The 5 Stages of Customer Acquisition for the Social Business (Part 2)


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This is the second of a three part post.

In post 1, I introduced the AIPEE pyramid, talked briefly about what it was and what it wasn’t, and pointed our attention to R Value Exchange (the circled blue R under Interaction Medium) – which represents our target destination when participating socially for the purposes of Customer Acquisition. If you missed that post – you may want to briefly revisit it here

In this post, let’s take a closer look at each stage and the progressive journey up the pyramid, starting at the bottom, where most new individuals will start their journey with us. (Click on the image to look at a larger view)


For marketers, here is where we are casting our net far and wide. The key difference versus what we’ve traditionally done is that companies can no longer rely on “shouting” a message. Ads are less effective than they’ve ever been and trust in companies is about as low as it has ever been. The new goal is to provide something of value…something so valuable that folks who have never even heard of you or your brand want to share it with their friends. The most successful viral campaign in recent history is one from Blendtec. Google this to see what they did. There are dozens of other examples as well.

The content that you provide might be a public webcast, podcast, video, white paper, etc. It might be funny, proprietary and valuable research, or something else that will resonate with your target demographic. The idea is to get something interesting and valuable in front of the eyes of some key influencers within your demographic.

Side Note: While I haven’t created a visual yet, also visualize the LIPEE pyramid (where Listening is substituted for Attention). Instead of the company creating compelling content to attract attention, it “listens” to and monitors the socialsphere for mentions of their brand, their core competency, or other key words which might be a signal to engage in “interaction” through Social Channels.

You’ve now garnered some attention, and have established a little bit of relational capital. Now is the time where some 1:1 interaction might take place. Twitter, blogs, Facebook, some “Unconnected” community participation, etc.

Dialogue at this stage will vary – but the offline equivalent might be saying “Hi – how are you doing?” to someone while waiting for a drink at the bar on in the line at the bathroom at a networking event. There is a shared common interest, and we’ve just been presented with an opportunity for some dialogue in passing. Unless there is something compelling or interesting during that exchange, the conversation will likely be forgotten within 15 minutes by both parties. If there is something of value during the exchange, the natural response is something like “Hey, let’s talk more about that next week”, and contact information is exchanged. We’ve just gained permission to continue the conversation.

Simply put, the dialogue during our brief interaction was compelling enough. We have offered something of interest and value that the individual have implicitly or explicitly asked to know more about us. Instead of handing them a business card in the offline world, with a few mouse clicks and a URL, we can point them to exactly what they are looking for in the form of pre-existing content. In exchange, they’ve give you permission to follow up to talk more.

Some examples of ways that this can manifest itself are:

  • Subscribing to our blog
  • Inviting us to connect on a Social Network
  • Giving us their contact information in exchange for a white paper, webinar, newsletter, free product sample or trial

We’ve been able to offer something of value and they’ve given us permission to engage with them in more conversation.

*** VALUE ***
This isn’t a stage by itself, but it is the most critical factor to all of them, respectively. If there is something that isn’t graphically represented enough in the diagram, it is the Value that is provided on behalf of our company. You will notice that as the prospect moves up the pyramid, the company must be providing more value in order to enable them to do so. If there is a strong undercurrent that is unseen by the casual observer… the invisible hand of the AIPEE Pyramid, it is the absolute necessity to PROVIDE VALUE at each and every stage of the process. Without it, the climb up the pyramid is simply too hard. It is the value provided by the company that compels the prospect to continue their journey.

This is where we get the chance to really “talk turkey”, and is likely representative of the transition from what is traditionally known as marketing into the realm of sales. At this same point, interaction that has previously been facilitated by social technologies and platforms now probably transitions to a more “traditional” or “more deeply engaging” channel. There might be a natural escalation in communication channels from social –> email –> phone –> web conference –> face to face. Typically, as we get closer to the most natural form of human communication (face to face), we are likely moving closer to a mutually beneficial value exchange with our prospect. (Conjecture on my part – anyone have any research to back this up?)

This stage could be (and likely will be), another post or two unto itself. But that is for another day. We all have work to get back to.

For the sake of brevity, here is the summary:

The two parties are fully engaged, figuratively “sitting on the same side of the table” and seriously exploring how they can help each other out. Trust has never been deeper up until this point in the relationship. The company’s main goal is to understand in detail what their prospect is trying to accomplish, and either offer an existing solution from their offerings portfolio, or co-create with them a product or solution that helps them accomplish their goals.

We’ve made it. It’s nice to be at the top.

We’ve consistently added value over a series of interactions. We’ve established trust. We’ve worked hard on behalf of our prospect to help them achieve their goals. We’ve now earned the right to ask for something. It might be a sale (Revenue). It might be a Referral. It might be a Recommendation. In some cases, it might be all three. We’ve successfully executed an R Value Exchange. But it doesn’t stop there… (It never does).

In the final post, we’ll dig a little more into the Value Exchange Retention Cycles, the potential response(s) of the customer at all stages in their journey up the pyramid, provide some examples of how and when the customer might “skip” stages and get to the top more quickly, and how and when you might consider automating some of your efforts.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Brian Vellmure
For more than a decade, Brian Vellmure has impacted hundreds of companies on their journey towards increased profitability through strategic customer focused initiatives. For more insightful thoughts and resources, please subscribe to Brian's blog by clicking here


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