by Sheri Nelson, founder, The Local shop

Establishing goals is critical for any business if it expects to meet its needs and ultimately become a success. To achieve those goals, the next major step is to prepare a marketing funnel to keep you on track.
The funnel is an organized approach to direct meaningful communications to a prospect by recognizing where they are on the path to purchase.
Having your funnel built out in writing and embedded in your mind will keep you on target to achieve those goals.
A marketing funnel starts like any funnel, with the widest portion on top and diminishing in size as it progresses downward. That is because you start by marketing to a large group, but ultimately home in on the much smaller but interested group.
The marketing funnel recognizes a consumers decision making in four simple sections top to bottom: Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action!

Awareness: Here I am!
The top of your funnel starts with awareness. Here is where you enact all your outreach to customers, including any kind of online marketing, traditional advertising, or simple word of mouth recommendations.
Some ideas to maximize this part of your funnel might include a booth at a community or industry event, print or local television ads, billboards, direct mail, or engaging customers through your website or social media. Wherever you are promoting your business, make sure you are collecting your customer’s name and email address to continue the conversation with them afterwards. If someone chooses not to share their info, do not push for it and never share the contact information with a third party.

Build Interest
Once you have made your potential customer aware of your product or service, continue to build interest by focusing on how it will make their lives better. Let them know what problem your product or service will solve and the benefits it brings.
One of the best ways to build interest is by providing content that highlights your product or service assets. Consider Incorporating this content into a video shared at your business or on your website, in an email newsletter, as a part of classes you teach in-person or online, or through your social media. You could also use it in your responses to client testimonials. (i.e., “Thank you for noting how (our product) helped achieve (your goal).”)

Fulfilling Desire
Now that you have created interest, your funnel moves onto desire stage, where your customer is actively researching product availability, cost comparisons, colors, flavors and other features. Make sure you answer these kind of questions wherever possible including on your website, social media, newsletters and emails. Always include a way to contact you with other questions or requests that come up.

Action – SOLD!
Finally, your customers act by purchasing your product or service. Continue to offer a seamless, positive experience by delivering on any post-purchase promises and support. A “thank you” message for their purchase is a nice touch. Your goal is to have a satisfied customer that talks positively about your business and is certain to come back.
Other ideas to consider include:

  • ask for reviews on Facebook, Yelp or Google whenever possible. People are inundated with these requests so remind them that it can be short.
  • Send an email a month or later with suggested new products that will complement their purchase.
    Those that may not want to embrace digital and social media marketing can opt for more of a grassroots or traditional approach, but I recommend adding social media to your marketing funnel so that you:
  • introduce your product or service to a wider audience, not just those who call or walk into your brick-and-mortar location.
  • are always accessible for customer questions and comments.
    Most importantly, with online marketing, you will get analytics to see how each section of your funnel is performing.
    As a small business owner, you have an extensive to do list, but keeping your funnel and goals top-of-mind are critical to your success. Take time at least once a month to review everything, be nimble and adjust as needed to market conditions to keep your business on track to achieve the success it deserves.

Sheri Nelson is a passionate marketer helping local businesses make a connection with consumers. She spent 27 years in Bay Area radio before launching The Local Shop. Follow her on Instagram for more tips at the_local_shop_bay_area or email her your questions at