Gini Dietrich

The Five-Step Customer Lifecycle Process for Communicators

By: Gini Dietrich | April 30, 2019 | 
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The Customer Lifecycle Process for CommunicatorsHave you ever heard that old marketing adage that it takes a person seeing something seven to 12 times before they remember the brand and take action?

It’s true…

…and it isn’t.

It’s true that your audience needs to know about you, but if the message is well placed and it hits them at the exact, right time, it could be just once that they need to see the message.

Or, it could be 50 times, simply because they’re just not ready for you yet. Whether it’s the first of the 50th time, doesn’t make as much of a difference as it being the right message at the right time.

Our clients call this serendipity.

When your content hits your prospect when they are at certain points in your customer lifecycle, it feels very serendipitous. It’s not, of course. It’s just well planned and it means your content strategy is on point.

The Simplest Customer Lifecycle Model

There are a lot of different customer lifecycle models and lots of different ways to think about how to best serve your customers and prospects when they most need it.

You can make it super complicated, or you can make it simple. I prefer the latter.

Unless, of course, I’m making a unicorn cake for my small one’s birthday party. In which case, I prefer as complicated and time consuming as possible.

But for your customer lifecycle, let’s go simple.

This is how it works: you want to attract the ideal client, sell them your goods and wares, onboard them in your systems or processes, deliver on your promise, and either engage them for more or part as friends.

Let’s go through each of those things. We’ll start with attraction.

Start with Attraction

You probably won’t be surprised that we strongly recommend relying on the PESO model for this step.

A smart combination of paid, earned, owned, and shared content is going to put your message in front of your potential clients, and give them the information, emotions, and experiences that help them decide it’s a good time to move into phase two—selling.

Because we’ve covered the PESO model so extensively here and on the Spin Sucks podcast, I’ll skip a detailed breakdown. But use the PESO model. It’s great and, if you implement it correctly, it works.

Then Comes Selling

Selling comes next.

When we work with clients on this process, I talk about how, at this point, someone has made lots of micro-commitments to you. They:

  • Visited your website
  • Downloaded some content
  • Subscribed to your newsletter or blog
  • Forwarded your content to someone on their team
  • Attended a webinar
  • Asked for more information or booked a call or scheduled a demo.

They are ready to buy.

They’ve seen your process and your magic—and they want some of it for themselves.

Don’t be scared of this point in the customer lifecycle. People want to buy. They need you to tell them how.

Of all the different elements of growing a business, selling is the one that trips people up the most.

A lot of entrepreneurs claim to hate selling, and other than those who were just born to do it, and could sell absolutely anything to anyone, a lot of people struggle with it…or believe they do.

It can be awkward.

You’re asking for money, and beyond that, you’re asking for them to trust that you can provide what you claim.

It’s nerve-wracking.

BUT, you’ve already done a lot of the work with your attraction work.

When you use the PESO model you’re going to be selling to people predisposed to like you! And they’ve already made several micro-commitments to you.

A few years ago, we started creating online courses out of the things we teach here and on the blog.

It was a new way of growing a business—and a new way of selling.

As we got into it, though, and we talked with more and more clients, we realized it’s not selling at all.

It’s relationships and rapport and trust and service.

That last one seems odd, I know.

But when we changed our mindset from traditional “selling” to serving our prospects, things got significantly easier.

The reason people have gotten to this point in the customer lifecycle is they have a problem and they think you can solve it.

If you think about it that way, it becomes less about selling and more about servicing those who desperately need your help.

Then Onboarding

Next up is onboarding.

Onboarding begins the moment everyone signs on the dotted line, and it’s probably the most critical point in the whole customer lifecycle.

No matter how excited someone is about doing business with you, writing checks is scary, and you want to make sure that your new customers or clients don’t feel any regret about what they’ve just done.

And you can use content to ease a lot of those potential concerns.

Content? Don’t you move right into providing whatever they’ve bought?

Sure, of course you do.

But depending on what you sell, it could take time to get things rolling.

Or there could be a steep learning curve (think marketing automation here…there’s a reason we call Infusionsoft Infusionhard in my office).

So, while you get things rolling for a new client or customer, you want to immediately provide value.

This, of course, is less important for a consumer business.

But for those of you who are business-to-business, software as a service, or sell your time, onboarding content makes a whole heck of a lot of sense.

Onboarding content can be documents, videos, audio, graphics and whatever else you create that you can give to your clients right away, as soon as you start working with them.

This gives them something to DO while you’re getting ready to start working with them, and gives them a feeling that they’re getting something for their money right away, even if the final outcome is months down the line.

Preparing an onboarding kit that explains how you work, when things are going to happen, or provides additional information they’ll find interesting makes a great first impression and gives you a little breathing room to get everything else started.

One of our long-time listeners signed up for ConvertKit a few years ago.

As she started to get into the software to build her marketing automation, she received an email from the CEO with  a video link.

She clicked on the link and watched a personal message, from the CEO, thanking her for her business, and explaining where to find information and support on getting started.

It was an onboarding experience so good, she still uses it as an example of fantastic multi-media content use years later.

We do something similar.

When someone becomes a client of Spin Sucks, which means they’re working through one of our professional development programs with us, they receive a personal welcome video from me.

It takes me about 90 seconds to do them and it adds an incredibly nice touch.

And, because I have a nice little setup with light and mic right here at my desk, it takes no time.

I just have to make sure I’m not wearing my cycling clothes and have brushed my hair that day.

It’s incredibly easy to do…even for busy people.

Then Delivery

Once someone is onboard, it’s time to do that magic only you can do—deliver your goods or wares or services.

This is the content process that Jay Baer used to talk about, back in the day.

When your prospects become customers, they have stories to tell about what it’s like to work with you. Then you can use those stories at the beginning of your customer lifecycle.

It’s like AJR says…

100 bad days makes 100 good stories. 100 good stories makes you interesting at parties.

Become interesting in your customer lifecycle party!

Then They Can Choose Their Own Adventure

Finally, at the end of the customer lifecycle, you can choose your own adventure.

If there is a firm end-point, and you don’t have a next level or an upsell, it’s time to send them off with kind words and a request for referrals and/or testimonials.

If you do have something more for them, make sure they know about it and know how they can continue working with you.

It’s far, far easier to grow an existing customer than try to bring in a new one.

The end goal is to keep them around as long as humanly possible—assuming, of course, you want them around and they continue to find value.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, the lead blogger at Spin Sucks, and the host of Spin Sucks the podcast. She also is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.