Most of the firms we deal with say they need more marketing. But almost none of them know why exactly. They don’t have the answer to the question, ‘What’s your marketing problem?’ Do they have an awareness problem, where nobody knows they exist? Do they have a consideration problem, where potential customers know they exist but don’t consider them a good option for their situation? Or is it something else?
Managers need to know the answer to this. Knowing the answer will tell you a lot about what your marketing plan needs to look like. It tells you what kind of message you need to get out into the market and what kind of tools you need to use in order to solve your marketing problem.
Marketing, like Sales, has a ‘funnel’ with several stages. The stages are Awareness, Consideration, Preference, Purchase, and Loyalty. And like Sales, you have to get a lot of prospects into the top of the funnel (Awareness) before you can get them through the funnel to Loyalty. The points where you have major drop off between stages is where your biggest marketing problems are. If you only have a few prospects coming into the funnel, you have an Awareness or Consideration problem. It means you need to figure out if your message is getting out to the market (are you doing enough lead generation activities – like networking, webinars and tradeshows) or do you have a Consideration problem (is your message attractive to the target market, or do they think your brand and solution is a fit for them)?
If you have a lot of leads coming into the funnel but they are not converting to Purchase, then you have a Preference problem. Something is wrong with your message or value proposition and you need to fix it pronto – otherwise you’re just wasting your marketing dollars at the Awareness and Consideration stages. In business to business environments, a Preference problem can look like a Sales problem (for example, “Our sales team isn’t able to convert these leads.”) Be cautious about this– sometimes it isn’t the quality of your sales team but rather the quality of your offering in the eyes of the target market that is the real issue.
When you plan your company’s marketing, break it down into the 5 stages and investigate where the biggest issues lie. This takes some work – talking with the target market, doing some market research on levels of brand awareness and brand perception. But the investment is essential to making good decisions about where to invest your marketing dollars.