Is Your Marketing Missing Something?


The more and more I talk to marketers and business owners the more I notice that they seem to be missing something in their marketing. In an increasingly fragmented media landscape, marketers are buying more segmented media, but they are often doing it without a big picture plan. Plan!? That’s right, marketers do lots of different things, but without a vision for how they all work together to drive consumers through the buying cycle, it is not a plan.

Each part of that buying cycle needs to have different goals and messaging or you will end up losing customers throughout the buying cycle.


Even the right message at the wrong stage of the buying cycle
will not achieve the business’ goals.

Pre-Market/High Funnel Marketing

The buying cycle should begin with what is often called the high funnel or pre-market. This represents the period of time where a customer has little to no awareness of a company, product or service. They do not care and they aren’t losing any sleep over not having what they don’t know exists or what they need.

“Even the right message at the wrong stage of the buying cycle
will not achieve the business’ goals.”

A business’ goal at this point in the cycle is simply to create awareness. The messaging is critical here. What does the market need to know about your business? So often marketers get this first step wrong by using a call to action that means nothing to the consumer or by using bland company logos and tag lines that don’t convey the message the brand needs to communicate.
I once worked with a credit union that told me their pain point was that people do not know they are eligible to join their credit union. Despite that, this credit union brands itself with a message similar to “AAA Credit Union, Serving You Since 1950”. This fails to address their single biggest market pain point and it prevents them from attracting a larger share of the market. It’s no wonder they told me branding does not work for them; the messaging wasn’t hitting the mark.


Driving Customer Engagement

After a potential customer knows you exist (and who you actually are), the next step is to get him or her to actually care about you. Once a consumer starts to research or learn about a company or product they are way more likely to discover the value in owning your product or having your service.

Native or sponsored content has become a huge industry buzz over the past couple years and for good reason, it drives engagement. This type of content not only educates an audience, but positions businesses as authorities on their subject matter. Give people a reason to care and a sense that you know what you are doing and they become way more likely to do business with you.


Social media gives marketers a big opportunity to drive engagement. Marketers know they need to use social media, but so often I see content that serves no real purpose. If you put content on Facebook, what do you want your customer to do with it? An even better question, how will this lead someone to do business with you? A business’ social channels can become an engaged community of customers and prospects who share stories and content about you, or it can be a dumping ground for irrelevant and wasteful content that serves no purpose other than checking the box to say you are doing social media advertising.


It takes time, but we have to grow our own fruit to fill our funnel.

There are many ways to engage your market, from display messaging with a more engaging message and call to action, to in-store displays and training for your sales staff. Marketers must be mindful of the messaging. If it does not make people care or drive the consumer to further understand how a business or product can make their lives better, then it will not help to drive sales.

Show Me The Money

Once a customer cares about a product or service, he or she enters the low funnel, or in-market, part of the buying cycle. This is great because it typically means they are going to spend money. The challenge for a business now is to make sure that money is spent with them.

Very often I come across a business that puts a lot of effort into the conversion part of the buying cycle. They use aggressive paid search campaigns to try and capture consumers who are looking for a product or service. This is the next logical step in the buying cycle, but it does not work with near as much success or efficiency if a business ignores the awareness and engagement stages of the buying cycle.



The Harvard Business School conducted a 2013 study on this and I address that topic more in my article Isolated Search Marketers, The Scavengers of the Internet. The condensed version is that if a customer does not care then he or she will never search for you in the first place.



On top of that, if they do care and want a product or service, but one of your competitors has created brand awareness and engagement the market is more likely to choose your competition.

Outside of the search world, it is still possible and a good idea to try to convert your market through display and social channels. The key here is crafting different messaging designed to drive the conversion. Often, a strong call to action that is re-messaged off a business’ engaging content will perform very well. This type of message performs dramatically better once a customer is in-market.

Building Brand Advocates

The conversion point is often considered the end of the buying cycle, but I would argue it represents a new beginning. Many marketers are missing the opportunity to create a loyal following of brand advocates. Current customers can easily become more frequent customers or even act as an outside sales team if you drive them.

Industry leaders are finding ways to segment out their customer data and then drive specific marketing messages to these segments involving products and services they care about.
Imagine two customers that shop at a fashion retailer. Shopper “A” shops monthly and buys a variety of clothing and accessories and shopper “B” only shops once or twice a year when there is a sale and he or she usually buys denim. If a business segmented out those two shoppers into different audiences, shopper “A” would receive messaging about new inventory and loyalty rewards while shopper “B” would get messages about denim and sale events.

Social media is all about sharing, successful brands use it to tell stories. One of my favorite brands, Dagger Kayaks, tells stories about how people use their products on their social channels. These are real stories that engage current and new customers to care about their products. When marketers successful use their current customers to engage new customers we create a true circle for this sales cycle. Imagine how a business could decrease their cost per acquisition if every new customer brought in two more new customers.

With new marketing channels and opportunities popping up every day it can very easily become an overwhelming world. Marketers who can understand the core buying cycle and how each of their marketing efforts drive customers through that cycle are likely to find more success than their competition. But remember, it all starts with one thing, a plan.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you adapt to the evolving recruitment landscape and ramp up your efforts, please contact us today.

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