The early ’80s were a much simpler time in the advertising business. That’s when I began my career, and the tools we utilized to communicate brand messages were fewer and simpler to command. Creativity (a.k.a. The Big Idea) reigned supreme. The Internet as we know it was but a gleam in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye. And we were driven by a simple yet essential process: “AIDA”: generate Attention, then create Interest, then instill Desire, then cause Action (buying).

But our core objective back then was the same as it’s been for the more than 35 years since: deliver qualified prospects to the client’s doorstep. How this is done is obviously different now than back in the days of Ronald Reagan, Hill Street Blues, 18 cent stamps, and Rick Springfield rocking out “Jessie’s Girl.”   

What are Pre-Purchase Touch Points?

Pre-Purchase Brand Touch Points are all those interactions prospects have with your brand before they ever decide to do business with you. And you’ll be well-served to proactively identify and manage them in today’s dynamic marketing environment.

First, identify all the various ways you reach out to prospects, or they reach out to you.  Here’s a few to think about:

  • Company or brand website
  • Radio, tv, out-of-home, online, print, and mobile advertising
  • Public relations
  • Direct mail and email marketing
  • Trade shows and other events
  • Social media, word-of-mouth, brand reputation, online reviews and ratings
  • Cold-calling (is this even a thing today?)
  • Internet user forums
  • Sales literature
  • Uniforms and appearance
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • POP materials
  • Phone greeting and auto-attendant process
  • Service and Delivery vehicles (and drivers)
  • Receptionist and reception area
  • Supply chain
  • Physical property (store, office, etc.)
  • Corporate stationery
  • etc.

Second, like with all of your brand touch points, prioritize them relative to the role they play in selling more of your stuff (think of the old AIDA process above). Some touch points are more important than others, and which is which may not be as obvious as you think. Ideally, conducting research specific to your business will illuminate these.

Different Buying Stages Require Different Actions

What emphasis you place on various touch points also depends on where your target audience is in their buying process and what you need to accomplish during that stage:

  1. If prospects are trying to become initially aware of various alternatives to meet their need, touch points that reinforce brand awareness should be emphasized.
  2. If prospects are trying to differentiate among various alternatives and value propositions, touch points that drive home your points of difference should be emphasized.
  3. Prospects will narrow down possible alternatives and determine which are best suited to meet their needs. Your touch points that drive relevance and value should be emphasized here.
  4. Ultimately, a selection will be made. Touch points that reinforce your brand value and relevance should be emphasized. 

You’ll likely have many prospects at varying stages of this basic process at the same time, so you need to plan for this with an expansive view. Developing a plan to actively manage the important interactions throughout this entire pre-purchase process will help to ensure that the resulting brand experience is aligned with your brand identity.  It will help qualify prospects along the way and drive them to your cash register.  

Many organizations do not consider this extensive view of their pre-purchase brand touch points. So, if you do, won’t you have a decided advantage? At 34 North, we’re happy to help you get started.