Two of the most common questions my clients ask is:
- “What’s the most effective marketing technique that will get people to notice (or become aware of) my product?” and then,
- “What’s the most effective marketing technique to get people to buy my product?”
And the answer to both is to leverage the power of the customer buying cycle by executing your marketing and sales funnel today.
Most are already familiar with this term, but if you’re not, here’s a good explanation: It’s the set of steps a prospective buyer goes through before they buy your product. The process is called a “funnel” because, at the beginning of the process, there are a lot of people who take that first step (see that image above), but as they continue along, some of them drop out as they realize your product won’t fulfill their needs, it’s not the right price or some other reason; in other words, the size of the prospective buyer crowd narrows, like a funnel, until you’re left with committed buyers.
To understand its power, let’s look at the psychology behind the customer buying cycle.
For illustration purposes, think about how you approach your own purchases
Whether its a service or good, what’s your own buying decision process? Likely the same as everyone else’s. Whether you are buying for yourself as an individual, or for your business, the process is the same every time.
First, you become aware that you have a problem or need. Next, you start researching possible options for solving the problem or fulfilling the need.
In the course of your research, you notice Product A or Company B via an ad in a magazine or on TV, social media, a friend’s recommendation, a Google search, a survey or a brochure or business card you picked up at a trade show. (And note that science says you have to see that product mentioned at least 3-5 times, before your brain puts it into your “consideration set.”)
The products you’ve uncovered might be able to solve your problem, but you’re just not sure yet. At this point, you have become a lead for those companies; you are at the top of the funnel – at Step 1 of the image above.
The point that we often forget, is that buyers don’t go from noticing a product or company for the first time to purchasing in the same instant
Unless it is an impulse purchase, even the best salesperson won’t convince you to hand over your money instantly – without providing some further information to explain and persuade you of the product’s:
- community of advocates
- benefits to you
These are things we all need to know in order to make decisions about buying. And that convincing can take a little time.
This is where “nurturing” comes in
Nurturing provides potential buyers who have become aware of a product, but not yet decided to buy it, with a consistent drip of information about the product over time, ideally delivered by means of emails, social media, brochures, webinars, and content marketing (blog posts, infographics, videos, “cheat sheets”, and white papers), and finally, toward the end of the funnel, demonstrations and trial usage (this final stage is where Sales steps in to close the deal). These “middle of the funnel” activities cover Steps 2-4 in the image at the top. The more automated you can make this nurturing stage, the more efficient and cost-effective your marketing will be; if you need a human to hand-deliver the message at every point throughout Steps 2-4, your business won’t scale.
Regardless of the size of your business, or its stage in the start-up cycle, success will only happen when you leverage the power of the funnel
If you only focus on lead-generating activities at the top of the funnel, you’ll leave the leads you gather hanging out there with not enough information to purchase. Or if you only focus on the selling process in the middle or bottom of the funnel, you’ll eventually run out of fresh leads.
And by the way, what I’m doing right now in this post is nurturing you as a lead, by showing you my marketing expertise, service quality, and some of the benefits you’ll derive by working with me.
To summarize, here’s what your marketing funnel might look like
TOP OF THE FUNNEL – Goal: find leads for your product, using marketing techniques like these:
- Inbound marketing (SEO-optimized blogs, white papers, infographics, “cheat sheets”, guides)
- Flyers, postcards
- Search engine marketing
- Facebook or LinkedIn advertising
- Print ads
- Trade shows and conferences
- Social media
- Teach classes on your industry
MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL – Goal: Convince those leads over time that yours is the best solution to their problem, using marketing techniques like these:
- Email campaigns
- Content marketing (blogs, white papers, infographics, “cheat sheets”, guides)
- Direct mail
- Tutorials (in person, or pre-recorded)
- Hosted events
- Case studies, customer interviews
- Social media
BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL – Goal: Get them to buy your product, using sales and marketing techniques like these:
- Offers and discounts
- Sales Demos
Once they purchase, your goal should be to keep marketing to your existing customers to retain them and turn them into advocates. But that’s another blog post.
Let’s do this
Need help setting up your funnel or determining what marketing techniques work for your target audience? We can help. This is what we do. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org today.