Is Your Late Stage Content Increasing Fear?

PropelGrowth Blog - Financial Services Marketing and Content Strategy

Losing revenue from late stage content failure? Here's some advice to cheer you up.

Lately, I’ve been considering a change to PropelGrowth’s bookkeeping system, and this process has sent me down the trail of hunting for answers to lots of questions online. Part of my evaluation has included reviewing QuickBooks Online.

Experimenting with Promotional Pricing

The QuickBooks marketing department is experimenting with introductory pricing (a QB sales rep confirmed this). As a result, they’ve been changing the pricing on their website. They seem to have more than one website with pricing, and offers differ on the two properties. They also seem to be doing some A/B testing on their pricing page, testing different offers. My bookkeeper and I can view pricing at the same time and see different prices. Today, simultaneous visits landing on their pricing from Google search yielded two different price lists and one page with a whole new product level.

Quickbooks pricing 1

Quickbooks pricing 2

I noticed the discrepancies after revisiting the pricing page a few times. This awareness made me uncomfortable…less trusting. Concern led me to look up the footnotes and fine print related to the pricing terms. The terms say that new subscribers pay the discounted price for “6 months of service, starting from date of enrollment, followed by the then current monthly price.” They don’t explain what the “then current monthly price” will be. They only show today’s current price, which also seems to be slightly fluctuating, though not as much as the promotional prices.

Trust and the Zero Moment of Truth

Now the price point for this product is low enough that my risk is not substantial. But the experience has raised doubts about the trustworthiness of the company. Intuit is a huge company, and I’ve used their products for years. So this one experience doesn’t overwrite that history. But it has resulted in me seriously considering their competitors. At best, their tactic has prolonged my buying process. At worst, it could cost them a customer.

At my critical moment of truth – just when I’m ready to subscribe, I stopped and reconsidered. And it was completely preventable.

Does Your Late Stage Content Build Trust?

So what does this rant have to do with you?

How does your promotional and marketing strategy impact your prospects at their critical moment of truth?

When prospects are at the point of committing to a final decision, their fear and distrust is at its highest level. A whole buying committee needs to sign off on this decision. Professional reputations and jobs are on the line. They need to be as confident as possible that they’re making the best decision. Most of the time, there are hundreds of unanswered questions. Buying is risky.

So they’re probably getting content from your sales team and visiting your website to answer those questions. Make sure you provide late stage content to help answer their questions. And make sure it serves to increase their confidence.

Sales people know that hiccups at this stage can capsize a deal very quickly.

Content Marketing for Late Stage Prospects

Most marketers focus very little attention on this buying stage, concentrating instead on filling the pipeline with new leads. While Sales needs to stay in full control of outbound communications at this point, Marketing should still take a serious look at the content prospective buyers might be accessing. When they’re close to committing, prospects are reviewing technical documentation, contracts, implementation plans and other materials trying to identify and manage potential risks.

Put yourself in their shoes, and from that point of view, take a close look at your contracts, implementation plans and other late stage sales materials. Does the fine print unnecessarily increase the perception of risk? Does the website content jive with the late stage materials, or does it make promises that conflict with your contract language? Are you creating unintended “gotchyas” that might make a deal fall apart?

Be Careful with Promotions

Also consider the perception of late stage prospects any time you run promotions or launch new products. Do your promotions make prospects wonder if they’re getting the best price? Are you creating the perception that once they’re in, the deal might change? If you’re running promotions, make sure that your Sales team is fully briefed about the promo, and collaboratively find a way to minimize disruption to deals already in the pipeline. When you’re running A/B tests to figure out which offers and approaches work best, be sure to consider how a visitor will perceive your firm if they stumble upon both versions.

Research Deals that Fall Through

Marketing and Sales should regularly discuss deals that are stalling or failing to close. Find out what issues are coming up. Can any of them be addressed with improved late stage content? Are prospects raising objections that could be addressed with new or modified content?

Interview buying committee members in companies where deals fell apart to find out what went wrong. Ask about what kinds of content and information the prospect needed, and where your materials fell short. You can often learn more about your content needs from lost deals than you’ll ever learn from happy customers. More on this topic next week.

Three Lessons in Building Trust

So, to wrap up, here are three lessons from my experience with QuickBooks.

  1. Watch your promotions – make sure they don’t create distrust with late stage prospects.
  2. Compare your early stage web content with the fine print in contracts to identify conflicts. Discrepancies breed distrust.
  3. Create content that helps dispel fear and builds trust for late stage – don’t let anything blow that zero moment of truth.

Have you ever encountered something that increased your sense of risk just when you were about to make a purchase?

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