Leverage engagement throughout the customer life cycle.

If you search for “customer life cycle” on the Internet, you will notice there are a wide variety of industry models on this topic. Many models, like linear funnels, take a prospect from awareness to purchase to loyalty. Forrester Research suggests a new circular approach: Discover, explore, buy and engage.

Throughout this cycle, you have to identify key touchpoints and develop messages to create long-term customers. Let’s explore how this can work for your dealership.

Discovering Products

The discovery phase starts with marketing to build awareness. The most common form of engagement in this area is advertising, but how can you engage beyond traditional print ads? If your dealership is active in social media, Facebook ads are an inexpensive, but targeted approach to reach prospects and customers and you can easily customize your messages. For instance, if your target is Facebook followers who have an interest in lawn care, promote your experience with lawn care equipment vs. a message related to horse and livestock supplies or equipment. 

Expand your advertising message and show off your expertise to win over more customers in the discovery phase. Connect with your local newspapers to provide seasonal content, such as steps to tune-up your lawn equipment, top things to consider about fencing, safety tips for tractors and more. This showcases your dealership’s core competencies and elevates you as the expert in your area of the rural lifestyle. Also, leverage this content on your website, in newsletters and social media posts to engage an even broader audience. 

Find ways to generate prospects in this early phase. For example, the content should include information that drives customers to your website or invites them to visit your dealership. Then, capture their information and interests in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for future communications.

Exploring Options

Whether the prospect shares information with you online or in your dealership, they have given the nod that they are interested in a specific product or service and have entered the exploration phase. You can use this information to nurture the lead to sale with informative and educational messaging. 

For instance, let’s say a prospect is interested in a UTV. Follow up by providing information comparing the UTV models you carry to competitive models. Share top things to consider when purchasing a UTV and send them links to safety videos. Outline key selling features and benefits that set your dealership apart. For instance, maybe you provide on-site delivery of UTVs, a special service or warranty package or access to a UTV safety training course. Your educational messages engage them in the product and your dealership’s expertise and value-add services.

Buying into the Relationship

At first glance, this phase seems simple — it’s the purchase transaction, but it is much more. This phase includes the selection of products and services and the overall satisfaction with the purchase and customer experience. At this point, find ways for customers to share messages with you. For instance, ask your customers to write a review on a product or service you provided. This can be written or in a quick video that your salesperson captures on a smartphone. Post these testimonials on your website, in ads or on social media. The more great experiences that are shared mean more opportunities for others to learn about your brand.

Engaging for the Long Term

This step of the customer life cycle is key to long-term relationships. In fact, customer retention is actually a growth strategy. Successful engagement can lead to future purchases and complementary upsells. 

Beyond extended warranties and maintenance services, your current customers are also prospects for the next sale. Look back at the interests you captured in your CRM system and provide them information on products and services that fit those areas. Invite them to special customer-only workshops or safety days. Pique their interest for the next purchase, taking you full circle back to the “Discover” phase with personalized messaging. 

While your customers can move back and forth between the stages, nurturing and engaging throughout the customer life cycle doesn’t have to be difficult. Leverage your dealership’s expertise to match your customers’ and prospects’ interests and you will continue to grow your business.