How to align your marketing to manage the customer journey

Think of marketing execution as a business investment that showcases your brand story through creative execution to help connect your brand with customers and manage them along the customer journey.  To manage the customer journey, use your marketing execution to attract, inform, close, service, and delight your customers. Be where customers are most willing to engage, listen, think, feel, and act in ways that pay back your brand. 

The customer journey map

Manage your customers through their purchase journey

While we talk a lot about customer-based social media options, we are seeing bigger opportunities for brands, whether you are trying to reach users, buyers, decision-makers or influencers.  It allows us to find prospects and move them through their journey. We look at attract, inform, close, service and delight. 

To illustrate, click to zoom in on how marketing execution drives the customer journey.


To drive awareness, you need your marketing communications to stand out and be seen in a crowd using messaging that balances being creatively different and strategically smart. When your messages are smart but not different, they get lost in the clutter. On the other hand, when your messages are different but not smart, they will entertain customers, but do nothing for your brand. Your communications must be smart enough to trigger the desired customer response to match your brand strategy.

To move customers to the consideration stage, use influencers to teach those who seek to learn more. Use public relations to make the brand part of the industry news, whether through traditional, social, or blogger channels. Engage online user reviews or industry-specific review sites.


For more complex or higher risk purchase decisions, many customers will rely on search for almost everything, even if to confirm what makes sense. Marketers can use search sites, such as Google, expert review sites, and online content or long copy print media. 

Over the last decade, I am see a shift where customers prefer to take the time to do their own research rather than a face-to-face call from a sales rep. 

The brand website comes into play and should include the right information to close off gaps or doubts, then move customers towards the purchase decision.  


Account-based marketing (ABM) can be used to move customers along their purchase journey to help trigger an initial purchase with displays, trial programs, or sales materials to prompt customers. Re-marketing is a great tool to push customers who might feel stuck at the consideration stage to reconsider and buy. 


After the purchase, use the account-based marketing to turn usage into an early purchase into a ritual among your most loyal users. Cultivate a collection of brand fans, using VIP programs and experiential events with exclusive deals — layer in emotional marketing communications to tighten the bond. 


Once you have a strong base, you can mobilize your brand lovers by intentionally creating shareable experiences, which will trigger brand lovers to share your brand communications with their network through social media. With the new social media tools, the smartest brands are getting their most engaged customers to drive awareness by sharing your message – and even enthusiastic user-generated content. 

B2B customer journeys are more complex

For B2B brands, always keep in mind the four-headed monster we talked about in the customer session, with the user, decision maker, buyer, and influencers. As you shift to engaging individuals, recognize the role each plays, and then match up your marketing communication to their specific needs. 

We believe that marketers learn best when they see our marketing concepts applied to brands that look like their own. We have come up with specific examples – consumer, B2B and healthcare – to showcase our marketing tools. Click on the icon below to choose your interest area.

Marketing Communications

Tell your brand story in an ownable, breakthrough, and motivating way across media options

Create a ‘Who are we’ story

Use our brand story structure to set up a ‘who are we’ summary.  Start with the brand idea to create an inspiring promise statement that sums up what you deliver. Match your brand purpose with insights to show why your brand matters. Use your brand’s core belief to connect with customers and demonstrate what you do to support your belief. Outline your brand’s point of difference, with support claims to back it up. The ‘who are we’ can show up on your website, LinkedIn page, and sales material. 

Home page

Think of your home page like the front door of your business. Start with a concise overview of what you do and who you are. Be welcoming, easy to navigate, and with a clear headline. Set up your website through the eyes of your customers. Showcase your products or services to help customers explore on their own. Use a blog to educate your customers. If you plan to sell, make it easy to convert visitors into leads or customers.

To illustrate, click to zoom in on how the website drives the customer journey.

On-page optimization (easy to read)

You need to optimize your web pages to make it easy for Google to crawl and index. Ensure that your content, layout, and code are all up-to-date so that Google can understand what your website is about and how it fits with answering queries from their users. 

Many factors impact optimization including word count, title tags, H1 titles, meta descriptions, security of your site, site speed for desktop and mobile.  

Domain Authority (DA): score from 1-100 that predicts how well a website will rank on Google search results. Created by Moz. 

Search engine result pages (SERPs): ranking factors that determine order to rank web pages in their SERP.

Off-page optimization (easy to find)

Optimizing your brand content to rank higher in search engines. Use high quality backlinks, social media shares, social bookmarking, guest blogging and on-topic blogging. Getting backlinks sends signals to the Google algorithms that your content is worthy. Social media shares will also help drive more backlinks. 

To illustrate, click to zoom in on how marketing execution drives the customer journey.

Using opinion blogs / white papers

White papers and blogs work best when you take a stance on topics that are important to your customer. They enable you to project your belief as a way to connect with them. White papers inform or educate your customer, with your brand embedded as one of the solutions. They give your team members a voice and set them up as experts. You can pair with an advisory panel to bring expert voices in to support your brand messages. Share your white papers via social media, email, trade shows, or drop them off on an in-person sales call.

