Many people visualize their marketing cycle through the use of funnel thinking on how it narrows down to the actual purchase of the product. I have advocated the use of the Value Stream Marketing concept in a much similar fashion. However, I take a much more Outside-In approach and use a Customer/Market Decision Making Process as the basis for the various stages. Instead of looking at creating marketing content in reaction to each of these stages I like to think of it as a way of creating knowledge for the customer.
The creation of knowledge is a fundamental agile concept and an integral part of the process. In Agile, you build in incremental steps, delivering to the customer frequently and gaining customer insights along the way. This way you can keep the good things and discard the unwanted. Doing this enables you to build on value and reduce downstream errors.
Small incremental batches of information often will facilitate in getting quicker feedback from the customer and help us determine what is of value to them. As these areas are uncovered and considered are credibility also increases and often a stronger loyalty develops.
Many times customers’ needs and desires change as they gather information early in the process. During their “Discover” stage they evaluate many different options and start narrowing down the field. As we get into later stages, especially if this has been a long process with many people involved, errors or not so desirable features may be actually built into the process that could actually rule out a product/service that may have value.
Being there in the beginning of the cycle enables you to be the product/service that the proposal is written around. This happens many times during an upsell or a repeat purchase but it is difficult to do with a new prospect unless you have significant brand advantage. Delivering knowledge based material in an iterative fashion allows your value proposition or value advantage to be quickly identified by both parties. This will enable you to identify the strongest and weakest prospects. The weaker prospects will require more or different resources. It also identifies your strengths and best opportunities. Either way, it allows you to evaluate and adjust resources and capabilities as needed.
As you move through the Value Stream these incremental steps will require a certain amount of customization that at first will seem quite labor some. This will be minimized utilizing a “Value Stream Team” concept in deployment but more importantly you will find through reflection of these processes that many of them are similar and can be repeated. Your team’s ability to document, modify and submit this concept is imperative.
In the Value Stream Marketing process we encourage delivering or demonstrating knowledge that will enhance your customer (prospect) decision making process. An example of this type of information is web based content (whitepapers, video, training, trials, etc.), that are instantly obtained and/or accessibility to the resources of both the customer/prospect and your sales/marketing team. Making this readily available allows accessible to your prospects but also to their Influencers. Their influencers are typically less knowledgeable about your product but also the intricacies of the buying process they are influencing. This means that you material must not only be well organized but accessible in bite-size chunks so that decision makers and influencers only have to review what is interesting to them.
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