Today, I’m going to break down the concepts of a marketing funnel and the buyer journey. My primary reason for doing this is that I often find myself explaining this concept, and being able to send a blog post will save me a lot of breath and time.
Everything that your company does, and I DO mean EVERYTHING, is an aspect of your Brand. Marketing is a function of Brand—not the other way around.
This means that every single thing you do in Marketing will establish, reinforce, or contradict your Brand. Therefore, as a Marketer, you should be thinking about anything that touches an audience.
- Your website design is Marketing
- The keywords you choose for search are Marketing
- How your packaging looks is Marketing
- How you answer the phone is Marketing
- How you word your contracts is Marketing
Once you understand this concept, you can then easily understand why a Marketer must consider every single stage of the buyer’s journey, not just building awareness, and not just getting people to buy.
The Buyer Journey
This is the typical buyer’s journey:
- The customer identifies a problem
- The customer seeks out a solution
- The customer weighs their options
- The customer makes a buying decision, decides to leave the problem unsolved, or seeks to solve it on their own
This journey can be understood in terms of a funnel.
- PRE-AWARNESS: The customer has an unidentified need or want
- AWARENESS: The customer identifies a problem
- DISCOVERY: The customer seeks out a solution
- CONSIDERATION: The customer weighs their options
- CHOICE: The customer makes a buying decision, decides to leave the problem unsolved, or seeks to solve it on their own
Today, let’s look at that funnel from your perspective as a marketer. While the customer is thinking and doing, it’s your job to meet them where they are.
NOTE: Before I get into all of this, I want to share with you a very helpful resource that you will want to use throughout today. I put together a complete guide to social media strategy, you can read it here. In this post, you can search for tactics by stage of the funnel, by budget, by goals, and by resources available. You should bookmark it.
Though not on the graphic above, it’s important to note that there is actually a phase that exists prior to the Awareness stage: Pre-Awareness. Before the prospective customer realizes that have a problem, want, or need, a Marketer can create the need through effective storytelling. For example…
Before the iPhone, there wasn’t an existing competitive marketplace with phones that had music players, email, full web browsers, maps, and a limitless library of apps. There were smartphones, but at the time of the iPhone, Blackberry was king.
The smartphone industry hadn’t broadly graduated to that level of device yet. Nowadays, those features are par for the course. The keynote that introduced the iPhone created a multi-billion dollar industry almost instantaneously. Even though the iPhone changed the smartphone market permanently, at the time of its release, there was low general awareness that such a thing could exist. The market was in Pre-Awareness.
When you are introducing something to the world, you may find yourself trying to create entirely new markets out of thin air by telling people a story about a world they’d never conceived. You are literally creating demand, by creating markets, by creating awareness about something entirely new.
At this stage, you’ll want to make a big splash that tells a story that shifts the way the customer sees the world around that in a way that now includes the product or service that you offer.
Unless you plan to release something truly disruptive, you probably don’t need to worry about this stage, but it’s important for your understanding of how this all works.
This is the most standard place for a Marketer to enter the picture. The customer knows they have a problem, and your job as a marketer is to instill in their minds that what you offer is an option.
The customer might say: “our sales are down.”
Your job might be: to make sure that people who say something like that, are aware that one of their options would be to get sales coaching through you.
At this stage, you only hope to plant a thought in their mind. This can take the shape of online video ads, content on the platforms they use, even billboards. Make sure to avoid calls to action at this stage, as you don’t want to get ahead of yourself. The whole point at this stage is to instill an idea and an association of your solution to their problem.
How will you raise awareness with your target audience?
The Discovery phase is the first action-based stage in the buyer journey. The prospective customer goes about looking for options for solving their problems. It is your job as a marketer to find them in the midst of their search. This can mean proactively placing yourself in front of them, or being available in the various places they may go searching.
At this stage, you’ll want to place ads in front of the prospective customer, ensure that you have well-designed profiles on the platforms they use, and try to make sure that your web properties come up in searches.
At this stage, you are trying to make it as easy as possible to add you to their list of options.
What directories, if any, should you be listed in? Start to think about what social media platforms you plan to have profiles on.
In this stage the prospective customer is well aware of their problem and has done some initial searching to see what options are available. Now, they are considering those options and trying to narrow it down to pick a solution.
During the consideration phase, your job is to convince them why you are the ideal option.
At this stage you’re doing things like creating sales resources, ebooks, breakdowns of product or service features, testimonials, or anything else that gives you an edge over other options. You need to understand what unanswered questions the prospective buyer has, what unsettled concerns they may feel, and what incentives might motivate them.
What information do you think your customer would need to know before picking you?
The choice stage is where the sale happens, so a marketers job at this stage is to make that easy, and do everything you can to avoid triggering doubt that stops the sale or causing buyer’s remorse immediately after the fact.
Basically, just make sure it’s easy to convert. Make it simple to buy, give you money, and get started.
You Need A Full Funnel Strategy
There is no single stage of the funnel that is inherently more important than another. Each part of the funnel is interconnected with the rest.
As you go about building out your marketing strategy, make sure that you are considering all phases of the funnel.
This is the basic concept of the marketing funnel. Any questions?
Reminder to spend a few minutes browsing Social Media Strategy: The Definitive Post, for ideas.