The Fault In Our Funnel

Sales Efficiency

This week on Marketing Trends: Crossing The Mid-Funnel Chasm

“The marketing funnel can give marketers funnel-vision. In focusing on the transaction over the relationship, marketers can lose sight of the actual consumer the funnel was designed to reach.” — Tom Fishburne

Welcome to the Marketing Trends newsletter. Each week we send out a highly detailed industry report designed to help solve your marketing team’s biggest challenges. This week is all about finding the gaps in your funnel.

The Story

The Hook

“I’ll tell you what, if you leave some here, we’ll try it out and get back to you.”

The scientists looked down, dejected.

Looks like we’re not going to be selling any Gatorade today, the lead scientist thought.

When they had invented Gatorade, just two years prior, they had thought it was a breakthrough — and in many ways it was. The University of Florida had their best record in years the first season after it was brought into use.

Awareness of the drink had skyrocketed after the Gators had beaten Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. When the Georgia Tech coach was asked why they had lost, he responded, “We didn’t have Gatorade. That made the difference.”

But it didn’t seem to make the difference for sales. Their attempts to commercialize the product were met with very modest success.

Coaches just didn’t seem to understand what the drink was and why it was so much better than water. The scientists’ attempts to explain it hadn’t really connected.

Just then, the lead scientist had an idea. As his colleagues started to walk away, he asked, “But coach, how are you going to replenish your players’ electrolytes?”

“Their what?”

The scientist explained that all athletes lost electrolytes while they exercised and that they needed to be replenished in order to maintain peak performance. Electrolytes really just meant salt, but he wanted to convey that there was important scientific research behind their drink.

The coach scratched his head and thought for a moment. The scientists held their breath.

“Well then I guess I’ll buy a few gallons,” the coach finally responded.

When they got back to their car, the scientists let out a sigh of relief.

They had found their hook: electrolytes.

The Takeaway: When awareness is high but conversion is slow, sometimes all that’s missing is a bit of market education.

Big Idea

The Funnel and The Chasm

Here on Marketing Trends, we have talked a lot about marketing and sales alignment. And for good reason — it’s a very important issue. But sometimes it can be easy to point the finger outside of the marketing organization while ignoring alignment issues between marketers.

In some organizations, brand marketing and performance marketing can feel as different and divided as night and day.

The Problem: The Mid-Funnel Chasm

In our interview with John Gargiulo on the Marketing Trends podcast, he described a typical divided marketing organization.

“There will be somebody doing billboards, out-of-home, TV, and that stuff, and somebody in the same company doing Facebook ads,” he said. “But they roll their eyes at each other. They may be friends, but they barely speak. And there’s no one in the middle tying it all together.”

In the worst cases, this relationship can become not only uncommunicative, but competitive. This lack of cohesion creates a gap that prospects often fall through. And it isn’t a small gap either. John refers to it as the “mid-funnel chasm.”

The Solution: Customer Education

What does it look like when a customer falls through this mid-funnel chasm? It often involves a lack of customer education. The brand marketer is making sure the market is aware of their product, the performance marketer is focusing on last-touch conversion, but no one is bridging the gap with market education. John Gargiulo described an example of a mid-funnel failure on the Marketing Trends podcast:

“My friend runs marketing analytics [in] of the big three tech companies. And he told me, ‘We have so much money, we’re spending hundreds of millions on brand even though we never used to do that before. We do this big campaign for this big famous product of ours, hardware product, and we did billboards all over.

“‘I looked deep into the numbers, I could not figure out how it really helped at all. It was really basically a waste of 60 million dollars. And then, we actually took 30 short videos about this hardware product, and fought a lot of the misconceptions about it, and how it works. And we found the people who saw that video, converted at a much higher rate.’”

This is what fixing a mid-funnel breakdown looks like. These marketing education efforts have an immediate payoff because there was a pent up need for it.

Performance Storytelling

The best marketers don’t just patch this problem by putting someone in charge of customer education, they take a holistic view of the marketing funnel. Ty Shay, Global CMO of Norton Lifelock is someone who has done that. He described his approach as “performance storytelling”:

“As a marketer, you’re often asked, ‘What kind of marketer are you?’ I’ve always had trouble answering that question because I think the answer is either you’re a brand marketer or you’re a performance marketer. So I’ve always struggled with [it] because I believe in both. I worked at Procter & Gamble and Clorox and I believe in the value of brands, but I also believe you should be accountable and measure.

“So I came up with this idea of performance storytelling. I really do believe many times your brand or your story is your best performance marketing tool and so it’s really where I think a lot of performance marketers get into testing different types of media. I’ve had success in a lot of companies by being very deliberate about who we are, who’s our target, and being maniacal about telling that story to that target in the most compelling way. We put a lot of measurement behind it and I think you can get measurably better results by telling measurably better stories.”

By putting a focus on both brand and analytics, we can become better performance marketers and close the mid-funnel chasm.

The Takeaway: Unleash your inner performance storyteller by focusing on the mid-funnel process of customer education.

Want to learn more about crossing the mid-funnel chasm? Listen to our full interviews with John Gargiulo and Ty Shay.

Marketing News That Matters

The Week of 3/13/2019

  • The Infinite Dial 2019 study came out last week. Among the highlights: Podcasting is increasing in popularity, Facebook usage drops, and YouTube and Spotify continue to dominate.
  • The new head of HBO is taking shots at Netflix.
  • As tech giants continue to grow, a movement is calling for more government regulation that helps “improve competition and protect consumers.”
  • According to Digiday, 90% of marketers currently buying podcast advertising plan to grow their investment this year .

Fun for the Week

  • Scientists “woke up” a Woolly Mammoth cell. But they are “very far away from recreating the mammoth”. Tusk, but verify.
  • Laser tag is back! Or maybe it never left. These are really fun. Highly recommend.

That does it for this week’s edition. Don’t forget to listen to the Marketing Trends podcast, and as always, if you have any feedback, feel free to reach out to us anytime at Team@MarketingTrends.com.

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Marketing Trends is created by our team at Mission.

This was originally published as the Marketing Trends newsletter on 3/13/19. Subscribe here.


The Fault In Our Funnel was originally published in The Mission on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: The Mission