Should We Re-Think the Lead Generation Funnel?

23 10 2009

What happens when someone becomes a fan of a facebook fan page? What happens when someone RT retweets something? What happens when you hold a conversation on Linkedin? This individual “vote to participate into a sales process” is seen by their ‘friends’. Did I shock you? It may not lead to a monetary transaction but it triggers an increased awareness of something. Consumers and customers have been empowered for some time to become active participants of their consumption. They are clearly moving outside of the traditional sales funnel starting with thorough research using internet.

A recent McKinsey report (June 2009 Subscription) highlights that only 30% of purchasing decision points are still ‘company driven’. This means that more than 70% of decision points in a buyer’s active evaluation process are now consumer-driven: user consumer reviews, word of mouth and in store interactions. Is it time to re-evaluate how things are done?

Social technologies are expanding these phenomena to micro-influence level never seen before. A few weeks ago, I had to change our office router and jumped on Twitter & FB to ask what people thought… it didn’t take more than 10 minutes to get 10 e-pinions… 2 from people I know, 8 from people I don’t know. It’s getting much easier to get that instant feedback. You bet I bought what was most recommended.

Now what does it mean for our businesses? People are empowered to swap between brands more than ever before. The social media funnel and measurement is simply upside down compared with a traditional sales or purchasing decision process. It’s cheaper, greener, further-sighted to use social media. Brands need to go through the journey of seeing themselves through the lens of their constituents. It’s not an audience, it’s a constituency.

1- A brand may and connect with its core customers to start with and then expand. There is, most of the time, an underlying community of customers or consumers. There are also communities of influencers in that space. Both groups should be recognized and empowered by your brand if you’re serious about building trust.

2- A community will only engage if they feel connected and empowered by that brand. If there is no exchange, there is no social media; it’s only push marketing through new channels. Deliver high quality content and help them support each other. People are likely to want to discuss about much larger things surrounding your brand than just your product. They already know of your product or use them.

3- The more they talk, the more they trust, the more everyone is merrier.

4- Be where conversations happen. If you’re lucky/skilled… but mostly honest and caring, people will progressively feel comfortable discussing the brand’s social footprint or presence. If not, a brand should carry its ‘conversation capital’ where ever those conversations happen.

No one likes to be part of a funnel (ask the Foie Gras ducks what they think about this). Like everyone else, we vote with our $$ when you see value and can trust a product or services. On the other side, it always feels good to buy something from a brand you trust. Be the change you want to see, they say.

Now, is this the right mix? Am I saying that the traditional funnel should disappear? No. How do you think an organization should look at these strategies?

@YannR

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4 responses

30 10 2009
ecairn

Excellent,

This also mean people have to build their funnel bottom up i.e find the one that are “in target” and grow from there and not take everyone and filter down.

Best

30 10 2009
Yann Ropars

Yes, bottom up or start with their core customers. A brand will usually have a core group of customers (on email or direct mail list) to start with. A brand’s community could be visualized as concentric circles: employee, partners (up stream), channel partners, direct customers, indirect customers…and so on. The messaging/engagement strategy to this audience should focus on empowering this community and give them reasons to reconnect with the brand and support each other. The social media funnel should grow from the core. Influencers of this industry are more remote to the core but should be part of the engagement strategy…

15 12 2009
Christopher P Korody

The new language about a consumer “buying cycle” as opposed to a corporate “sales cycle” is really resonating with me. In the language of the dot.bomb days, that is a fundamental paradigm shift. Heady stuff.

Yes, I agree, its definitely not one size fits all.

I am conducting a survey right now and one of things I am looking at is which social media tactics are being applied to each step of the funnel. Please participate: http://bit.ly/6wQhzi

I also think the sales cycle and the product/service type and price will end up having a lot to do with what combinations of tactics will make the most sense.

It will take some deft balancing for sure.

30 07 2010
Harold Jarche » Flipping the technology transfer funnel

[…] The image was linked to a blog post that asks if the prevalence of social media require us to re-think the lead generation funnel. It seems that network effects have flipped some of our older industrial […]

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