I hate funnels. A Google search for Marketing Funnels brings up enough images to choke an elephant. Some funnels have three steps, others have seven. Some funnels are only for Facebook, others look like funnels with another funnel coming out of the bottom, and even a funnel that’s only for music teachers in Ireland. They’re remarkably simplistic and woefully difficult.

Marketing Musings is now a neat TV show on YouTube!

Not a funnel kinda person? How about a customer journey? Which is… just a funnel.

What the hell happened here?

Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross

The thing we call a Marketing Funnel is really just a shorthand to remind us that no customer goes from “I don’t know who you are” to “here, take my money!”

Customers go through the process of being…

  1. Unaware of what you sell…
  2. to being aware of what you sell…
  3. to being interested in what you sell…
  4. to buying what you sell…
  5. returning
  6. and when things are really humming, telling others all about you.

The flaw is in assuming that what goes in, somehow comes out.

I think it’s less of a funnel and more of a funnel cloud. This thing is whipping around like mad and at each stage, people are being thrown from the funnel.

Marketers like to pretend they can solve the whole thing. But they can’t.

Businesses think they can do it all. But they can’t.

It’s a funnel cloud. There’s a constant churn happening, and some of it is out of everyone’s control.

Are people not doing business with you because they don’t know about you? You’re not even in the funnel at that point. You need to do some heavy lifting.

Are people not doing business with you because they DO know about you? Now is the time for some soul searching. Is something broken in your product? Is something not working in the internal sales process?

Are customers coming back for round 2? If not… why not?

Are customers becoming your disciples and telling more customers about you? If not… why not?

The job of your advertising is to get them in the funnel. It’s wide at the top, so you need to advertise wide. This is no time for targeting. If they have money in their wallets and air in their lungs, they need to know about you.

Once advertising snags them, your marketing – -remember there’s a difference – – your marketing should be pulling them toward a purchase. The closer you get to the point… the more targeted you can get.

E. St. Elmo Lewis’s AIDA funnel

Keep in mind… some of the things that keep people from purchasing can be internal or external. Your salesperson was a jerk, it rained really hard, 60 Minutes just did an expose slamming your industry… or it just wasn’t the right time, right price, right place.

Things happen.

The only purpose of a funnel is to help you remember that marketing is never one thing.

The funnel first made popular by E. St. Elmo Lewis in the late 1800s is fine.

You want to add more steps… that’s fine, too.

It’s less of a precise tool and more of a windsock. It’s a way to “sort of” tell you where things “kind of” are.

Don’t let the funnel hucksters tell you any differently.

Latest posts by Johnny Molson (see all)