Marketing’s Role at Each Stage of The Buyer’s Journey

When you think marketing, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

For most small business owners, it’s lead generation.

  • Acquiring contact information for new prospects.
  • Introducing your company’s products or services to people who aren’t familiar.
  • Extending your brand to new markets.

But did you know that marketing has a crucial function at each stage of the buyer’s journey?

Here’s what that looks like:

  • Total Population This group is not all the people in the world, but rather all of the people who might be an ideal customer for you. For Bright Oath Marketing, our total population is limited to small business owners in the U.S., who aren’t large enough to have a full time Chief Marketing Officer. Unless you’re selling Pepsi, your total population isn’t 7 billion people either.Marketing tactics to engage this group include pay-per-click ads, social media ads, SEO, blogs, and podcasts.
  • Subscribers As the name implies, this group of people is subscribed to your company. Ideally you have their contact information in your CRM, but can also include your podcast subscribers and social media followers. You may not know who all your subscribers are, but they, to some degree, know who you are.This is the second largest area where small businesses spend marketing resources. Organic social media content, webinars, live social media events, features and benefits collateral, and industry speaking engagements are all great ways to engage subscribers.
  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) To reach this level of the sales and marketing funnel, a dual-qualification process has taken place. While not always formal, a contact becoming a SQL means that they are interested in your product enough to enter into a one-to-one relationship with your sales person and you have also qualified that person as being a good customer for your company. For example, while someone working at a nonprofit may be interested in hiring Bright Oath Marketing, they wouldn’t be a SQL since nonprofits do not fall into the defined total population.There are many ways marketing can augment the sales process with your SQLs: case studies, collaborative marketing opportunities with your clients and other partners, and layering your brand experience into the sales process.
  • Current Customers These are the people currently paying you. No extra explanation needed!Marketing can support your current customer relationships through surveying, sending client gifts at holidays or anniversaries, and creating collateral to help you up-sell or add onto your current contracts.

Note: Many of these tactics can engage people across the buyer’s journey. For example, a podcast may convert someone out of the total population into your subscriber group. Then continue to develop your company’s relationship with that person through the pipeline and even after they’re a customer. While tactics aren’t limited to whom they can influence, business owners and marketers alike tend to pigeonhole where marketing can make a difference. This separation is not accurate or helpful.

The bad news. Even marketing pros tend to only focus their efforts on the Total Population and Subscriber parts of the funnel.


My theory: because it’s difficult for a marketing team to get credit for client retention or sales. For example, it’s easy to measure how many new leads were added to the CRM this month due to a Facebook ad. It’s nearly impossible to prove how marketing efforts impacted client retention or closed a sale. Like most business roles, marketers aren’t great at escaping their silos and proving how their efforts improve company revenue as a whole.

Marketing has a function at every stage of your prospects’ and clients’ relationships with you.

I unpack this idea further in the video below about the Sales (And Marketing!) Funnel.

Ready to apply smart marketing strategies to every part of your buyer’s relationship with you? Talk to Bright Oath Marketing.