My favourite week of the year is here.
Those of you who know me will know that the Cheltenham Festival is one of the highlights of my year.
Since my time as a fresh-faced undergrad in the beautiful spa town of Cheltenham, the annual festival has grabbed my attention like no other sporting event.
I love it. And this Friday, Gold Cup day, I’ll be there in my freshly laundered coat, clutching my second, third or fourth Guinness from the Village, slowly digesting my full English and standing on the lucky harp.
But enough of my excitement. Because there’s a serious point to be made when it comes to Cheltenham; or indeed any other event where thousands of people wager money on the outcome of a sporting spectacle.
Over the next four days, 232,000 people will descend on Cheltenham Racecourse, 265,000 pints of Guinness will be drunk, (I’ll be putting my dent in that!) and £150 million will be gambled.
Now for me, this is where it gets interesting – the decision processes people use when backing horses fascinates me.
Some of the people at Cheltenham will back horses based on research; taking into account each horse’s strengths and weaknesses, examining the odds from numerous bookmakers, analysing the conditions and placing their wager with all of that information in mind.
Others will grab a copy of the Racing Post each morning, have a quick scan of the odds and see which horse looks a good price.
Others still, will be there just for the craic, picking their horses based purely on whether they like the name or what colour the silks are.
And others, like my good friend Jon Badger, will back horses based on romance.
Today he’ll be backing the New One. Yes it has a chance in the Champion Hurdle but his reason for backing it is much simpler than that. He loves the horse. He’s won big on him before and he backs it every time it runs even if it doesn’t have a chance.
And the reality is that in all of our businesses, our customers are exactly the same as the punters at Cheltenham.
The decision-making processes they go through before purchasing are varied. Not all buyers are the same.
Of the people who buy our products or services, some will want to know every single piece of information available.
They’ll want access to tons of testimonials and a detailed description of the benefits and features and they’ll do a whole lot of research on price to make sure they’re getting the best possible deal.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are the buyers who’ll pretty much buy anything. Like Mark Creaser, these people are desperate to whack some money on their credit card, and all you need to do is ask and they’ll buy.
Others will use the same rationale as Jon Badger and the New One and buy from you because they like you. Even if your competitor’s offering is better.
In short, there are usually multiple types of buyers, and it’s crucial for us to recognise this.
Recognising the different types of buyers in our markets is a really vital thing to do because it allows us to tailor our sales and marketing processes to suit the people we want to purchase from us.
If we understand that a decent chunk of our potential buyers require lots of information before they purchase from us, we’ll also understand that just sending them a short copy postcard probably isn’t going to be enough to get them to buy.
I’ve got a recent story that illustrates this really well. We had two different people; both interested in becoming Private Clients contact us.
I had initial telephone conversations with them both. Following the conversations, one of them signed up straight away.
The other one needed more time and information. He wanted to see some testimonials, some more of our collateral and further conversations on the phone.
They both bought, but they needed different things in order to buy.
If we had catered just to the first buyer, we wouldn’t have made two sales. And vice versa.
As you enjoy Cheltenham this week, I hope this little note will be a powerful reminder of the different types of buyer in your market, and an incentive to ensure that you’re serving them in a way that makes them most likely to spend money with you.
PS: If you want to have a little bet this week and you’re not sure who to back, have a little nose at Private Client John Lamerton’s site – www.freeracingtips.co.uk.