Is The Marketing And Sales Funnel Dead?

marketing is multitudes, sales is singlesKate looked up as Fletch came in late and said “who rained on your parade?” You look like you could chew nails.”

“You guys know that I can’t stand stupidity especially in print or blogs supposedly by experts. I suffered through a column in a trade publication today that said Marketing and Sales Funnels are dead.”

Kate’s eyes narrowed. Our sales expert  asked, “How and where did the sales funnel die?”

“This guy says that the notion that people go through an orderly process to purchase anything, a marketing/sales funnel, is no longer valid as new technologies have enabled people to behave differently than they did just a few years ago. He claims that people used to make buys based on the information doled out to them by the company.”

Rob drawled, “Sounds to me like he’s not too connected to the reality of the past. Just because developing a brand was easier in the days of Mad Men as there was less media available doesn’t mean that consumers accepted only what they were told ‘bout any product. Shucks, companies with huge budgets got their hats handed to them regularly. Two of the best examples both happened to the same company. It took GM years to stop trying to get people to say Chevrolet instead of Chevy. Same thing happened with their top notch truck engine. Back then they wanted folks to call it a Gee Emm. People called it a Jimmy and that’s what it is today.”

“I agree, Bubba,” I said. “He casually threw away research that has been confirmed regularly since the 50’s. He consigned basic cognitive research to the scrap heap without a scrap of evidence. He referenced the model that cites Awareness, Preference, Trial, Repeat and Satisfaction and said it no longer applies because of the internet and easy availability of information.

I agree that things have changed. But that doesn’t mean the model is wrong and more importantly it doesn’t mean that sales people are no longer important.”

Chris waded in, “But you have to admit that it is a different world when you can check a competitor’s price when you’re in a store. You have to go along with providing more information to anyone that wants it. I’ve watched you build inbound marketing campaigns and you’re like one of Bubba’s bassets on a scent to get at all the objections and concerns so you can answer them. You work in the real world, so what is your problem?”

“The fact is the writer was dead wrong,” I answered. People still go through the same phases. They start with awareness. They can’t want anything if they don’t know about it. And if there are options they are going to prefer one over another. That is human nature. If the price is low for them they will try the product and repurchase it if it proves satisfying. If it is expensive to them or a business purchase they may spend a little more time gathering information. And that’s where the new technology can really be handy.”

“Hold it,” Kate said. “Go back to that sales people are no longer important nonsense.”

“Yeah, that got me, too,” I said. “He implied that with big data and some minimal skills that marketing could easily close the sale and turn the customer into a raving fan. I will bet your lunch tab that this guy has never been a sales person and never worked with high value products. Marketing can find crowds of ideal customers and can deliver messages to them that get them into a process, a marketing and sales funnel, but marketing cannot respond to the individual and marketing can’t close every sale.”

Kate said, “Marketing is Multitudes. Sales is Singles.”

What do you think? Are the classic models dead or are they morphing as technology changes? Let us know your thoughts.


Jerry Fletcher is an old timer who has matched his skills to the changing world of marketing. Learn about his performance-based pragmatic approach at

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Marketing Is Not A Matter Of Opinion

Not my first rodeo“So did you fire that client,” Rob asked?

You know this isn’t my first rodeo,” I said. “I have fired clients before and I’m sure I’ll do it again. It always bothers me when someone believes they have more expertise than the person or organization they are hiring for that reason. I’ve been in the middle of that nasty space since I was an ad agency ‘fire fighter’ long ago and far away”.

Rob drawled, “but the question here is whethah you’re the bronc or the rider. Now, I could have said Bull or rider but theahs just too much bull being slung in this discussion.

I’ve been bucked off and I know that it hurts everywhere but most of all deep down in your pride. The thing you got to pay attention to is you got on that ride thinkin’ you might could bring it to rein. When that doesn’t happen you discover it about 6 seconds in and the next thing you know theahs a clown keepin’ you alive.

Reckon I’m your clown. My advice is get out. You’ll burn yourself out arguin’ and any work you do will be damaged by the lack of belief both parties have. Pull your tail out from under granny’s rocker and hie yourself down under the stoop and wait for a friendly face. Believe me, you don’t need the aggravation.”

Kate looked over her glasses at Rob and said, “Bubba, It scares me. I’m beginning to understand you. In this case I think you’re right. There are times when things just don’t work out. I know Fletch was the go to guy in a big ad agency when clients were getting out of hand and I’ve met some of the folks he got back on track. So if he says this time it is different than perhaps he’s right. Maybe it is time to fade into the sunset. But, I’m like him I don’t like to admit defeat.”

