Psst, Here’s One Trick That Will Change Your Marketing Efforts, Forever

marketing efforts

Here’s the thing with marketing, it’s damn tricky.

As a practicioner I would love for it to be much simpler, especially every aspect relating to budgeting. But it might just be a wishful thinking. After all, our main goal is to intice more people to buy (and yes, sales is the very last stage of the marketing process) while trying not to spend the entire budget on our efforts.

Damn tricky indeed.

Even in the online marketing world, with its sophisticated tools, analytics data and more things are not any simpler. You can still get it wrong, very wrong. And, lose a lot of money in the process. Those of you who have to deliver budget and spending reports know very well what I am talking about.

But, what if I told you that there is a way to increase the focus of your efforts?A concept that promises to solve a lot of targeting problems? One that could potentially make it much easier to focus on the right channels and spend money where it can bring the best results?

Well, this concept might be the pyramid of influence.

What is a pyramid of influence?

A pyramid of influence is an idea stating that for every product or a service there is a definite number of channels where customers might be looking for information about it. Moreover, these channels are often seen as the most authoritative when it comes to influencing the customers decision about buying, hence the name.

For instance, an audiophile will most likely seek information relating his new purchase on:

  • Specialist forums
  • industry publications
  • audiophile blogs
  • specialist review sites
  • their audiophile friends

However, most likely they wouldn’t use any search engine, social networking (well, perhaps apart from exchanging information with peers), banners on various sites and so on. These forms of communication with them would most likely fail.

To use another example, a person seeking to hire a home care assistant would most likely seek information about such services from:

  • Their medical doctor
  • hospital or other medical centre
  • friends or family
  • local home care assistants listings provided by the health board or a similar organization etc.
  • blogs

However, they would not simply Google an assistant to hire and inquire with the first one listed in search results. It’s not that kind of purchase.

(Note, the above is actual data gathered during one of my research projects.)

That means that all the typical communication channels would most likely fail if you’d to use them in your campaign.

Naturally, I don’t advertise abandoning Adwords, SEO or banner advertising. However, for certain types of campaigns they are simply not the channels to focus your primary attention.

Any why the pyramid? Because in the concept, you organize those channels in a form of pyramid, from the least influential to the most. And, the shape of the pyramid is the best to represent that.

How is this helpful

A pyramid of influence gives you a great insight into your customers buying cycle. With such knowledge you can:

  • Quickly establish the best channels to use for a campaign – from blogs, various forms of online advertising to targeting your audience and their friends / family on social media, you can quickly establish where it is best to invest your money.
  • Find the best content placement opportunities – in many cases you can discover even the exact publications or websites where you can place the content for the best rich (an example of Buffer and Leo Widdrich springs in mind. Consciously or not, this is what these guys did when they started growing the app, and it worked). Sure, many of these will eat a lot from your budget yet the sheer fact that your information will reach the very people looking for information related to what you are selling makes it well worth it.
  • Be more focused with your advertising – by placing the ads exactly where your prospects are looking for information. Moreover, you can also greatly reduce your advertising spend by focusing only on the sites or channels frequented by your audience.
  • Understand and use the right message – a big part in marketing is figuring out the message and how to convey it. Knowing where your customers will be seeking information also helps you with delivering the right information to them. this, coupled with the knowledge of exact channels to use can once again help with focusing your efforts and reducing the spend.

Where to get this information from?

I am sure that’s the one question that you wanted to ask, where to find out what’s on the pyramid of influence for your product? I am afraid, I have the very answer you don’t want to hear.

You need to ask your clients.

And, ideally you should use both qualitative and quantitative methods in your research. Questionnaires will help you uncover a list of channels your customers use to research information or get recommendations regarding a product whereas interviews will help you to uncover more information regarding how they use those channels and which ones are perceived as more intuitive than the others.

I usually try to send questionnaire to around 30 people, however I interview usually around 5, mostly because of time constraints.

Are those channels not obvious?

Sure, sometimes they are. You might be an actual user of the product or know someone who is and understand the process that went in into selecting it. Also, certain products are more obvious in terms of the pyramid on influence than others (I.e. travel). Yet it is still useful to create a list of all those influential channels. Who knows, you might discover one you haven’t thought of, and perhaps so did your competition.

Conclusion

Marketing is a tricky business indeed. You need to gain a lot while ideally spending very little. And in order to do that, you need to know exactly what channels to target with advertising. A pyramid of influence is one of the tools you can use to get an insight into what channels would work best for your audience.

Creative commons image by bobsfever