You may have heard the term “marketing funnel” before, but what does that actually mean?
To get to that, first I want to share a hard truth. Here it is — are you ready?
Not everyone who visits your website is going to become a customer.
In fact, not everyone who visits your website is going to fill out a form or call you. Not everyone who fills out a form or calls will decide they want to work with you. And not everyone who decides they want to work with you will be ready to do that right now.
That’s why you need a marketing strategy.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
At a high level, a marketing strategy is just a plan for how you’re going to go from ensuring people hear about your business to getting them to hand over money. But a slightly more expansive definition is that it’s a plan for moving potential customers (in your case, dog owners) through a marketing funnel… from first “touch” (aka first time they hear about you) to paying customer.
And then, if you do it right, loyal repeat customer.
It’s generally helpful to think of the process as a funnel; you need to expose a lot of people to your business to get a percentage of those people to come to your website/event/etc.; then only a percentage of those people will take the next action in your funnel… all the way down to the bottom, where they pay you real money (if you’ve ever heard the phrase “marketing funnel” this is what people were talking about).
It’s REALLY IMPORTANT to understand this concept. And the better you understand how it applies to your business, the less likely you wind up short on rent money.
Marketing In Action: An Example
Let’s look at what a funnel for a small dog training business might look like.
You pay for a Facebook ad, carefully targeted at local dog owners. Maybe it’s even a before and after video that shows an unruly puppy on the first day of class that’s walking nicely by his owners side and performing circus tricks during class on week 6. That ad gets seen, and the video watched, 100 times.
Maybe a few people even share it, because the puppy is CUTE and that leads to it being seen 150 times. Great! That is the top of your funnel. Those people now know you exist. (Note: using round numbers here to keep things simple).
Let’s say the video is so good, you get a really high click through rate. Out of those 150 people, 100 of them click on the video to go look at your website.
Now, out of those 100 people, 10 of them aren’t really in your service area… they’d have to drive 45 minutes or more to reach you, so maybe they click around a bit, but ultimately they leave. Another 10 have older dogs, who just laze around the house, so while they think you’d be great for their next puppy… they also just don’t have a need right now.
You’ve been really thoughtful with your website, making sure dog owners can immediately find what classes you have coming up that might be a fit for them and their dog, and targeting a few key “types” of dog owners (also called marketing personas but more on that in another post) and 50 of the original 100 people who came to your website decide they’d really like to work with you.
- 15 of those came across your site while at work, so they bookmark it to come back to later (but probably forget)
- 5 of those get interrupted by something else, or go to check Facebook again while reviewing your site and leave it up for “later”
- 10 decide they want a class that isn’t currently running or open for registration and so they sign up for your email list, so you can let them know when those classes run again. Some of those folks may actually sign up eventually!
… you get the picture. Chances are good 5 (or fewer) of those people sign up for a class, and become customers. And that’s okay! In fact, for most businesses, that’s probably a pretty good conversion rate.
What That Means For You
The takeaway here is that you need to do a lot of things to get your name out there, and get a lot of people started at the top of your funnel in order to get a few out the bottom. Or, to look at it another way, you need to have many different marketing funnels.
Then, you can work to figure out what is most effective, and what is least effective… and do more of what works best, and less of what doesn’t.
And that, in a nutshell, is marketing.
Now I want to hear from you — what does your marketing funnel look like? How does this apply to your business?