We hear from a lot of business owners that they understand that they need marketing, but that they don’t really understand marketing. It makes sense – the Internet changed a lot of marketing, and took what was already a mysterious part of business and made it even more mysterious.
The overall concept of marketing is pretty straightforward. Here is a quick overview of what marketing is, and how all of your efforts should help each other.
What Is Marketing?
At the core, marketing is defined as “all the actions a company undertakes to draw in customers and maintain relationships with them”.
Putting this knowledge into practice, marketing is:
- Awareness – customers can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist
- Consideration – customers need help understanding what problems you solve for them
- Conversion – customers need to know why they should choose your business
So, if a customer knows you exist, knows what you do, and are convinced of your solution – congratulations, your marketing is working! If sales are low, that’s an entirely different problem, a.k.a “you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. That’s another blog post.
The Marketing Funnel
Traditionally, marketing is defined as a funnel, and for all practical purposes this metaphor is accurate.
The marketing funnel consists of different stages, and prospects move from top to bottom. First, prospects who you have reached out to are in the top of the funnel (Awareness), second are prospects who are educating and learning about your offerings (Consideration), and finally prospects those who are taking steps to becoming customers (Conversion) are at the bottom.
The story this image tells us is powerful.
Prospects can’t visit your website if they don’t know it exists.
Prospects may not fully understand your company from just a radio ad.
A print ad with just a background photo and company name may not tell the prospect what you do and means they need to have heard of your company.
All of this is bad marketing, and it happens quite often.
Let’s look at each phase separately.
Phase One – Awareness
Awareness is taking a stranger who knows nothing about your organization and introducing the organization.
This introduction can be done in several ways. Advertisements and paid media (like display ads, radio, video ads, TV commercials, print ads, and more) are designed to show off your business in front of a new customer. There are also passive ways, such as search engine optimization, which rely on customers “discovering” your organization while searching online via search engines topics. Another form of awareness is inbound marketing, which is intercepting a prospect as they research information – for example, if a user is searching online for “auto body repair” and that is your business, having a paid ad and a website for the user to visit would be ideal.
It’s also vital to select the right advertising medium and messaging. For example, if your business caters to the 18-24 age group, a newspaper ad may have poor performance since that demographic doesn’t read newspapers with much success.
That’s the entire job of the awareness phase – to make your business known, and hopefully memorable to a prospect.
Phase Two – Consideration
Now that we understand awareness, we need to engage and excite users who are interested. Most modern marketing drives prospects back to a website so they can explore your business and let them explore if they are a good fit. Websites allow prospects to research, read, and explore all on their own.
Understanding what prospects need in this phase is critical. Information in this phase is usually general about the product or service, or the idea of the product or service, and how it helps the prospect. This is also where a lot of marketing fails. Prospects are hungry for information – if your marketing is lacking while a competitor outperforms, prospects will gravitate to the competitor who provides the better information. This information can come in a variety of forms – product pages, service information, frequently asked questions, videos showing off the product or service. All of these appeal to different audiences and needs.
Sometimes, prospects can move straight through consideration to conversion. For example, if you own a plumbing business, a customer with an emergency is less likely to watch a video about how to unclog a shower drain – they just need a phone number or email to contact you.
Phase Three – Conversion
Now that our awareness campaigns are bringing in prospects, and our consideration campaigns are educating prospects, we need to try to convert prospects into customers. Sometimes, just a bit more information is needed – tactics like testimonials, white papers, and reviews and awards can help users who are still on the fence. Sometimes users have questions they can’t research or find answers to and want to speak to someone on your staff, or prospects may need demos and hands-on meetings.
In most cases, the customer has moved past the concept of needing just any solution, and is almost always in need of information around the organization and why they should contact you versus a competitor.
By this phase, prospects have typically reached out to your organization, have transformed from an unknown prospect to known prospect, and your sales team is working to court the sale. The conversion phase commonly has unique needs, so attention is needed to give the right information to the prospect.
Putting It All Together
This is why marketing strategy is critical and becomes clear. Creating the phases, and then creating movement between the phases is important.
If you have a website, how are you promoting it – if at all?
If you are paying to advertise, does your consideration marketing help users who want to learn more or need more info? What are competitors doing that you aren’t? What do your customers routinely ask that you could share early?
Need Help With Your Awareness, Consideration, Conversion Strategy?
With Venn Marketing’s years of experience in digital marketing, we are ready to handle just about every detail of your marketing strategy.
We’d love to see how much your business can grow. Contact us today to talk with one of our experts!