“But is it?” Asked Rick. “I don’t think it is admitting defeat. You saddle up in the chute and at that point there’s no doubt who is in charge. Then the gate opens and all hell breaks loose. That’s what happened here. That Bronc or Bull has no respect for you. What did you expect?”

I responded, “In all truth I think of the client as a friend, someone I’ve known for an easy 20 plus years. We have never agreed on politics or how to change government but have always listened to each other. That’s where he earned his spurs about 20 years ago. I would defer to him in that arena without question. But that is not fundraising from the general public for a charity in small amounts. And that is the problem.

He believes this requirement is in his bailiwick and I believe it is in mine. That is not going to change. I grant his expertise in political stuff but not this. And he is just as adamant.

“Two choices,” said Gail. “Walk away or do it his way.”

Chris chuckled and said, “Don’t look now but I think he’s headed back to the chute.”

What would you do? Tell us down below.

Fletch and his marketing buckaroos will return next week. See you then.

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Marketing Is Not Education

People espond to solutions not problems“I need a little help with a client that thinks education is marketing,” I said. “He keeps wanting to do videos of ridiculous length to talk at people instead of working from their opinions and interest to sell his non-profit.

There is a cardinal rule of Marketing: People buy solutions, not problems. I learned the lesson that you can’t sell by educating long ago doing split testing. I know that if you offer a solution to a problem people have versus a description of the problem that the solution will win every time. Even if both A and B offer the solution, the one that leads with the solution will win.

Rick disagreed saying, “But there are certain cases where pumping enough fear into the equation can get people to go one direction or another. Politics is rife with that sort of thing. And there, sometimes, it works. True, it can lead to polarization and that ain’t pretty. But fear is a primal motivator.”

“Minds me of a story ‘bout a kid cryin’ wolf when there was no wolf,” drawled Bob. “The problem is that when you try to scare people enough times they get so accustomed to your suasion that it is like water wickin’ off a duck’s back. That’s like the whole Global Warming/Climate Change thing. Now there is a branding problem if ever there was one.”

“Branding problem?” Gail asked.

“Sho nuff,” Rob replied. There was this VP from Tennessee that told us all about it in a TED presentation and then in a movie. He talked about it as Global Warming and showed us how just looking at the gain in carbon in the air was enough to cause global catastrophes. Then a bunch of folks that didn’t agree and had vested interests to protect made him out to be the kid cryin’ wolf. As a result we don’t hear about global warming any more. Now its Climate Change.”

“And believers are still trying to back the hearse up to the door.” I said. “Every time you turn around they find some new piece of scientific evidence that supports the argument that Climate Change is happening. The problem with all those arguments is that they are arguments. What they consider proofs are so far from Joe Public’s experience that it is like trying to explain a computer to a man of the renaissance when you don’t even speak the language.”

“Worse still, Kate said, the believers don’t understand the failed communications. They are so convinced that they are right that they cannot understand any other viewpoint.

When you’re selling you have to listen. You have to establish rapport with the buyer. You have to offer a solution to their problem. If they don’t perceive a problem or are not prepared to discuss it you are wasting your time.”

Chris asked, “So are you saying you should just walk away?”

“Yes. If they aren’t buying you have no choice” said Kate.

“But that is completely the opposite of building whitepapers and videos and all sorts of things to move people down a funnel to make a purchase. Why not try that?” asked Chris.

First you have to get their interest” said Rick. And right there is the crux of the problem. The problem has become polarized. I believe it is now seen as political. And because of that people walk away from it. They tune out.

Regardless of how novel the educational approach is they perceive it as preaching. People do not trust politicians. They don’t like people with holier than thou attitudes. So they direct their attention elsewhere.”

“There’s one more piece to this which we shouldn’t overlook,” said Gail. Nobody, so far as I know has approached the consumer audience by accepting and emulating their attitude. Nobody has recognized how they have heard this big problem exists. Nobody has acceded to the consumer viewpoint that it takes a government or a treaty organization to take care of this. Nobody has admitted that Joe and Jane Public feel stymied and don’t see a way out.”

“So what I hear you saying is to present a solution couched in the terms of the audience. Let them know we understand. Offer a solution. Keep it simple. Make it easy for them to contribute. How do we do that with no budget? What do you suggest,” I asked.

What do you suggest? Let me know down there at the bottom of the page.


Jerry And his Marketing Wranglers will be back next week with something about how a rodeo relates to Marketing.

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