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The 3% Rule: Understanding Buyer Segments in Your Market

by Francis Rodino

May 10, 2023

Do you want to know a powerful secret in marketing that can keep your business ahead of the game? The answer lies in the 3% Rule – a fundamental principle that helps you engage with customers before they even need your services.

Here’s the breakdown: At any given moment, only 3% of your potential customers are ready to buy. The remaining 97% are either oblivious to your existence or simply uninterested in your offerings. This is where the magic happens: if you can engage that 97% before they need you, you’ll be the first brand they think of when they’re finally ready to purchase.

The 3% Rule is a marketing concept that helps you categorize your target audience into five distinct buying segments based on their readiness to purchase your products or services. Here’s a simplified breakdown of the model:

  1. Active buyers (3%): These individuals or businesses have a pressing need and are actively looking for solutions. They plan to make a purchase within the next 30 to 90 days. They represent sales leads and are prime targets for your marketing efforts.
  2. Intending to change (7%): This segment recognizes a need but hasn’t started actively searching for solutions. A well-timed marketing campaign or cold call can be highly effective, as these prospects are open to new ideas and suggestions.
  3. Needs not pressing enough to act (30%): These potential customers recognize a need but don’t feel it’s urgent enough to take action. They might engage with your brand but are unlikely to commit to a purchase until their needs become more pressing.
  4. No current need (30%): This group doesn’t have a need for your products or services at the moment and is not receptive to marketing messages. They may have recently made a purchase, be too small to benefit from your offerings, or simply not be ready for your services.
  5. Not interested in your company (30%): This segment will never choose your brand, regardless of your efforts. They may be loyal to competitors, have had a negative experience with your company, or prefer alternative solutions. It’s important to acknowledge this dynamic and focus your efforts on more receptive segments.

Understanding these five buying segments helps you tailor your marketing strategies, allocate resources effectively, and maximize your chances of converting prospects into customers. By recognizing where each prospect is in the buying process, you can create targeted campaigns that resonate with their needs and preferences, ultimately driving sales and growing your business.

Building relationships with prospects takes time, but it’s worth it. Let’s explore three key strategies to tap into the 97% and turn them into loyal customers:

  1. Be a problem solver: By sharing your knowledge and expertise in your industry, you can establish yourself as a thought leader and a problem solver. Publish content like blog posts, white papers, and social media updates that provide valuable insights to your audience. This way, you’ll become a trusted resource they turn to when they face challenges, even before they require your specific services.
  2. Connect on a human level: Today’s customers crave authentic connections with brands. So, ditch the corporate speak and let your genuine personality shine through in your content. Engage in conversations with your audience and share stories that resonate with them. Establishing a personal connection makes it more likely that they’ll think of you when they need the services you offer.
  3. Keep them engaged: Consistency is key. Stay top-of-mind by continuously providing valuable content, tips, and insights that demonstrate your expertise. Encourage conversations and nurture relationships with your audience. Over time, this consistent engagement will build trust and loyalty, making your brand the go-to option when they’re ready to buy.

Mastering the 3% Rule will give you a significant competitive advantage. It’s about understanding that the majority of your audience isn’t ready to buy just yet, but by fostering relationships and providing value, you’ll be the first choice when they are. So, take the time to engage with the 97% and watch your business grow!

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About the author 

Francis Rodino

Francis has spent over two decades launching global digital marketing campaigns and delivering ROI for some of the world's best-known brands. From the BBC to Fifa, Playstation and Virgin, in 2018 Francis set out to make a bigger impact helping established small businesses and entrepreneurs harness marketing technology and cutting-edge digital strategies to increase sales, gain greater control and free up their time grow a business that runs itself.