Becoming a Marketing Farmer

Almost every business owner that I have met over the years is always looking for more clients and more work. Ok, there are exceptions to every rule but overall, businesses are always looking to make their next sale.

This makes sense because all businesses need customers and sales to be able to survive. It is great to have a customer buy from you the first time they find out about you, but often does that really happen? Yet, many businesses go after this (small) group of potential clients.

There are some problems with only focusing on the customers that are ready to buy today. What about the customers that are interested in what you have to offer but are not ready to buy right away? The fact is that the vast majority of prospective customers are not ready to buy from you the first time they see your ad or hear about you online. I want to introduce two different models to approach in regard to your marketing and in turn, secure new customers.

Are you a Marketing Hunter?

A hunter has the task to seek out a food source. Sure, hunters don’t have to grow a rabbit but they do have to put in the effort to find the rabbit and be able to catch it. That rabbit is out there, you just have to capture it. What does this have to do with marketing?

As a marketing hunter, you are probably going to focus on the prospects that are ready to buy today. The tasks of the hunter center around gathering new leads, pitching to them and securing their sale. Of course, it is important to follow up with leads that are ‘hot’ and to close the sale. However, the problem with this marketing method is that you are always looking for the next order, job or project before a competitor finds them first.

Nobody likes a cold call

Marketing as a “hunter” means making cold calls or cold emails to find the small percentage (3%) of potential buyers that are ready to buy today. And when you do find them, try to close the sale as soon as possible before someone else does. Over the years, I have not met many people that enjoy picking up the phone and cold calling. I mean, you end up interrupting people in the middle of whatever they are doing and they are most likely not even ready to discuss your service or product. The logic is that as long as you call enough people, the numbers will work out even if you are rejected 97% of the time. They are holding out for the 3% that are ready and willing to buy.

So, although I am not saying that hunting is a bad thing, it should not be the only technique we are using in our marketing.

There is a better way

Now contrast this with marketing ‘farming’, or lead nurturing. If you are a farmer or gardener you know what it is like to plant a field or garden, water and nurture it, see it grow and in the end harvest the fruits of your labour. It is not an instant result, but with some planning and work, you are almost guaranteed to get a somewhat predictable result.

The same principle can be applied to your marketing approach, much like those implemented by a digital marketing agency. You plant the seed with the potential customers, water and nurture that connection and over time it has the potential to blossom into a predictable pipeline of new clients for your business. Any good farmer knows to grow a hearty plant you water it frequently and give it nutrient-rich soil, so provide your potential customers with value such as a newsletter on your industry, leading an informational webinar or writing a how-to guide on getting the most out of your product or service. By providing these free tidbits of information or samples, you are creating trust and a sense of reciprocity by solving an actual problem for your potential customers.

With “farmer” marketing you are offering and building a continuous relationship to potentially add a new customer.

Focusing on the 40% versus the 3%

The following illustration displays how a typical market for a product or service is made up (credit: Succeswise, Allan Dib). Only 3% of prospects in your market are ready to buy today. Then there are 7% of potential clients that are very interested in what you have to offer and are willing to buy but only within the next 30, 60 or 90 days. These prospects need a little bit more time and information to actually make a buying decision. The third segment that we need to pay attention to is the 30% that is interested but not right now.

So instead of only focusing all our efforts on the 3% of people that are ready to buy today, a marketing farmer addresses 40% of the complete market that we have a chance to sell to in the future.

Finally, there is a portion of the market that will never buy from you, even if you were willing to sell your product or service for next to nothing. Instead of losing sleep over this, you have to leave this part of the market alone. These clients are simply not a good fit for your business and this is ok.

As the vast majority of your target market is not ready to buy from you when they first learn about your company or see your ad, a farming strategy whereby you nurture sales over time, will yield a much higher return. By focusing your marketing and advertising budget on your high probability prospects, you will get better results and you will become, in most cases, a welcome guest instead of a pest to your customers.

Posted: October 15, 2020