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Marketing analysts have continually studied the behavior of prospects and customers in an attempt to determine the best way to get from awareness to adoption – that is, from first hearing about your product to purchase. One widely established model is the AIETA model.

According to this model, prospects move along the following continuum:

Awareness: The prospect knows little or nothing about a product other than its existence and possibly some of its benefits.

Interest: The prospect becomes interested and seeks more information about the product.

Evaluation: The prospect envisions him- or herself using the product.

Trial: The prospect tries the product on a limited basis in an effort to learn if it will “work” for them.

Adoption: The prospect begins using the product on a regular basis – hopefully this use leads to preference, satisfaction, and repeat purchases.

The steps in the adoption model can progress rapidly or slowly depending upon the product. For example, you might see a new brand of cereal in the store and immediately buy a small box – quickly going from Step 1 to Step 4. When you are dealing with engineered or more technical products, the process is usually longer and can involve weeks, months, or even years of research and investigation.

Using the Adoption Model to Plan Your Sales and Marketing Efforts

While personal selling plays a large role in trial and adoption, mass marketing is more cost-effective when creating product awareness and interest. The Adoption Model provides clear direction for allocating resources between mass marketing and personal selling. If your prospect is in the early steps of the AIETA continuum, mass marketing communications is most effective. If your prospect is closer to “adoption”, then personal selling efforts work best.

Putting Your Plan in Place

Do you know where your prospects fall along the AIETA continuum? Unless your product is new to the market, you will likely find prospects all along the continuum. For this reason, you probably need both sales and marketing. Consider where your needs are greatest. Do prospects know about your product? Do they know its benefits? Is something stopping them from trying it? Is it easy to try your product? Once customers try it, do you close a large number of sales? The answers to these questions will help you determine how to balance your marketing and sales budgets in a way that will move more prospects through the AIETA continuum on their way to becoming satisfied customers.

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