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Oh man, the buzzwords just don’t end, do they? There’s a huge surge in people looking for explanations of the marketing funnel stages, and they don’t realize that they more or less already know all about them, just without this absurd term tied to it. What this Is: What is the marketing funnel? Well, to be fair, I’ve seen this mean two things, the lesser being the monetary funnel from which all resources and funds are pulled into the project and unitized as a singular base. There are no stages to that, and there’s little to explain about it. So, marketing funnel stages? It’s just the concept of the segment of customer experience that spans awareness and initial need creation, all the way to purchase. So, Just Customer Experience: Yeah, more or less, that’s all it is. The only key difference is the mental model you’re using to visualize and analogize the process, and it usually doesn’t encompass the final stage of customer experience, customer service/success. So is it Unique: Not really. The funnel analogy brings little to this concept, and the phases of it don’t particularly alter much. So, I have to say that marketing funnel is a bit of a redundant buzzword. It’s unique in the idea of a funnel analogy, but it doesn’t take it to the logical conclusion. The Stages: So what are the stages of this? The same basic ones you see when you use the customer experience concept. First, your outreach and need creation form the outer, open rim of the funnel. It brings them inward into the “net” at least to a certain level no matter what. The middle of the funnel, where a rolling ball would either continue to descend, or rocket back out, is where they do research, comparisons and other investigation and consideration leading to either a decision to purchase or not. The neck of the funnel is where there was enough incline to the funnel (enough motivation in the research materials available) to bring it all the way in. They make a purchase. Things of Note: It’s a silly analogy. And I’ve seen this explained in other less literal ways, as well. But those explanations are confusing and I don’t think everyone was sure what it was about, when those were written. In honesty, the only other major distinction is that it doesn’t really account for customer loyalty, though I’m not complaining, given the loyalty curve concept on customer experience graphs annoys me. It’s pretty straightforward, ergo if you are familiar with customer experience at all, then all this is, is most of it from the marketing perspective. Conclusion: And there you have the one saving grace of this from being as bad as most buzzwords and that’s the fact that it’s the marketer’s customer experience, so they have their own view of something that central to business. The marketing funnel stages aren’t that different though, so if you know one, you know most of the other, or in reverse, more than the other, I suppose. I hope this cleared it up. I spend a lot of time complaining about buzzwords, I know. It’s because it causes confusion like this we all have to run behind and fix.



James Mello
James is the Lead Author & Editor Product2Market of Blog. James writes for the Product2Market blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Marketing.