Marketing Is The Pour Not The Funnel

Marketing is the Pour Not the Funnel“Big business or small business marketing is not a funnel,” I ranted as we took our seats.

Kate our sales doyen said, “The whole thing of getting people to buy has been called the sales funnel for years, why are you arguing with the obvious?”

I said, “Because it isn’t.”

Rob, the rotund branding Buddha, asked, “What isn’t?”

“Marketing is not the funnel. It is the pour, I said.

Five voices said in harmony, “The pour?”

“I think about Small Business Marketing all the time. One of the confusions that has occurred as we’ve seen the world move toward digital marketing is the integration of automated marketing and sales force contact management systems and what are now called contact relationship management systems. Marketing, Sales and Customer Relations are all being knotted up in a single system so the boundaries keep getting confused,” I said.

“I thought you liked integrated systems,” said Rick, our go to guy for direct marketing.

“I do,” I said, “but when sales expects marketing to hand them leads so qualified a rookie could close them something is wrong with the system and when sales pushes the maintenance of a relationship off to customer service…”

Kate pounced saying, “What is your problem? Sales is responsible for hitting higher quotas every year. We have to make sure we’re closing all the time. Now you have the tools to do the nurturing you need to do to get us good leads. What is your problem?”

“My problem,” I said, “is the same one that marketing departments and agencies and consultants all have. The expectations of corporate America have shifted to make us responsible for the funnel instead of the pour. Before, our job was to pour as many folks as possible into the sales funnel. We were always pushed to qualify them as potential customers. But sales had to close them”

“Thas right,” said Rob. All our ads built awareness of the brand, gave folks reasons to prefer the brand and even included offers for more information or free trials. Our job was to pour people into the funnel. Sales had to nurture them.”

“Bubba, I couldn’t agree more,” said Rick. My business is a combination of marketing and sales so we have to understand objections and stalls and all the stuff that a sales person goes through nose to nose with a prospect because we have to deal with it in print and video and you name it. Our job was to pour people into the funnel and move them as far down it as possible either getting the sale or handing off to a sales person.”

Gail said, “But things have changed. Marketing is expected to pour people into the funnel and then do all the information provision, all the nurturing, all the Q & A, all the funnel fact analysis, all the digital body language observation and in some cases even take the orders on line.”

Chris said, “But that is not all bad. My Marketing staff and the Sales staff sit side by side. There is great feedback both directions. We try to be professional about it. Marketing knows that our primary job is to pour as many people as possible into the funnel. And we know that we can help move people down the funnel but sales ultimately is responsible for changing contacts into contracts.

Thing is, we used to fight about the materials and presentations needed and sales would go zooming around completely off the Value Proposition.

Not anymore.

By working together we close faster, easier and more profitably.

Marketing’s job is the pour and to lubricate the customer’s journey down the funnel.”

“I guess I can buy into helping grease the funnel,” I said, as long as marketing is still the pour.”


Jerry Fletcher is focused on making the techniques of enterprise level marketing available to small businesses. His consulting website is

Jerry speaks professionally on networking, marketing and Contact Relationship Magic across the Americas. His speaking website is:

A Branding Bar Story

Branding Bar storyTwo guys walk into a bar. Both spot a pretty girl, alone, seated at the bar. One borrows a megaphone approaches her and bellows into her ear, “I’m rich, good looking and I want you to marry me.”

The other simply walks to the bar, orders a drink and the young lady joins him and says “You are intriguing, good looking, possibly rich and I want to marry you.”

That, according to Taylor Graves of Nemo Design, one of the panelists at a National Speakers Association luncheon in Portland on November 13th, is the difference between advertising and branding.

The other panelists were Brian Berger of Everything is on the Record and Matt Watson of Watson Creative. All have won their spurs doing branding work for national and international clients.

My usual Friday lunch bunch loved Taylor’s story, especially Rob, our Brand Guru who we call Bubba because he hails from Georgia.

Bubba, wiping away tears from laughing drawled, “Thas one of the best ways I’ve heard it put in a lot of years. What else did these guys have to say?”

I said, “The format was self intros and credentials and then questions from the audience.”

