Information, which is ready at a mouse click, can lengthen the buying cycle. Think of it. Twenty, even ten, years ago instant information was not at the fingertips of the vast majority of consumers. The ability to shop, compare brands and inquire from other consumers was limited to our friends, family and the occasional Consumer Reports publication.
That's all changed and that change has resulted in a much longer buying cycle that can be scary to brands not using technology. Why, because YOU are no longer in control.
Today consumers who are interested in a product or service can find out what others are saying. Learn what their shopping experience was like. Compare pricing, warranty issues and availability all without ever coming into contact with a sales person. No longer do consumers say, "I want/need that _______." They now spend time learning from friends, family and other consumers who post reviews and information on-line.
Think of it, people are talking about your brand, product, service and unless you are engaged in that conversation...you have no idea how their new "word of mouth" marketing effects your sales.
Scary to think that your advertising dollars have less and less impact than what they did a decade ago. But, it is true.
How do you...engage? Your product/service/brand must join the social conversation or be left in the dust. But, just how do you do that? Here are four simple suggestions:
- Because consumers trust other consumers it is critical that you encourage the conversation by sharing in the social media circles dominated by your demographic;
- Expand your voice by communicating with your base. Encourage buyers to share their experience on-line, offer them a chance to rate your sales and service. Communicate with them long after the sale is complete;
- On-line sharing is great but, as a brand, you can expand your voice in your brick and mortar store. For example: QR Codes that link to product videos/testimonials and "how to" use can be valuable. Use comments from your on-line adventure as point of purchase memos from satisfied consumers. Get mobile so that shoppers can interact with your brand while in your store.
- Be a responsive brand by sharing stories, images and responding in a very timely manner to people asking questions and seeking product information. Consider live chat especially if you are selling on-line...
While technology has lengthened the buying cycle you, by your actions, can foster a great experience among your customers by using technology to help the buying cycle to become less...scary and much more FRIENDLY.