Marketing is not a campaign; it’s a commitment

Awareness creation receives way too much investment, claims Joseph Jaffe, author of best selling book Flip the Funnel: “Merely putting something out there in the hope that it will stick is naïve, futile and exceptionally unrealistic in today’s fragmented, cluttered, and brand-wary world.”

When thinking of the marketing funnel in the traditional way (AIDA, Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action), next phase after Awareness would be Interest. About this buying phase Jaffe says: “Getting people to care these days is like climbing Mount Everest. Most messages don’t make it through the multiple layers of consumers’ near-impenetrable defences.”

Joseph Jaffe will pay a visit to The Netherlands in 2016 to speak at the B2B Marketing Forum about the concept of flipping the funnel. I just finished reading his book and in this article I’ll explain in a nutshell what the book is about, what we can learn from Jaffe’s concept and why you should try and meet Jaffe live if you can, or at least read his book.

The funnel: dented and rusty

Even when a buyer is making it through the clutter, wanting to buy is not the same as buying. To cut a long story short Jaffe claims that the funnel is not as shiny as we think, it’s dented and rusted, because the only way to use the model is to attract a ridiculous large quantity of leads to go in at the top, in order to get an acceptable amount of deals at the end.

In his book Flip the Funnel Jaffe sets the tone right away by describing a dented and rusty funnel model that we all use in marketing and sales. He wonders what would happen if we flip the funnel and instead of ending with a purchase, we start with a converted customer and focus on:

  1. Building a solid, ongoing relationship with our customers
  2. Transforming customers into returning customers and ultimately advocates
  3. Harnessing the power of referrals and recommendation

In Jaffe’s book the starting point of a flipped funnel becomes the story, it becomes the main way of thinking. When reading the book, you can only think to yourself that you must challenge the status quo and rethink your own marketing approach.

It is not new to revisit the approach of focusing more on existing customers instead of new acquisition. But for some reason we don’t allocate enough resources on the “catch of the day and turn it into catch of the year, decade or lifetime,” so says Jaffe.

Personalisation is the gift of technology; intimacy is the gift of humanity

In the last part of the first Section, Jaffe describes the downside of the use of innovation and technology; most times technology is used to gain efficiencies and not necessarily to add emotion or humanity to a customer relationship.

When did you last thank your customers for their business, loyalty and/or referrals?

In section 2 of the book Jaffe looks at how to flip the funnel. He introduces the new funnel with the letters A.D.I.A.:

  • Acknowledgement
  • Dialogue
  • Incentivization
  • Activation

It all starts with acknowledgement by letting your customers know that they are important to you and appreciated by you. This could be a thank-you-note, a progress report or a follow-up call. For each step Jaffe gives many examples and tips on how to implement the steps. The final part of the funnel is the Activation, a switch of community or social networking. This is where returning and referring customers become explicitly part of something bigger, they become part of your marketing ecosystem itself.

In a new era where we talk more and more about customer centricity and customer experience, the book Flip the Funnel becomes a must-read in 2016 again. Customer experience cuts across the entire flipped funnel.

Anyone in Marketing should read the book. But even Sales and business owners should read Flip the Funnel, if they haven’t done so yet (the book was first published in 2010). The insights help you in setting priorities right. In a world of customer-first this seems a no-brainer, but too often companies are not always acting this way.

The downside of reading it now – in 2016 – would be that many of the examples are old by now, you’ve heard about them for sure: negative publicity around Domino’s Pizza, American Airlines in 2009 etc. And, being in B2B marketing myself, I’m trying to find B2B examples in the book; they are not in. Although it is clear that the main lessons on customer, employee, company and funnel can apply to both B2C as to B2B. My takeaway is not so much in the examples, but more in the concept of flipping the funnel. If you don’t want to read the older examples, skip that part in Section 2 of the book; but do read Section 1 in which the concept becomes clear and Section 3 where Jaffe gives tips on how to make it all happen.

Loyalty is not luck, nor is it coincidence. Loyalty is the result of careful planning and long-term commitment

Flip the Funnel makes you think again, it makes you revisit the choices of your marketing budget allocation and it makes you aware once more that your customer is most precious and you should do everything you can to over deliver, day in day out.

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