A Hole Lesson in Marketing

The ‘Hole’ Outdoors… a natural lesson for marketers

If you wanted to understand marketing you could do one of a number of things.

Read a book on the subject. Take a course. Ask an expert.

Or go for a walk and let life show you how things work.

Take the walk I went on recently in North Yorkshire, a beautiful part of the UK. It was a circular route which passed through an area known as the Hole of Horcum (which sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie or fantasy series).

I have driven past this area many times yet this was my first venture into this bowl-shaped landscape. And when I took this picture from the top, my mind thought ‘funnel’.

And that’s when the marketing lesson began.

‘Funnel’ made me think of sales funnel. In marketing, we talk of people being at different stages of the funnel, or buying journey. There’s the Top of the Funnel (TOFU), Middle of Funnel (MOFU) and Bottom of Funnel (BOFU).

Picture a funnel.

It’s wide at the top and very narrow at the bottom. In marketing, the top represents people who are strangers, leads or potential prospects for your business. The middle holds people who have a problem they know there is a solution for – and yours is in the mix. And the bottom of the funnel is where you find the people most likely to buy from you.

Marketing strategy is designed to take people from the top of the funnel through to the bottom (to a sale and repeat or renewed sales).

In copywriting, we talk about a related process which revolves around the five stages of awareness: unaware; pain aware; solution aware; product aware; and ‘most aware’.

The stages of awareness can be illustrated by a visit to the Hole of Horcum.

There are people who do not know the Hole of Horcum (they may not even be aware of the attractions of North Yorkshire’s coast and countryside).

There are people who know it is there but simply drive by each time – on their way to a different destination (with no intention of ever stopping to visit).

There are people who might visit just once. They stop. Park. Cross the road to a viewpoint. Admire the view. Maybe take a photo or two. Then head back to the car and drive off.

There are people who park but do not go into the ‘Hole’ – because they are walking a route which takes them away from this attraction.

There are people who park in the pay-and-display car park and do a walk into the ‘Hole’ and complete a circuit to emerge back at the top.

There are people who travel to a completely different starting point (say a nearby village) and walk through the valley and up into the ‘Hole’… who then turn around and head back to their starting point (a different circular walk).

As the ‘Hole’ illustrates, people are different. People are looking for different things. If the ‘Hole’ were a business, it would be looking at how it could attract the right people to its location. (And find a way of making money from it).

The ‘Hole’ doesn’t do this, of course. Because it’s a piece of countryside, not a human with marketing or profitable intentions.

There is money to be made, however.

The car park is pay and display. The charges help go towards keeping the moorlands a nice place to visit. Visitors get the convenience of a (relatively) safe and convenient place to park. The countryside gets a bit of help to retain its alluring beauty.

In the warmer months, tourist season, you’ll usually find an ice cream van or kiosk there. A captive audience. The refreshments business takes advantage of what someone else has to offer. (Have you thought of how you could piggy-back on the success of someone else?).

And then there’s the unseen money.

Nearby pubs are likely to get passing trade from motorists and walkers (especially if they show themselves to be family-friendly, boot-friendly or dog-friendly). Photographers can take pictures of the landscape and sell them – in their shop, studio and online. Even the police get in on the act. They set up mobile speed cameras on a stretch of road near here – to catch motorists accelerating down an inviting sweep of a hill.

The ‘Hole’ also illustrates how other factors can influence business. In the winter it’s less busy. In the summer it’s more busy.

Nature. The countryside. A living, breathing lesson about people and marketing.

Maybe it’s just the way my mind works but this would be a far more interesting way to teach someone about how this stuff works.

The Hole of Horcum provides a physical and visual metaphor for the sales funnel.

The way people connect (or don’t connect) with it illustrates the stages of awareness in the buying process.

The Hole is a catalyst for other business and income-generating opportunities (for those who see them and do something about it).

The Hole reminds us of the seasons. And how the market is different at different times of the year. How are you using that in your business and marketing?

And you could just walk in, around or through the Hole. And use this way to calm the mind and unlock ideas for your own business and marketing.

What if your business was the outdoors?

A walking holiday company. A map company. A GPS company. A guide publishing company. A walking guide or leader company. A photography training company. A council or organisation who’s job it is to promote the area. And more.

What if they took a day out in the outdoors – and gave their business and marketing a fresh look?

No books. No courses. No theory.

Just practical lessons and clear thinking provided by nature.

Worth getting out of the office for?

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