Daniel Burstein

Momentum Marketing: How to get the ball rolling toward a purchase decision

September 12th, 2017

“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

Those words probably sound familiar to you, as Newton’s first law of motion (the law of inertia). As a marketer, you can think of them as a physics-level explanation of a psychological phenomenon — customer behavior.

Rare is the customer who will go from zero to purchasing your product. That is, the impulse purchase.

For all other customers, they will tend to stay at rest until you get that ball rolling in the direction you want it to go.

Building momentum with intermediate payments

How do you start building momentum? Well, there are two other crucial payments from the customer that you should earn. And we’re calling them out by name in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post because, while your company may be doing them on some level already, these intermediate payments often get overlooked and under-resourced in favor of the granddaddy of them all — the fiscal transaction.

But all three of these payments require a value exchange, not just the fiscal payment. So make sure your company is providing unique value in order to earn all of these payments.

Payment #1: Attention payment

In the discovery phase, your ideal prospect shows some interest or has a felt need for your product. Sometimes this is front of mind, and they are particularly interested in the topic in their daily interactions.

Other times, it’s very subconscious, and they don’t even realize they were ever considering purchasing your product or even your product category until they come across your message.

So the first payment you’re trying to get from them is merely their attention. Even though no money is changing hands, attention is valuable, and customers will not pay you for nothing. Like a puppy in a sausage factory, they are easily distracted by all the other messages they encounter every day.

In addition, customers are extremely selfish (and rightly so). What’s in it for them?

Brands can sometimes forget this. They think their content is free, and just by publishing it, customers will be interested. Or since they bought media in a newspaper, on TV or an online display ad, brands think they already have the attention of a captive audience delivered to them by a publisher.

However, as the saying goes, you literally need customers to “pay attention.” Customer attention has significant value. You will create more effective ads, websites and content if you use this paradigm — you are actually asking customers to pay for them.

I’ll use some examples throughout this blog post of purchase decisions I’ve recently made, to show these ideas in practice. And I’ll throw in MarketingSherpa as an example as well.

  • Mobile phone carrier — I noticed a digital display ad on my Yahoo! Mail account and paid for the message with a few moments of my attention. However, I then clicked through the ad to the landing page and paid further attention as I learned about the service.
  • Gutter installation company — I searched on Google, Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. I then trusted the gutter installation company enough to pay for it with my attention when I visited its website.
  • MarketingSherpa — This blog post, and all of our “free” content. We have to craft content that is compelling enough that you will pay for it with your attention.

Payment #2: Information payment

After customers pay with their attention, which has raised your product into their awareness, they will next decide whether to pay with their information as they move into the research phase.

Some basic consumer product goods can skip this payment entirely. However, many choose not to. For example, you can pay Red Bull with your information to get their print magazine The Red Bulletin, join Seventh Generation’s “Generation Good” community by paying with your information, and follow Oreo on Twitter with an information payment.

Again, the payment paradigm is helpful. When you view the customer as paying with their information instead of your brand being gracious enough to give “free” resources, the dynamic flips. It forces you to consider the value your brand is offering and if that value is high enough to ask a customer to pay for it.

When you think of an information payment, your mind might instantly go to a white paper. But there are many other ways that companies might seek to sell something valuable to the customer in exchange for information. To continue the journey of the previous examples:

  • Mobile phone carrier — I wanted to learn more about the company, so I paid with my information by contacting its customer service through Twitter and later live chat. I paid with my personal contact information along with details about my current mobile usage. In exchange, I received the data I needed to make a fiscal purchase decision.
  • Gutter installation company — After reviewing its website, I paid with the information of my email, phone number and home address, so it would provide me with the service of a detailed cost estimate.
  • MarketingSherpa — If readers enjoy our free content, we hope that some of them will choose to pay for our email newsletters with their information — name and email address.

Payment #3: Fiscal payment

Some products stop at the information payment. For example, the vast majority of Twitter, Facebook and Google users pay only with information.

However, most journeys move toward the ultimate payment — a fiscal payment. After paying with their information to several companies, customers then move into the action phase and zone in on the one company they will actually make a financial purchase from. And this time, they pay with money.

I’ll spend the least time on this transaction since it is the payment type you are likely already the most focused on, but here are examples to complete the journeys from above:

  • Mobile phone carrier — Purchasing a phone and a plan
  • Gutter installation company — Paying to have gutters installed
  • MarketingSherpa — Online training and certification from our parent research organization, MECLABS Institute

Never stop earning all three types of your customers’ payments

Even though I describe the fiscal payment as the ultimate payment, the transaction shouldn’t end there.

In many cases, further financial transactions are required. Take the mobile phone carrier for example. Like many recurring revenue products, I will continue to make fiscal payments every month.

But even with a direct product purchase, sometimes a small fiscal payment begets a larger one, either initiated by the customer or the company. Tesla’s Model 3 launch is a nice example. The electric carmaker requires a fiscal payment of $1,000 to hold the car, which will be followed up with a payment north of $35,000 once the car is delivered.

But again, you’re likely focused on that fiscal payment already. What other attention and information payments can you earn from your customers once they’ve already made a purchase?

Earning attention payments after the sale

Well, you might still want to earn your customers’ attention so you can teach them how to better use your product and get more value from it.

Again, they’re busy. Even if they own the product, many digital and software products have so many features and functions that customers aren’t really getting full value because they never learn how to use them. Even simple products like duct tape or food like chicken have many possible uses. There are hobbyist products like fishing tackle, bicycle gear or camping essentials that you want to encourage your customers to use so they’ll buy more. Memberships get canceled because they go unused after purchase, and the same is true for B2B software or consulting services.

Customers don’t want to take the time and effort required to learn how to best use products. They have many different products they can spend time with. Or sometimes they don’t see the value in investing their time in using your service even though there is no monetary cost since they’re already a customer.

So, you will have to entice them to pay with their attention even after they purchase. Offer enticing and fun tutorials built right into the product. Create videos or engaging brochures that are delivered with the product. Develop post-purchase drip campaigns or online communities with helpful content. Use data you have from customers to suggest service or software usage they are overlooking.

Information payments after the sale

Information payments are also very valuable after purchase. If customers tell you what is good and bad about your product and what changes they would like to see, that is valuable business intelligence.

If they opt-in to sending you product usage data, you can better optimize their experience and learn how to serve future customers.

In addition, if you do all of the above and create happy customers, you can ask for another valuable information payment — word-of-mouth marketing.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content, MarketingSherpa, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

You might also like

Selling Free Content: Why Seth Godin Never Gives Anything Away For Free

Communicating Value & Web Conversion graduate certificate program from the University of Florida and MECLABS Institute

Marketing 101: What is a squeeze page?

MECLABS Online Training (learn more about the value exchange in the Value Proposition Development course)

Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – digging for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has 18 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

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