Kate chimed in, “So, Fletch you got in trouble didn’t you?”

“No, Madame Sales, I did not. These guys knew what they were talking about. Each, in their own way said what Bubba and I have been saying about Branding for years. Let me give you some examples:

The first question from the audience was “How can you create a brand experience with a very limited budget?” (I’ve heard this question before. It is why I teach No Budget Branding TM).

Matt responded, “We put your business on the couch to learn about it. We work on positioning and strategy and business design because Brand is not a logo it is the emotion that comes from the people that intersect with you, your company and products and services.”

Taylor said, “Brand is about who you are, what gets you up in the morning. It has to be true to who you are or it just doesn’t work.”

Brian agreed saying, “You have to be true to yourself. You are the brand. Your success is based on the people you meet and the relationships you build.”

Someone asked, “How do you use Trust in Branding?”

Matt told a story about working with non-profit trying to raise money noting that when the first e-mail request went out to 30, 000 people the landing page had only a still photo and some copy and it generated about 700 sign-ups and contributions. But, the next time they included a video with founders and contributors talking about why they were involved. The responses jumped to 10,000.

As Matt said, “Your Why is the epicenter of your brand. Great photography and video get the story and the image across faster than almost anything else.”

Taylor, an international award winning photographer agreed. He said, “If you haven’t watched Simon Sinek’s video on TED about Why and the Golden Circle, do so. The thing is people want photos and videos to be authentic universal communications. If they are authentic you will generate trust.”

Brian added, “Storytelling is another way to get there. It uses the emotions to overcome clutter and can be passed along without devices.”

Matt agreed and noted that sometimes a small client is better served by concentrating on a very tight segment, spending more per contact than they might ever dream to make each contact an event.”

Rick, our Direct Marketing Maven said, “I know this story, instead of spending a five figure budget for wedding photographer, he convinced him to go to only the 10 top wedding planners in the country with a really classy custom wooden box presentation at a about $100 bucks each and the guy did 5 or 6 times his business, like well into six figures, the next year.”

Yes, I said. “That’s the story. Branding is not advertising. It is not logos. You can’t buy it. It is what prospects and clients think, feel and believe about you, your products and services whether they’ve ever met you or not.”

Jerry Fletcher has been doing the kind of branding these gents believe in for over 40 years. He is a Contact Relationship Magician focused on making the techniques of enterprise level marketing available to small businesses with low or no cash. His consulting website is

Jerry speaks professionally on networking, marketing and Contact Relationship Magic across the Americas. His speaking website is:

When Not To Apologize

Angry man“I was trying to make sure that all the folks that wanted to keep getting my blog and newsletter and other publications about small business marketing would keep on getting them” I said.

“Nothing wrong with that,” said Chris, the Digital Director.

“Yes and no according to one recipient.” I responded.

Chris asked, “What was the problem?”

I replied, “I wouldn’t have known there was one if I didn’t regularly read this fellow’s blog. For him, the personalization went awry. I inferred from his subject and description in a blog the following week plus a follow up comment that I had offended him by getting him to click through from an e-mail sent to hundreds of people that had been personalized with their first names.”

Rob, the smooth talkin’ Johnny Reb branding guru said, “Sounds to me like he took it kinda personal.”

“I’d go along with that, said Kate. In sales terms you got too friendly, too quick.”

Rob, nodded and said, “That can really put a hitch in your git-a-long.”

“All of us preach personalizing our e-mails whether it is sales or marketing or just person to person, I said. But the problem is we don’t know when we make a mistake in an e-mail. This particular e-mail was a test of a new automated marketing system. It went out to 453 people. I found out with the first mailing that people were not sure it was me. They e-mailed me about the concern. One old friend left a lengthy voice mail. Most of them suggested personalizing it if I could.

The second time I sent it to the 327 people who had not responded. The e-mail was longer and personalized and invited anyone that was not sure it was me to call or e-mail for assurance. A few did it. It was the ‘from’ address that bothered them.

So now I’m sending it out a third time to 271 folks. The message will be longer, personalized, explain what I’m doing at greater length, again urge them to contact me if concerned and be totally up front that they are going to a landing page.

