Like we did with “The Brand Bubble,” we skimmed a few blog posts and reviews on Amazon to review Joe Jaffe’s new marketing book, “Flip the Funnel” (shockingly similar title to a 2006 ebook from the King of All Metaphors, “he’s done it again” Seth Godin).
Here’s the gist of it: Acquiring customers using the traditional marketing funnel (if you don’t know what that is you shouldn’t be reading this blog or Jaffe’s book) is no longer the way to grow your business. Instead, you should turn the funnel upside down, and spend your marketing dollars on your current customers.
The tenets of “Flip the Funnel” are flawed from, well, from top to bottom. Space limits me to these few:
The “Meta” Premise
There is not a lot of science and structure to marketing, but the marketing cycle is one thing that can’t be messed with. The funnel is a companion element that’s served us well for years. A book based on “everything you’ve ever known or done is wrong” should set off alarm bells. Newcomers who have no idea how marketing works will be drawn like moths to a flame.
Customer Service = Marketing
You only have to think of your most recent experience calling the cable or mortgage company, or read the “Haggler” column in the New York Times Sunday Business, to understand the sorry state of customer service data and related systems. To think this is Marketing’s new pivot point is laughable.
Flipping the Funnel = Reduced Marketing Spend
It does, only if you want to go out of business soon after. Claiming a business can spend pennies on the dollar with social media versus traditional acquisition techniques and get the same results on a scaled, sustaining basis is grounds for marketing malpractice.
Customers As Advocates
Nice thought, but again doesn’t scale. The 20/80 rule applies here as everywhere else. Most customers do not give a rat’s ass about your brand. The span of influence of a few brand advocates pales against a business’s growth targets. Capitalism trounces socialism, again.
It’s a shame Jaffe overreached, because there is a small pony in here – companies woefully underinvest in marketing to existing customers. But addressing this won’t magically create a free salesforce. The upside is customer retention, plain and simple.
All you need to know about debunking “Flip the Funnel” comes from one of the exemplars cited in the book. After a few years working the “bottom” of the funnel, Zappos put out bids to ad agencies in 2009 for major acquisition work. At that time, here was Twittering-CEO-extraordinaire Tony Hsieh: “We are looking for a partner who…has fresh and innovative ideas for accelerating the growth of the Zappos brand." At the top of the funnel.
Flipped back, in its proper direction.