[IMGCAP(1)]When was the last time you bought a car? Do you remember your process? If you are like me, you did some research online to look at the car ratings, market value and customer experiences. You probably looked at a few car websites to see what models, features and colors were available.

You may have even noticed the other cars on the road and even more of the type of car you were leaning toward purchasing. Now think about your mindset a year after you bought your car. Were you doing the same research? Did you notice those other cars?

Timing and relevancy are two key components to successful marketing. Today’s decision-makers conduct most of their research before they even pick up the phone to call you. That means that your marketing needs to mirror the buying process and provide the information and resources these people will be seeking out for their research.

Unfortunately, most marketing focuses primarily on the end of the buying process. Here are three things your marketing should be doing to mirror the buying process.

Establish credibility

People won’t buy from people they don’t trust. They won’t even be ready to hear your message. Your marketing should be helping to establish credibility for your marketing professionals. How do you do this? Public relations (via print, web, or media); speaking; writing; social media participation; and client testimonials. The more content you can put out in the market attached to your firm and its professionals, the more credibility you can begin to develop.

Provide research information

Oftentimes, people don’t know exactly what they need. They only know they have an issue or problem. Capturing people at the beginning of the buying process requires you to provide avenues for them to find information on their issues and how you solve them.

Whitepapers, blogs, articles, video and podcasts are great ways to provide this information. They key is you have to make them visible and accessible via the web, social media or other key places your prospects might do their research.

Capture permission

Its not enough to just provide this information, you also have to capture permission-based information. This will allow you to stay visible to the prospect through their decision making process and help nurture them through the decision making process.

Technology and the web will play a key role in this. When evaluating software, you will need to make sure you can track clicks, downloads and other interactions that you can define. It’s also ideal to be able to tie this to an automated lead nurturing campaign.

If you are just starting out, you can likely run most of this from software you may already have access too. As your efforts become more sophisticated, it will be worthwhile to invest in software that can facilitate the process from one platform and allow you to see multiple campaigns running simultaneously.

Sarah Johnson is the chief growth strategist with Inovautus Consulting, a firm that works with CPA, law and professional service firms to help them grow more effectively, and author of “Practical Ideas for Growth,” a blog dedicated to growing professional firms. Her counsel and strategies have helped move firms to the next level in their marketing and sales efforts. Connect with Sarah at 773-208-7170, sjohnson@inovautus.com, or www.linkedin.com/in/sjjohnson