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Climb into the mind of your customer

Lawrence Andrews
Marketing technology

We are helping people to buy, not selling them something. This isn’t intended to down play the importance of sales. The distinction in mindset however is crucial if you want to grow your business predictably.

What is a marketing funnel?

Let’s start with the fundamentals. A marketing funnel is a visual representation of a customer’s buying journey. From the point they first become aware of your brand to the point they buy from you. The AIDA framework is the simplest and best known.

  • Attention - I am aware of your brand
  • Interest - I’m interested in your products and services
  • Desire - I want your products and services
  • Action - I am buying your products and services

Why are marketing funnels important?

They are important because understanding the buying journey of your target customers helps you focus on how best you can meet their needs.

By meeting their needs at the different stages of their buying journey, you progressively break down barriers to purchase.

By doing this, you give your business the best possible chance of being the one they choose.

Which marketing funnel should I choose?

If you google ‘marketing funnels’ you will see hundreds of variations in terms of terminology and number of stages.

People argue that buying journeys aren’t linear. They’re not. Or that AIDA is a useful concept but as a framework an oversimplification of what is actually going on. We tend to agree.

For us it comes down to what you want to use a marketing funnel for?

At LMR Labs we want something that will help us interrogate the buying journey. Something that will help us build the richest picture of our potential customers.

Having this rich picture is key as it provides a powerful stimulus for new marketing strategies and ideas.

It provides a structure to challenge ideas before moving forward. It’s a set of assumptions that can be validated and refined through real data and insights.

A B2B marketing funnel

For B2B businesses, we typically recommend a more defined version of the marketing funnel. We find this a better representation of a typical B2B buying journey.

  • Awareness - I am aware of a brand and their products and services
  • Interest - I have an interest in a brand and their products and services
  • Consideration - I am actively considering a purchase
  • Intent - I have decided to make a purchase
  • Evaluation - I am evaluating my options before making a purchase
  • Purchase - I am making a purchase of a brands products and services

Where a key goal is generating more value from existing customers, we add two further stages:

  • Repurchase - I am making another purchase of a brand’s products and services
  • Advocacy - I actively recommend a brand and their products and services

B2C marketing funnels

For B2C business there is an argument for leaning back towards simpler models. Amazon have got pretty good at selling us stuff. For that reason we often refer to their 4 stage framework when developing B2C sales and marketing strategies:

  • Awareness - I am aware of this brand
  • Consideration - I consider this brand when I shop
  • Conversion - I buy this brand
  • Loyalty - I LOVE this brand!

Real life considerations

But these are all linear you say? People don’t act that way.

To cover non-linear journey considerations we always ask ourselves what are the possible direct entry points at each stage?

For example a lead could jump straight to the evaluation or conversion stage as they chose a different product, weren’t satisfied and came back to us.

Even if a journey isn’t linear in practice, marketing funnels are still extremely valuable frameworks. As long as you ask yourselves the right questions when you build them out.

Done well they can drive your sales and marketing strategy and ensure you avoid gaps that become barriers to purchase.

Found another framework you prefer? Fundamentally it doesn’t matter. It’s how you use it rather than the exact stages and words. Which brings us to….

Enough theory! Tell me how.

We reckon you can define a good starting point for your business’ buying journey in only a day! A worthwhile investment for any business that doesn’t have one or hasn’t looked at theirs for some time.

How much time you invest after that will come down to the size and complexity of your business. This could influence the degree to which you need to engage your teams or the level of definition you need to be comfortable with your plans and investment decisions.

For now, let’s focus on this no brainer 1 day workshop.

We recommend you split this day into three parts.

  • Part 1 - Value Propositions (1 ½ hrs)
  • Part 2 - Target Customer Personas (2 hrs)
  • Part 3 - The Buying Journey (3 hrs)

Part 1 - Value Propositions

Start the day by building out a set of no more than 2 - 3 value proposition canvases for your business and its products and/or services.

A value proposition represents a promise of value to be delivered to your customers. It should reflect the primary reason why they should do business with you or buy your product and services.

A value proposition canvas is a useful structure to define these value propositions which otherwise can be difficult to conceptualise.

We recommend it because it forces connections to be established between what you are selling, how your customers benefit from it, and later how they experience it.

It helps build consensus in  the room on what you are selling and its value to your customers. This provides the focus for the next stage.

Part 2 - Target Customer Personas

You are all feeling good about what you’re selling and its worth to your customers and the marketplace as a whole.

Next, use your knowledge and experience to think about the typical buyers of your products and services. They can be based on real people you’ve dealt with and sold to. For example if you are a B2B business. They could be based on what you know of individuals that have bought your products or services if you are a B2C business.,

The important thing is you identify people or groups with distinct and different characteristics that are buyers, or could be future buyers, of your products and services. You might have a lot of ideas here!

Spend no more than 20 minutes doing this - then prioritise 2 - 3 that you think represent the highest priority buyers. Or in other words that have the ability to drive the biggest growth in your business.

Establish a name and basic demographic for each and then get work getting into their mind! You can do this by directly populating persona templates, building empathy maps, or applying a combination of the two.

The most important thing is to empathise and explore their feelings and use this to begin to better understand their needs and behaviours.

It can sound and feel contrived but is an important part in the process of building a customer experience and sales and marketing strategy that will take your business to the next level.

Part 3 - The Buying Journey

By now hopefully everyone’s had some lunch. Because the afternoon is going to need some more collective brainpower / hive mind.

Put post-its of each of your marketing funnel stages horizontally across on a fairly long wall. A virtual ‘wall’ will do if you are doing this remotely.

Take each of your personas in turn and walk left to right through the journey. Map out at each stage:

  • Information needs- What specific questions are they looking to answer?
  • Touchpoints - What channels are they interacting with?
  • Information sources - What are their key information sources?
  • Pain points - What’s causing them pain?
  • Barriers - What are their barriers to purchase of your product or services?
  • Opportunities - What opportunities exist to better support and influence them?

If walking left to right isn’t working then encourage everyone to add post-its anywhere, just to draw everyone’s analysis and ideas out. Once you’ve exhausted the post-its you can return to walking left to right. Discuss, validate and organise your ideas into a group as you go. The goal is to build consensus and structure the persona buying journey in a way that’s easy to follow.

Aim to spend around one hour on each persona although the first one may take longer. As you work through each, consider the similarities and differences between the different persona types.

Part 4 - Reward yourself with something fun*

*An optional final part thrown in for good measure.

We always make a point of doing something fun after an all-day workshop. Even if mentally exhausted, hopefully people are feeling good. I know I’ve rarely spent a day running or attending a focussed workshop and not come out of it feeling like it was hugely valuable. You might as well capitalise on this good feeling and everyone being together! Or at least that’s my excuse. If you are doing it remotely, well that’s just unfortunate.