Marketing communications, in simplest terms, helps put a customer or prospect in the right frame of mind to buy. It can educate, inform, advise, recommend, encourage, scare and influence a prospect, but it cannot make them buy. At some point someone or something (e-commerce for example) has to close the sale. A recent presentation by Datacore Marketing describes this as “The Last Four Feet.”
The Last Four Feet represents the final steps that a customer takes as they approach the sales counter (or online checkout). Without question this is the most important part of the process. Can you close the sale?
Marketers place great emphasis on campaigns to the end-user or customer. Significant, sometimes huge budgets are invested to help put the target audience in the right frame of mind to buy. But too often, after marketing communications has done its job with the customer, the process falls down at the sales counter.
Picture a customer who receives direct communications on your product, investigates online, reads the reviews, talks to their friends and decides “I want to buy.” They enter the “store” to purchase, approach the checkout, and the salesperson (or process) says, “Have you seen the features on alternative product #2 over here?” At that point, in the last four feet, all of your marketing communications efforts are shot down by one missed communication.
So how do you avoid losing your customer at the sales counter? Here are four sure-fire steps that will help with “the last four feet.”
1) Educate your sales channel first – before any external customer communications begin. Be sure products and processes are easily understood (this applies to e-commerce too).
2) Let the channel in on the process early, ask for feedback and implement suggestions that will strengthen the relationship with the channel. If using e-commerce, be sure to test the checkout process to make sure it is intuitive and without distraction.
3) Involve the channel in the product or campaign roll out. Give the channel an active stake in the process that encourages their engagement. A kickoff event, an incentive, an interesting (but not burdensome) program.
4) Reinforce the sales process within your marketing communications. Suggest to the customer in your messaging the easiest route to purchase while reinforcing the same “easy route” to the channel audience.
Marketing communications can put the customer in the right frame of mind, but it can’t ring the till by itself. Include a solid channel strategy to make sure your marketing investment isn’t lost at the sales counter.
Have you ever dropped out of a sale at the counter? If so, what could the marketer have done differently?