Nothing survives in a vacuum, including your marketing efforts. If you want to make an impact, know where your customers are on their purchase journey and intersect them there with the right message. If you read my recent cloud customer journey blog, you know that buyers on a hunt for cloud products follow a fairly predictable path. Now you’re ready to align your marketing efforts with that journey to capture a prospect’s attention and deliver your amazing value proposition at the right time. Before you launch a marketing campaign, however, you need to know what your capabilities are and how you can get the most out of your marketing spend.
Review the six stages by watching our Cloud Customer Journey videos:
Understanding the Cloud Purchase Journey – Part I
Understanding the Cloud Purchase Journey – Part II
How you’ll allocate your marketing resources depends on what kind of prospects/customers you target, and the amount of resources (money, time, marketing staff) you have to dedicate to reaching those potential buyers. If you have limited resources (for example, one or fewer marketing employees, small investment of revenue invested in marketing), you need to be really precise in your focus to maximize those resources. Ask yourself: am I looking for new customers? Or do I want to expand my relationship with current customers? And do I target SMBs or larger customers with my solutions?
Finding new customers; maximizing existing customers
For those with fewer resources and a focus on obtaining new or SMB specific customers, you’ll want to focus primarily on the Explore, Evaluate, and Advocacy stages of the customer journey, the stages focused on educating, qualifying, and convincing customers to work with your company. These customers are looking for you (or someone like you), so the most critical thing you can do now is be where they can find you, and have a well-told story for them to experience when they get there. Articulate why you are different and specifically how you can relieve customer pain. Be precise about the customer segment, verticals, and niches your solutions cater to. Remember, a unique selling proposition allows you to be more indispensable to a customer and not compete on price alone. Think about places you will need to tell your story: web, industry associations, social media, email, etc.
Give potential buyers great content to explore and evaluate, and if you aren’t currently staffed to do copywriting and content creation, take advantage of the assets that Microsoft has built for your use. This includes content in Partner Marketing Center – sales presentations, copy blocks, free digital content, and more.
With fewer resources and a focus on working with existing customers or larger customers, you’ll want to expend more attention on the Expand, Renew, and Advocacy stages of the customer journey. These are the stages that center on expansion of that customer solution into other parts of the company, or moving that customer into other complementary solutions that can augment what they have in-house (cross-sell and up-sell). Think about your company team – who else do you have calling on that account? Service, sales and account management can also help to expand customer minds to new ways to use current solutions or think about new ones, based on other customer successes you’ve had. Continue to engage these customers with educational tools and customer case studies to keep them in an ongoing conversation with you. Be sure to follow up, as these customers may be ready at different points in time to move into new solutions, so it’s important to track their specific marketing/sales progress.
For prospects at every stage in the journey, you’ll want to have an up-to-date Pinpoint profile and consider a social media presence that offers great, timely information, so you can keep educating your current and prospective customers on your other offerings.
The following tools are basic ones needed to support a foray into more active marketing:
Customer relationship management software such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM to help track leads, cross sell and upsell activities.
A basic website with free analytical tools, product information, and liberal use of “contact us” buttons. A link to a blog would be a great way to add value and get a boost in the search engines.
A partner profile in Pinpoint, the marketplace that allows customers to connect to a Microsoft partner for their technology needs.
Dip your toes into social media – get to know blog platforms such as WordPress, as well as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can get more information on utilizing social channels and other digital media in my previous blog, Changing buyer dynamics and your digital presence.
And lastly, email marketing providers can help you get the word out to customers using free Microsoft branded email templates (also found in the Partner Marketing Center).
Stay tuned for even more information from the Cloud Customer Journey research.
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