About The Author
Jim Cannata

With over 30 years of marketing and print experience, Jim joined Phase 3 in February 2002 and has been instrumental in guiding the growth of the company. Jim has served in a variety of leadership roles including Sales, Strategy, Management and, most recently, led the Agency Services division with full P&L responsibilities and a team of 50+ creative professionals. In his current role, Jim oversees strategic growth initiatives, guides proposal teams and develops marketing strategies.

The Only 4 Problems Marketing Can Solve



Our clients often ask, “What can Phase 3, a marketing and communications company, do for me?” Well, the answer is in the question. As your marketing partner, we will develop marketing strategies that will help your company communicate its message.


Your company or brand has many things you want to communicate to the world. For example, your product is faster, lasts longer, makes your customer more efficient, is more in line with their lifestyle, makes them healthier, or will save them money. Sometimes the message is more tactical, such as you're opening a new location or promoting a seasonal sale.


We help you communicate more effectively by creating the right message, targeting the right audience, and choosing the right channel. Our job is to solve a business challenge through clear, impactful, targeted, direct communication.


As marketers, we can impact only four challenges you face. That's right. Only four. They are Awareness. Attraction. Perception. Advocacy. Everything a marketing firm can offer you becomes a solution for one of these four challenges.


1. Awareness


The first challenge that marketing can solve is awareness. Unless you are Google or Starbucks, there will always be consumers who are not aware of your product or service, and some of these consumers are potential customers. Before you can ask for their purchase, you need to make them aware that you exist. Awareness can also be challenging when consumers are only partially aware of your offerings; "I knew you did taxes, but I had no idea you did lawn mower repair too!" Without awareness, there are no sales.


You can build awareness by communicating essential characteristics of your brand, mission, value proposition, and products using various marketing techniques such as search marketing, content marketing, POP displays, and more. Awareness marketing strategies focus on educating consumers. The goal is to find those consumers looking for a solution to a problem that you can solve and show them how you will solve it for them. Awareness is the first step in the buyer's journey.


A brand launch is an excellent example of implementing a marketing strategy to build awareness. For example, Bragg Canna engaged Phase 3 to launch a top-shelf cannabis brand in the conservative southern states of Alabama and Mississippi. Inspired by cannabis's healing properties for those facing chronic and terminal illnesses, Bragg Canna wanted anyone who can benefit from their products to know about their products and feel comfortable engaging with the brand. Through extensive market research, we uncovered two key insights. First, the people who need cannabis the most are often the most afraid to try it, and second, cannabis brands aren't talking to those people. The brand strategy, "Make Yourself Comfortable," was born. From there, Phase 3 developed a marketing strategy that addressed the target audience's specific concerns, questions, and problems and implemented it through their preferred marketing and communications channels.


2. Attraction 


However, awareness doesn't equal a sale. Awareness doesn't mean that a consumer LIKES your brand. You've got to show a consumer why your product is THE BEST solution to their problem. Attraction is about finding qualified potential buyers; but as marketers we can only "attract" potential buyers, we cannot close deals - selling is the responsibility of the company’s sales employees.


Attraction marketing can fuel your potential customer pipeline by communicating your unique value. This kind of marketing is more targeted than awareness marketing. It focuses on the benefits your products can offer customers and the important features that set your brand apart from the competition. The goal of attraction marketing is to make the potential customer feel like your brand may be something they want to have in their life.


3. Perception 


Perception is the third business challenge solved by marketing. Perception is how consumers think, feel, and speak to others about your brand. An accurate and positive perception is critical to driving sales and business growth. But unfortunately, perception may not be based on reality or experience but instead built through a collection of misleading impressions and assumptions from people or content.


Perception challenges include things like "I thought this product was only for old people" or "Plastic clogs are only for hippies and line cooks." False or misleading perceptions can stop potential customers from purchasing your product because they feel your brand does not fit into their lives. Changing perception is challenging, but with a consistent marketing effort, you can change hearts and minds. That is, as long as the existing perception is not reality.


If necessary, an expert marketing partner can help you identify the reasons behind the negative perceptions and address them. This may involve improving product quality, customer service, or messaging. Your partner can also help you find ways to share the positive aspects of your brand with your audience and explain the measures you are taking to address negative perceptions.


