Today, while eating my leftover chicken stroganoff (yessiree – really trying to cut back on this whole cholesterol thing) for lunch, I was perusing some old stories, Twitter links, etc. etc, and I came across this piece – Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places by David C. Edelman in the Harvard Business Review that an old friend of mine Tweeted. Smart dude. Worked at the Goog and now he’s at Twitter, Stanford grad – the works. I recommend following him for forward-thinking and the lastest restaurant news in San Fran.


The article is all about getting more bang for your buck when it comes to your marketing spend. Obviously, the piece pushes the power of a strong website and smart online marketing. But it doesn’t stop there. It goes into a much deeper investigation of how consumers make decisions and then interact with their brand decision on and offline in the weeks, months and years that follow.

For instance, this article flips the old traditional marketing funnel on its head. You know the funnel (yawn): it starts with consideration set, then goes to a selected set, then there’s final choice and then purchase. Up until the digital revolution, that was all fine and great and marketers were having tee many martoonies at lunch and napping on their leather office couch in the afternoon. After all, their objective was to simply drive sales. And, while it’s still all about dollars, thanks to emerging media, the sales funnel has a whole new side. Now, we have the “enjoy, advocate and bond stage” that follows the previous, but modified stages: “consider”, “evaluate” and “buy.” This new stage will still drive sales, just two and three fold. Or at least thats how the folks at McKinsey & Company see it and I have to agree wholeheartedly.

  • The consider stage. It’s where we form a set of options for our purchase based off previous exposure. So yes – print, tv, radio are still relevant. We’d argue not to the extent that they once were, but they do still help brands get into the consideration set. The problem is, the consideration set doesn’t stop there. It actually expands in the evaluate stage.
  • Evaluation is when you might get online to read reviews or go in store to ask an expert. It’s when you might post a RFR (request for recommendation – I just made that up) on Facebook or Twitter. As you do this, you start to displace some of the brands originally in the consideration set with new brands that are being suggested. Options open up. These are often the offspring of great experiences with ACME X and your friends and peers.
  • The buy stage is where consumers are currently making the majority of their decisions. So packaging, price and point-of-sale are all extremely relevant.
  • And then the final stage. “Enjoy, advocate and bond” – the stage many of us participate in daily and don’t even realize. We tweet and retweet our favorite brands, we tune into them on Facebook, we post about a delicious meal we had at RESTAURANT X. We are enjoying our experience. We are advocating our experience. And we’re bonding with the brand. This is the phase that has changed the model. This allows for a level of interaction and engagement and brand stewardship that was previously, unattainable.

Here’s what’s crazy though. According to Edelman, instead of targeting the different stages of the decision path, 70%-90% of marketing spend STILL goes to advertising and retail promotions that hit consumers at the early stages – the consider and buy stages. However, as it’s been proven, the buy stage (previously thought to be the best stage – and still a really important one) is far from the final stage. In fact, there really isn’t a final stage. That’s if you do it all correctly. Instead the cycle goes on and on and on.

So, maybe it’s time to get your brand a little healthier, digitally speaking. Funny – we know just the guys that can help.

As for the leftover chicken stroganoff, ehhh…not my finest work with the slow cooker.