Building a Lean Marketing Funnel

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A marketing plan is not anything more than a hypothesis. It is the ability to learn from them and build on each conversation is what makes a plan plausible.

Most marketing funnels concentrate on building linear step by step plans. They think of gathering a large group of prospects and narrowing them down through some type of funnel and toward a prospective customer. I call that thinking a funnel of depletion. I build a process that markets towards opportunity. If we engage with a prospect, I want to learn from them as much as I can.

Sales evolve and seldom accelerate through a funnel of depletion. Measuring success through a pipeline says that you know everything you need to know starting at the beginning. It indicates that you are smarter than the market. I believe that marketing must evolve. Before continuing, I recommend reviewing these blog posts:

Funnel of OpportunityIf we can start thinking of our prospects and partners as depicted on the right, it will allow us to work from a funnel of opportunity versus funnel of depletion. We start with what is known and work outward, never making a cold call always making a warm call. Always building upon what we know, empower existing customers, engaging prospects, exploring new.  Doing it this way we can quickly test new ideas, new methods in small groups and build upon the information we receive.

The 5/50/200 numbers are of course just arbitrary. A sample build is below:

Empower

Top 5 Customers (Empower Advocacy):

  1. When we think of these, we need to build the appropriate persona. The first thing we do is just to capture our top 5 and think of the people that we work with at these companies.
  2. What can we do empower them more?
  3. Are they using our product/service on a regular basis?
  4. Do we understand their customers?
  5. What vendors do they use that might partner with us?
  6. What marketing tools do we use for this group?

Top 50 Customers (Exploit):

  1. When we think of these can we segment them into different groups to build the appropriate persona.
  2. What can we do to empower them more?
  3. Are they using all of the products?
  4. How are they similar to others in the top 5, other 200?
  5. How are they different?
  6. What vendors do they use that might partner with us?
  7. What marketing tools do we use for this group?

200 Remaining Customers (Explore): 

  1. When we think of these can we segment them into different groups?
  2. Do the previous personas (50) fit with this 200?
  3. How are they similar to others in the top 50, How are they different?
  4. What can we do to empower them more?
  5. Are they using all of the products?
  6. What marketing tools do we use for this group?

 Engage

Top 5 Prospects (Export) (I arbitrarily picked this number):

  1. When we think of these can we segment them into the previous groups?
  2. Do the previous personas (200) fit with this group?
  3. How are they similar to others in the top 200, How are they different?
  4. What can we do to exploit (in a good way) them more?
  5. What products are they interested in?
  6. What marketing tools do we use for this group?

 Top 25 Prospects (Exploit) :

  1. When we think of these can we segment them into the previous groups?
  2. Do the previous personas (5/200) fit with this group?
  3. How are they similar to others in the top 5, How are they different?
  4. What can we do to exploit (in a good way) them more?
  5. What products are they interested in?
  6. What marketing tools do we use for this group?

Top 100 Prospects (Explore) (I arbitrarily picked this number:

  1. When we think of these can we segment them into the previous groups?
  2. Do the previous personas (25) fit with this group?
  3. How are they similar to others in the top 200, How are they different?
  4. What can we do to exploit (in a good way) them more?
  5. What products are they interested in?
  6. What marketing tools do we use for this group?

Explore

Top 50 Prospects (Export):

  1. When we think of these can we segment them into the previous groups?
  2. Do the previous personas (in Engage) fit with this group?
  3. How are they similar to others in the to the Engage prospects, How are they different?
  4. What can we do to move them to the next group them more?
  5. What products are they interested in?
  6. What marketing tools do we use for this group?

Top 100 Prospects (Exploit) (I arbitrarily picked this number:

  1. When we think of these can we segment them into the previous groups?
  2. Do the previous personas fit with this group?
  3. How are they similar to others in the top 5, How are they different?
  4. What can we do to exploit (in a good way) them more?
  5. What products are they interested in?
  6. What marketing tools do we use for this group?

The world (Explore) – this more general marketing, SEO, SMO, Positioning:

  1. When we think of these can we build segmentation into the groups?
  2. Are we in the right segments, is our message being heard?
  3. What can we do to exploit (in a good way) them more?
  4. What products are they interested in?
  5. What marketing tools do we use for this group?

I usually capture this information on a Trello Board and will have a card for each of the hi-level (Top 5) customers on the board and then as I go down the line, I will collect groups of customers/prospects often times linking just their profiles in our CRM. I might make multiple Trello boards for each of my segments; Empower, Engage, and Explore. Once linking down to further boards creating an entire CRM out of the process. But the most important item of note is that we work and organize the board from right to left, not left to right.

Funnel of Opportunity

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