Atlanta's iconic Hotel Clermont, closed in 2009 due to health code violations, was recently renovated, revitalized, and completely reimagined as a 94-room boutique hotel. The Phase 3 team was tasked with introducing the property's new food and beverage concepts—Tiny Lou's, a full-service French-American brasserie, and Café Clermont, a sultry lobby bar and a fun-filled rooftop lounge. The first step in this process was to change the public's perception of the property, considering its somewhat salacious and infamous past. The team developed an impactful messaging strategy highlighting the importance of this Atlanta landmark's revitalization, resetting consumer perception, and hinting at new experiences for the location. Next, we generated excitement for the new restaurants through a series of media exclusives and grand opening events. The PR team offered targeted local and national media outlets an intimate first look which resulted in exclusive national opening coverage in Garden & Gun and on Playboy.com, as well as in local outlets like The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Eater, and Creative Loafing. Today, the community views the hotel in a whole new light - no longer seedy and undesirable, but instead now trendy and cool.


4. Advocacy 


Finally, we have advocacy, both internal and external. Advocates are customers, employees, and other stakeholders who proactively share positive experiences about your company with people they know. Brand advocates start as loyal customers who have a strong attachment to your brand. Over time, they become more and more willing to promote your business to others. This is why keeping customers engaged after their first purchase is so important to business success.


Engaged employees are also impactful advocates for a brand. They have first-hand experience with your company's products or services, and if they are bought into your mission and values, they often feel compelled to share them with others. When your company plans an external marketing strategy to support a new business strategy, you should also prepare a complementary internal communications strategy to achieve employee alignment, clarity, and engagement.


Advocates are a crucial source for word-of-mouth marketing and referral sales, both historically very lucrative tactics. They can help to increase brand awareness, brand loyalty, and ultimately, sales. Companies that understand this can often use brand advocacy programs to encourage customers or employees to become brand advocates by providing rewards or other incentives.


The World Has Changed 


Since this article was first written in 2019, the world has changed completely. We've survived a global pandemic, a hiring crisis, and a roller-coaster economy. Clubhouse came and went, TikTok use grew in astronomical proportions, podcasts have become an important marketing channel, and print news sources have disappeared. While the four basic problems marketers solve have not changed, the details about how, why, when and with whom we solve them have evolved.


The first significant change is the marketing channels we use. While there are still viable use cases for direct mail, print advertising and catalogs, the majority of our media channels are digital. And those channel choices are growing by the day. Websites and email are now considered “traditional” channels. We need to use them, but the real ROI comes from other hot digital channels like live streaming, SMS text, and podcasts. Also, video has become the go-to digital tactic for marketing.


Another change that has affected our work is how we segment our target audience. The Internet has made it possible to reach more and more specific groups of customers. These micro-audiences can be segmented not only by the usual demographics, buyer behavior, location, etc. but also by what stage of the buying process they are in and more. Finding and meeting these consumers where they are requires more personalized buyer-centric content than ever.


Since Gen Y and Z are digital natives prone to researching products and services they need, marketers are changing their tactics to “pulling” instead of “pushing.” Marketing content needs to be discoverable. We are no longer pushing content out to target audiences. Instead, we are publishing content where they will find it and pull them to it.


Consumers are much savvier about advertising and marketing. They understand the difference between a paid ad on Instagram and an authentic post from a brand. Even influencers are being questioned now because of scandals like the Tarte Dubai tour and the Fyre Festival. Consumers rely more heavily on word of mouth and reviews from their networks since PR and ads are now less trusted. Credibility is vital in the minds of consumers.


As a business owner or leader, you've got 99 problems and little time or answers. However, a good marketing partner can take the four business challenges discussed in this blog off your plate with strategic marketing and communication campaigns. Whether you're looking to build or revise your brand, create a targeted marketing campaign with a specific call to action, or develop a long-term internal communications strategy to boost employee engagement, Phase 3's experienced team of strategists can help you raise awareness, attraction, perception, and advocacy for your brand.  Contact us today to learn more and to get started.