Select The Best Channel For Each Point Of The Customer Journey

We’ve covered the Market (customer understanding), we’ve covered the Offer (how you help), and we’ve covered the Message (landing page & copy). Now it’s time to show you how to actually help your clients grow using the thing most agencies already do: distributing the message. 

This really only works like you want it to if you’ve done all of the other parts in the right order. 

Distribution of your message (i.e. “You have a problem and I can help you solve it”) is often called “driving traffic”. However, message distribution is more accurate in most cases. Driving traffic indicates that you are directing people who are already moving in a direction to go to your destination. This is certainly true of paid search, but not much else.

If you want to actually help your clients grow, you’ll need to go beyond paid search, especially conversion-centric paid search that focuses exclusively on the proverbial “bottom of the funnel”. 

That’s where the money is made, yeah, but it’s also where all of your competitors are focusing, where you spend the most money, and where many prospective customers have already made up their mind.

Marketers often scoff at the parts of marketing they don’t directly manage. Direct response marketers ridicule branding experts. Branding experts bemoan demand gen marketers (which means they’re probably doing branding wrong). Paid search fights with SEO, and so on. 

However, all of these channels work in different ways for different reasons. Most of the market isn’t going to be ready to buy when they come across your marketing, so there is value in building a relationship with each potential customer before their decision to buy. When and how to do this is part of the difficulty of marketing strategy, but the following should give you a clear road map to setting up a marketing strategy that creates actual growth for your clients.

Ascending Current Customers

The best place to look for more revenue is among your existing customers. This is a widely accepted rule, especially in the ecommerce world. If someone trusts you enough to give you their hard earned money instead of spending it on something else, and if you’ve served them well the first time, the odds of them trusting you again are pretty high.

There are a lot of ways to ascend current customers. If you have an ecommerce business, you can harness the power of one-click upsells, recommending related products to the new customer. You can also suggest upsell offers for services as part of a funnel.

For those who can’t offer upsells immediately, you have the power of email, text messages, DMs, phone calls, and even direct mail. Any contact information you have for your customers is a viable way to reach out to them with relevant offers, discounts or promotions, or even educational content that may help them understand the value of your highest tier of product or service.

If you don’t have to pay to acquire the customer, you can really focus on maintaining the relationship with a nurture sequence or an ascension sequence. Nurture sequences are a series of messages designed to provide value and education so the customer buys again, refers others to buy from you, or buys something similar. Ascension sequences are the same, but designed to prove how bad the problem is and how easy it is to solve with your highest tier of product or service. 

These sequences can really increase your profit and allow you to afford lower margins in other marketing channels.

Ready To Buy

The next stage is the one with all the competition, but for good reason. If you don’t have existing customers, the lowest-hanging fruit is to target those ready to buy. They’ve identified their problem, done whatever research they needed to do (if any), then decided from whom they want to get help. 

However, not everyone behaves in the same way when they purchase something.

When the market is ready to buy, where do they go? Do they buy on a whim after seeing the product or service? Have they spent a long time researching the problem and solution and are now directly visiting your business location or website? Do they ask for recommendations on social media or from their friends in person?

Knowing how your market looks for a solution provider and then contacts said provider is crucial to a successful marketing strategy. Nurturing and ascending customers is a great way to increase profits, but to increase profits you need to first generate revenue.

That’s done at this stage.

Because this is the most commonly addressed stage in agencies, I won’t spend too much time on which channels are best for this. That question is answered by answering the questions above. The most common channels for this include Paid Search, SEO, and Paid Social. 

Waiting To Buy

When you leave the buying market, you start to get into the wild frontier of marketing. Yes, there are plenty of people focusing on this segment of the market, but very few compared to the colosseum that is the buying market.

If you’re not familiar with the way I’m breaking down the market into solution readiness, you can check out my newsletter issue on scaling stagnant ad accounts, section 3.

At this stage, the market knows they have a problem, but don’t view the pain as bad enough to solve it. The difficulty is either that they’re not educated enough on the solutions to recognize the value, or not educated enough on the problem to recognize how bad the pain really is. 

That said, your goal is to educate this market segment and show them how bad the problem is if left unaddressed and how easy, fast, simple, or affordable your solution is.

In some cases, you can get easy wins with a simple discount code or coupon. This can be run via retargeting to abandoned carts or “viewed this page, didn’t convert” audiences, but price may not be the obstacle for many in this stage of the customer journey. Price is usually the issue on some level, but the worse the perceived pain, the higher the tolerable price.

In cases where price is enough of an issue that coupons or payment plans don’t work, consider running retargeted video ads to educate the market about the extent of the pain if the problem is left unaddressed. Other than retargeting, other channels that can work well for this stage are paid non-search (video, display, demand gen), and paid social. 

The real difference maker here is the message, as you can target and retarget these same segments with any message and see sub-par results. With the right targeting and the right message, on the right channels, you can see increased engagement from the right people and will likely see indirect conversion lift in your acquisition channels.


One stage past the “Waiting to Buy” stage of the market’s journey is the actively suffering market segment. This is the stage of the customer journey that occurs right after they become aware of the problem they have and can last until they decide whether the pain is bad enough to solve it or not.

Your goal is generally to guide them through this stage as quickly as possible, but it doesn’t make sense to target this stage until you’ve harnessed the buying market, are actively nurturing and ascending existing customers, and are showing the waiting market why it makes sense to buy now.

When you do target this stage after starting and stabilizing the others, you’ll be so far ahead of most marketers that they won’t even know you exist. Many marketers target this market segment, but usually too early and without ever even addressing the waiting market. They’ll suggest every business start with SEO, or whatever their core competency, and at the expense of other channels.

Don’t fall into this trap!

The suffering market is not ready to buy because they don’t understand their problem or the solutions, let alone a solution provider. In some cases the sales cycle is short enough that you can get sales from a Meta ad because the pain is super obvious and the solution is affordable enough for a high enough value, but it’s not the rule so much as the exception.

Usually you just want to educate them enough to build trust and credibility while helping them recognize how bad their pain is and how valuable your (or your client’s) solution is. This is often done with SEO and content marketing of sorts. This newsletter is an example, as is my LinkedIn content (when I actually post). 

Organic social, organic video, and organic search are all the classic go-tos, but if your clients have the budget for paid channels (they should if they’re tackling this in the right order), you can run paid social and paid non-search. With enough budget, you could run paid search ads for questions and send them to blogs or videos, but this is rarely worth it.

Don’t expect this traffic to convert if you’re selling anything remotely high-ticket. Just give them enough value that they’d be willing to give you their email address or phone number in exchange for more value. Alternatively, you can work to get them to subscribe to your YouTube channel or follow you on social media so you can continue to educate them and build trust. Direct conversions or purchases generally only come from low-cost solutions to high-pain problems.


At the very beginning of every customer journey is that blissful state of contentedness in which the future customer has no problem or is ignorant of their problem. 

This is the segment of the market that the government targets. In the private sector, you have giants like Coca-cola and Pepsi, Frito-Lay, and other nationally and globally-recognized brands. You don’t generally want to start pushing to this stage of the customer journey until you have achieved market dominance and everyone thinks of your solution as the go-to solution for the problem you solve. Think Kleenex, Windex, Google, Apple Podcasts, etc. These brands don’t even need to market anymore, they just remind people that they exist. If you’ve maxed out all of the other stages of the customer journey, this is your next step.

Just remind people that you exist and when they should think about you.

Otherwise, you can educate the broader market about the problem itself so they recognize it if/when it pops up in their life. This is done with your broader awareness channels like radio, broadcast television, streaming networks, non-search paid ads, paid social, and so on.

Most clients should ignore this stage in favor of the ones that lead to money more quickly. Coke can target kids with tv ads because they have the money and momentum to wait until the kids are old enough to buy their own coke. Your clients are likely not sitting on that kind of stability.

What If You Only Offer Ads?

You may not be able to offer services that are ideal for each of these stages, but if you know which stages you are best equipped to target and can advise on the other channels, you can recognize when to say no to clients that are a bad fit because of their level of growth and when you can crush it for a prospect in just the right stage of their business.

If you don’t offer the right services for their stage of growth, but do offer marketing strategy, you can use this framework to recognize what they’re doing wrong and where they have easy growth opportunities to leverage.


So there you have it! Over 7,500 words across 4 issues about how to actually help your clients grow. If you want to do more than just drive traffic to your clients’ websites and be stuck optimizing a siloed marketing channel, you must:

  1. Understand Your Client’s Customers
  2. Give The Customers What They Want
  3. Show The Customers You Understand Them
  4. Select The Best Channel For Each Point Of The Customer Journey

Nail these 4 things and all of your clients will see real growth year over year, not just a marginal increase in leads from one platform for some of your clients.

If you’re curious about how I work with agencies or if you’re frustrated with your agency’s profitability or retention of clients or employees, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll see how I can help. I never charge for the first consultation and if I can solve it in 30-minutes, there’s no reason to pay for my services and you walk away happy.

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