‘Touchpoint’ is the latest marketing buzzword and, oddly, it actually makes sense.
People don’t buy from strangers – so don’t be a stranger.
OK. So the first question is, what on earth is a ‘touchpoint’?
A touchpoint is just a trendy way of describing any moment when a potential customer becomes aware of or interacts with your business.
The reason that they are so important is that it actually takes rather a lot of them before someone will come and do business with you.
When you are running a business and marketing that business, it’s easy to overlook this. It’s easy to think that because a person has seen your showroom, perhaps looked at your website, then they know what it is that you do and if they want a pool or a spa or a sauna then they know where to come.
If they don’t walk in through the door, cheque book in hand, that’s because they don’t want to buy anything off you. But that simply isn’t true.
The sales process is called a ‘process’ because a potential customer has to go through a number of stages before they are prepared to come in and start talking about doing a deal.
And people are busy. And people forget.
Out of sight, out of mind.
So how many touchpoints does it take?
Well, the simple answer is ‘quite a lot’. Some marketing experts think that 7 should do it, but it certainly varies dependent on the product or service that you are selling, and the personality of the person that you are selling to.
One thing is for certain, the higher the value of what you are trying to sell, the more touchpoints it’s going to take.
If you go back a decade or two, we can all remember people buying a spa or an above-ground pool almost as an impulse purchase. In that process there are probably only a couple of touchpoints, but when was the last time anyone bought a pool or spa from your business on impulse?
These days, people tend to ‘do their research’ before making a big purchase. That can take time, and those people are leading busy lives and being bombarded by advertising and sales messages.
Every time that a potential customer ‘touches’ your business they need to feel good about it, gain something from it and remember that it was you.
Those things all add up so, when that customer does eventually walk through the door, a lot of the sales work has already been done.
So how do you achieve that?
Variety is the spice of life.
Touchpoints come in all manner of shapes and sizes. They include PR, advertising and marketing and, eventually your sales staff.
At the beginning of the process, a touchpoint might just be about awareness. The customer might see one of your liveried vans or drive past your showroom.
Word of mouth is a very important touchpoint. Recommendations and testimonials about your business might come from face to face meetings that person has with your existing customers or from social media.
There are an increasing number of websites dedicated to helping people find either recommended local businesses or businesses in a specific industry – such as wet leisure – and it’s important that you get good reviews on those sites.
Your potential customer might see an advert that you have run in the local paper or read a blog post that you have put up on-line. They might see you at a local show or visit an open day that you host at your showroom at the beginning of the season. They might visit your website.
If they see a positive story about your business in the local paper, that PR will help add to the picture as well
All of these things will add up to give an impression of the sort of business that you are and hopefully make you appeal to that potential customer.
One day, that customer rings up or walks through the door. It’s important that the impression that he or she has picked up along the journey is supported at this stage. If you have described yourself as a friendly and knowledgeable business, then you need to be friendly and knowledgeable to each and every customer that you meet.
And do you know what? It’s quite possible that your new customer will say, ‘I’ve been thinking about buying a spa for quiet a while now so I thought I’d come in and see you.’
And only you will know that you have been leading them to this moment every step of the way.