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How to Structure a Powerful Ad Campaign

Minute Read
August 26, 2019
November 21, 2023

Learn how to think about advertising like Fortune 500 does.

Building an ad campaign, one that actually works, isn't easy.

Gone are the golden days of advertising, when mass media was the place to be and ROI was measured in tearsheets. Faced with today's increasingly complex media landscape – and an increasingly distracted audience – reaching the right audience isn't as intuitive as it once was.

Enter the Marketing Funnel. Conceived decades ago by Fortune 500, it's a proven framework that defines when and where ads should be placed for maximum effect. And if you've ever purchased a Fortune 500 product, you're proof that it works.

What is The Marketing Funnel?

Put simply, it’s a way to understand how consumers make purchasing decisions and place strategic ad messages along the way. The idea is to funnel consumers along the journey to your business' front door.

Almost every advertiser uses a different version of the Funnel, but it's broadly considered to have three main sections:

  1. Awareness: Consumers know a product or business exists
  2. Engagement: The product or business becomes a serious option
  3. Purchase: A sale is made

To understand how this works in practice,  let’s take a hypothetical example (which we’ll simplify for brevity’s sake).

A new, all-natural laundry detergent comes to market – we’ll call it Pure Clean. You see a Pure Clean commercial on TV, and it catches your attention. You’ve been using the same detergent for years, but Pure Clean has no harmful additives. Interesting.

A few days go by, and you’re browsing social media in a momentary respite from your daily routine. There, between baby pictures and a post from your grandmother, is another ad for Pure Clean. You see the same message about health and organic ingredients, but now there’s something else: opinions, likes, and shares from other customers, raving about Pure Clean’s crisp scent and powerful stain-fighting abilities. You tap the ad, and arrive at a blog post on Pure Clean’s site about how dangerous detergent additives can be.

Suddenly, you’re giving Pure Clean serious thought. You wonder how much harm your old detergent has done. You’re not sure, but you just got an email from a coworker. Time to move on.

You’re at the store a few weeks later, and guess what’s on your list? Laundry detergent. Of course, you can’t remember the name of that new product, so you whip out your phone and search “organic laundry detergent” online. ‘Pure Clean,’ you read at the top of the search results. It goes in your cart, and you go about your day.

What happened there?

It’s important to note that real customer journeys are far more complicated than what you just read, with plenty of plot twists and second-guessing along the way. (In fact, we tell our clients it takes consumers an average of seven ad impressions to make a purchasing decision.)

But in our streamlined example, a strategic ad campaign moved you through a Marketing Funnel. The moment you saw that first TV spot, Pure Clean entered your consciousness – you became aware of it. Next, you clicked an ad on social media and engaged with the Pure Clean for the first time. Finally, at the point of purchase, you searched the product online and picked it off the shelf.

The final point.

You can see the power of The Marketing Funnel in your own life – from your journey’s inception to its end, a message from Pure Clean was strategically placed to guide you to purchase. In the end, you strayed from your norm and purchased a new product.

In our Pure Clean example, one ad wasn’t enough to drive your purchase. Don’t worry if that sound expensive, because it doesn’t have to be. In future posts, we’ll explore how The Marketing Funnel strategy applies to any business. For now, evaluate your ad strategy through these lens:

  • Awareness: The goal is to place an ad where your customers will see it.
    What do your customers spend time doing? Where do they go? What do they read, watch, or listen to?
  • Engagement: Provide a channel to interact with customers.
    Are you posting to social media regularly? Do you interact with customers there? How do you reach out to captured leads?
  • Purchase: Make it incredibly easy for customers to find you and buy.
    Where is your website ranked on search results pages (SEO)? Do you have any paid search (SEM) ads?

Hopefully, answering these questions will help you better understand your customers – and know exactly how to reach them.