Should I Target Audiences Earlier in the Buying Process

June 11, 2014

This past Friday, Rand from Moz shared some thoughts on “Targeting Audiences Earlier in the Buying Process”. I’ve been contemplating this topic over the last few months as it relates to startups, small business, mobile apps, growth marketing, and the continuos rise of online competition. Before jumping in, watch the whiteboard video session below:

Awesome video, but does this apply to your workplace, clients, or vertical? Yes. Should you drop everything today and integrate this strategy? Unfortunately, no. You need to revisit your company, your customers, and current marketing plan to determine if this is feasible and the best use of your time and resources. There’s a good chance the content marketing plan includes some of these tactics, it’s more about articulating a longer term game plan and doubling down on current plans/opportunities.

Should you and your company invest in the “Pursuing Interest” level? I've grouped some thoughts based on company stage:


As a marketer (technical marketer, full stack marketer, or growth hacker) at an early stage startup, we’re often tasked with trying to prove product market fit and support growth. Spending significant time building content or strategies at the “Pursuing Interest” level is extremely dangerous. What happens if the product or startup pivots? What if the product is repositioned to accommodate customers that share a completely different Pursuing Interest pattern? Not much. It’s the exact same as content marketing. You need to balance your time with other campaigns and efforts that drive immediate action and results (SEM/Social Marketing). Once established, you can spend more time and efforts building "Pursuing Interest".

Some exceptions to the rule, but general rules would be:

  • If marketing team consists of 2 or less = No. There's bigger fish to fry, keep brainstorming and documenting ideas until you add marketing resources.
  • If marketing team consists of 3 or more = YES. Avoid ideas that require significant time and development/design resources, you need to prove product-market-fit. Exception to rule, saturated markets (website builder, daily deal space, photo sharing app, cloud storage, etc) should double down on the “Pursuing Interest” level (you can't compete, you must think further outside of the box).


    Yes. I’d encourage you to pursue traditional media (print/radio) and offline communities. These channels are ripe for new techniques and growth. Same with saturated markets, double or triple down your presence at the "Pursuing Interest" level.


    Yes. Invest for the long-haul. Think of new ways to deeply root your business online. This is an extension of content marketing, community management, and growth. Looking for inspiration? Think about Facebook. They have several examples of deeply rooting themselves everywhere (fb connect, the 'like' button, Focus on community and actually helping people (when I say community, I don't mean social media community.. I'm referencing local and offline to online). If stuck, drop me a tweet or email me.

    Are you convinced it's for you and your company? Great. Roll up your sleeves and prepare to convince stakeholders. They will push back hard b/c of resources and ROI (challenging to measure, if not impossible in some cases). This topic requires an entire blog post, but you can start here for inspiration (insane to think most companies didn't invest in web analytics or analysts just 5 years ago).

    Once you convince stakeholders, treat this as any marketing intiative with team collaboration and accountability. Individual owners are okay, but ensure these plans are tightly integrated to the overall marketing plan and schedule. For larger teams you should have several iniatives running at the same time that are passed through different departments (copy, design, print, social media team, etc). I gaurentee you’ll see a big lift in morale and excitement as team members experiment in new channels and can prospect potential customers in new communities (on and offline) in a different light.

    Stay tuned for part 2 with real life examples. Or better yet, subscribe by email and follow me on twitter for live progress and future blog updates. Have fun out there.

    Are you investing more marketing resources into capturing potential customers earlier in the buying process?