Creating A Funnel Based Marketing Strategy
Most small business owners that I talk to about their marketing strategies, tend to fail because they simply don’t understand the concept of a marketing funnel. The concept is nothing new and was initially created during the Golden Age of Advertising. What has brought it to prominence today, is the fact that technology advancements have made creating a marketing funnel extremely easy and scalable. With today’s technology, anyone with a laptop and a few dollars can create their own marketing funnel, even you!
What Is A Marketing Funnel?
Simply put, a marketing funnel is a series of advertising and marketing campaigns designed to guide someone through the entire buying journey. Starting from the point when they first become aware of your product or service, all the way to the point where they become a lifetime, repeat customer.
Stages In The Buyer’s Journey
Whether you are aware of it or not, there are a series of steps that you, and all consumers take before making a purchase. There is variance in how quickly people move through the steps but the sequence is always the same:
Step 1: Problem/Need Recognition- With small purchases this could be simple, I’m out of milk for example. Larger purchases solve more complex problems or bigger needs and often don’t have immediate clear solutions in the consumer’s mind.
Step 1 Ad Focus: If you’re creating a new niche or product, then you want to focus on awareness type ads that create pain and let the consumer know they have a problem. If you’re operating in an existing niche, you want to create awareness campaigns that let people know you’re here, and you’re better than everybody else on the block.
Step 1 Ad Strategy: These campaigns should be designed to broadly target your niche. FB video ad campaigns, trying to focus on garnering PR, and crowdsourcing would all be examples of good ad strategies to target step 1 consumers.
Step 2: Search For Information- Now that you recognize a need exists, the next step is to research ways to solve the need. If it’s a small purchase like deciding what to eat, you might look at Yelp reviews. If it’s a large purchase, like replacing a water heater, then this step can be quite extensive.
Step 2 Ad Focus: This is where you want to load up on your brochures and detailed information pieces. This is also the step when consumers will be going to your site directly.
Step 2 Ad Strategy: Time and money invested into SEO pays its dividends by swooping up consumers in this stage. Absent SEO; paid/guest blog posts, focusing on review sites, and utilizing niche forums and social media groups would all be effective ad strategies targeting step 2 consumers.
Step 3: Evaluation of Alternatives- At this stage, you’ve become a learned consumer. You now understand the overall landscape and you have found a handful of providers that could possibly solve your want/need. In this step, you start examining the subtle differences between Company A and Company B and comparing features and benefits.
Step 3 Ad Focus: This is the step where it is important that your brand comes off as the authority to the consumer. A lot of time during this step is spent fact checking your claims. Direct advertising from your brand is less effective to consumers in this stage.
Step 3 Ad Strategy: Testimonials are king here. Outside of that, focusing on getting your product or service featured on review sites, partnerships with other companies, and focusing on your social media pages would be effective ad strategies targeting consumers at this step in the process.
Step 4: The Purchase Decision- This should be cut and dry but oftentimes it isn’t. Even if you’ve gone through the previous 3 steps, it could end with an outcome where you don’t purchase anything to fulfill your want/need. You could deem the product or service too expensive, it could take too long for it to ship, you could simply get distracted, or a plethora of real life situations could happen that prevent you from pulling the trigger even if you’re at this stage.
Step 4 Ad Focus: I don’t think I have to spend too much time on this section since this is what most people outside of the marketing world focus on when they think of marketing. Your goal here is to give the consumer reasons to buy your product now!
Step 4 Ad Strategy: See above. Focus on limited time promotional offers, trial offers, coupons, etc.
Step 5: Buyer’s Remorse- Every time you make a purchase decision, you are evaluating an opportunity cost. Your money vs the product or service. Post purchase, your brain continues to go through this process, and the bigger the purchase, the higher the chances are that you’ll experience buyer’s remorse, period. Combating this is important for you as a business owner because it prevents returns, creates lifelong customers, and generates referrals.
Step 5 Ad Focus: Pictorial ads showcasing people enjoying a product post purchase have been proven to dramatically decrease buyer’s remorse. That’s about the only fact that I remember from my expensive education and I don’t even remember the source.
Step 5 Ad Strategy: Email campaigns, referral campaigns, rewards memberships, social media engagement, product training resources, community involvement campaigns, and viral marketing campaigns would all be effective ad strategies targeting consumers in this stage and that is just the tip of the iceberg.