The Four A’s of Successful Marketing

It seems logical that selling to the very core of your target market should be relatively easy, and that marketing will then get progressively more difficult (and more expensive) as you move out from that core.  For major growth, however, it would seem necessary to avoid diminishing returns on investment in marketing: rather, in an ideal world, each additional dollar spent on marketing would actually compound the impact of the dollars spent before it.  But how might this happen?

In search of an answer, I’ve been thinking about a potential “Four A’s” framework for understanding the marketing lifecycle, described by the following diagram:


1. AWARENESS: introducing a product or service to a potential customer for the first time.

2. ACTION: inducing the customer to engage with the product or service by taking a certain action.  This is generally a purchase, but could also include actions like signing up for a free trial or testing a device in-store.

(Note: this leap from Awareness to Action is admittedly a simplification of the AIDA model or purchase funnel: there’s quite a bit more that must happen to get from (1) to (2), but for the purpose of this lifecycle framework I find it helpful to consider the simplified form.)

3. AFFECTION: developing the customer’s enthusiasm for the product or service.  This is largely a function of the customer’s direct experience with the product, but is also supported by ongoing marketing (I would venture, for example, that advertisements for the iPad reinforce and increase fondness for the device even after a customer has already purchased it).

4. ADVOCACY: encouraging a satisfied customer to extrovert their satisfaction rather than keep it to themselves, and become a brand advocate by sharing their excitement with people in their networks.

In some ways, Advocacy is the most important of the Four A’s since it re-initiates the entire A-cycle, compounding the impact of the initial marketing efforts.  However, the Four A process is linear: there can be no Advocacy without each of the preceding A’s, so an effective marketing strategy must coordinate efforts on all four stages.

When building a marketing strategy (especially with respect to media mix) consider how each channel and tactic you employ is weighted towards these four stages of the marketing lifecycle.  Because the process of customer creation and retention is cyclical, insufficient investment in any one of the four A’s will limit the effectiveness of every other.

What do you think of this framework?  Is it helpful?  How might it be improved?


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