Marketing Funnel 101 (+ Bonus: A Great Case Study)
I’ve had a lot of discussions on marketing about effective strategies with different people including students, seasoned businessmen, and even marketers & gathered immense ignorance about the marketing funnel.
What I’ve learned is most people don’t market. They just sell!
A chain is only as strong as the weakest link they say.
One very basic yet missing link common to most I have had discussions with has been lack of a fundamental understanding of the marketing funnel concept in their approach.
Typically the difference between marketing that works vs that which doesn’t is the presence of a robust marketing strategy.
Difference between Marketing With & Without Strategy
When we talk about marketing, people often confuse it with just meandering all attention in getting immediate primary sales.
Sure, the objective of any marketing activity is to generate sales and revenue.
But can all our marketing communication just be a sales pitch format to convert customers like a machine?
If you’ve already tried it, you must have observed it doesn’t work sizeably. If you haven’t tried yet, here’s a resource to let you know it will never work & of course what will!
That’s somewhat like begging in the world of strategy driven marketing.
What you need is a carefully crafted strategy with clean layers of approaching your customer at different points with exactly what they want to hear at that moment.
That is the only way you can get their attention.
So with that, we come to a marketing funnel.
The Marketing Funnel
In the physical world, when we use a funnel, we use it to carefully achieve our goal of transferring fluids from A to B. It takes longer but its sure shot, neat with a perfect outcome.
That’s the exact power of a funnel in marketing.
Our target buyers are not static. They’re fluid and need consistent nurturing to become actual customers. If we just trying to sell to them all the time, they will spill out of our vessel called sales conversion.
Perfect recipe for failure – plan your marketing without a funnel!
This makes the marketing funnel approach critical to any kind of successful exercise.
The idea is to capture as many prospects as possible, convert them to leads and nurture them till they become buyers.
This can be done by segmenting the above idea into the following stages:
This stage is all about gathering the prospect’s attention. The idea is to simply generate as much awareness as possible among the target group by means of providing them something that adds value to them.
At this phase, an aggressive sales pitch will be a poor use of the marketing budget as you haven’t yet even earned the right to sell. In all probably interrupting your buyer with your purchase idea will be a useless endeavor.
This stage is simply suitable for generating leads.
In this stage, the leads generated from the previous phase are nurtured. There is a large group of people captured in the awareness phase.
The idea now is to build a relationship with them, arouse their interest in the company’s offering. This is not the point of selling but coming closer to your product, to a point where your target groups start thinking about the product.
Once the leads are sieved through the interest stage, we are left with the qualified leads. These leads are our potential buyers.
The idea now is to make them consider the company’s products by providing them with more information, give free trials, samples and so on.
In this stage, the target buyers are aware, interested and have shown initiative by trying out a sample, a demo or asked more information.
This is the best time to pitch about your product and capitalize on its advantages as you have an interested ear now.
Smart marketers use this time to differentiate their stuff from that of their competitors and make it stand out.
This is the final stage where the prospect has decided to buy the product/service and become a customer.
The goal is to get as many people as possible to this phase.
A win here means much more than immediate sales. A good experience for the customer comes with additional benefits such as loyalty, positive referrals, advocacy and so on. That is the concept of customer experience funnel, which comes after the marketing funnel, a topic we will delve into in the future.
Moving forward, in the present day buyers are lesser and lesser interested in purchasing. There’s too much advertising happening and capturing attention in the first phase of the funnel is getting exceedingly difficult.
A good way to reach there is Content Marketing.
Power of Content in Marketing
Content is the currency you need to pay to grab attention. Period!
People no longer care about you or your product. They care about themselves, and unless you can make them feel that, they will no longer pay attention to you.
Hence, content is becoming the focal point of almost every successful marketing campaign.
It begins with the awareness phase of the funnel where your basic need is attention!
Going ahead, at every step of the funnel, you need to cleverly leverage content keeping your target buyer in mind.
Great content hitting your customer’s pain point with your awesome offering is the formula you need to swear by.
Case Study: How Nike Successfully Uses Marketing Funnel
The first sentence we all instantly utter in our minds when we hear the word Nike is “Just Do It!”
Why is it that when we think of shoes, one of the first brands that strike our mind is Nike?
What is it that makes it stand out so much more than its equally wonderful competitors Puma, Reebok, Adidas and so on?
Is it just its shoes or something more?
What is that something more?
The answer to all the above lies simply in the strategic use of the marketing funnel supplemented with powerful content.
When we see a Nike hoarding off the streets, the central messaging isJust Do it!
The message is supplemented by powerful visuals making you feel a sense of victory.
This broad messaging is ideal to engage an audience not at all thinking about shoes on the way and striking a chord with generic yet powerful emotional messaging.
As we come across Nike on the web or social media their thrust revolves around evangelizing fitness and athletes.
It rekindles the desire to win, to get fitter. It successfully builds on strong values strategically targetting the prospect’s emotional chords.
At this stage, there is some introduction to the actual product to ignite a desire to buy.
However, even now the pivotal idea is to build a stronger relationship & brand value with emotional connection.
With its powerful emotional messaging across the stages above, Nike successfully makes somebody interested in shoes look out for them and at least consider them.
This stage is one where we have someone already interested in Nike shoes paying attention.
The critical time to convert the lead to a deal.
In other words, it is the perfect stage to pitch for the product, its unique features and make it look better than that of competitors.
Nike gets that right with witty messaging along with capitalizing on its cleverly built brand value.
Hence we observe, Nike delivers a great content experience in getting the prospect’s attention and nurturing it along the lead to deal journey.
Which other brand do you think does that right?
Let me know in the comments below.