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John Jantsch

How to Build Your Marketing Hourglass

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Marketers have long held to the idea of the marketing and sales funnel – a notion that suggests you start with a large target group and somehow squeeze a few clients down through the small end of the funnel.

For years now I've been promoting something I call The Marketing HourglassTM, a much more holistic and increasingly effective approach in the "era of the customer" we live in today.

The marketing funnel suggests that the buyer's journey is a straight one and the we as marketers are in charge of how they tread the path when in fact so much of the buyer's journey today happens without our knowledge and participation.

Today we have to understand how the buyer wants to buy and put our businesses along that path – long before a prospect even knows they are looking for what we sell and long after we've transacted that sale.

A traditional marketing funnel might have stages such as Awareness, Consideration and Purchase, while our Marketing Hourglass consists of seven connected stages – Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat and Refer.

Here's the thing that the marketing funnel neglects to address – when it comes to lead and referral generation a happy customer is your best tool.

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.

In order to apply this framework to your business your must get a baseline on how your business interacts with prospects and clients currently, understand how your prospective customers make a buying decision and construct an hourglass journey that guides prospects through the logical stages of your marketing hourglass.

Audit your touchpoints

The first step is to take stock in the ways that your business comes into contact with customers and prospects.

Experience tells me that some of these ways are planned and scripted, while some are not. Some happen by accident, while some simply don't happen at all.

For example, a very common gap in the businesses we work with exists in the transition from transaction to implementation. Marketing and sales got the order, but what happens next?

Another very common mistake is to believe that all you have to do is run ads and respond to requests when, in fact, many potential buyers want hand holding and nurturing and follow-up in order to know you'll deliver on your promises.

Map the customer journey

One of the hardest things for many business owners to do is to put themselves in the shoes of prospective clients long before that client knows that you have the answer.

We often want to convince people we can solve problems they don't even know they have.

In order to effectively build your Marketing Hourglass you must fully understand the questions your prospects are asking themselves before they are aware that you or you solutions exist.

For example, if you sell signage, you must start to build awareness through your marketing to prospects, not by explaining how great your signs are, but by addressing ways that businesses can build a stronger culture, attract more clients and make it easier for customers to find what they need – all great uses of signs by the way.

Construct your Marketing Hourglass

Now that you're thinking touchpoints and journeys you can start to fill in the logical stages of your hourglass with the campaigns, process and touchpoints that will lead to a great experience.

Know – This is the awareness phase so articles that do well in search, advertising and even referrals need to start here.

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About the Author:
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, award winning social media publisher and author Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine. He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System and Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network that trains and licenses small business marketing consultants around the world.
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