Keywords: effective prospecting, the purchasing decision, the buying decision, make the sale, making the sale, direct marketing, direct sales, selling in a recession
Articles for freelance technical and industrial marketing
Buy Low, Sell High: Catching The Buying Cycle
Technical industrial business marketing library and tutorials
by Robert Warren

Read more articles by Robert Warren
The truth is that the vast majority of your readers have no interest in what you are selling. The good news is that this isn't bad news.

Conventional wisdom says that for any direct marketing effort, a 3-5% response rate is acceptable and good. That means that 95-97% of those reading your sales letter or visiting your website will not respond to your pitch, no matter how persuasive it is. Most hard selling copywriting is designed to grab those few percentiles and to play the numbers game; when averaged against a million readers, three percent doesn't sound so bad.

But what about the rest? Not all of us have reader audiences in the millions, and not all of us get warm fuzzies over a three percent marketing turnaround. Why are there so many people not picking up the phone and buying? And why is it so hard to profit from that three percent?

As with any other type of investment, the secret to profitable marketing is to get yourself leveraged when the market is undervalued, in order to profit when the market turns up. If your marketing only concerns itself with the small handful willing to take an immediate plunge on a purchase, you're jumping into a market that is already hot. By that point, most opportunity for serious gain has already come and gone.

Customers don't buy simply because you tell them to buy. For a sale to happen, a number of other pieces must be in place. The money must be there; the need and value must be recognized; the credibility must be established. Your customer must be actively seeking out your services, or at least be prepared to buy on impulse. In that situation, your sales copy is the final piece of the puzzle, the tipping point that brings the reader into a purchase - and only a few percent of your prospects are at that point today.

Most of your prospects are now on the low end of their buying cycles. They won't buy today, but they represent an undervalued investment opportunity: you can reach those prospects with a lower marketing investment than if they were prepared to buy today. And, sooner or later, circumstances change.

Budgets change, vendors fall out of favor, prospects wise up. It may take a week, a month, or a year: but, one day, almost every one of those 97% will - for a brief time - become one of the holy three percent. And when that time comes, it will cost much more money to capture their attention and win their business.

Unless, of course, you already have.

They will have reached the high end of their buying cycles. And if you're positioned well when that day comes, you can win their business for a fraction of the cost you're paying to win them otherwise.

Buy low, sell high. Invest in the future of your client base by:

Starting the relationship now. There are plenty of things you could be doing to build relationships to your audience. Start a newsletter. Open an online forum. Give occasional free advice. Write articles or even a book. Don't wait until tomorrow to build relationships with prospects; find ways to deliver value to them long before they enter an active purchasing search.

Helping to clarify their situation. Too often, simple confusion prevents prospects from buying: confusion about their business, confusion about their options, confusion about the whole situation. Be crystal clear about your business practices, rates, how you work, who you prefer to work with, and the challenges your clients face when they set out in search of your services. Do what you can to clear up the confusion - helping your reader uncover the needs they truly have, as well as the resources they have at their disposal.

Establishing your credibility by educating your reader. For many service fields, hiring a paid professional is usually preceded by a "do-it-yourself" period. Create content that teaches your prospects to do some of what you do (particularly the tasks that you'd rather not do for them, given the choice). Give them the tools to take their own abilities as far as they can before calling someone else to augment them.

Focusing on identification rather than emotional manipulation. In any communication, the very first subconscious question asked by the receiver is, "Am I being properly addressed? Is this directed to me?" Rather than shaping your marketing materials to emotionally motivate the reader to buy, direct your message into something that the reader can personally identify with. Make sure the reader sees their circumstances reflected in your marketing, regardless of whether or not the reader is ready to cut a check today.

Keeping the long view, at all times. If you take care of the big picture, often the little pictures take care of themselves. Don't get myopic: train yourself to look for the potential opportunity rather than the easy and immediate sale.

You are in a position today to reach your buyers-in-waiting with your copy. If you can establish trust today, your competitors can be the ones to gnash their teeth later on - while you reap the rewards of being well-positioned in a hot market.

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(c) Robert Warren, Writer and Editor - Freelance Technical Copywriter, California and Florida - T/ 209.232.4219
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