Continuum of Behaviour

It is not what you know, but who you know, or (more accurately in marketing terms) who knows you and what their perception of your company is.

Marketing communications is about your target market knowing you, your company and the products and services you sell, so when they have a need they automatically think of you and would not even consider looking elsewhere.

The Continuum of Behaviour is the model which assists understanding of the stages a prospect goes through, prior to making a purchasing decision. On the one hand you want to ensure the prospect moves along the Continuum of Behaviour, whilst on the other hand you do not want the cost of marketing and selling to be unnecessarily expensive.

A typical Continuum of Behaviour model might be:

  • Prospect recognises need
  • Initial enquiry
  • Receive information
  • Telephone call
  • Visit
  • Proposal
  • Demonstration
  • Place order
  • Install system
  • Use system
  • Become an advocate
  • Purchase services, upgrades, consultancy

The Continuum of Behaviour does not stop once the order is placed. Profit potential goes on after the order has been fulfilled, but relies on a happy user. Happy users spread the good name of your company and are also prepared to pay premium prices for quality service. Happy users are easier to sell too, and so the cost of selling comes down.

As the computer market becomes ever more competitive marketing costs are rising, particularly the cost of finding new prospects. Thus it will become increasingly more important to retain existing users and maximise income from them. The Continuum of Behaviour recognises this.

The first thing to do is analyse the Continuum of Behaviour for your company and formalise this with the appropriate staff. From this you can measure how many leads your marketing produces and how many prospects your sales department has on the Continuum of Behaviour, and at which stage they are at. You can compare month on month and see where the weak stages are in your sales cycle. This will help your sales forecasting and provide the means to analyses why prospects are not moving to the next stage of the Continuum. Such dynamic analyses enables you to spot the trends in advance of sales increasing or decreasing.

Further analyses will enable you to calculate the number of enquiries you need in order to obtain a particular number of demonstrations or proposals or to calculate the value of proposals required in order to achieve the required level of sales. In other words, how much marketing is required to generate a given level of sales. Such information is vital for business planning and with marketing costs rising, is essential information for the bottom line.

It does not matter how good the product or service may be, if it cannot be marketed at a reasonable cost, it will not become a cash cow. Analyses of expenditure on each type of marketing activity and the number of prospects generated, and number of prospects moved on to the next stage, will soon show which marketing communications opportunities are the most effective and efficient. In truth a combination of marketing communications opportunities will be the best and so intuition can still be helpful! Particular forms of marketing communications will be better at generating leads, such as advertising, direct mail, faxed mail and PR. Other forms of marketing communications will be more effective further along the Continuum, where credibility may be important, such as corporate and product brochures, open days and seminars, in house news papers and, most importantly, personal contact. Clever marketing recognises what is required to move each qualified prospect on to the next stage and does not waste time or resources unnecessarily.

As an example, the way many companies waste money is in sales staff (the most expensive form of marketing) going around in circles of prospect visits, whereas they should be travelling in straight lines of prospect commitment, and getting prospects to the next stage of the Continuum. Analyses of the Continuum identifies this trend sooner rather than later. Clearly, prospects should be re-qualified at each stage to sort the wheat from the chaff. Do not cast your pearls before swine! A good understanding of the Continuum of Behaviour should be an excellent aid in understanding and analysing the role of marketing and sales in your company. Like all marketing models, the Continuum of Behaviour is simply a model which provides a view of your business. Adapt the model, and your use of it, to suit you and your business.

Rules for a Continuum of Behaviour;

  • Formalise the Continuum of Behaviour.
  • Set targets for each stage of the Continuum of Behaviour.
  • Monitor progress so you can see where progress is good, and not so good.
  • Where progress is not so good, analyse why and formulate a strategy for improving performance.
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