Read Time - 3 Minutes
The last thing my 11-year old daughter needs is a megaphone. Pretty much the entire western hemisphere is within earshot if she chooses to be heard. And without the aid of any amplifying device.
So it’s not unusual for me to intervene in an attempt to turn down her volume, as was the case the other evening. For whatever reason—I gave up asking why a long time ago—she was outside, “singing” into the narrow end of a funnel normally reserved for bird feeder fill-ups, directing her boosted voice at no one in particular. Except perhaps anyone within a three-mile radius.
“Have mercy, child!” I managed over the din. “Can you maybe dial it down? Try more James Taylor and less Ozzy Ozbourne.” But, alas, her crazy train could not be derailed.
So I exercised the only remaining option: I went back inside. And thought about funnels, of course. And how they can be used. Or used differently. Which made me think about Devo. (It’s how my mind works, don’t judge!)
Devo aside, the word “funnel” conjures images of the metaphorical prospect/customer sales funnel, where a large audience is led through life stages from the wide end to the narrow end, drawn downward by the force of gravity—in this case savvy and irresistible sales messages that are heavy on features and benefits.
But this kind of tell and sell takes a lot of effort and, almost by design, fails far more frequently than it succeeds: Gather prospects (suspects), jam them into wide end of the funnel and wait (hope) for the sales drip at the other end. It seems inefficient and maybe even sociopathic—prospects are “targets” that we “hunt”, and any resulting leads are “captured.”
In other words, just stack ‘em up in the white van and sort ‘em out…
This seems rather merciless and a little too process-y. So I asked myself some fundamental (funnel-damental?) questions: Can we re-purpose the funnel—like my daughter and like Devo—for a different function? Can we use it in a helpful and nurturing way, instead of applying it as a filter to eliminate prospects? And can we please use imagery that’s not so disturbing?
Well, this led me to think about it in the context of inbound or content marketing, a strategy by which an audience of prospects is enticed by meaningful content. It’s something our company has embraced, and it has resulted in an increased share of audience—and added business. The ultimate goal of inbound marketing is to “delight” your customers with service and support that is indespensible. You want them to turn to you as the subject-matter expert when an opportunity arises. (Inbound marketing is a BIG topic, so rather than delving into it here, I’ll invite you to visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inbound_marketing for more about what it is, and how it differs from the traditional sales funnel-oriented campaign.)
So the new marketing funnel is designed to invite people to opt in, not force them to opt out. Addition, not attrition. Sounds a whole lot more convivial than the customary marketing assault. And it looks a whole lot more pleasant too…
Let’s put the “fun” back in funnel!
So with that said, I think I’ll go outside, find the bird seed funnel, and teach my daughter the song “Whip It.”
(Special thanks—or share of the blame—to one of our esteemed
designers, Dale Wasson, for these whiteboard renderings.)
Hero Image Credit: MetroLyrics
Dave Miller is VP of Sales & Marketing at Bruce Fox, Inc. and a professional writer by virtue of the fact his company is paying him to write this blog. He has been with Bruce Fox since 1990, the last time the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series. The funky red hats worn by members of Devo were called “Energy Domes.” The goal of his blog is to “edu-tain” (educate + entertain) promotional products distributors, with a focus on custom work. Dave also finds it very awkward to write about himself in the third person.