We have all heard of the sales funnel. A repeatable process within your business that help you qualify, track and ultimately make the most of the leads and potential clients that come to you. What if we extend this funnel thinking to our marketing as well.? Controlling the process by which we gain leads.
What is a Marketing Funnel?
As in the Sales Funnel and (all funnels, really) there is a wide end and narrow end. People and prospects exist at all parts of the funnel, the further down the funnel you go the fewer people fit so the number is reduced. In a sales funnel you have a lot of leads at one end and a few customers at the other. At every stage in the funnel a persons movement through it either progresses, pauses or stops. The actions you take at each step in the funnel result in one of these outcomes. You can see how one action helps people move through the funnel while another stops progress. This provides a repeatable, scaleable and hopefully automatable system that helps you win more projects from your leads.
The marketing funnel is exactly the same except with different start and end points. At one end you have everyone who may possible be interested in working with you and at the other you have people who are ready and willing to become leads. (I find it helpful to thing of the marketing funnels and the sales funnel as one long process where that people move through, rather than two separate processes). The job of your marketing is to help move people along this funnel.
The marketing funnel itself won’t win you any new projects – what it can do is provide a framework for how you think about your marketing and the messaging that goes with it – how do you talk to people who are different stages in the process? What outcome do you want at the different stages? Who do you want to progress through the system and who do you want to qualify out?
The Marketing Funnel Stages
A marketing funnel has these five stages..
- People who have never heard of you.
The widest and ultimately least important group of people in your funnel. This is a big and wide group. Your efforts hear should be focused on getting their attention of a very small subset of it in someway. Social media, search engine optimisation and traditional advertising are particularly useful in this setting, they reach people who have never heard of you and make them aware of your name in someway shape or form. You should approach this group with a very string idea of who you want to move to the next stage in your funnel, you shouldn’t try and reach everyone in the world, just those you want to serve. Persona’s are a great tool for targeting your marketing at this groups.
- People who have heard of you but don’t know why
We’re starting to thin the group out now. From this group we need to educate people to know what you do. Then they can make a decision as to wether or not they are interested in you and your services.
- People who know what you do.
Great. These people know who you are, what you do and who you do it for. They are starting to look like good candidate for projects and outreach. They are in the target market that you serve and likely have the type of problems that you help people solve. The problem you have is that they know what you do and for who, but do they trust you to do something for them?
- People who trust you can do what you say
It is all well and good people knowing what you do but if they don’t trust that you can do as you say they will never work with you. Your work as a consulting company is expensive but potential transformative for your clients. You can make or break their businesses depending on the work you do and the advice you give. Your prospects must trust that you can do what you say that you do. In this phase of your marketing funnel you must must must convince them that you know your stuff – you must demonstrate you expertise and build a case for yourself with them so they cannot resit working with you.
- Leads (People who want to work with you!)
The end goal of your marketing – people who want to work with you and are prepared do to so because they trust you can do they job you say do. Their business will be improved by working with you. Your marketing funnel isn’t complete until you are having a sales conversation with the people in this stage of your funnel, moving them to your sales process. The final part of your funnel needs to be about convincing prospects that they have a problem only you can solve. Your marketing can expose them to problems they didn’t know they had, to problems they’ve experienced but didn’t know could be fixed and to adding value in their business that they didn’t realise was there – just beneath the surface.
Your Involvement in the process
Please don’t misunderstand – the marketing funnel is a process, and as a process, it can be refined and iterated on. Using a combination of a Customer Relationship Management Software, Web Analytics and other marketing tools you can easily track where people are in your funnel. You can take action on your funnel to move people through it, this is not a passive flow but something you can control. You can produce assets and resources that involve people in the process, making it trackable and testable.