From research to awareness to discovery and exchange, the path to purchase has traditionally gone through a number of stages. But now with our new digital and mobile world, many would say that the funnel has collapsed - indeed Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook said just that at a recent digital marketing conference.
I would argue that not all that glitters is digital. All that has happened is that the speed with which the marketeer moves through the funnel is faster and that the options open to them are wider- indeed the funnel is more like a sand timer in shape.
Yes, digital communications has provided the marketeer with a bigger toolbox but it would be a mistake to ignore other 'traditional' channels to market.
Last night I saw Ink, the play about the Murdoch and the re-launch of The Sun newspaper. In the programme, a Guardian journalist writes about how many had written off the right wing tabloids because of declining readership numbers and the increase in digital alternatives, only for The Sun, Express and Daily Mail - who had fought for Brexit - to crow on June 24th of their influence in the referendum decision.
In a post-truth world, this might just have delayed their demise but for marketers targeting a range of audiences, the print media - and yes even the tabloids - have a place in the consumer funnel.
It’s probably no surprise that funnels, which have been with us since the very start of the marketing discipline, are now front and center in the most recent chapter in its history. My advice to you remains identical to that I would have proffered in 2007 or, 1997 had you cared to listen to a hugely inexperienced marketing professor from Minnesota. Funnels have nothing to do with marketers or communication. They are the stages, however unusual or fleeting, that the consumer traverses in order to get what they are looking for. Different brands should have different funnels. Hell, the same brand should have different funnels depending on the segments being targeted. Advertising tools like Facebook inevitably have changed the way we target and influence consumers on their journey, but the trip down that funnel is all about consumers.