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The Buying Funnel & Consumer's Buying Decision

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    December 17, 2020 9:24 PM PST

    The Buying Funnel & Consumer's Buying Decision

    From the book by Norton E. Warner:

    "David Can Still Beat Goliath; Radio Advertising is David's Slingshot" 


    The buying funnel will play an important role in determining your client's advertising strategy. Your client's advertising decisions should coincide with the way your client's customers make their buying decisions. The buying funnel illustrates the consumer buying-decision process and how your communication with the consumer can work to your client's benefit in the buying-action stage.

    The buying cycle begins when a product or service enters a consumer’s mind and progresses to the status of a conscious need or want. The consumer now becomes a “prospect.” This prospect will then move through the Advertising Communication Process (shown in the buying funnel) from unawareness to awareness to an understanding to a preference or trust. The buying cycle ends when the consumer buys the product or engages the service. 

    The buying funnel and a new-car purchase

    Every product or service has its own buying cycle. Your client's advertising strategy must coincide with this buying cycle. For example, from the time the decision is made to purchase a new car to the actual time of purchase, the buying cycle is an average of six months. The consumer is weighing benefits, deciding what and where to buy, during this six-month period. This is selling time for the auto dealer. The auto dealer must be communicating with this consumer during this six-month period to create a preference or trust.

    From the time the consumer first visits the new-car showroom to the actual purchase is  72 hours. The new-car buyer is in the buying-action stage for 72 hours. The auto dealer must make as many media sales calls as possible during this 72-hour period to make the sale.


    The length of the buying cycle varies from product to product. The more expensive and complex the product—and the greater the risk or consequences of choosing unwisely—the longer the buying cycle. Conversely, products that are simple, inexpensive, and entail little risk have short buying cycles. A grand piano has a much longer buying cycle than a loaf of bread.

    When the buying cycle is long, the most effective advertising strategy is to reach the consumer early. If a prospective customer plans to buy a house in twelve months, your client should communicate with that person as early as possible in the twelve-month period.

    When the buying cycle is short, you can effectively advertise only hours or minutes before the buying action or purchase. Learning about bargains on eggs or frozen orange juice can immediately alter a consumer’s choice of food market for the weekend shopping.

    For emergencies there is no buying cycle. When a water pipe breaks, an air-conditioner compressor gives up, or an automobile radiator springs a leak, emergency conditions allow no time for deliberation. If you provide emergency service, your advertising must create a preference or trust before the trouble arises so that, at the very least, your client's name is on the customer’s shopping list. Ideally, that trust or preference has blossomed into a consumer franchise for your client's product or service.

    As stated earlier, your advertising strategy should consider the consumer’s buying cycle or decision-making process for your client's products or services. If a consumer is weighing benefits or gathering information that leads to the decision to buy your product or use your service, you should be communicating your benefits or selling that consumer. One of our radio clients—a bank—bought advertising in flights. A flight is a package of ads scheduled on the radio station for a short period of time, perhaps two or three weeks. The bank would then be off the air for four or five weeks between flights. Every day, a number of bank customers encounter a problem with their current bank that creates dissatisfaction. This customer is susceptible to an invitation (an advertising message) to change banks at this time of dissatisfaction. My sales rep who handled the account advised against this advertising strategy. “Anyone who thinks bank customers decide to change banks in flights,” he would say, “also thinks people die in alphabetical order.”

    Your client's advertising strategy should not disregard the way consumers make buying decisions. The how, what, when, where, and why of the buying process are strategic ingredients of an effective advertising campaign. To put the selling odds in your client's favor, your client needs to advertise consistently, assure the proper reach and frequency, communicate information to develop  an understanding of the products or services your client provides, and create a consumer preference or trust for your client's product or service during the buying cycle.



    To be a great radio advertising salesperson, you MUST understand exactly how radio advertising works and how to use it effectively to grow businesses on any size budget. Know your product! The book, David Can Still Beat Goliath, contains the concepts, principles, and strategies for using radio. It was written for your advertising client. With the invasion of national chains and online shopping, local businesses need your help. "David Can Still Beat Goliath" will give you confidence that you know exactly how to help the business owner beat the Goliaths using radio.

    FREE Offer: Receive Chapter 1 of "David Can Still Beat Goliath; Radio Advertising is David's Slingshot" delivered to your e-mail box – Free. Go to:


    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at December 17, 2020 11:15 PM PST