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Funnels and Pipes

Johnny Molson


Where am I strong… Where am I weak?

Where are you losing your customers? Advertising may help, but your issue may be down-funnel. The classic sales funnel— Awareness –> Interest –> Desire –> Action (AIDA) —is still as relevant and accurate today as it was when E. St. Elmo Lewis introduced it over 120 years ago.*

In Marketing, we use a nearly identical funnel, with a couple extra stops along the route. Your marketing funnel goes in this order:

1: Awareness

Do I know who you are? Pretty simple. If I don’t know about you, nothing else matters. You could be the most kick-butt plumber who ever plumbed, but if you’re the only one who has heard of you, forget the rest.

2: Consideration


OK, good…now I know who you are. Hopefully I know enough about you that I’ll consider you. Give you a shot, ask for more details, visit your store, or get a quote. The customer is saying, “yeah, I think they may have what I need. Let me investigate this further.” She hasn’t bought anything yet.

3: Preference

Now the purchase is made. She did her homework and preferred you over the other options.

4: Loyalty

Oh, did you think your job was done? We don’t just want to make a sale. We want her to come back and buy it again.

5: Advocacy

This is exactly what it sounds like. Word-of-mouth. Your customer is so wowed she will trust you to take care of her friends.

Advertising takes place up at the top. It’s awareness. Consideration happens after the customer comes through the door (or goes onto your website or calls for info). This is where your product or service is being tested. You shake hands. To get to preference requires sales skills. Loyalty is the combination of the right product/service with good sales skills. Advocacy is your ability to make the customer say “WOW.”

Look at that sequence and ask yourself: “Where am I strong… Where am I weak?” Find the place where your leaky funnel is letting customers escape and plug that up. If they are coming to you but you’re not closing the deal, that’s not an advertising problem (but it is most certainly a marketing problem). If people are buying, but never coming back, you might have a product problem.

When you are evaluating your marketing, remember it is more nuanced than your commercials or where you’re advertising. Have the courage (and honesty) to look hard at the whole customer journey and find out where your Marketing may need attention.

Remember, Marketing is not advertising but advertising is part of Marketing.

Johnny Molson


*There’s disagreement on whether E. St. Elmo Lewis actually originated AIDA, but it’s been 120 years – so let’s just give it to the old boy, shall we?



Carry around your very own hardcover version (or eBook, or audiobook) of these musings in Campaign-O-Matic: How Small Businesses Make Big Ad Campaigns. On sale now at your favorite book buyin’ website.


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