When it comes to marketing, I see a conflict in messaging around how quickly to expect results. On one hand, you hear about how long-term brand awareness and consistent touch points with your audience are key to generating revenue.  On the other hand, there is a demand to know the ROI of any marketing activity, which implies an expectation of immediate results.  I wanted to talk with you about what to anticipate for your business and how many times you need to reach your leads to generate sales and drive revenue.

Before I get into how to evaluate this question for your business, I want you to know something.  NOBODY has a concrete answer.  There are no guarantees. There are no instant results.  You find out how and how many times to reach your leads by marketing wisely, studying qualitative and quantitative data, tweaking your approach, and experimenting with new ideas. Even the people who are promising you quick results are marketing consistently.  They are marketing to you in the very message where they tell you they know how to get instant results.

If you start by acknowledging the fact that long-term success requires consistency and a long-term approach, you move onto the next question of how many touch points you really need to get through to your audience.

Long-term success requires consistency and a long-term approach. #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #entrepreneur #biztips #womeninbiz Click To Tweet

For those who have heard of the “Rule of Seven,” you heard that it takes at least seven touches to turn a lead into a sale.  This is a general principle.  If you are aiming for maximum efficiency in your business, in theory you would look at historically how many touch points you’ve needed on average before you reached a successful close.  Some businesses will send in the sales team for the close as soon as they reach that target number. Read here for more on this rule!

Again, the rule of seven is a general principle, and it should be adapted based on real historical data from your business. The number of times you need to reach your leads is variable, so what are some of the factors that make it variable?

Quality of Your Touch Points

In your business, you probably have different marketing methods and different ways of getting in front of your leads.  Some ways of reaching your audience will be more impactful than others.

You may find that for one method you only need to get in front of your leads four times on average before they are ready to buy, because the quality of that interaction is so high.  In another method, you may need 100 touches, because the quality of those interactions is lower.

You could even see variation within the method.  When it comes to word of mouth marketing, one person may have a 100% success rate in bringing you referrals and another may have a 15% success rate.  Or perhaps outreach at a certain time of year is more productive than at other times of year.

Circumstances change. Results change. The market changes. Your audience changes. What is good quality now might drop in quality later. A strong marketing plan is not about assuming the things that work for you will always work.  A strong marketing plan is about monitoring your results and pivoting as soon as you need to. This may affect the number of times you need to reach your audience.

A strong #marketing plan is about monitoring your results and pivoting as soon as you need to. #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz Click To Tweet

Urgency of Your Product or Service

If you need car repairs, a plumber, a lawyer, these are things that you could potentially need urgently.  If you need sport equipment, books, jewelry, pastries, perhaps you don’t need them as urgently.

You can make a case for anything to be urgent or not urgent in the right scenario, but I am asking you to assess your business on the whole.  If you can determine that urgency is high for your business, what does this tell you?

If someone does not need something urgently, a slow-play approach is probably going to be more effective so that you gradually, consistently stay on their minds until they feel the time is right.

When someone has an urgent need, they have very little time to make a decision.  Even if they comparison shop, they will buy something, and they are going to buy it soon.  You don’t need to convince them that they need what you sell.  You do need to be visible and make it easy for them to decide to buy from you instead of a competitor.  That said, their decision to buy from you could come from the fact that you marketed to them periodically before this emergency happened and they knew you were there, so even in this case I argue that there is value in planting these marketing seeds early.

I can tell you that for my business a lot of people will wait a year or two before deciding to invest in marketing support. Often they make their choice after they realize they are not being as effective as they want to be.  This is part of the decision making process for many of my clients.  I respect that, and I plan accordingly.

Where does your business fall on this spectrum? Read more here if you want to dive in further on this topic.

How Visible Are You?

There may be kinds of marketing that you can do more easily, more affordably, more quickly, or with a low overall time investment.  But when you do that marketing, are you one of many marketing in that space or do you stand out?

Let’s look at this a different way. What if you were interested in a job at a particular company.  If you wait to apply when a job opportunity is posted, you will be one of dozens or maybe hundreds of applicants.  Your resume is the only thing to differentiate you, so it had better stand out.  But what if you had been developing relationships at the company for six months already?  Maybe you had some coffees, had an informational interview, or did an internship.  When the job gets posted, you might have a leg up.

It may be easy to promote your business through a traditional channel, and it may even be easy to measure the results through that channel, but if you are lost in a sea of advertisers is that the best solution for you?  A good marketing plan may require touches across a mix of channels to help you get your message across. Read about the value of multi-channel marketing here!

Proving Reputation

No matter how many times you get in front of a lead, reputation and social proof is a factor for most buyers.  Depending on the buyer’s social style (read here for more on social styles), they may look for different types of proof, but external validation of some sort is usually part of the process.

If you bear that in mind, those public relations-style tools may end up being the most important even if you can’t directly measure sales from them.  Blogs, press releases, newsletters, non-sales social media posts, charity work, interviews and podcasts are examples.  You may never be able to accurately track sales straight from these channels, but they often get the assist for a sale.  The more research someone does on you, the more verification they get, the more likely they will be to go ahead.

Public relations-style tools may end up being the most important even if you can’t directly measure sales from them. #business #smallbiz #biztips #marketing Click To Tweet

Your marketing and sales strategy should be reflective of measuring and analyzing the real data from your business, looking for ways to make improvements, and experimenting with solutions wherever an improvement can be made.

It is about reaching leads as often as you can, working towards a trusting relationship while staying within the budget of time and money you have to give.  When it comes to how many times you should reach your leads, I say keep at it.   There are trade-offs with any marketing method, so try different things.  Look for qualitative AND quantitative results.  Ask people how they heard about you.  Stay in front of your audience and weave in what you know to be working.

There are no guarantees, but only a long-term approach will yield long-term success.

Not sure how to build a plan that allows for a lot of touch points AND stay organized? Looking for wisdom on how to create a plan that gets in front of your audience consistently without breaking your time or budget? This is where your marketing funnel comes in. Your marketing funnel is your marketing strategy and the road map for how you will manage a long-term approach and drive more revenue to your business. Check out this course to learn how to Create Your Most Profitable Marketing Strategy.