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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Touches for Sales

Sales people talk about the number of 'touches' it takes to make a sale: 'touches' being the number of nudges towards a sale that a prospective customer needs before they finally choose to buy from you. Obviously there are less touches on the way to picking up a chocolate bar with the milk, although branding and advertising touches may well influence the 'impulse' decision.

Even with seemingly simple online purchases, it can take 9 or more touches to make a successful sale. The Internet makes it much easier to deliver touches at the point the customer is making the buying decision.

But the multiplicity of touches can be very confusing if you are seeking to nail just one magic sales bullet that lands customers. Especially if you have been diligently asking new clients how they heard about you, as recommended in most business marketing guides. At best, a new customer will remember the last touch towards their purchase decision. That last touch is often just the tip of the whole publicity chain.

So what touches work? It will vary from business to business (and individual buyers) across the mix of sales, marketing and PR touches that collectively topple the decision over the sales edge into a purchase. Usually personal recommendations, enough media coverage to create buzz on and offline, good information on and offline, high visibility and plenty of new things happening, plus good connections will boost a business. The business will also need to offer an effective and available product or service at a reasonable price.

To find out more about why people buy from you, you will need to develop a relationship with customers to discover more of the marketing mix that actually drove them to you. And even then, they won't remember some of the process!

It makes sense therefore to cover plenty of ways to 'touch' your potential customers in your marketing strategy. Track what seems to be making a difference by asking new clients and by looking at the sales figures. There are hundreds of marketing, PR and sales tactics that can be deployed. Generally a mix of PR, sales and marketing tactics together deliver up to 50% more sales than concentrating individually on just PR, or on sales, or marketing on its own.

The choice of individual publicity tactics is usually a trade-off: budget v time, proven tactics v new opportunities (but if your competitors are not using a tactic, there's often a good reason for that).

Most powerful for most businesses is trusted word of mouth recommendations (on or offline) and you can enhance that with referrals incentives. But you usually need to add good marketing materials (including a good website that performs well in searches) plus social media interaction and good sales processes to reel new customers in.

Media recommendation is also very powerful as it carries the editorial endorsement factor ('as seen on TV', or 'marvellous' says The Times) and the media reach many thousands of people. Referring to that media coverage on your on and offline sales and marketing materials is important to monetise that editorial endorsement and ensure it carries on working for you.

We advise clients to run 10 on and offline sales, marketing and PR techniques at any one time, testing every 3-6 months the effects of dropping one and trying another.

See how it all works together in my next blog.

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posted by Penny Haywood Calder at


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