opportunities to increase your sales?
Will you hand out your business card? What’s the next action you want the person to take? Where does the business card fit in the buyer’s Action-Path? Is your card trying to get them to do something specific, like visit your website to get or see something specific? If not, why not?
We can’t leave this segment of the short marketing course without looking at your website. What specific action do you want the visitor to take? Watch a video? Give you their email address in exchange for your giving them something valuable? If it’s not obvious to you what the next action is, what makes you think it will be obvious to your customer? Make the next action more obvious and easy, and sales miraculously go up.
Websites are a perfect example of this. People treat their website as a kind-of Swiss Army Knife., where you have everything a visitor will want. The problem is, a visitor often does not know specifically what they want, except perhaps a cursory overview of who you are and what you do.
But when you draw the action path, it forces you to ask, what do you want them to do, then what, then what?
In our short marketing course today, here’s the last example.
I give a talk, or hand out my business card. My goal is to get people to come to my website.
At my website I want them to watch a video. Then, I want them to buy my product.
If they do not, I want them to give me their email address – so I’ll offer something valuable in exchange.
Now that I have their email address, I’ll send them an email, say once a month, with valuable information so they get used to interacting with me. At the bottom of every email I’ll have a brief ad, enticing them to consider my product.
Every 8 emails or so I’ll send them an email ad for some specific product I have.
Before creating the Action-Path, I forgot the process, and turned every email and ad into a promotion for a product. But the reality is, without seeing the video, almost no one will buy. So the Action-Path reminded me I needed to do whatever is possible to get people to watch the video. And the video will hopefully sell my product.
See how powerful creating a simple Action-Path can be in helping boost your sales?
So with our short marketing course today my point is simple. Before you create an ad, or even hand out your business card, draw an Action-Path. This will force you to understand and remember the buying process from your customer’s perspective, and will help you get more people to take the NEXT action you want, leading to more people ultimately buying from you.