Do You Prepare Customers to Buy?

I received an envelope from my alma mater the other day. Unlike most correspondence I receive from them, this one actually got my attention.  This envelope was plain and small. It looked like a note, perhaps something personal. So I opened it.

Inside was a little note card with a beautiful picture of a campus landmark. On the note card was a slogan about spirit and a personalized URL. Nothing else. I'm still intrigued, so I visited the URL.

When I got to the page, voices started talking about their time at the university, beautiful landmarks came onto the screen, and an emotional score played. I don't think the content was customized to me, but it did get me reminiscing about my time on campus. As I did, a message appeared and asked me to consider donating when the university contacted me.  Links along the side pointed to additional information about the university, things happening on campus, areas of greatest need, and how to give right away.

I left thinking what a great job they did with this marketing campaign. They achieved some key goals:

  • Gained Attention -- The combination of the note card and personalized URL was different enough that I was compelled to go check it out. Even though I suspected it would lead to a request for donations in the end.
  • Touched Emotions -- All good marketing hits an emotional chord. This campaign did a good job evoking school spirit and nostalgia, while still sharing where all the money would go.
  • They Knew Where I Was in the Cycle -- I'm not a frequent donor to the university. So they knew I'd be at the beginning of the buying cycle. They kept the message short and sweet and tailored to where I was at -- the beginning.
  • They Prepared Me to Buy -- This impressed me the most. They knew I was at the beginning and so didn't hit me up to buy right away (but clearly left that door open). They prepared me to buy. In the hope, no doubt, that the phone call which will likely follow this campaign will lead to a donation. And those students aren't calling in completely cold anymore. Wow. Great idea!

Now I know that B2B isn't exactly the same world as donations to an alma mater, but good marketing is good marketing. There are lessons here that apply to B2B too. Particularly the last two.

First, they knew where I was in the buying cycle and created content to appeal to that stage. Second, they prepared me to buy. Like infrequent donors, B2B buyers aren't typically ready to buy right away. They need great content to appeal to where they are in the buying cycle and prepare them to buy.

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