Storytime: Learning about marketing automation the hard way

Storytime: Learning about product awareness the hard way

“Have you looked up the customer buying cycle? Maybe people don’t realize they have the problem you’re solving.” Pete told me as we were sitting on a bench in the Letna beer garden overlooking Prague.

The garden has a single Pilsner Urquell stand with all the varieties of Pilsner Urquell and a little restaurant where you can get bratwursts. It fits snugly between the gardens in the trees and the edge of a high high hill overlooking the city center. From our picnic table, I could see the city and the castle off on the right in the distance.

I sipped my beer and looked out over the city trying to figure out if all this time and money had been wasted.

“Yeah,” I said. “Maybe you’re right.”

I was in town for a digital entrepreneurs conference and Pete was in one of my mastermind groups. During the conference I learned about how Pete used to be a front-end developer who loved CrossFit and how he managed to move from being a services provider to running an fair-sized products company with a big following. He was now positioned as one of the world’s top sellers of Crossfit jump ropes. Having just started down the path of going from a digital marketer and developer to a SaaS founder, I was blown away by his stories.

Sometime during the day I had asked the group about the SaaS I was working on at the time, BrainLeaf, and how to grow my sales. The group had immediately delved into the product, the problem, and much more. I got a lot of answers and a lot of ideas that day. After the conference was done for the day, a group of us all went out for drinks at the beer garden. Pete and I were the only two left as the night was falling and the temperature started to drop.

“Can you expand on the customer buying cycle for me?” I asked as my skin started to bristle with the cool breeze.

“Yeah, of course.” He responded, “Unawareness is that the person doesn’t know they have the problem. Awareness means they are aware of the issue, but may or may not be looking for a solution yet. If the problem is bad, then they might be looking. If not, then at least they know it’s a problem. Consideration means they are actively researching the issue and are looking for a solution. Purchase means, well, they’re making a purchase. Just like purchase, the next two steps, retention and advocacy, are pretty straight forward.”

“I guess I just never really thought about it” I said.

“From what you’re telling me, the problem is that the people you’re marketing to don’t know that they have a problem. It sounds like you need to either do a better job of marketing to the right people or form some kind of awareness building system.” he replied, looking at me, then looking down at his phone.

“I think that is exactly the problem,” I said. “People who have the problem that my system solves are either experienced and already have a solution or they just entered the market, don’t realize they have an issue, get burned badly because they didn’t realize they had the issue and failed a project because of it, then leave the market. So that makes my pool of potential buyers a lot smaller than I had initially thought.” I said.

“Well, maybe there are groups of people that are looking for a solution to this? Maybe check Facebook for private groups that are testing out solutions for this.” Pete said looking down at his phone again. I could tell that he was checking the time and, despite having half a beer remaining, probably needed to get going.

“You could also maybe start a podcast or something that talks about how to solve this problem and create an audience around the issue. What I think you need is an audience before the product on this one.” he said looking at me this time.

“You’re right” I said, “I wish I had talked to you about this probably three years ago.”

“Don’t worry man. We all go through this. It happens to everyone, just keep on plugging away and you’ll get it. I went through the same kinds of things myself over and over till I got it figured out. Let’s talk again tomorrow at the conference about this, I have to get going to get back to my room for a call with the factory in China in about fifteen minutes.” he said before downing the other half of his beer and standing up. “I’ll see you tomorrow!”

“Thanks Pete, that was super helpful. I’ll see you in the morning!” I replied, standing up to shake his hand.

I turned back towards the city after saying goodbye and noticed that even more lights had come on and the sun set further. Prague was beautiful that night, but I was left trying to figure out if how I was going to deal with this awareness issue.

It had me looking forward to the next day at the conference.

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