For most seasoned B2B marketers, ‘the funnel’ has been a constant factor in the way marketing gets done. It drives strategy, helps shape personas and ICPs, gives clarity around channels, media tactics and CTAs, and ultimately creates anchor metrics and KPIs that marketing can own. Moving customers through the funnel has become somewhat of a catch phrase in B2B over the last 20 years. In our minds, the funnel has become real: fast-paced and frenetic, with all the hustle and bustle of urban life, it’s a place we call home.
But in recent times, and through the meteoric rise of ABM, we’ve started to hear expressions like ‘flipping the funnel’, and even sombre pronouncements that the funnel just doesn’t work anymore. After all, B2B buyers and decision-makers rarely jump through a set of sequenced hoops and stages just because we would prefer it that way. The buyer journey is at best awkward and messy, and at worst irrational and unpredictable. And that’s because we are too. The human factor in all sales and marketing is what makes for such an interesting life. If marketing was as binary as every CEO would like, we’d all be running Fortune 100 companies, driving Aston Martin’s and living the high life.
The very good news is that for marketers looking to grow and expand their own knowledge and skillset, there is life outside the funnel. In fact, this other-planetary, humanized type of marketing is fast gaining traction in a post-Corona world as B2B companies finally wake up to the power of brand, emotion, purpose and storytelling.
The outside-the-funnel-world is strangely where your best prospects live. Out here, the ability to create customers, rather than simply mine them, is the main goal of life. You’re aiming for your future customers to buy into you rather than simply buy from you. And the strategies at your disposal range from market positioning and strategic storytelling to culture and brand development.
These are what I refer to as the “master levers” in any marketer’s tool kit. Pulling them successfully can dramatically enhance the effects of the more tactical “performance marketing” levers that are pulled and calibrated inside the funnel.
So, if you’re looking to do something different in 2021, start thinking about life outside the funnel. Step out of that concrete jungle and you’ll find yourself in a suburban paradise that you’ll immediately feel at home in. It’s a green and leafy place, away from the noise and the crowds. And you never know: with all that clear, unpolluted air, you might just start seeing the world with fresh eyes.