Target your marketing activities to phases of the buying cycle

A buyer is influenced by different marketing activities depending on which stage of the cycle he’s in. When identifying the need, the prospect is most influenced by advertising. That could be television, print, Web-based, or radio. According to a 2011 study by Gartner, 64% of U.S. respondents put advertising as the marketing activity that exerted the most influence when considering potential solutions to a business problem. Newsletters were second with 59 percent, followed by social media at
58 percent, press publications at 55 percent, and marketing literature at 43 percent.

The advertising category dropped to 29 percent when these same prospects were identifying which providers could provide the solution. Provider websites scored highest here, with 47 percent. But only 40 percent of those respondents considered websites as a big influencer in the first phase.

Contact from the provider scored 23 percent in the first phase but jumped to 45 percent in the second phase.  Similarly, sales presentations went from 22 percent to 45 percent. White papers were fairly consistent in the first two phases—42 and 44 percent, respectively—which makes sense since this medium feeds the information gatherer, which is carried out in the first two phases of the buying cycle.

In the decision phase, references from the provider’s customers carried the most weight, with 54 percent. This category far outpaced the second place category, sales presentations, which garnered 33 percent of the response, and provider contact
with 32 percent.

Knowing how much influence your various marketing activities can exert on your sales prospects is key to making the right choices—and investments. Give careful consideration to the prospects you’re trying to reach and in which phase of the buying cycle they are in so you can tailor not only your message but also your medium to get the most ROI.


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