The Mission of the Marketing Funnel
The mission of the B2B/B2C marketing funnel is to deliver marketing qualified leads to the sales pipeline.
Not all organizations favor the same marketing focus. While most organizations pursue sales or revenue, numerous startups chase growth. They work to sign-up as many end users as possible, even if these users do not pay. Do not confuse focus with mission. Eventually owners and investors will want to see a return on investment. Even if your goal is to sell your business or technology, the new owner will need to see a path to profit. No sales, no revenue. No revenue, no profit. No profit, no business. No company can maintain an infinite burn rate.
Each organization has different marketing objectives. Some objectives rank above others. Your business may desire press coverage and presence in publications. Why? To grow brand awareness and industry authority? Why? To drive leads. Why? To identify prospects. Why? To make sales. Ask why often enough and you eventually arrive at the mission of the marketing funnel.
Does the Funnel Work for All Organizations?
The marketing funnel works best as a model for B2B and B2C organizations. Both, of which, cultivate and sell to customers. Media companies build an audience, either paying or not-paying subscribers, to whom they show ads. Typically, most revenue comes from advertising. Not-for-profit or NGO organizations generally raise funds from donors to fund their efforts. Donors are not customers. Nonprofits must communicate to contributors how funds are used and the results of their efforts as a substitute for receiving a product or service. While many aspects of the funnel can be used for marketing planning, nonprofits and media companies operate under different models.
Does the Funnel Capture All Marketing Activities?
While the funnel portrays core marketing functions, it cannot be all inclusive.
A manufacturer of consumer goods that sells through retailers, like Amazon.com or Office Depot, engages in partner marketing. This is an example of marketing that does not fit neatly into the marketing funnel.
A comprehensive marketing program works with the sales team to prepare presentations, proposals and pricing. It works with the development team do design customer centric products. It may collaborate with the C-suite on investor relations. These, and many other activities, exist outside the funnel. The funnel keeps the focus on the core purpose of marketing, delivering leads to sales. It does not excuse marketing from other duties.
Organizations must recognize the limitations of the funnel and map out functions and activities outside the model.
The Marketing Generation Funnel
The marketing funnel began as a formula for writing advertising copy.
The mission of an advertisement is to attract a reader, so that he will look at the advertisement and start to read it; then to interest him, so that he will continue to read it; then to convince him, so that when he has read it he will believe it. If an advertisement contains these three qualities of success, it is a successful advertisement. — E. St. Elmo Lewis
In 1904 Frank Hutchinson Dukesmith named the four steps: attention, interest, desire and conviction. The AIDA acronym FIRST APPEARED was in 1921.
An easy way to remember this formula is to call in the “law of association,” which is the old reliable among memory aids. It is to be noted that, reading downward, the first letters of these words spell the opera “Aida.” When you start a letter, then, say “Aida” to yourself and you won’t go far wrong, at least as far as the form of your letter is concerned. — C.P. Russell
- Awareness of the product
- Interest in the product
- Desire for the product
- Action to acquire the product
Eventually use of AIDA became more widely associate with Promotion as one of the 4Ps in the Marketing mix.
- Distribution (Place)
You will encounter numerous varieties of the marketing funnel. Many versions expand the model to include sales and customer service or concepts like engagement, loyalty and advocacy to encompass the entire customer relationship chain.
The Marketing Generation Model has only three layers that emphasize marketing as a distinct business function.
- Audience Generation
- Demand Generation
- Lead Generation
This model’s objective is to plan marketing programs. When you answer the question, what is our organization doing or should be doing, for every caption throughout the model, then carefully map out where the model differs from your company’s reality, and address these differences, the result will be a comprehensive marketing plan or framework.
Most marketing funnel models begin, at the top, with awareness. The Marketing Generation model starts with Audience Generation. Audience Generation acknowledges that not everyone to whom an organization communicates will become leads, prospects or customers. In fact, this is not desirable. As an example, communicating with the media and journalists may be important, even though they will not buy your product.
In addition to the press, Audience Generation targets industries, professions and communities that use your organization’s product. Its objectives are to expand brand awareness, cultivate leadership and reputation, and grow an audience. Using the tools of inbound marketing and rain making, Audience Generation educates, informs, and even entertains. This is an opportunity to address topics above or outside your product scope and to help the members of your audience succeed in their overall work.
Addressing the problems your organization’s product solves happens in the Demand Generation layer. How your product solves problems occurs in the Lead Generation layer.
Sales persons have long understood rain making mantras like teaching sells. With the rise of digital marketing, audience growth has become central to generating word of mouth and earning off-site search engine optimization authority signals like links from other websites.
Demand Generation narrows the communications focus on your organizations sales target personas. Beyond buyers and decision makers, it includes influencers and end users. Address the problems your product solves, but above and beyond what your product does. This is the place to discuss best practices, different methodologies or emerging opportunities. Demand Generation activities develop and cultivate the market in which your product resides.
From a sales perspective, provide content suitable for those conducting early stage research. Help your target personas understand an issue they face, become knowledgeable and comprehend different solutions. During this time of exploration, readers are most open minded and brand agnostic. They’re focused on solving a problem or achieving an objective, not on finding a specific product or service. Act as an expert. Be a resource. Shares broad knowledge. Corral as many people who fit your target personas as possible by helping them grow their knowledge and conduct their research.
Lead Generation shows how a product solves specific problems or creates opportunities. This is the place to address your company’s product. Speak to prospects and show them solutions.
Lead Generation is not just sales content; it’s anything prospects might read, watch, or listen to that will help them understand the use of and the capabilities of your product. Make as much information available as possible in as many formats as you can: text, images, slide decks, videos, and so on. Make it easy for prospects to qualify your business and add your product to their short lists before a sales conversation takes place.
The Accenture’s 2014 State of B2B Procurement Study found that 94% of B2B vendor selections begin with online research.
- 77% use Google search
- 84% check business websites
Online research leads to buyer independence. Decision makers will narrow down their choices before they speak with a salesperson.
Lead Generation delivers prospects to your Sales Pipeline.