63 percent of car buyers have an initial brand in mind before they begin researching their purchase. (Source: Google/think)
Why should you care about this stat that has to do with a category in which you likely do not compete?
You should care because what this demonstrates – check that, proves – is that consumers’ brand preference and purchase intent is being influenced in the pre-market stage of their purchase path. That is, they are making critical decisions that will influence their purchases even before they are thinking about making a purchase.
So, what does this have to do with social media and content marketing?
Another great question.
Well, this has a lot to do with it actually. Social media and content marketing affords us the opportunity to forge relationships with consumers at every stage of the purchase cycle – pre-market, in-market and post-market.
By finding ways to develop relationships with consumers before they are thinking about making a purchase – in the pre-market phase – we can influence brand preference, land our businesses within consumers’ initial consideration set, and dramatically increase the chances of making a sale to consumers when they are ready to make a purchase, or when they are in-market.
How can you do this?
That’s right, probably the best question yet.
There are actually a number of ways that you can do this, and a number of things to bear in mind when doing so.
Here are a few thoughts for how you can develop relationships with pre-market consumers that work toward influencing their purchase decision in your favour:
Provide value that is contextually relevant
I write about the importance of providing true value to your audience on social media a fair bit, but it is absolutely imperative when we’re talking about influencing pre-market consumers. The value and relevance of your content is what is going to attract them to your brand even before they’re thinking about making a purchase. Depending on your strategy it can also build credibility, establish trust, sway perceptions, and more.
When developing your content strategy for connecting with pre-market consumers, the content they view as being valuable may be different that what in-market or post-market consumers see as being valuable. They aren’t yet invested in your business or brand, and they might not even be thinking about your category at this point! This can dramatically affect the content you should consider producing, though it should always retain relevance to your value proposition.
Don’t pitch them
This is pretty simple, but don’t bother pitching to pre-market consumers. Don’t try to sell to them. They’re not shopping, so you shouldn’t be selling. Just think about how annoying it is when a salesperson approaches you and is pushy when you’re just browsing, or accompanying a friend with their purchase.
Avoid turning pre-market consumers off of your business or brand by laying off the pitch until your consumers have indicated they’re ready for it.
Invest, be patient and be confident
What I’m talking about here is no flash in a pan solution to selling like crazy on social media. This is an approach that will take time, and the value of which will be more apparent in the long run.
Invest in connecting with pre-market consumers today so that you can sell them not tomorrow, but six months from now, or a year or two from now.
This approach will yield returns, but they won’t be the immediately apparent returns of cutting prices, or holding a BOGO event. Be patient and confident in your strategy and you’ll see the benefits in due course.
This approach of targeting pre-market consumers is not intended to work for every business. If consumers in your business’ category go through a short purchase cycle, or purchases are made by impulse, then there may not even be such thing as traditional pre-market consumers in your category.
However, if purchase cycles are sufficiently long, and the financial payoff of converting social media activity to a sale is high, then I strongly recommend you start thinking about your social media and content marketing activity to pre-marketing consumers as an amortizing investment.
How do you target pre-market consumers?
How do you get people interested in your business even if they’re not looking to make a purchase?
Have you had any success attracting people to your brand even if they’re not considering making a purchase?
It would be fantastic to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
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