Wait, what?? Are you speaking in code?

Well sort of…to the extent the funnel itself is code.

Let me first come clean. I love a great debate and can challenge half the stuff I read out there. But every once in awhile something succinct and powerful disables my defenses like a form of verbal kryptonite. An image, a line, a unique way of making a point just hammers me into submission, only in a good way, like slipping into a warm bath.

That recently happened to me while I was out there trolling content platforms. So I’m stealing, repurposing and sharing. And it’s about the marketing funnel.

Why this has hit home so hard is because I think every second post I write broaches the subject of satisfying the consumer, seeing the quality of your product as the top driver of marketing ROI or not selling yourself short by launching an MVP. These are lost opportunities, if not ways of thinking that can take down a company. And now I have a killer image and a great (stolen) line at the end to shape your perspective.

If you have any even slight association with marketing you will understand the concept of the marketing funnel. You reach out to consumers to gain awareness and then pull a subset of them through the entire buying process hopefully all the way to a purchase (or in digital terms, acquisition or installation).

What I dislike about traditional funnels is that process seems to trail off after that. You get to this tip of the funnel with some squished-in headers like LOYALTY and if you’re lucky ADVOCACY….and then that’s it—the funnel ends.

Pictorially, these types of funnels are misleading in terms of the relevant importance of each step, and particularly what happens at the end. I get that the funnel narrows down to a tip to represent the drop out of a number of customers at each stage of buying and loyalty. The failure of this type of imagery lies in how we showcase the wonderful potential of what happens if we are amazing at turning paying customers into our ambassadors. For that is the rarified air of marketing nirvana.

The imagery of the marketing funnel needs to be reimagined to look more like this:

funnel vacuum


Note, if you’re looking for better quality graphics I’m happy to send you my paypal details to get that party started. For now, this is how my cheap ass rolls. #sketchify

The top of the funnel stays essentially the same; we’re out there spending time and money to attract victims into our funnel.

I’m elongating what is now the center to highlight the product experience. This is all about features and benefits that must line up with consumer priorities all packaged in the right veneer of style, pragmatism and uncanny alignment with consumer expectations of how quickly and accurately they get what they need. Nail all of it, I say. Shamelessly.

Because what happens next is the funnel opens back up again to let your existing customers effectively hoover more brand new customers back into the funnel. We sort of know that but when we see it pictured this way we may have a very different perspective on the magnitude of impact of advocacy. The scope of this opportunity is massive. It’s THE reason why apps, for example, break through the clutter of thousands to be one of 20 on someone’s smartphone.

I find that creating ambassadors is more of a hope for many founders and marketers than it is a strategy. I’m a huge advocate of the latter.  Sure, you’ll likely always have to spend on acquisition, but if you invest mightily in your product experience to satisfy the heck out of your customer base, you will pull in new users to a level that will dramatically drive down the cost of acquiring new customers. It’s the best and sometimes only way to make that kind of impact…and you’ll make your money back in sales X-fold.

Otherwise, you are likely to be subsidizing customer transactions for eternity — not an economically desirable model. That’s the glass-is-half-empty perspective of uploading marketing programs against the objective of engagement, continuity or loyalty.  If those phenomena aren’t happening naturally after a time, you might be well served to press pause to examine to what extent your product is meeting customer needs (well).


You know, it does boggle my mind how rarely I hear marketers articulate a goal of having a spectacular product experience. Like, the type that makes people cry. For if you do think that way, and are good at delivering…and you are tapping into a powerful need of your consumer base, you will create not only a bond but some kind of colossal engine of marketing inertia that will fuel unparalleled rates of growth. This momentum has the potential to last until a competitor jumps in to challenge you or you straight up take over the entire market. Yup, that’s what can happen.

And you’ll know you’re there when – here comes the line I’m totally stealing from Ali Mese on Medium – you have no idea where your customers are coming from. They don’t click through from any site or link. They’re not even a friend of a friend of someone you know. They haven’t seen any of your advertising. They just appear – and they know who you are.

Now that’s marketing.