We have a grocery store or two we go to. We know one plumber. Maybe an accountant. We have a few restaurants we like and can probably name two or three car dealers.

That’s plenty. Anything beyond that is just noise.

Most people don’t know most businesses. Most people don’t need to know most businesses.

And if they don’t know you, they can’t shop you.

Sales funnels, marketing funnels, and customer journey maps of all shapes and iterations begin with “awareness.” Forget funnels. You’re ascending the south face of Mt. Everest.

It took you two weeks just to basecamp. You’ve opened your business and you’re standing around with 800 other unknown business climbers. You’re at Basecamp Unawareness, and only half of you will make it.

The trail from Basecamp Unawareness to your first stop is only 1.6 miles, but it will take you 2 days to get there. Provided you don’t tumble down the Khumbu Icefall, a 2000-foot glacier that’s still moving.

You see where this is going, right? On Mt. Everest, it takes nearly 60 harrowing days before you see your reward.

In marketing, getting from unawareness to awareness is equally harrowing. Your mountain is the hundreds of thousands of minds you have to penetrate. Once you do, “all you have” is awareness. No sale. Not yet.

But that accomplishment is huge. If you’re shown a sales funnel, your eyes naturally gravitate to the bottom. That’s where the purchase/conversion/action part is. That’s where the money is.

A sloppy ad-slinger will gloss over awareness. It’s treated as a “given.” He’ll say “yeah, of course, awareness… now let’s get to the part where you sell things.”

Hold on, cowboy. Most people don’t know most businesses. And if they don’t know the business, they’re not jumping in your stupid funnel. They don’t even know you have one of those.

Without meeting you or researching your business, I can predict, with a high degree of certainty, you have an awareness problem. Most businesses do. Most people don’t know most businesses.

Awareness takes time and persistence. And, I’m sorry to say, you’re never done. Have you ever heard of Coke? Of course you have. And you’ll hear of Coke tomorrow, too. Our busy brains have more important things to do than remember businesses.

I’m sure yours is lovely. I’m also sure there are 12 other equally lovely businesses doing the same thing you are. I only need a couple of them in my filing cabinet. If you’re not in there, lotsa luck.

Awareness and Consideration are where brands are born. Solidify your place in my mind, and you have a shot at selling me something.

Leapfrogging the steps and going right to the “purchase” level is where price-cutting, quality sacrificing, and profit evaporation happens. You can do that if you’d like. Once in a million tries gives us a “Wal Mart.” Everybody else comes in 2nd place. Can you even name who’s in 2nd place in Wal Mart’s category? The store that’s “almost” as cheap, but not quite? Whoever it is already tumbled down the Khumbu Icefall to oblivion.

Plan your strategy. Put most of your effort in awareness. Don’t take a shortcut.

And if you need a marketing Sherpa, I’ll feed my yak and be right over.

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