Four Key Steps In Your Ideal Customer’s Journey To You
As an entrepreneur, you know the “holy grail” of small business is to have customers who love you.
No, I don’t just mean customers who do business with you again and again. I’m talking about the kind of customers who develop a fanatical passion – downright ambassadorship! – for your business that makes your competitors green with envy (and your bottom-line unassailably “green,” too).
Hopefully, you are the entrepreneur who cultivates customer relationships that turn into ambassadorships.
But maybe you’re the green-with-envy business owner who looks at other businesses’ customer relationships and thinks, “Why can’t we have customers like that?”
But it doesn’t happen by accident.
It starts by realizing your ideal customer is out there, looking for you, and wanting the same thing you want: an amazing business relationship that not only makes sense, but makes everyone involved feel great about it.
And there are at least four distinct steps in the customer’s journey to that “holy grail” relationship with your business.
Turn Strangers Into Prospects
If you think about it, those wonderful ambassadors for your business (or someone else’s business) started as strangers.
There was a day when your ideal customer didn’t know a thing about your business. He may not even have known you existed!
But he had a problem, a need, or a desire… and he was looking for someone to help him.
That’s why the first step in cultivating great customer relationships is to help strangers find you, so you can convert them to prospective customers.
You have to have a web presence.
And a good one.
So make sure you have a professional website that’s both technically-sound and content-rich. You want your site not only to give that potential customer all the information he needs, you want it to intrigue him enough to investigate further… all without having his journey blocked by unnecessary distractions and frustrations.
Your site only has no more than a quick moment to intrigue your prospect. Within a few seconds, she needs to know she’s “in the right place” – that she’s found a business in the right niche, that has the specific solutions she needs for the need or problem she’s facing.
Right away, your prospect needs to get a sense that your business can be trusted to make life a little better! And that you’re worth a little further exploration.
Getting the stranger who’s looking for help to investigate your business further – by signing up for a “freebie” like a special report, by subscribing to your email list or newsletter, or by picking up the phone to schedule a consultation – is the first critical step in facilitating the customer journey.
Convert Prospects To Customers
How do you plan to grow your business? Increase your customer base? Improve your revenue?
The best way is to put a system in place to convert prospective customers into first-time buyers of your product or service.
Too many small businesses assume they can build a business by “having a solid reputation,” or “doing great work,” or the old stand-by, “word of mouth.”
All of these are great ideas. But the reason most small businesses fail is that too many rely exclusively on these notions. They rely on luck more than strategy.
They’re “Open and Hopin.’”
By contrast, successful businesses have a marketing plan – a strategy for turning prospects into first-time customers (and a budget to fuel that effort).
Here again, your web presence can help you accomplish quite a bit of this. But you have to keep it fresh, lively, attractive, and up-to-date. And you have to stay in touch with prospects, through email campaigns, or newsletters, or simply keeping your web log (“blog”) and social media sites updated.
Smart entrepreneurs know this is a numbers game. Collect a number of strangers into your pool of prospects, and a certain percentage of them will eventually become buyers.
And the smartest operators continually look for (and find) ways to improve their odds and increase their rate of conversion of prospects to customers.
Those businesses almost always have great web presences.
And there’s no reason yours can’t be one of them.
Make Ambassadors Of Your Customers
Here’s where you employ those fine strategies of doing good work, having a great reputation, and cultivating word-of-mouth for your business.
Here’s where your customers could become enthusiastic ambassadors for your business.
But again, don’t rely on luck.
You can still use your fabulous web presence to keep the customer moving along on the journey to ambassadorship.
The keys are involvement, and inspiration.
Get your customers involved in your business! Ask for feedback – and act on it. Ask for testimonials (don’t just wait for a customer to offer one). Create “super testimonials” by having full-blown case studies written (and posted on your site and social media) about how customers found great solutions to thorny problems by doing business with you. Ask for comments on your blog. Ask customers to guest-post on your blog!
The key word here is to “ask.”
You might be surprised how eagerly your customer will help you if you only ask.
And you can do a lot of that asking on the web.
When customers are asked to give testimonials or otherwise help your business, they feel flattered. Inspired. And that’s when that magic conversion from mere customer to excited ambassador can happen.
You can create ambassadors for your business. Not all customers become ambassadors, of course, just as not all strangers looking for help will find it from you. But if you use your web presence wisely - plant enough seeds, nuture them, and help them along - you’ll find you can cultivate the kind of customer relationships your competitors can only dream about. In short, your web presence can help you create a lot of green!