The lifeblood of any business is finding new clientele while retaining your old ones. 

Customers are like the focal point where the two arms of a business rest. On the one side are new customers; on the other are returning customers. 

Push your marketing efforts too far in one direction, and you lose a significant portion of your business. 

Before you put all your efforts into one strategy, you want to identify the type of potential customer you may be communicating with and at what stage of their buying decision they are in at the moment. 

First, identify your potential customers in three different classifications. Those classifications are; 

  • Prospect
  • Lead
  • Customer

A prospect is someone who is wholly or vaguely unaware of your brand and what you offer. These people may have walked into your store for the first time or across your blog from another source. 

A lead is someone familiar with your brand and products and has shown some interest in working with you on purchasing them. Most buyers occupy this stage the longest and usually convert to clients and customers at their convenience. 

Customers are people that have made a purchasing decision and are ready to buy a product, whether from you or a competitor. With a customer, you want to make their experience and purchase something you can retarget for later sales. 

Repeat customers are precious to a business. Research has shown that repeat customers spend more money, are easier to convert than first-time buyers, tend to promote and recommend your company (or not – depending on their experience), and repeat customers are the backbone of your business long-term. 

Next, create a strategy that combines the type of potential client with the appropriate lead generation strategy by identifying where your lead may be in their purchasing decision.

The Three Stages Of A Customer’s Buying Process

Every business has three stages of a customer’s buying process. This purchasing decision can be influenced by various things, some of which may be out of your control. For example, you may have started a conversation with a prospect and discovered that they aren’t the decision maker in their department or company. 

Determining a potential customer’s stage will help you with your messaging and if you need to spend more time and resources to generate better brand awareness about your offerings and their advantages. 

Cold: At this stage, a prospect is unaware of what you offer, the value it provides, or any hint of awareness toward your brand. Starting conversations with potential customers at this stage should focus on educating about your brand and products and demonstrating how your offerings create solutions to the prospect’s needs. 

The cold stage is your first impression and where you’ll dedicate more resources toward developing a relationship than trying to make the sale. Unfortunately, this stage is the one that takes the longest to convert. 

Warm: The warm stage is where most potential customers sit. They may be shopping around for a deal or incentive, the timing may not be right, or simply are waiting on funding or some other financial backing to occur. At this stage, it’s the goal to move them from interested to committed and get them to make the purchase. 

Hot: A customer can’t wait to buy from you at the hot stage. These people are more than aware of your products and brand and just need that little invitation to pull the trigger. 

For example, a hot buyer is someone at a restaurant who mentions to the server how delicious the desserts look before ordering dinner. Once dinner is served, the server only needs to say something about the dessert to encourage the person to take the action they want, i.e., ordering the dessert. 

Lead Generation

Many people talk about lead generation strategies and try to position themselves as the go-to expert, a “guru” on generating leads for your business. 

Often these “gurus” talk about general things such as creating an engaging social media page, offering loyalty programs, or other generalizations that may or may not work for your business. 

Lead generation is the process of finding, attracting, and converting people to customers. And the truth is, every business and every function will be different. 

For example, some realtors are seeing incredible returns on their lead generation strategies using social media platforms such as Instagram or Tik Tok. 

There’s a whole debate about the value of utilizing Tik Tok as the platform and format for creating engaging content and which side of the discussion you sit on is due in part to your generation and what has been effective for you already. 

For other businesses, taking a long view approach with lead generation strategies such as cold calling or using cold email software that automates your messaging for you is an effective approach, especially for B2B or business-to-business.