Reactive & Proactive Customers

Marketing Essentials: Targeting Proactive & Reactive Customers

If you run a business of any size then you’ll be acutely aware how much of your heard-earned income needs to be reinvested in marketing and advertising. So it stands to reason that you’ll want to ensure you’re squeezing every last penny of value from your budget right?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of businesses are still failing to understand the difference between a proactive and responsive customer; and this is critical for two very good reasons:

  • Knowing the difference will help you attract more customer enquiries
  • Knowing the difference will help you save money on advertising and marketing

So there are two very good reasons why we’re going to help you understand what the differences are between proactive and reactive customers and how you can target both with your marketing efforts.

What Are Proactive Customers?

A proactive customer is basically somebody who is in the market for a product or service and is proactively searching to find their solution. This could be in any number of ways but typically a proactive customer will do one of the following things…

  • Conduct a search online via a search engine like Google (the majority of us do this)
  • Post a message on Facebook asking for recommendations
  • Visit a specific website that deals with the product or service they need (Checkatrade or Amazon for example)

This individual is focussed on finding a solution to their need and by the very fact they’re making enquiries themselves, they’re typically a hot prospect. As an example, Mrs Jones lives in London and needs a Boiler Engineer so she goes to Google and searches ‘Boiler Engineer in London’. She is proactively searching for a solution to her specific need.

What Are Reactive Customers?

A reactive customer is somebody who isn’t actively looking for a product or service but instead, they react to something that catches their attention. Again, there are many ways to reach a reactive customer but these are the most common ways a reactive customer will take action…

  • Clicking an appealing advert (sponsored post) in Facebook
  • An offer on a discount website like Groupon or Wowcher
  • A banner advert on a website they’re browsing

This individual is not quite as likely to buy as the proactive buyer however, the fact they’ve taken some action (clicked an advert for example) suggests that there is some interest in the product or service on offer. Using Mrs Jones as an example again, she spots an advert on Facebook which simply says “Half Price Boiler Safety Check for Customers in London”. She certainly wasn’t in the market for a boiler safety check but instead, she reacts to seeing the advert, therefore she’s a reactive customer.

Gearing Your Advertising to The Right Audience

Now you know the difference between these two types of prospective customer, we need to consider the different strategy that you will use to reach each one.

But why is this so important?

Let’s look at a typical advert that we all see a lot, especially in Facebook or local newspapers (media aimed at reactive buyers).

Family-Run Business Established Since 1984
All Boiler & Central Heating Work Undertaken
Call 01252 123456 For a Free Quote

This advert is ONLY relevant to somebody that actually sees the advert at the precise time they need a Boiler Engineer. So statistically, what are your chances of getting a response from this advert? Very low we’d imagine UNLESS it’s a Google advert (Adwords) for somebody who is specifically searching in Google for a Boiler Engineer (a proactive customer).

Let’s look at how that advert could be re-written to appeal to reactive customers…

Prevent Expensive Boiler Breakdowns by Getting Your Boiler Serviced
20% Discount on Boiler Servicing This Month Only
Call 01252 123456 to Book

Now we’ve switched our target market from just people who actually have a broken boiler to EVERYONE that has a boiler. The opening line doesn’t mention the company name because it’s not important to our prospective customers – what is important to them is the thought of not having hot water and/or heating. And by adding a discount offer for a limited period (this month only), we’re installing a sense of urgency and a ‘sweetener’ with a 20% discount to encourage them to call us rather than any other Boiler Engineer.

Framing Your Adverts

As you can see from the example adverts above, framing your message is crucial so that it appeals to the audience who will be seeing it.

If you’re advertising where most of the people will be proactively looking for a product or service, like Google Adwords, you need to frame your advert to make it as appealing as possible to people who WANT your product or service NOW. These people are actively looking for what you’re selling.

However, if you’re advertising to everyone through a newspaper or Facebook, you need to change the frame of your advert so that it appeals to as many people as possible. In our case, just by changing the wording we’ve changed the frame from just people with a broken boiler to everyone with a boiler. In real terms, if our total audience is 1,000 people, we’ve probably expanded our frame from maybe 10 people to probably 500 (1% to 50%) – can you see how this will have a huge effect on the amount of enquiries our advert generates?

Final Words

Targeting proactive and reactive buyers by framing your adverts is just one of many ways you can really hit the ‘sweet spot’ with your advertising and marketing.

It’s simple as case of understanding the mindset of your prospective customers. Unless you have a vast marketing budget for creating brand awareness, you need to ensure that your advertising is totally on-point and relevant to the people you’re reaching out to. In marketing and advertising, relevancy is everything.

If you need any further help with this subject or would like to discuss how we can help you create some effective adverts, regardless of the media, feel free to call us on 01252 416 222 or drop us an email via our contact page.

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