As I have written before in my article about lead magnets, the internet changed the way marketing works: marketing used to be all about being the loudest, noisiest or most remarkable, but over the last decade, the trend has slowly shifted.
Today, you must be the most informative, helpful and consultative brand to stand out. Informing your customers takes much time, and that is where self-service marketing tools can help you decimate costs, while still being top of mind for your potential customers.
What is a self-service or automated marketing tool?
Self-service or automated marketing refers to automated marketing actions allowing leads to access resources or helpful information without interacting with a salesperson. This way, they can look for answers and solutions at their own pace, where and when best suits them.
What are the most important ones for outdoor living?
Here is a list of the significant self-service or automated marketing tools you can use in the outdoor living industry.
☑ Your website
You'll need a website, if you are targetting a large audience. At the very least, your website must contain a few essential items: who you are, what problems you solve, how you solve them, and some contact data.
☑ Content hubs
Content hubs are not a necessity, but they help a lot. Content hubs offer a centralized place to manage and distribute all your content to your (potential) customers, albeit via a web portal, social media, email, ... The stereotypical example of this is Hubspot.com, but many others like this exist.
These content hubs allow your (potential) customer to gather access to your (potentially gated) information and subscribe to any news updates according to his preference.
☑ Self-service portals
Self-service portals are online places where (potential) customers can get automated answers to frequently occurring questions. These portals can be as simple as a list of frequently asked questions and their responses but can go all the way to a fully guided customer journey from scope to quote, referred to as BTO (Build-To-Order) in the industry.
Intermezzo: about standardizing your processes
One significant requirement for self-service portals is that they require a lot of process maturity: when everything you do is a one-off, automating it does not make much sense. Many people are against standard processes, as they want to provide the best service possible. To them, I'd like to propose a simple thought experiment: what makes you unique? Why do your customers come to you? Is it because you have a geographical advantage, offer a certain kind of service/product you cannot get anywhere else, are you a price breaker, or is it your excellent customer experience? Once you figure out why your customers come to you, you can start thinking about standardizing anything that is not part of what makes you unique. If you want to improve your process maturity, consider looking at CMMI for inspiration. The five levels of process maturity in CMMI are:
Several tools come to mind - somewhat ordered according to complexity and scope, starting with the most basic:
A list of frequently asked questions and their answers;
A contact form;
A form to request more info about a product or service;
A tool that allows your prospect to book a meeting with you at a certain point in time;
A wizard to guide your prospect into his product or service choice;
A product configurator;
A tool that allows build-to-order, integrated with your back-end (respecting timings, deadlines, availability, your whole production and supply chain);
Clever AI chatbots;
And much more.
☑ Remarketing tools
Just because a potential customer is looking for information does not imply that they need your product or service right now. That is why it is essential to stay on top of mind if a prospect still needs to purchase.
Remarketing tools are, in essence, means that you need to track your customer's behaviour or derive their profile and try to provide any information to them that is relevant in an automated way, exactly when they need it.
☑ Online 3D product configurators
An online 3D product configurator is an application you can incorporate into your website allowing your leads to compose their own outdoor living structure. Leads get a detailed and realistic representation of your products. It will enable them to explore every aspect of your modular sunroom, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of your offering. They can send their configuration straight to you or one of their neighbourhood's dealers for an official quotation.
A 3D product configurator generates leads, provides a platform for storytelling content, inspires customers with innovative ideas, more personalized sales conversations, and optimizes your sales process (also for dealers). Furthermore, you don't need to develop it in-house; you can take benefit of a ready-made solution. This means you can already start using it as of tomorrow.
I hope this list inspires you and lets you to finetune your marketing effort. Remember, these enable you to make your business stand out in the outdoor living industry.
Am I missing anything obvious here, or would you like a clarification?
Let me know in the comments below.