The Relative Levels of Influence of Different Marketing Vehicles

Most prospects do not become clients or customers of a service business through a single exposure to the organization’s marketing or business development efforts. More often than not, such prospects will have been exposed to a multiplicity of “touchpoints,” that may include the business’ web site, advertising, referrals, meeting staff members, etc. We have discussed how each touchpoint merits some credit for its role in garnering that new client. But is it reasonable to assume that each touchpoint deserves equal credit? Is an exposure to an ad equal in value to meeting a friend who highly recommends a particular individual or business?

We recently conducted a pilot research study in which we asked participants to rate the degree of influence different touchpoints had had in their decision to contract with a law practice. On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest), a friend’s referral averaged a score of 4.47 in contrast to seeing an advertisement for the firm which averaged a 1.86. Does this suggest one shouldn’t advertising or that one should rely solely on word-of-mouth for business generation? Hardly. After all, an ad will reach many, many more potential clients than could any single person or group of individuals. But that being said, it does suggest that when a new client is obtained, credit must be allocated proportionately to each of the contributing touchpoints.

For most return-on-investment models, this matters little because they seldom are looking at marketing holistically, focusing instead on how each initiative (i.e., the ad, networking, etc.) performed individually, rather than how they performed in tandem. Looking at the History of Client Origin allows service business marketers the opportunity to ascertain exactly how they are generating new business, what activities are generating it, and to what degree.