Consider this scenario: your trade stand at the recent trade show was well attended by new faces, your team had many conversations, served many cups of tea and the stand looked vibrant and busy all day. But the number of sales you made barely covered the infrastructure costs of exhibiting, let alone met the cost of the hours of staff time on the day and beforehand in the planning stages. Do you exhibit again next year?
There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don’t know how she swallowed a cow;
She swallowed the cow to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
Which is a way of me saying conversion is a process, not an event.
Few purchases (especially of services) are made purely on impulse and there is a well known 5 step process that illustrates this:
Need Recognition > Information Search > Evaluation of Alternatives > Purchase Decision > Post Purchase Behaviour
In large businesses, these purchasing decisions can be carried out in a methodological and auditable manner, but small businesses rarely have the resources to work in this way. And whilst the elements of the process may still be identifiable, the resulting decisions and purchases may be less robustly defensible. This is the world of the small business.
From the point of view of a supplier’s marketing strategy each of these process elements important to influence and a strategy that only focuses on one will likely be less effective than one that focuses on all.
So let’s get back to the scenario outlined above. Considering the 5 step process, a relevant question to ask is what were the bulk of those conversations your team had with those potential customers? Did the conversations fall into Need Recognition or Information Search? If so, then you have made important inroads into each potential purchase decision. Inroads that should be followed up to stay in that potential customer’s process. But this can only happen if:
- you have recorded their details and received permission to contact them post show
- your show team recorded the nature of each conversation
- your show team knows of and/or understands the significance of the 5 step decision process
And if none of the above apply then all is not lost. Those potential customers may yet contact you to complete the sale but:
- you are relying purely on their actions, completely uninfluenced by you, to secure future sales
- you may never know whether their visit to your stand was a critical element in the purchase process