I think we can all agree on the familiar cliche that life is a journey. In our work, marketing is a journey, too, correct? And, when you think about it, both life and marketing involve a sizeable degree of branding. And some anxiety along the way. Please indulge me as I explain my way out of this mess.

I recently decided to take a month-long trip to Africa. In time, I narrowed my selection to Namibia, just above South Africa, hugging the west coast of the Atlantic Ocean; the magnificent scenery, the 1000-year-old scorched trees, the Namib desert, animals and birds living free, starry skies, and the famous huge orange sand dunes. Imagine the photo ops! For months, I pored over books and guides about all of the splendors of Namibia and the many opportunities to experience something very new and very foreign. So much thinking, so many ideas, but my need was to stay on track and consider what I wanted out of the trip.

To help with my decision-making process, I then looked at this journey in another, more analytical way, breaking it into three steps.

  • I wanted to take a trip. But where should I go?
  • After researching websites and social media and whatever information was available to me, I decided to go to Namibia. Now, how do I make the best use of my time?
  • I chose the best course of action to make the trip happen. I worked with a local agent who suggested an itinerary.

Seems obvious; but to many, decision-making is much more complex than this.

Since we’re all business people, let’s now look at this in a more abstract way, in the context of  a marketing funnel to illustrate this approach. We begin atop the wide end of the funnel with the entire world in front of us. As we travel, we’re actually descending through an ever-constricting tangle of information, eliminating what we don’t want, down the length of the funnel until we finally reach the bottom tip; our destination. From there, with our decisions made, we are in perfect position to explore what’s around us.

BG-blog-simplified-decision.jpgLet’s segue… How do we succeed in business in this dynamic world without stumbling over all the obstacles along the way, wasting precious time, effort and money? We often know what we want, but we don’t always know quite how to get there. As in traveling to a distant destination, we need to see the journey as a series of segments that progressively get smaller and smaller, to the point where we finally arrive at our destination, and can plan the proper course going forward.

Similar to the aforementioned travel scenario, effective marketing is broken into steps. It begins with questions, then the thought process when a buyer realizes that there is a problem, a void, a weak link in the company’s marketing efforts. Perhaps the brand is being adversely affected by the weak link. Perhaps nobody considered the long-term effects of the current efforts. This individual must educate him/herself, searching inbound marketing content and social media, to view what information is available to facilitate the thought process to attain his objectives.

Next step: Using the power of the available content, the buyer has identified and prioritized the needs and possible short- and long-term objectives, and is now researching more specific options available to put his company on the right path. He is considering the type of marketing partner to help meet his needs; the criteria employed for choosing the correct agency; the level of experience offered by the agencies; and personal chemistry since ongoing communication is critical with himself and perhaps his entire team. I call this “Speaking the Same Language.”

And third, the buyer, after meeting with several contenders, has now decided on the correct team to engage. The agency offers across-the-board capabilities to address all of his company’s objectives with intelligent long-term strategy.

Now what?

Next, the “Engagement” that we enjoy with our customers, and the interaction that helps to retain (“Retention”) the customers over the long-term are critical for our company’s success. For over 25 years, we at Barnett Group have always considered ourselves partners with our clients, so “speaking the same language” from the time of hire is crucial. We will also depend on our relationship with our customers so they can feel comfortable referring us to other companies, since this is the most efficient and qualitative way to grow our business.

We practice what we preach. We strive to attain the same level of success for our clients as we do for ourselves. We work together with them to engage with their customers for the long-term, since engagement and retention are so critical for their own success.

So, can simplifying decision-making really change your life? It always involves robust branding. And decisions always involve a series of steps, beginning with a thought, conducting a series of thinking processes, and then making the decision as to how to proceed along the most intelligent path. BTW, it’s also a great way to relieve anxiety!