The question clients have been asking me most often recently is, when do you stop marketing to your contact list? In my opinion, unless your prospect has given you a clear indication they will not buy from you, or you’ve uncovered they are not the right target customer, you never stop marketing to them. Why? Without brand awareness and exposure, prospects will not recall you to consider you for selection at the moment of purchase. There are many documented business cases that demonstrate when companies stop marketing, they lose market share to their competitors because during the selection process, their competitors were top of mind.
B2B sales cycles are complex and can range from 6 months to 5 years depending on the industry. An example is IT Professional Services. Most companies are on a 3-5 year schedule to upgrade their server network. If you gave up marketing to them in year 2 or 3, you would be missing out on potential purchases. If companies are not exposed to your brand during that time period, your company will have no visibility so they will not be able consider you for purchase.
During the prospect’s decision-making process, the majority require 5 – 6 contacts from you before they will be able to evaluate your brand and make a decision whether to buy from you.
Their decision-making process would typically be informed by the following:
- Brand awareness and perception generated by touchpoints.
- Selection of a number of brands for consideration, ranging from 2 to 4 depending on the industry. Brand evaluation is based on touchpoints, contact interaction, word of mouth and experience.
- The prospect will add and subtract brands on an on-going basis as they are exposed to them, based on how they perceive the brand will fulfill their objectives.
- The brand is selected at moment of purchase need.
- Brand experience – ongoing exposures reinforce brand experience and keep the brand in the top selection.
- Brand is selected again based on brand exposure, experience and recurring contacts
Prospects may not need to buy you during the period you make those contacts so it is important you understand their buying cycle and follow up at times relevant to their purchasing needs. It is also important you maintain on-going brand exposures to enhance your brand’s perception so your brand is included in the roster of brands for consideration at the moment of purchase.