Why do we need a marketing funnel? First I want to invite you into my brain and give you some perspective on how I think about this. OK, so I’m a big branding snob, huge branding proponent. And by branding I mean actually taking the time, and dollars, to work with a consultant or a firm that truly knows what they’re doing.
This is serious work, and there are not many of these folks in the entrepreneurial or small business world that truly love the art and science of branding. Why do I tell you this? I believe good branding shortens your sales cycle. Yes, good branding will create a perception in your prospects and consumers senses that will incite an emotion and will move them to action, whether the action is to engage with you and purchase your products or go away immediately.
Good branding speaks for you, and exceptionally good branding polarizes; it takes the incorrect prospect away from you, which is good for business because we don’t want to deal with customers that are the wrong fit for us. These customers often spend the least amount of money, and complain the most. Not worth it. Good branding could be a cure for you to polarize your audience at large and weed the ones that are not the correct target audience or market. We’re all drawn to brands that are consistent, speak directly to our hearts, whether it’s Disney or the corner tire repair shop, and have a conversation with us at the pre, during, and post-purchase phases of our relationship with them. So in essence, branding is part of a good marketing funnel.
Now, I know I’m gonna get some flack for this comment and that’s ok. I want to read your comments and continue the conversation because this is a very important topic in small business, especially in the modern hyper fragmented consumer world we live in where people’s attention span is eroding at a very rapid rate.
We only have now a couple of seconds to get their attention and bring them into our world, i.e.: our marketing funnel. And branding is a key ingredient in helping us gain that eroding attention span back and turn eyeballs toward us and our products and services.
Now with that said, why do you need a marketing funnel? The simple answer is because people love a good journey, an experience worth talking about to their friends and family. Now, let’s break it this down to street level. Let’s use a good example to illustrate the point: our case study today will be Nordstrom, the fashion retailer. Ok, so I like Nordstrom. I don’t always like their prices, but something keeps me coming back.
Hmm, interesting. well, it all starts with the discovery of the store. while I was in the Marine Corps flying fighter jets I didn’t have time to shop nor did I care about it much. But once I left the military, I discovered that I loved Nordstrom for some strange reason. I thought it was clean, organized, hyper responsive (their customer service phone lines were always picked up by a real human within 1 or 2 rings) and they gave me a bunch of benefits I wan’t even expecting.
They even have a sister store, Nordstrom Rack that gave me an option to buy their lower priced items but of the same quality as the main store. ok, cool so far. So what’s the journey with them? Why is it so appealing and even addictively intoxicating at times? Well, they have exceptional branding, which involves having a laser focused target audience, a pitch-perfect messaging at all times, and they create an emotion for me that compels me to buy. That’s the branding side. What’s the funnel? Simple.
First you become aware of their existence through either word of mouth, their direct mail pieces, their ads, curiosity or serendipity. So in essence it all starts either through their targeting efforts or just by luck. Then, you come into the store and you look around. It’s not cheap, but it’s not uber expensive. it’s right at the edge of what I consider good value, for me, personally.
Then you walk around the store and everything is well-lit, spacious, easy to navigate, and there are tons of associates at the ready to help you find what you’re looking for and making sure you’re happy. So far, super cool. Then you pick up a couple of pieces and go into the fitting room. While there, you notice that you need help. Someone is almost magically there at the ready to help you and making sure you’re happy. Then you exit, look around some more, you feel good about yourself for being there, then proceed to the cashier.
At this point in time, you’re still at the very entry level of their marketing funnel. You’re at the big wide-mouth part of the funnel, believe it or not. You’re about to convert a sale for them, but that’s not what Nordstrom wants. They want you to become cozy with Nordstrom, and become a loyal fan that comes back time and time again and tell your friends about them. So this is what happens.
They know you’re mesmerized at this point in time with the selection, service, value, and store appeal. Then at the cashier the magic words come: do you have a Nordstrom card? And of course you’d probably gonna say no… and add, I’m good thanks. To which the associate will reply with a regalia of very emotionally-compelling reasons why you should sign up for one, whether it’s a debit or credit one.
And let me tell you, for me that deal was sealed the moment I walked into the store… I was already emotionally invested without me knowing it through their branding and their touch points throughout, the little things they did for me while at the store. All the cashier had to do really was to make me an irresistible offer that help me rationalize the decision I had already made emotionally when I walked into the store a few minutes earlier. You end up signing up for the card and now you just took the plunge into the funnel.
What happens next is amazing because they’ll have special days just for you to shop at discounted prices for being in their circle of trust, and the value keeps stacking and stacking over time to a point where you continue going deeper and deeper into their funnel and you fall more and more in love with the brand, the experience, and the perceived exclusivity they bring into your world. A world that rapidly doesn’t care about you as much as Nordstrom does.
You see, it’s a love story. A journey. A plunge worth pursuing because it gives you what you want, it gives you surprises you weren’t expecting, it keeps things fresh, it entertains and even educates you at times through their amazing associates. It’s perfection at its best. Now, we’re not Nordstrom but we don’t need to be. Our small businesses are no different. Remember, the widget doesn’t matter. It’s the principle and the concepts that are important. So we could take a piece from Nordstrom, modify it and apply it to our business.
Why is this important? Because the 2 elements that resonate throughout this mini case study, branding and the customer journey, are pieces I see missing in most businesses i come in contact with, big and small. It takes effort to create what Nordstrom has and I mean it metaphorically, but once we decide to create compelling branding and create a journey worth experiencing for our customers, whether online or offline, then you’ll start experiencing a whole new level of engagement from your customers that will truly surprise you and more importantly, will bring fresh revenue into your storefront. Sit with this for a while, give it some thought, and let me know your thoughts.
5 essential steps to follow anytime you want to scale your business online.