Traditionally, the way we have thought about the customer journey has been in terms of the funnel: leads in the top and clients out the bottom. We are going to look at a different way to think about the customer journey which considers the potential of existing clients; something that John Jantsch has termed the ‘marketing hourglass.’
This concept is described in detail in John’s new book The Ultimate Marketing Engine but we are going to look at what this method has to offer and why it has more relevance in today’s business and marketing environment.
Rethinking the Customer Journey: Strategy Before Tactics
John started his marketing consultancy 30 years ago with no specific plan. He picked up a few clients and realized he loved working with small business owners but discovered that they didn’t always have the right budget or fit for his services. Along the way, he developed a roadmap for customers which laid out what they needed to spend to get results, and inadvertently hit upon something which had been proving frustrating not only for him, but for those small business owners too.
The first book that John wrote, called ‘Duct Tape Marketing’ encouraged marketers to put strategy before tactics. This concept of ‘strategy before tactics’ can be summarized in three steps: 1) Narrow your focus to your top 20% of clients, 2) Promise to solve their greatest problem, 3) Craft the perfect customer journey.
Let’s take a look at these three steps in detail:
Narrow Your Focus
The reality is that your top 20% clients probably represent 80% of your business. It makes sense to use them as a model to define your ideal client so that you are able to target and attract more similar clients.
It’s important to look beyond simply identifying the clients who are the most profitable and to narrow it down further to those who are so happy with your services that they give you referrals. Honing in on your happiest and most profitable clients and finding out what they want is the key to growing your client base in the best way.
Start by creating three lists of client attributes; A) Must haves, B) Nice-to-haves, and C) Ideal. Once you have identified the key attributes of an ideal client, you can even start teaching and educating your own clients on how to be more successful.
Find out more about how to create your three lists of client attributes by accessing the full webinar.
Promise to Solve a Problem
Thinking about your services in terms of solving problems is key to connecting with your clients. This is usually much more important than simply focusing on all the great features of your product or service.
As an example, we had a client offering architect services to contractors. The contractors needed the architect’s services so they could submit plans at the beginning of a job and get paid. Essentially, the real problem that the architect solved for them was that they allowed them to get paid faster. Once the client realized this, they could align their marketing message to fit. Their message became “We help contractors get paid faster”, and they put efforts into making sure this was part of their core strategy.
One great way to find out what problem you are solving is to interview your customers or go through your online reviews to find out what common things they are saying about you. Google reviews are a great source of reviews and testimonials.
For example, reviews for this tree-cutting service kept referring to the fact that workers showed up on time and cleaned up before they left. They hadn’t realized that these were common pain points in the industry.
So, the company decided to make that a key part of their message and their service.
Find out how to get the most out of your customer interviews in The Ultimate Marketing Engine, with templates, checklists and more.
Craft the Perfect Customer Journey
Crafting the perfect customer journey has to consider the current environment and customer buying behavior, which is constantly evolving. Consider the following statistics:
- 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site (Source: Junto, 2019)
- 87% of potential customers won’t consider businesses with low ratings (Source: Search Engine Land)
- 64% of consumers say that watching a video on Facebook has influenced a purchase decision (Source: Animoto)
- 92% of consumers will visit a brand’s website for the first time for reasons other than making a purchase (Source: Episerver)
- 83% of business owners claim tier main source of new business is referrals (The Referral Engine)
This data underlines the need for an online presence yet also shows us that the way to get new customers is not necessarily through your digital marketing strategy.
The way people become customers has changed, yet we still push them through the same old sales funnels as part of the customer journey.
Marketing today is less about creating demand and more about organizing behavior.
Today’s customer journey looks less like a funnel and more like this:
The concept of the ‘Marketing Hourglass’ rethinks the customer journey to incorporate after-sales service into the sales process.
Instead of thinking about ‘funnels’, where leads go in at the top and a few of these come out as customers at the bottom; with the ‘hourglass’ concept, the sale is not the end of the journey but the middle. Customers become the source for repeat business and referrals in the service step and the goal becomes getting as many of your customers as possible to make referrals.
How to Implement a More Effective Customer Journey
There are some questions you should ask yourself when it is time to implement your customer journey:
- What does our ideal customer’s journey look like?
- How do we put our marketing on their chosen path?
- What gaps in campaigns, content, and processes do we need to fill?
Then, it is a case of building better relationships, turning these into long-term success and then scaling this success with your clients. We have identified some ways in which you can do this.
Create Relationships: Know, Like and Trust
The first stage of the customer journey is about marketing your services by getting your customers to know, like, and trust you. There are many ways to do this.
- Know – Search Marketing, Blog content, Social Media content. Community involvement, Teaching events, Speaking / Podcasts, Networking, Referrals, Sales Outreach
- Like – Core message, Brand Elements, Blog content, Social Media content, User Experience
- Trust – Visual cues, Video, Free content, Social Media, Case Studies, Testimonials, PR/3rd party
Bridge to Long-Term Success: Try and Buy
To turn prospects into clients, you need to get them to try, and then buy, your product or service.
Scale with your clients: Repeat and Refer
The final stage of the journey is getting your customers to create more business for you either through repeat business or referrals.
To find out how to work your way through these steps, either access the full webinar or pre-order John’s book.
The key to transforming the way you think about the customer journey is to start from the end and make your way back from there:
- How would your clients need to feel after working with you in order to make a referral?
- What would you need to do to give them that experience?
- How do you communicate in your marketing that you provide this experience?
We hope that by following these simple steps you can change the way you think about the customer journey and create clients for life.