This may come as a shock to you, but the marketing industry is full of opinions on just about everything. Part of it is because differentiation is how you win clients, but it also comes down to individual strategy. There is more than one way to market. But good marketing is all about deciding which tactics will work best for the campaign at hand, based in part, on who you are trying to reach.
However, very few marketing experts will debate the importance of a marketing funnel. Pairing a well though-out funnel with a strategically developed website that supports full-funnel efforts is a tried-and-true method. Most marketing pros will even align on the stages of a good funnel – awareness, interest, consideration, purchase and loyalty. This is called an “acquired funnel,” meaning it takes prospective customers through acquisition and beyond to frequency or loyalty. At least, that’s one way you can approach a marketing funnel.
We believe there is a more effective funnel beyond the traditional acquired model, which integrates earned media with paid media strategy at each customer journey stage. We call it the Reputation Marketing Funnel, or RMF.
You won’t find much about the RMF at other marketing firms. Most don’t even consider it because it’s outside their wheelhouse. Others think it’s too difficult to secure, let alone predict exposure. We don’t disagree about its difficulties, but the outcomes are well worth the effort.
The traditional marketing funnel has one glaring weakness – building trust. In the era of fact-checking and readily available public opinion, consumer trust has been on the decline. It’s not enough to list the benefits and selling points of your product or service; you’ve got to prove it, too. That’s where the RMF shines.
A content study by Nielsen found that PR efforts are almost 90% more effective at influencing customers than branded content and advertising. Why? Because these efforts act as social proof. A quote in a major publication, a byline in a trade magazine, a tagged post from an influencer – all demonstrate outside parties acknowledging your brand as a source of trust. And when you strategically leverage these efforts with the efforts of your acquisition funnel, you can supercharge them.
As the old saying goes, “Advertising is what you pay for; earned media is what you pray for.” Together, they are working hard on behalf of each other.