Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Effective branding flows from the point of choice

Where and how do your audiences take action — to inquire, respond, meet or buy?

As a business person, you know it’s a good practice to build your brand by marketing to your target audiences at their various touch points — the places where you connect with and communicate to potential buyers, current customers or influencers. But in today’s environment, the number of potential touch points and media choices for even a single target audience are overwhelming.

Time and resources often limit which touch points to address. Whether marketing online, in print, or in person, how do you choose where and when to invest your marketing budget to generate response and the highest ROI?

pointing to the choiceThe secret? Focus your marketing on your audience’s points of choice. Instead of spreading your budget to any and all touch points, where your target audience might see a message in the course of their day, prioritize your marketing investment by focusing on the points at which potential buyers are making a decision and taking action to take the next step.

That action could be as simple as finding your website and clicking “download” or “call us.” Or responding to a mailer by picking up the phone or filling in a reply card. Or agreeing to an appointment to talk about your product or service. Or it could be grabbing that beautifully packaged cookie off the display next to the coffee just because it looks really tasty.

How do you uncover the critical points of choice?

Step 1: Identify your target audiences.

Well-planned marketing must start with clearly identifying your target audiences — defining who they are, what benefits they’ll receive from your product or service, and what messages, benefits or ideas will move them to action. Most manufacturers and B2B marketers have multiple targets in their sales channel, each with different perceptions and expectations and different triggers that will move them forward.

Step 2: For each target audience, name the stages in the sales process.

Start at the beginning, when a potential buyer first finds out about your company, then map the sequence of actions in the flow from initial awareness to interest to final recommendation or purchase. How people/companies buy will vary depending on your product and your sales channel.

If someone is searching for what you offer, where and how will they find you?

It’s a reality. If someone is looking for a resource, product or service, they’re going to start online. Have you optimized your website to be found by search engines based on how your audiences search (not just on the products or services you offer). What happens if someone finds you online? Will your website deliver what they’re looking for? Will it support and enhance the brand experience and perception? Will they find valuable content that will move them forward in the decision process?

Or what’s the process to prepare for a trade show and follow-up? What about a personal sales call? What is the interaction that will move the target from interest forward towards a buying decision?

It’s often useful to chart out the process visually, identifying current tactics being used to build awareness to examining how inquiries are handled to the the key messages in a sales conversations. What’s working? What’s triggering action and response? Different industries require different steps and stages, and the buying process may blend multiple decision makers. Consider these components individually and in sequence.

Step 3: Identify the buyer’s decision points in the sales process.

Next, identify what information and action is needed by each target audience to move forward in the process. For example, a buyer might find your website by searching for the products you offer, then visit your website (and others) to conduct comparative research, request more information, or to make a purchase. Or at a tradeshow, a prospect will learn more about what you have to offer, and accept or decline the opportunity to talk further.

Step 4: Develop marketing messages and tactics focused on these decision points.

Not only do you want to encourage the potential buyer to take the next step, but you also must make sure the buyer has the information and tools to make that decision and seamlessly follow through. If a prospect has received a referral to your company but can’t find your website through a search engine, you have a problem … and an opportunity.

choosing onlineFor both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) marketers, one of the most powerful points of choice now is the Internet. Thus it’s vital you have a strongly branded website with distinctive messaging, clear calls to action, and tools and information to support response. Offline points of choice vary greatly based on your industry, product or service offering, and audiences.

It’s important to note in a recent survey by GlobalSpec, industrial (B2B) firms cited the best new lead sources are the company Website (70%), tradeshows (44%), and e-mail marketing (33%).

This is a quick overview of the point of choice concept.

We’ll dig deeper in future posts. As with all effective marketing — know your audiences, evaluate your sales process, and put yourself in your audience’s shoes to understand their perspective and their concerns. For a bigger return, support your brand first at the key points of choice for each target audience.

For more insight into understanding your target audiences, check out these posts:

Where do you see the biggest response from your audiences? What can you identify as critical point of choice that will accelerate your marketing results?

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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