3 Ways To Harness Social Media For Longer Buying Cycles

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Like many of who have been in the industry for a few years, my disdain for catchphrases and clichés has grown to a breaking point.

To be honest, if I have to hear the phrase “content is king” one more time, I may pull out all of my eyelashes.

(Please do not hold me to that.)

So, while it pains me to even type this (especially at the thought of having no eyelashes), if content is king, then the love of his life – his queen – is relevancy, especially when it involves brands, products or companies with longer buyer cycles.

For the most part, buyer cycles follow this pattern:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Evaluation/Research
  • Commitment/Purchase
  • Retention

Short Buying Cycles

Products with shorter buy cycles (think retail, consumer electronics, packaged goods, etc) are all about the “right now” given that many consumers are able to scan a blog post,  read a Facebook status update or watch a captivating YouTube video and make a faster than average purchase decision.

They don’t spend countless hours researching, evaluating and eventually closing the deal. For these companies, brands and products, the issue of relevancy is not as big of an issue because of the shorter buyer cycle. If something is not relevant one day, it could very well be the next.

Long Buying Cycles

The same thing, unfortunately, cannot be said for brands or products with longer buyer cycles. Unlike brands and products that have a higher relevance frequency, those with longer buyer cycles may only be relevant to a consumer every 12-18 months, sometimes even longer.

A longer relevance frequency allows consumers time to evaluate, ask others of their opinion, make decisions and, most importantly, more time to research. In fact, by the time a consumer engages with a brand, they have already done a fair amount of research on their own and are that much farther down the buyer cycle. They’ve formulated opinions and come to conclusions without any input or involvement from the brand or company itself.

So, how do companies with longer buyer cycles successfully maximize their social media efforts?

1. Harness Your Inner Sherlock Holmes

  • Whether or not they’ve engaged or interacted with your brand or product, consumers are spending more and more time online talking about their needs and asking friends and peers their opinions. With longer buyer cycles, companies and brands should not wait for a customer to get to them. Be there well before the sale by monitoring a myriad of keywords that relate to the specific brand or product.

2. Make Them Need You Before You Need Them

  • Companies that have brands and products with long buy cycles will understand that social media can help build relationships no matter where a customer or prospect is in the funnel. In fact, longer buy cycles mean more opportunities to communicate, engage and assist and inevitably influence customers and prospects. This, of course, does not mean blasting repetitious “look-at-me” messages but rather messages that highlight your usefulness and relevance.

3. Establish Your Brand As An Everyday Brand

  • Today, long buyer cycles require companies to market their brands and products as “everyday products” so they can become more ingrained with the lives that people live online.
  • If I am not in the market to re-finance or buy or sell a home, real estate is not exactly relevant to me. To get on my radar and facilitate the start of a relationship, a real estate company or agent would have to put aside the desire to talk about listings and direct “now is the time to buy” messages and instead think about points of interest that are relevant to me on a day-to-day basis yet still fall under the “real estate umbrella.”  Lifestyle, community and local area information (restaurants, museums, events, etc) – these are topics that are more likely to matter to someone and enter conversation daily.

These are just a few ways that a company with a longer buyer cycle can successfully maximize its social media efforts. What are some of your suggestions?

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Lead image source: Shutterstock.com

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