The Moz blog had an interesting update in their Whiteboard Friday section where Rand Fishkin, the co-founder of the company, talked about the possibility of buyers being targeted earlier in the buying process by the marketers. The main idea he explored was targeting a large pool of potential customers even before there is an awareness of a specific need. Such a stage would precede awareness, research, vendor selection and the actual buying process. While most marketers are already at work during the research stage, as competition gets more intense in the consequential stages. This earlier stage, that precedes awareness, offers a much larger pool of potential customers and far less competition.
These different stages of online marketing and their corresponding audience can be compared to a funnel. There are many more people at the awareness and the research stages than there are at the final buying stage. The audience pool in the stage prior to awareness is even bigger. At such a stage there is the initiation of awareness of a problem or a need. The usual reactions at this stage are:
Some people push aside the thought of a need, thinking that it is not that urgent or big at that moment. Some people might research their need and then decide that it is way too expensive for them to afford. Some people might start to evaluate vendors and then decide that one of them meets their criteria
When people are pursuing interests or ideas, before they are aware that their interests become their need, have that need, most marketers are not active or even present at such a stage. While some marketers are present at the awareness and research phase, others mostly concentrate their SEO marketing efforts at the latter stages when customers are researching potential vendors and deciding on their purchase.
If marketers can get to the space when their audience is simply toying with an idea or gaining awareness of their need, they can bring in more promotions through:
Link sharing, stimulating social sharing of ideas and gaining prominence of their domain ranking amongst the various search engines, ensuring increased visibility for the subsequent contents that will be published or released.
It is akin to a snow ball effect that will gather momentum, more traffic, visibility and end up with a larger impact in the downward section of the marketing funnel.
If the uncertainty of the marketing outcomes can be overlooked at this stage, there are a larger audience base and far less competition to try innovative branding and promotional activities, thus creating a far greater impact.
The main idea of giving your audience a nudge even before they are aware allows you to illuminate the hidden problems, which will then give you a foothold to offer your solutions. Stepping in earlier before they are searching for you eliminates unnecessary competitions. Your audience shrinks as you go down the buying process, causing you to waste a good opportunity to build a solid community.
Reaching out is the key.