Explainer Videos

A well-executed explainer video should provide solutions and answers to most questions that might arise in the minds of potential customers before they even ask them. Explainer videos should generally be 30-90 seconds in length, which translates into a written script of around 200 words or less in most cases. It not only creates awareness for the brand but also builds trust by providing a level of transparency and sincerity that is difficult to replicate through other mediums.The best types for B2B are the whiteboard animation or motion graphics that fit the tone of what you are selling. 

Trade shows

Trade shows engage customers when they are most open to learning about new options. Bring your key influencers to the conference stage to demonstrate their endorsement. Using outspoken industry leaders gives you the benefit of association. Have them talk about industry trends to engage the audience, setting up your brand as a potential solution. 

Use your trade show booth to directly engage with customers. Trade shows are an excellent chance for companies to acquire new leads, set up meetings with potential customers, and figure out how they can better target the right audience.

Paid media

Add paid media to capture your customers where they are most willing to engage. Use a headline that captures their attention, integrate your brand into the creative to ensure strong brand link, focus on one main message and find creative ways to stick in the customer’s mind.

To illustrate, click to zoom in on how marketing execution drives the customer journey.

Media Planning

Summary of our six media planning questions

1. What is the brand’s budget size?

Start with the size of your business and the related gross margins available to spend. Look at the past media ROI and creative communications results as a projection for success. Identify the brand or business impact from previous campaigns, and match up to potential strategy you are looking at this time.

2. What is your brand’s core strength?

Explore the differences of whether your brand is a story-led, product-led, experience-led or price-led impacts and how it impacts your main message. Generally, story-led and product-led need significant budgets, to reach a large audience. Experience-led brands are a slower build and rely on word of mouth. Price-led brands needs efficient media choices to quickly trigger the transaction.

3. How tightly connected is your brand with your customers?

Where does your brand sit on the brand love curve? Where you sit impacts the communication focus getting customers to see, think, buy, feel or influence. You should filter based on the degree of competitive threats you face in the market. The higher the competitive battle, the higher the marketing spend.

4. Where can you best impact the customer journey?

Understand how your customer moves from awareness, consideration, search, buy, satisfy, repeat, loyal and to becoming a brand fan. Match up to the communication focus of the strategy to the stage where you can have the greatest impact, related to your overall brand strategy in the brand plan.

5. Where are customers most open to engage, think, listen, feel, and act?

Who is your target customer target, including users, buyers, decision-makers, or influencers? What part of the their life are they most willing to watch, listen, learn, engage, decide and act? How can you align with their day-in-the-life or moments during the week or year. For significant purchases, you can align to special life-changing moments. Are there adjacent or related products/services linked to your brand?

6. What media choices will best deliver the creative execution?

Your brand idea should drive the creative idea, which then drives your priority for gaining attention, brand link, communication or stickiness. Stay open on media during the creative development process to ensure your creative can fit with the best media choices.What is the size of your brand’s communications budget? What is the size of your brand’s communications budget?

To illustrate, click to zoom in on how marketing execution drives the customer journey.

Social media

Use social media to project your brand voice and move customers along their customer journey

Social media provides an opportunity to reach all levels of customers, including users, buyers, decision-makers and influencers. Get your employees involved using content your employees will be proud to share. Tell their stories and highlighting their accomplishments.

Focus your social media on 5-6 topics using a balance of long-copy articles, videos, photos, or memes. Include PDF shares of white papers, links back to your website, and events you are promoting.

Pick a lead social media vehicle

LinkedIn works best for long-copy content, focused on important issues to reach your customers. Use your company page to generate followers and engage your key executives to send out content. 

  • Use Twitter to project quick hot-take opinions or to provide quick customer service response through DMs. Be careful as it is the wild west.
  • YouTube is a great platform for easy-to-follow explainer videos.
  • Facebook provides a broad reach, complimented with paid media.
  • Use a social media scheduler (Hootsuite, Edgar, Buffer etc) to create a balanced and full schedule. 

To illustrate, click to zoom in on how marketing execution drives the customer journey.

Account based marketing

Account based marketing (ABM) starts with the belief that every individual customer or prospect has different needs, behaviors, and desires. You gather customer data, transform it into insights about the customer, and tailor their messages to meet these individual needs by creating personalized messages and offers for each customer or prospect. Use ABM to line up with the customer journey.

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems (Salesforce or Hubspot) are designed to find, attract, and nurture profitable customers by identifying key decision makers or influencers at targeted accounts, prioritize accounts based on potential revenue opportunities, and develop personalized strategies for each account to generate leads. A CRM system can give you a clear overview of everything in one place — a simple, customizable dashboard that can tell you a customer’s previous history with you, the status of their orders, any outstanding customer service issues, and more.

Integrated marketing approach

Ensure all the creative elements work together and drive a consistent message with a consistent look.

To illustrate, click to zoom in on how marketing execution drives the customer journey.

Media Planning

As the brand leader, you need to start with the right questions to help you frame your media plan. First, consider factors such as your brand’s budget size, your brand’s core strength and how tightly connected your brand is with consumers. Then, identify which point on the consumer journey you wish to impact, where your consumers are most willing to engage your message and what media choices best fit with your creative execution. Learn how media can move your customers along the customer journey.

media planning questions
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Graham Robertson

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