Death of a Sales Funnel.
For those who have attended some of my presentations, you know I often speak about how much I dislike the sales funnel approach to sales and marketing. In fact, I think it’s a strategy that has outlived its usefulness in today’s mobile-centric world. And by mobile, I mean the behaviors we exhibit, not the actual device.
At one point, when we were all sitting in front of TVs with a handful of stations, we had limited access to information. And anything we really wanted to know took a significant amount of effort to find. We were spoon-fed advertising. Marketed to via the mail and phone. It was easy to structure a process of communication and responses based on time, medium and desire.
But the world is very different now. It changed on June 29th, 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. Since then, we have become information gluttons. We can access what we want when we want at a moment’s notice. The simplest curiosity in any conversation can be immediately satisfied. My point is this: We don’t access information like our parents. We don’t consume messaging like we use to. And we don’t have the same linear mindset. All the things the funnel approach was designed to affect.
Today, we are mobile. 24/7/365. The consumer path to purchase has more twists and turns than you can image. It’s a personalized journey with varying degrees of relevancy. Interests ebb and flow like the tides. This drives most marketers nuts. There are so many opportunities and so many communication channels, it’s no wonder marketers get analysis paralysis.
Let’s lay out a simple solution. Be reassured that behavior is predicable. So, you don’t have to do everything all at once. Doing a few things right is far better. I’ll assume you’ve done enough research to understand who your best customers are. If you look at each of the communication channels they participate in, you’ll be able to see which are the most fruitful for conversion. More importantly, you can learn the types of conversations your customers are having and the information they are consuming.
Now in the development of your messaging, you’ll need to tailor messages based on the behaviors your customers exhibit in a particular channel. (On a side note, this is completely different from how most marketers over the age of 40 were raised. Put simply, the tactic employed was to fold your ad in half, put a stamp on it and call it a direct mail piece.)
The plan is to create campaigns that are relevant to the place and time of your customer’s interest. Allow her to jump in and out of the conversations at will. Allow her to discover other like-minded people who love your product. When she is ready, she’ll buy or try your product, but only if you understand these three things: her desire to take action, her ease in making a decision and her motivation.
In the end, look at the scope of work you’ve produced. See how your customers are interacting with it. I bet you’ll notice that it doesn’t look anything like a funnel.