The Funnel Fallacy

Funnel Fallacy

Once upon our marketing times, we lived in a world that was more linear in terms of creating ads and planning media. In those days, we ‘funneled’ our efforts. For example, first, we may have created and launched a TV campaign, where ads would direct the viewer to a website—where viewers could print a coupon—which would then direct them to the store to buy a product within a certain timeframe. We led the buyer down a funnel.

Today we’ve learned to appreciate that it’s not just messaging that drives emotions and behaviors, now it’s also about experiences.

So the funnel has become a sphere, where we must now imagine, create, work from and continuously evolve a ‘connected world’ of rich and deep engagement; this is a key principal of Storyscaping. The reason we create Story Systems (a system of stories and experiences to drive engagement and participation) is because we’ve recognized that the funnel has become a fallacy and thus, we’ve created a much more robust way of looking at connections with people.

The model we use in Storyscaping is based on the idea of creating better brand-consumer engagement. So what is ‘better’ engagement? It’s engagement that is relevant and useful for the consumer. After all, it’s the consumer who has control over their time, means and level of engagement, not the brand, and certainly not the medium. We should always aspire to encourage participation so that the consumer wants to make the brand part of their life, part of their story, and they want to share it as illustration of better brand-consumer engagement.

We need to get our heads out of the funnel. Given the consumer control and the fact they are influenced by many things outside of the brand’s control, we can’t assume a linear journey like a funnel, where we step one point to another. Connection between many points of engagement is critical. Every point of engagement or connection must end with a comma, not a period. And we must connect them all through inspiration (connection to story through content) and function (application of experiences through technology).

Pushing beyond connection and the type of experience we must look at new ways of measuring the media (and I don’t mean channels, but every form of media/touch point) we use, engagement, response and behavior change.

For too long, we have relied on measuring from what’s in an existing database, on the template of a spreadsheet, or the available fields of analytics software. And we assume anything that doesn’t have a data trail can’t be measured. This myopic approach must change and will change through a more creative application of technology for measurement and optimization. Take for instance a digital poster in a shopping center window. Used creatively, this can be an outstanding way to capture attention and engage a potential buyer. And, with a little bit of technology and systems thinking, not only is it easy to measure impressions, you can measure a whole lot more than just impressions like gender, approximate age, dwell time, resulting purchase, content value, etc.

This proves that it’s not a question of our ability to measure; it’s a question of our approach and our behaviors. We don’t consider new options because they don’t surface in our daily thinking. However, when we remove the shackles and encourage our minds to understand the people more, and then to think in new ways about how to create connections between points of engagement for people, we will typically end up with far more opportunities than ever imagined. These can be fairly simple to incorporate and to make functionally effective in your new world of communications and experiences.

First and foremast, consumers are people, with feelings that drive non-predictable and irrational responses to many influences. Responses and behaviors are non-linear and controlled by the individual.

While the idea of a funnel serves us in some areas, we should no longer develop our marketing to a linear construct. We need to think about connected worlds of stories and experiences that are sensing and adaptive through technology and measurement based optimization. To us at SapientNitro, that is the rich and valuable application of our Storyscaping approach.

By Darren (Daz) McColl (@daz_mc), Chief Brand & Marketing Strategy Officer, Global

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