Traditionally, the marketing and sales funnel had the approach of taking a large target group and getting a few clients out of it (i.e. the funnel analogy).
Of course, the funnel concept won’t ever go away, but about ten years ago I defined what I think is still a much better approach – I call it the Marketing Hourglass.
It borrows from the funnel shape but turns it on its head after the purchase to help intentionally account for the idea of creating a remarkable customer experience.
However, the buyer behavior has changed significantly in recent years. In fact, according to a CEB survey, 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier. If they decide they have a problem, they’ll go out and proactively try to find a solution.
If you’re not getting found in that state of the customer journey, you’re in real trouble.
In the same survey mentioned above, they found that 53% of those surveyed claimed that the sales experience itself was one of the greatest contributing factors in continued loyalty to the brand.
Knowing this is why I developed the Marketing Hourglass as a tool that can help you create the picture for your client’s overall marketing strategy. In my opinion, it’s a more holistic and increasingly effective approach in the “era of the customer” we live in today.
Instead of creating demand, our job is to really organize behavior, and I believe this behavior falls into the following seven stages:
One of the best ways to become known is through organic search. Keep advertising in mind during this phase as well and use content to spark interest.
Creating a process that makes it easy for current customers to refer the business is also a great way to generate awareness with new prospects.
Once a prospect has been attracted to your site, you must give them reasons to come back and like your business. An eNewsletter is an example of a tremendous content tool for nurturing leads during this phase as it allows you to demonstrate expertise, knowledge, resources, and experience over time.
Reviews, success stories, and client testimonials are your golden tickets in this phase. The ability to tell why your organization does what it does in stories that illustrate purpose in action is perhaps the key trust building content piece of the puzzle.
This is a phase that many people skip, but it can be the easiest way to move people to buy. This stage is basically an audition and it’s where you need to deliver more than anyone could possibly consider doing for a free or low-cost version of what you sell.
In this stage, offer ebooks, webinars, and other information-focused content. Consider offering free evaluations or trials here as well.
In this phase, you must be able to show real results. Keep in mind, the total customer experience is measured by the end result, not the build-up to the sale. Keep the customer experience high. Exceed their expectations and surprise them.
Create content that acts as a new customer kit. Consider creating quick start guides, in-depth user manuals, and customer support communities as well.
Ensure your clients receive and understand the value of doing business with you. Don’t wait for them to call you when they need something, stay top of mind through educational content.
Consider creating a results review process where you help your client measure the results they are actually getting by working with you.
The Marketing Hourglass journey is ultimately about turning happy clients into referral clients by creating a great experience.
Start this phase by documenting your referral process. Create tools that make it easy for you to teach your biggest fans and strategic partners how to refer you.
For people who have come to know about your business, you essentially need to walk with them all the way down the path to where they become your biggest fan.
Mapping customer touchpoints
You can use this framework to build an overall strategy and launch a product or campaign. By doing this, you’ll start to find flexibility where anytime somebody comes to you, you can fill in the gaps with the stage above to truly help them out.
Everybody’s business has these stages, they may just not be addressing them all and that’s what you need to point out.
Take a look at the ways that your business comes into contact with your customers and prospects. Some of the touchpoints may be planned and scripted, and some may not. Some happen by accident, while some simply don’t happen at all (i.e. are people successfully make it from marketing to sales). Touchpoints can include:
Understanding the journey
Once you map the touchpoints, you need to have a conversation about:
- Customer goals
- Customer touchpoints
- Customer questions
You may only be paying attention when somebody is trying to buy and a lot of times people have to be nurtured and trust your before you can even attempt to help them solve a problem. This element is important, but it’s often hard for people to wrap their minds around because many are used to just focusing on the sale.
In order to effectively build a Marketing Hourglass, you must fully understand the questions your prospects are asking themselves before they are aware that your solution exists.
It’s helpful to just brainstorm around the seven stages.
Constructing the hourglass
With an understanding of the customer’s touchpoints and journey, you can start to fill in the logical stages of your hourglass with the discoveries you found, which will lead to a greater experience.
By taking the marketing hourglass approach and giving equal attention to building trust and delivering a remarkable experience, you set your business up to create the kind of momentum that comes from an end to end customer journey.
Want my advice? Take the time to fully understand this tool, as it is something you will return to over and over again.
If you liked this post, check out our Ultimate Guide to Small Business Marketing Strategy.