Every marketer makes offers. The difference between the successful marketers and the also-rans is follow-up. Fast, personal, on-point follow-up turns a random offer or a blind pitch into the beginnings of a meaningful relationship. More great campaigns have been killed by the lack of fast-acting follow-up than anything else.
The most effective marketers build follow-up communications into the initial plan.
First, to break through the clutter. Prospects are busy, not paying close attention and not looking for a message from you. Distracted by others they are generally bombarded by messages that don’t matter to them.
Second, to differentiate your brand. Prospects are so used to being ignored or treated with one-size-fits-all messages that when you actually listen and respond you instantly separate yourself from the pack. And if you listen and respond in ways that are personal, relevant and synchronize with what they told you or what they want -- you have a momentary shot at becoming their new best friend.
Both forms of follow-up require a strategy and technology to implement. Map out the most likely responses to your offer and how you intend to respond to each one. Drawing a schematic forces you to think practically. Those squiggles on paper lay out the links between your marketing concepts and your infrastructure. The process forces you to factor in all the people, systems, channels and departments that will have to work in concert to effectively follow-up.
It helps if you can program “triggers” and automate much of the follow-up. Triggers should be linked to choices that prospects make. If they select a particular industry, they are offered White Paper #1. If they are actively in a buying cycle, they get different content and your inside sales team gets cued. The BANT criteria should shape how you trigger follow-up messages. So should elapsed time.
48 hours is the outside limit for follow-up messaging. If a prospect took an action, you have to assume some level of conscious action. But in the same moment you must anticipate that the conscious action is at the low end of the urgency or value scale. Therefore unless you follow-up while your brand still lingers in short term memory caches, the prospect will forget that they had any interaction with you whatsoever.
The offer-response-follow-up cycle has to be rhythmic. If they download the white paper, an automatic e-mail is sent out 48 hours later to assess readership, satisfaction and next steps. If they take the benchmarking survey, their results are automatically compiled and e-mailed at the end of that business day, a reminder or follow-up message is automatically sent 48 hours later and the compilation of survey results is automatically dispatched 30 days hence.
Treat each response like a nuclear isotope with 48 our half-life. Act quickly to follow-up and respond, probe or ask for preferences. We live in a world of nanoseconds. After 48 hours your precious prospect interaction lost and so is whatever cash or capital you spent to create the moment.