Start Building Your Marketing Funnel

Are you looking to grow your business? It’s good to think about the growth in the context of a funnel. You know the funnels you use to put oil in your car or how you used to consume beer in college *wink*? It’s big at the top and gets progressively smaller.

You need to start thinking about the different stages of building relationships with your audience, customers, or group of people that you’re trying to grow. Once you understand the stages, then you can start to build a plan to move people towards whatever goal that you’re trying to accomplish. For most of you, that goal is revenue or sales of some kind.

When I started my first marketing job, I just kind of did stuff. Luckily enough, that user-base grew pretty rapidly. I’d imagine for as much as I did right that there was plenty I did wrong. I could’ve benefited from being more methodical about understanding my users

If you Google marketing funnels, there’s a million of them of varying complexity. So definitely feel free to take what I’ve written below as just a baseline.

Awareness – Does someone know that you exist? How do you start getting on someone’s radar? You could do this through advertising, press, social media, or optimizing to rank highly on search engines. Awareness is a BIG first step. This sounds like a pretty simple statement but it a doozy… someone’s not going to buy something from you if they don’t know you exist.

Consideration – This is where someone knows where you are and they’re starting to think about pulling the trigger on whatever it is that you’re selling.  What are the benefits of what you’re doing?

Acquisition – Now ya gotta get them to buy what you’re selling.  When someone’s thinking about buying something, they start thinking about the upsides and they finish thinking about the risks. At this stage, you want to assuage any fears that someone has so you can push them over the edge.

Retention – How do you keep them buying what you’re selling? They already have a relationship. You want to keep in touch. Make them feel the love. If they bought something, they likely already love you.  In some cases, it’s going to be easier to get an existing user/customer to buy more than to teach someone new why you’re awesome and then get them to buy something.

What’s the biggest problem for your business? Do people know you exist? Do people know you exist and they’re not buying? Have people bought but they’re not coming back? By understanding the funnel, you can tailor a solution that fits the problem. You can market yourself not just for the sake of marketing but to accomplish an important business objective.

In future posts, I’ll dive into each of these stages and the associated tactics.

Funnel Image By Donovan Govan. – Image was taken using a Canon PowerShot G3 (reference 7849)., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Stop Overthinking Your Marketing

All too often, I think people really overthink their marketing strategies and tactics.  They come up with these really complex marketing plans that feel too clinical or transactional that don't think about real life. It ends up feeling awkward and inevitably ineffective.

Great marketing is about building a great relationship between a brand/business/org and the customers. Prior to the digital age, this was done offline. Growing up my dad and I would go grocery shopping together.  We got to know one of the sample ladies really well. That relationship helped her sell a lot of product.

Fast forward twenty years. The principals till hold true. Great marketing is still about building great relationships. You have to really care about your customers.

What's different? The Web enables you to build relationships with audiences at scale. You can have meaningful interactions with A LOT of people that are mediated by social networks.

When I wake up in the  mornings and page through Facebook and Twitter, I'm looking with the eye of how I can affirm, serve or add value to the people that are in my network. This may be a simple as a fist bump emoji or something more complex. They're all meaningful interactions.

In the age of social media, you can interact with your audience early and often... like a normal relationship. I talk to my wife, family, and close friends more than once a month. Yet, too often brands who want a relationship feel comfortable emailing their audience more than once a month.

When people think about marketing, they get all nervous and anxious and forget that in the end it's just about building relationships. They start doing things online that'd feel really uncomfortable in an offline relationship. STOP!  A relationship is a relationship regardless of whether it's online or offline. Start marketing like it.