How well do you understand the customer journey?
I have two career passions: being a marketer and being a writer. Often times – far more than I would have expected – these two loves cross paths and swap recipes with each other. What makes a good marketer is also, a lot of the time, what makes a good writer and visa versa.
I write fiction as an author, and as a marketer I strategize, write and create campaigns intended to engage customers and prospects. Both of these hold to a structure — but I’ve also never really seen the structures compared and realized as to how much they cross over so I thought, hey, I can do that. So here we go. And since my #FunnelVision series takes you on journeys from the eyes of the Customers — Facebook ad journeys, website journeys, nurture programs and more, I thought I’d start it off at the beginning.
The Customer Funnel
In marketing, you have a customer funnel that drives prospects and customers down deeper into the funnel. You start with Awareness and work toward Advocacy.
In writing, you have a story structure and a journey that your hero takes. Every story has a protagonist, and every protagonist learns something about themselves, grows and changes over the course of the book. This is what we, as marketers, aim to do with our customers as well. We want them to learn something about themselves and about us, change their behavior to adapt our products and services into their new life and grow with us. You see the correlations?
First: Why is it an upside down funnel?
Because the net you cast at the top will always be much, much wider than the group of customers you build advocacy into. Each stage you go out, prospects and customers will self-select themselves out by their behavior. This is where your ability to understand that behavior and match it to your funnel comes in handy.
Connecting the Funnel to the Story
As marketers, we look at our customer funnel and create content that we think highlights our products and services as the hero in that funnel. We’re great, we solve your problems, we are exactly what you need. But we often miss the point. We aren’t the heroes of our marketing, or at least we shouldn’t be. Our customers are.
There are many versions of the Customer Funnel out there. A google search will find you any number of images and explanations and the types of content you should create at every level. For the #FunnelVision series, I’m taking the Customer Funnel and mapping it to the Customer’s Hero Journey. When you put the Customer as the hero in the journey, the question becomes what do they need from you? What answers and calls to adventure do they need?
Awareness : The Hook
At the Awareness level of the funnel, your potential customer — we’ll call him Stock Hero Guy — doesn’t know you exist, that your product exists and it’s likely he hasn’t actively identified the problem they have yet either.
To start this journey, you have to hook Stock into why. This is the beginning, the setup of the story you’re taking him on. In story structure, it’s often called the “Ordinary World.” This is the world Stock Hero Guy exists in today: the one that he knows, he’s comfortable in or maybe uncomfortable, but not enough to change it. You enter his world with a hook: something that compels him and draws his attention. Here you have to first, make him aware there is a journey to take and second, that you are the one he should take it with. He needs to trust you. He needs to recognize your name. Because it’s also not likely to be the first few (or dozen) times you introduce yourself that will move him to the next stage.)
Consideration : Call to Adventure
Once you have Stock Hero Guy’s attention and you’ve built some trust that you are, in fact, the authority on what Stock Hero Guys need, it’s time to call him to adventure. In the traditional Customer Funnel, this is the Consideration stage. The adventure for him is a new way of being. The benefits of what you offer have to meet with a need you’ve helped him identify. Maybe he needs new sites to be posted on. Or maybe he needs a new wardrobe so he can draw in more marketers like you to grab his photos. But now Stock Hero Guy is saying, Hey, this actually is a problem and I might need to solve it.
You’ve shown him there’s a pain point to fix. You’ve said, Hey I get how difficult it is to be a great Stock Hero guy and I’ve got solutions for you. Mr. Hero Guy has to determine if he wants to take that call to adventure. Is he ready to leave his Ordinary World and try out a new one? There’s likely to be an initial resistance. Change is tough. But the lure of a better world will pull Stock Hero Guy through… your job is to bait that hook.
Conversion : Committing
Now Stock Photo Guy is convinced: There’s a better way. He’s bought into the journey now. He’s identified the problem, knows what solutions are available and has a list of options he’s weighing.
He’s committed to change at this stage (this is kind of huge) and your job is to connect your brand story to that commitment. Show that you’ll walk the path together. Show that he’s got a mentor, a support, a friend who can help him through it. This is straight out of the Hero’s Journey, where the mentor comes in and helps them move to the next stage. As marketers, this is the role our brand was meant to play. Our company is not the hero, our customer is. We are the mentor, the friend. We’re Stock Photographer Gal saying, Hey, this is the way you need to go and we’ll go together.
Through this stage, you’ll lay out why your way is the best one. What options you offer, how your way has helped other Stock Photo Guys achieve their goals. Put your best 2-d feet forward to move them to Conversion, or purchase. But always remember, it’s about their journey– not yours.
Loyalty : Revelation
Many companies stop their funnel efforts at Conversion and often times never focus on what comes next: building loyalty and eventually moving Your Hero into becoming an advocate for you. At the loyalty stage, this is where you have the chance to build a longer lasting relationship. And your goal should be repeat business, repeat purchases. You need to establish a healthy Lifetime Value (LTV) for each of your customers. (What the value of one customer equals.)
At this stage, Stock Photo Guy is all in on the new way. He’s a believer. He’s made the revelation that this new way is amazing.
His goal is to take what he’s learned, take this new path and make it even better. He’s ready to be Hero Guy, not just Stock Hero Guy. He has expectations based on his experience with you about what’s next. His experience after purchase will shape his opinion of your company and your fit into his amazing New World.
In story structure, before the final act, there is always a climax, the pinnacle of action where things come to a head. For our customer journey, this is the loyalty stage. You can see its importance and yet often times, marketers forget how important it is. Stock Photo Guy needs to carry forward a favorable opinion of you, your services and products for him to be willing to move to the next stage.
Advocacy : Return
When Stock Hero Guy is so happy with what you’ve helped happen in his life, he’ll not only be a repeat customer (loyalty) but he’ll tell people about what you’ve done. He’ll talk to friends, family, coworkers. He’ll share, for two reasons: Because it was a true change in his world and he wants to help others get the same benefits, and also because we all like to be seen as an authority. He’s now become an authority on this New World. At the Advocacy stage, your job as a brand is to help him be heard. Give him the opportunity to be that authority on your behalf.
I hope this Mashup has helped you look at the Customer Funnel in a new way – one that puts the Customer as the hero and upends how you think about your interactions with them.
Would you like Stock Hero Guy for your own marketing? Find him here. Tell him Jeannie sent you.