As a journalist, I was trained to appreciate KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). In the journalism world, the extraneous, the flowery, the vague, the imprecise are all enemies of good copy.
I recall a journalism professor chuckling over a friend’s copy and commenting (loudly, for the class to hear): “Three residents perished in the fire? Perished? Were they vegetables? People die — vegetables perish!”
Just as in journalism, in Web marketing there’s a lot of extraneous, imprecise information floating about.
Because our tired little neurons need help picturing concepts, we often find ourselves looking at various diagrams. In our business, the diagram is an attempt to keep it simple when trying to model strategic concepts.
Unfortunately, there are lots of diagrams and models of strategy that only confuse matters and, at worse, lead your thinking down unproductive paths.
There are two diagrams I like, and rely on always. They always help to clarify my thinking on a project or when attacking an issue of strategy. They serve to get rid of the extraneous, the vague, and reinforce concepts with simplicity. The first is from Marketing Experiments, the second is from Brian Solis.
The one shown below comes from Marketing Experiments is called “the inverted funnel,” the term used by Marketing Experiments’ Flint McGlaughlin. I like it for many reasons. First is because, as McGlaughlin has explained, by inverting the traditional sales funnel it introduces a new concept: gravity isn’t working in your favor. Prospects and customers don’t “fall” through the process or into the process to a “natural” conclusion. Most likely they are always being pushed out by the heavy fields weighing against action: distraction, imprecision, vagueness, etc. (the “gravity” of marketing). See the entire Marketing Experiments webinar here.
Getting prospects up the funnel in this diagram seems intuitively difficult, and indeed, if you’ve ever done any lead generation, then you know that’s true. But what I appreciate more than the inversion/gravity concept is that it maps to the three broad stages of prospect interest: relational, transactional, contractual.
The overlay of these concepts on this model is important. Too often we think of content marketing as the top of the funnel. But in actuality, as the inverse funnel makes clear, it is the base. It’s about forming a relationship with a prospect; a crucial first step but a first step nonetheless. Crucially, it must lead to the transactional step and to specific transactional behavior. Here is where landing pages, email, telemarketing, whatever, leads to a transaction. And finally to a contractual relationship.
As McGlaughlin has mentioned, there are many paths to different points in this inverse funnel. Your marketing efforts and content should map to these key areas of the funnel, and indeed to the transitional zones especially. I’m not saying this is the be-all, end-all of strategy diagrams, but I’ve found in enormously helpful to clarify thinking and strategy.
The next one comes from Brian Solis. This seems very simplistic but it’s form is actually clever because it, too, forces us to think differently about the environment of marketing. This “influence loop” can even be overlaid or correlated to the inverse funnel to some degree, but the shape and idea of a loop is key. Mainly because it shows a complete process, which then self-perpetuates.
I don’t know about you, but once the sale is made, the lead captured, etc., I tend to think “job well done” and mentally file the matter away. The loop shows us that the process continues — or rather should continue — to “advocate” in order to self perpetuate.
I know first hand of cases where the “advocate” did their work without any effort by myself or my coworkers, and it wasn’t until later I would think “Now if we could only get more like him or her!”
I like things that force me to consider looking at the familiar in new ways. So, as a tip of the hat to Marketing Experiments and Brian Solis, here’s Miles Kane … “You rearrange my mind…”