Monday, May 17, 2010

Forget the Funnel

When was the last time we thought of ourselves as being in the funnel?

Joseph Jaffe's "Flip the Funnel" and Seth Godin's "Flipping the Funnel" both make sound arguments for working from the customer outwards - reversing the traditional sales funnel by focusing on customers as fans first. No argument there. 

But I for one have never thought about being in a funnel or at some stage of the buying process.  I am just where I am, doing what I'm doing without concern for gates or acronyms;  I don't think in terms of....
  • AIDA (awareness, interest, decision and action)
  • BANT (budget, authority, need and timing). 
I think in terms of wants or needs and may in fact have several alternatives in mind.  So rather than a linear process as seen from the sell-side it is really a complex set of moving parts and trade-offs on the buy-side.  To help me choose there are two pre-requisites:
  1. Get in the Consideration Set - this is the ultimate gating factor.  If a product isn't in this select group, then there will be no decision or sale.
  2. Engagement - this is where the rubber hits the road.  If a brand, company, or product doesn't get to an emotional connection there will also be no decision or sale.
Many times it happens to be either personal recommendations (as in the "flip" scenarios) or content that does the trick.   As marketers, if we focus on engagement and consideration then we just might be surprised the amount of business we do with loyal customers and their connections.

In short, I'm beginning to believe that the proverbial funnel exists solely in the minds of sale and marketing as a means of measuring progress against their objectives not mine.   

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