I will not apologize for asking them to sign up.

Why? Asked Kate.

“His blog made it painfully clear that he felt he had been tricked because he was taken to a sign up page. But he never indicated how that sign up could be done without some sort of landing page to capture his sign up, add him to the lists involved and otherwise put him into an automated marketing system. He never contacted me about his concern.

Over the two e-mails, 26 people that wanted to sign up but wanted to be sure it was me, made contact. Of those, 24 signed up. The two that didn’t are just too busy for more e-mail but wanted to be sure that they would remain in my personal contact list.

I won’t apologize because he could have made no comment and assured the same action. He is off the list and won’t be invited back.”

Chris said, “Harsh.”

Kate looked over her glasses at him and said, “I know Fletch wants to keep every customer forever but I also know he is pragmatic. It wasn’t inappropriate personalization in this case. It worked. The guy clicked through and then was unhappy. And if he feels all that up close and personal why didn’t he get in touch? Situations like this, you cut your losses and move on.”

Jerry Fletcher has had his share of successes and surprises in Automated Marketing. That is the source of his expertise. Clients have been known to say that “he starts where the software stops.” Sign up on the landing page in question:

Jerry speaks professionally on three continents. His speaking web site is

How To Shape A Marketing Mindset

Karen and I were chatting over coffee the other day and I realized that not every small business operator is in a sales or marketing mode at all times.

Woman developing marketing mindsetChris, young but wise in all things digital asked, “What do you mean?”

“She was telling me about speaking at an industry event and how it had gone.”

Kate interjected, “And she got no sales and no leads, am I right?”

“Yes, Madam Sales, you have put your finger on the problem. What would you recommend?”

Kate took a sip of ice tea and said, “It’s a matter of mindset. You need to decide what the single most important outcome needs to be for you on any day in any situation.”

Rick said, “That’s one thing we do when we build a direct marketing campaign. We try to anticipate what a prospect might do and provide ways to overcome objections, pull them back to considering our solution and give them some reason to buy in. Is that what you mean?”

“Sounds like you have to do it for life,” said Chris.

“Yes and no,” I said. “My friend Karen was unhappy. The first thing I asked her was what she expected to get out of it. She hadn’t thought about it! Then I got her to think through what she would have done differently if she had thought it through. Here’s what she came up with:

  1. Figure out just what you’d like to get from the overall situation and this piece of it.
  2. Act on it. Do what will get you to your goal without damaging the relationship.
  3. Do it again situation by situation.

I call it being true to your mission. When you know why you are in business all you have to do is look at a task or decision and if it keeps you on mission it is the right thing to do. It is the marketing mindset that will make you successful.

“Sounds like branding to me,” said Rob. “Y’all can’t know every situation your brand is going to get into but you do know what you want it to stand for with the folks that are rubbin’ up against it. That doesn’t change so long as you’re true to what they believe you to be. But if you go kiting off in all directions or you don’t pay attention to being just one thing you’re gonna’ get ditched and that ain’t pretty!”

“You’re right Bubba,” said Kate. The difficulty is going from the way most people operate almost on remote control to a focus on what is happening in the moment and putting all their cognitive capabilities into play to get to the goal set. “

“That isn’t easy”, I said.

“And it can’t be done overnight,” Gail, our resident writer joined in. That old saw about it taking at least 30 days to change a habit is true and when you’re dealing with a behavior like this the recidivism rate is over the top.”

“Didn’t I just say it isn’t easy.” I asked.

“Not as eloquently,” said Bubba.

Kate said, “If you want to act intentionally ask yourself one question as you begin any task: Why am I doing this? If you don’t have an answer, you are coasting. Stop.

Re-read what Karen came up with. Take a little time to think through what your mission in life is. You have a mission, don’t you?”


Our Mission: Deliver the marketing knowledge that makes it possible for the “Little Guys” to go it alone… successfully. Learn more at:

Jerry has spoken professionally on three continents. His hard-earned expertise is in three business development specialties: Personal Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship “Magic”. Jerry’s speaking site is: