So why do you need these four different kinds of marketing messages? Customers may respond to any type of message during any phase—there’s a lot of overlap. But a specific type of message can be especially useful for a specific phase. It’s helpful to put yourself in the shoes of the buyer to understand how it works.
Awareness phase—category message
If you’re a customer with a need—say, you’re looking for a Mother’s Day gift—you have lots of choices: flowers, a spa day, brunch, jewelry, etc. How do you narrow it down to a certain type, or category, of product to give as a gift?
Susana owns a bakery that specializes in gourmet cupcakes. On her website is a recent blog post with a category message about how baked goods make great Mother’s Day gifts. The post talks in general about the category of cupcakes as a gift, without touting her own bakery’s cupcakes.
You happen to read this blog post when you’re in the awareness phase of the buyer's journey for your Mother’s Day gift. You’re intrigued by the idea and decide to buy cupcakes for your mom.
Evaluation phase—product message
Now that you’ve got the idea to give cupcakes as a Mother’s Day gift, it’s time to decide which cupcakes to buy. There’s a bakery around the corner from your office; you could get them there. You were recently at a party where an amazing cake was served; you could ask the hostess where she got it, and pick up the cupcakes there. Or you could bake your own. There are lots of choices.
Meanwhile, Susana runs an ad with a product message about her cupcakes that highlights their main differentiating benefit: they’re made with all-natural, locally sourced ingredients.
You see the ad when you’re in the evaluation phase. Your mom is a big believer in shopping local, so the differentiating benefit of Susana’s cupcakes carries a lot of weight in your decision.
Decision phase—offer message
You’re looking at the website for Susana’s bakery to see if there are any good deals on cupcakes for Mother’s Day.
Susana has just updated her site with a special offer message: buy one, get one half price, this week only.
You’re sold. You order cupcakes from Susana’s bakery for Mother’s Day.
Post-purchase phase—brand message
You opted in to receive emails from Susana’s bakery when you ordered the cupcakes online. A few days later, you receive an email with a brand message from Susana, thanking you for your order and briefly explaining the bakery’s back story.
The email makes you smile in admiration of the story about how Susana went from baking cupcakes at home to opening her own little shop. You feel like cheering her on. It makes you feel good about Susana’s brand, and you’re sure you’ll shop there again. The next day you recommend the bakery to a friend.
At any phase of the buyer's journey, a customer may respond to any type of message you put out there. But by ensuring these four types of messages are in your advertising and marketing communications, you’re better able to reach customers at all phases of their journey.