The Future of Branding and Marketing – pt 2

Radio Consultancy

The New Marketing Model

In this part we show how the traditional marketing model was blown up – and what it’s been replaced with…

“…what will make a difference for radio to survive and thrive … Marketing expertise will become radio's greatest asset and ensure its success in the future”.
– Brad March

In Part 1 here we re-visited the “funnel” marketing metaphor – which has been a standard marketing tool for decades. Briefly, in very broad strokes, the “funnel” worked like this:

  1. Create awareness (i.e., “get on their radar”)
  2. Drive consideration (in radio terms “encourage sampling”)
  3. Final choice (the consumer buys the product or, in radio terms, makes your show or station one of their preferred choices)

But over the last decade, the internet, mobile, digital and social media has blown up that model of how consumers engage with brands, products and services (and radio stations). New research led to the “Consumer Decision Journey” (CDJ) replacing the traditional “funnel” metaphor.

Research on 20,000 consumers across three continents and five industries showed that, rather than the “start with lots of choices and whittle them down” approach that consumers used to take in the “funnel”, consumers now start with fewer options, then expand on those options, and continue to engage with the brand long after their final purchase decision. In short, the new model is less like a “funnel” and more like a never-ending cycle, with overlapping phases.

So, today’s consumers use a far less systematic approach in narrowing down their choices, and part of the process actually involves expanding their choices – not whittling them down as in the “funnel”. While you’re reading through this brief summary of those phases, think of how you now go about deciding on a new mobile phone, car, clothes, trying a new restaurant, movie, music, TV show … or just about anything else.

There are four phases in the new Consumer Decision Journey:

1) Consider

In the “funnel” metaphor this stage contains the largest number of brands, but for today’s consumers, overwhelmed by media and choices, the initial top-of-mind consideration set is often much smaller. Naturally ‘creating awareness’ is still important – but whereas in the “funnel” metaphor it was where a great deal of marketing budget was allocated, in the new Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ) model, the marketing budget needs more careful allocation amongst the different phases. Awareness alone will no longer get you on the radar, because people discard options and re-evaluate at different stages.

2) Evaluate

Through gathering input from friends, peers, reviews, retailers, the brand and its competitors, today’s consumers often expand the range of options they’re considering – typically adding new brands and discarding others as they learn more and their selection criteria shift. This stage is more likely to influence their choices than the traditional “push” marketing used in the out-dated “funnel”. And it’s where more marketing funds need to be spent to be effective – in generating “word of mouth” (friends, peers) and positive online reviews and comments.

3) Buy

Today’s consumers more often put off making a final decision until they’re at the point of purchase. Thus, point-of-purchase (placement, packaging, availability, pricing, and sales interactions) is an even more powerful touch point than in the “funnel”. And that point-of-purchase is increasingly online – not in person or in-store – so you (or your client) needs to ensure the online point-of-purchase, and all of the associated online touch points, are an equally high priority with in-store touch points.

Recently Scott worked with a well-known Australian brand with around two million monthly unique visitors to its website – making the website by far the most common point of interaction with the brand. For some of its customer segments the online touch-points were spot-on, while for other (very important) customer segments it was patchy at best, and much work needed to be done – starting with the overall Brand Strategy and working its way down to the detail of execution at all touch points.

4) Enjoy, advocate, bond

This is a touch point entirely missing from the “funnel”. For today’s consumers, after purchase a deeper connection begins, as the consumer interacts with new online touch points. Key point: if the consumer bond becomes strong enough, they enter an enjoy-advocate-buy loop that entirely eliminates the “consider” and “evaluate” stages. For many years Brad has been a fiercely loyal advocate of Apple products – to the point where when a new product comes out the bond is so strong that Brad skips all other options from competitors.

However, that bond can be weakened even with customers as passionately loyal as Brad. When the iPhone 5 was released last year, a series of bad customer service experiences at the point-of-purchase phase changed the relationship – and the tone of Brad’s brand advocacy.

After a decade as a dedicated Apple disciple, in which he was exclusively in Apple’s enjoy-advocate-buy loop (with no consideration of competitors or alternatives in the “consider” and “evaluate” stages), he suddenly found himself considering switching to Samsung. Apple rectified their customer service issues at the 11th hour and Brad ended up buying the iPhone 5 – but Apple’s point-of-purchase mistakes mean future purchase decisions will include their competitors, rather than Apple being the only option.

No doubt you’ll have similar experiences yourself – and the lesson for your network, station, show, or client’s brand is: never take your loyal advocates for granted, even when the bond is super strong.


In the next articles in this series, we’ll detail “what this means for radio people updating your marketing expertise” – including some important changes to internal roles – and introduce you to some more new and useful approaches along the way.


Scott Muller is Director of mbos consulting group, a creative strategy & élite talent consulting firm. He can be contacted in confidence here.

Brad March is a former CEO of the Austereo Network





For those who want to know about research and sources:

The research was based on a study of 20,000 consumers across three continents and five industries (automobiles, skin care, insurance, consumer electronics, and mobile telecom). Out of that research, the “Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ)” model was developed and, for more detail, go online and check out the McKinsey Quarterly (June 2009) or the Harvard Business Review website.

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