Cultivating Brand Advocates
If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably seen the marketing funnel many times. It shows the stages a customer goes through before – and after – they become a customer. In theory, if you create a marketing program that leads people through the funnel, you will be able to build your business. However, as commonly known as the funnel is, many business owners do not know how to create a marketing program that does that effectively.
Most business owners spend large amounts of money on advertising and promotion activities with a disappointing Return On Investment (ROI). This is because, while owners of most small and medium businesses are in tune with creating awareness through advertising solutions, many of their marketing programs don’t effectively lead prospects through the rest of the funnel. As a result, they experience uneven sales and cash flow issues. In response to actual and anticipated cash shortfalls, these entrepreneurs often try to even out their sales cycles with more advertising. This pattern typically leads to lower ROI and is not very effective at achieving the goal. But effective use of the funnel will not only help even out business activity (and sales), it can also reduce advertising costs and provide other benefits – such as enhanced cash flow – that positively impact ROI.
Improving your marketing game will result in more sales – which leads to faster and more even business growth – as well as reduced advertising and marketing costs. Sustainable marketing results can be achieved by creating a program that addresses each of the 5 key stages of customer development along the journey from awareness to (brand) advocacy. Let’s take another look at that funnel, but this time we've put it in motion with an overlay of the goals with some example activities that will help you create brand advocates:
Successful entrepreneurs know that their marketing programs must attract prospects with an immediate need as well as engage those who will need their products or services in the future. They use the funnel to attract a constant supply of potential customers by drawing them into the funnel with a carefully planned, comprehensive marketing strategy. This method creates a constant flow of customers at each stage of the process – especially once it is mature. It differs from the most common marketing strategy used by business owners: Awareness campaigns that fall short of engaging enough prospects for future sales.
Awareness driven advertising campaigns address the Top of The Funnel and answer the market’s question of “What is out there?” but they don’t draw in anyone who doesn’t have an immediate need. If a business owner’s strategy makes this connection with prospective customers but only attracts those who have a current need, many prospective customers will drop out before they have a complete awareness of the company, and will have to be re-attracted at a later time. The result is a constant need to run campaigns that only address awareness. This strategy leaves little available budget for the more critical stages of the sales cycle. What separates successful entrepreneurs from the pack is their ability to address the entire funnel, not just the top of the funnel, so if you want to keep your funnel full, make sure your strategy addresses every phase of customer development.
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