Funnel Basics

Why are we talking about kitchen utensils?

The funnel shape is simply a way to understand how people go from first hearing about a business or brand all the way through to actually purchasing something from them or becoming a customer. A basic marketing funnel looks something like this:

Potential customers move from learning about a brand’s existence, to being interested, to thinking about trying it, to actually trying it and through to becoming a loyal customer.

The reason it’s a funnel shape is that all along the way, people are leaving. They’re deciding it’s not a good fit and choosing to exit.

This is a very good thing. You want the people who aren’t suited to decide it’s not for them as early in this process as possible so that they take themselves out of the running and make room for ideal customers. 

Small businesses should not try to serve everyone. They should find the right people, the people that will love them and spread the word about how fantastic they are. An effective marketing funnel can help to achieve that.

Our Adapted Marketing Funnel

I’m a fan of simplicity and humanity. So instead of talking about the awareness stage or the evaluation stage we’ll be structuring our funnel (and the following modules of this course) around the more relationship focused terms: Know, Like, Try, Trust and True Fandom. 

We are in a business which is all about relationships with people, and I believe these terms help us avoid the disconnect that can occur when we’re talking about strategies and tactics. It is, ultimately, about connecting with people.

A Cereal Funnel

To understand how funnels work, let’s take cereal as an example. Imagine there’s a new cereal on the block called ‘Crunchy McSugarohs’. They put together a marketing campaign consisting of billboards, locally targeted YouTube ads and tasting sessions at local supermarkets. 


Their billboard and YouTube ad use neon colours, comic-style graphics and the slogan “Oh, oh, the sweetest feeling”. Lots of people see the ad and learn about this new cereal.


The health-conscious potential customers are turned off by the sugary sweetness of the ads, but those who are after a sweet treat are intrigued.


The sweetness-seekers pass through the supermarket when there’s a tasting on and decide to take a sample. 


For some of them, it’s a step too far. They find the cereal sickly sweet, take a look at the package and raise their eyebrows at the nutritional information. For others, it’s just sweet enough to be pure bliss and they pick up a big box of ‘Crunchy McSugarohs’.


If the brand is lucky, a small minority of these customers will not only buy the cereal again and again, but they’ll also spread the word to their friends and offer them a bowl when they’re at their house so that ‘Crunchy McSugarohs’ finds more perfect customers just like them. 

An Accountant’s Funnel

You’re probably nearly feeling like a funnel master by now but let me give you one more example, just to be sure. This time we’ll look at an accountancy firm, ‘Fitzsimmons, Fitzsimon & Sons’.


‘Fitzsimmons, Fitzsimon & Sons’ has a storefront on the main street in the small neighbourhood of Cromglen, on the edge of the city of Blacklinn. Potential customers walk by it everyday on their way to the shops or their commute to work.


The firm puts up a large poster in the window declaring it to have the most transparent fees (their superpower) with cut-outs for the letters so that the poster is literally transparent. It’s enough to catch the eye of some passers-by and raise the corner of their mouth just slightly.


A few potential customers stop in to see whether the fees are really transparent and are handed a brochure with clear and simple packages for the most common services. They’re also offered a free consultation to talk about what their business needs and several take them up on it.


After the consultation meeting some decide to sign up for their ‘Taxes Sorted for You’ service, and become regular customers. 


Some customers are so excited about the simple pricing structure, having felt ripped-off in the past. They leave glowing reviews on their website and Facebook page which give others the confidence to give them a try, too.