By Ben Foster, MP for Digital
How many times do you see sensationalist articles on LinkedIn claiming the marketing funnel is dead, and yet when you read the alternative that they have either sourced or created, it is simply a derivation of a traditional funnel? On an almost weekly basis, I see an article announcing a revolutionary marketing approach, only for it to be the funnel turned on its side with slightly different naming conventions. Even when the McKinsey cycle became all the rage, I’d argue that it was simply viewing the funnel spiralling down from above. Of course, people don’t move from one mindset to the next in a linear and regimented fashion, but the fundamental principle of different consumer mindsets and need states remains as relevant as ever.
So how do we build on these core principles to create marketing strategies that are relevant to customer behaviour in 2023? What’s different to 10-20 years ago? Firstly, without wanting to state the obvious, it’s not a one size fits all solution. Depending on so many factors, including the product, brand, target audience and budget, any strategic approach must be tailored using craft planning which is why we have the FlightPath™ planning process at TKF.
For example, a highly considered purchase like buying a house involves not only practical elements but significant emotional triggers – do people really ever have an emotional connection with their choice of loo roll? That’s why at TKF, we would use an emotive planning framework for selling housing and more of a product-centric engagement framework for selling loo roll. When I say engagement framework, I don’t mean the interaction between customers and loo roll brands. No one has the time or the desire to do so unless the incentive is so significant. I am referring more to signals that suggest where someone is, from awareness to loyal customers and anywhere in between.
It is all well and good establishing a marketing principle of needing to target consumers at different levels of awareness and commitment to purchase is still paramount. But in the current economic climate getting a marketing plan signed off by a CFO with a KPI shifting unprompted awareness by a couple of percentage points is a tough ask. This is why using business metrics rather than vanity media ones is so important, and contrary to some industry rhetoric, this needs to stifle creativity or innovation. At TKF, we build bottom-up KPI frameworks that create performance indicators that enable ongoing optimisation throughout the funnel with robust methodology on maximising impact on the bottom line. However, even the most scientific approach to linear measurement is still short-termist. It will undervalue key activity, which is why we have seen the resurgence of MMMs which are empowering marketers to make the right decisions in turbulent times.
It’s an increasingly volatile and complicated market. As a marketeer, you are trying to keep both one eye on the short term and one on the long term, all whilst balancing your focus between robust measurement and innovation. This is why we behave as a strategic business partner, not a media agency, bringing craft planning and data science together to make clients’ lives as simple as possible.