When I started this blog almost a year ago, I wrote a number of posts about the importance of developing a simple, consistent and differentiated message that targets the right audience. At the time, I had intended to conclude that series of posts with a third concept, which is that you have to deliver this message to the audience at the right time.
Before I explore this third concept, I encourage you to do a quick review of the key points in these earlier blog posts:
- The Need for Simple and Consistent Messaging
- Differentiate Your Message
- Targeting the Right Audience
So now you have a simple, consistent and differentiated message that clearly presents a strong value proposition to your target audience but you need to deliver it at the right time. The simple answer here is that you want to deliver this message when your audience is ready to buy.
However, this is easier said than done as you might imagine and differs by product or service. For some products, especially in the consumer space, this could be at the point of sale. For more technical products with a long sales cycle, the point of sale is waaayyy too late, as you won’t ever get to this point since you won’t be considered in the buying process.
Since there is not one right time to deliver the message, you need to figure out what your sales cycle looks like and how long it takes for the prospect to make the purchase. Ideally you review past sales and look at the steps you go through as well as measure the time it takes to go through each phase. I won’t review it here but you can check out an earlier post I did on defining the sales cycle.
In the case of a start-up, you may not have many, or any, past sales to review so you just need to take you best guess at what your sales cycle looks like, carefully record and measure every aspect of your initial sales and refine accordingly.
When you have the phases (which may or may not include: prospects, qualified leads, opportunities, trials/evals, call-to-close and closed) of the sales cycle defined you need to figure out when the decision to consider your product or service is made not when the purchase is made.
If we look at this in terms of a longer, technical sale then the right time is not later than the qualified lead phase. At this point the prospect is serious and you have to be on their short list or it’s likely too late. In the case of a shorter sales cycle for a less expensive produce, then many of these phases may be combined or go by quickly and it may be ok for your message to be delivered at the call-to-close phase or, as I referred to it earlier, the point of sale.
Now that you have your point in time selected to deliver the message, you need to tweak your message for that phase. While this may seem like I’m contradicting myself after I stressed the importance of making your message consistent, I’m not, because I only want you to adapt it so it’s more appropriate to the phase and not come up with a new or inconsistent one.
For example, if the message is being delivered at the point of sale, it needs to be hard hitting to grab attention and close the deal all at the same time. In the longer sale, you’ll be delivering the message multiple times so you can take a softer approach and even give only part of the complete message so that you grab your audience’s attention and make them want more info where the rest of the message can be delivered.
Delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time is the key to your marketing and communications success. Too early in the process may result in the audience getting tired and tuning your message out. Too late in the process means you won’t be one of the options considered and lose out on the sale. Timing is critical so plan this carefully.
Let me know your thoughts on finding the right time to deliver your message or if you have questions leave them in the comments below.