The B2B marketing funnel is under attack, especially in the B2B lead generation space. Find out what is — and what should be — taking its place.

We like funnels. We like them because they provide us with some sense of progress in our marketing efforts.

We have advertising programs to get people’s attention.

We use copy to build interest.

We use testimonials and case studies to build desire.

We have calls to action everywhere.

This is the classic AIDA funnel. Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. It’s a direct marketing approach that falls down in the long sales cycle reality of B2B marketing.

The demise of the funnel has been discussed for some time now. However, the discussion of what comes next has been unsatisfying to me.

The solutions that purport to step into the funnel’s place come with their own baggage. Hubspot offers up the Flywheel and customer delight. Lead scoring attempts to add value to the interactions someone has had with us. The more interactions, the more likely they are to be a prospect. But this approach treats the funnel more like a swarm of flies. People seem to swarm around our content until, finally, and unpredictably, they qualify for a call.

Carman Pirie believes there’s something better than a funnel or a swarm, and his agency delivers that something better. Kula Partners focuses on manufacturers all of whom have this long-cycle B2B sales challenge. Carman the Co-founder and he’s happy to put another nail in the coffin of the funnel. My question for him is, what comes next?

“The funnel is leading a lot of marketers — who function within a complex B2B sales environment — down a lot of really wrong paths. It’s making them think about attracting people into the universe in the wrong way. It makes them think about how to deal with people once they get into the universe in the wrong way. And it and it makes them think about how sales ought to engage with those people, I think, in a fundamentally flawed way.”

Our conversation around this question was interesting and enlightening. If digital marketing is more like a swarm, how is a swarm of bees different than a swarm of flies?

“You know that the frameworks that we use to think about our work really shape the work that we create.”

Replacing the B2B Marketing Funnel

Maybe you should develop a Firmographic profile. What kinds of companies would actually buy your product? What are the titles of the people who research and influence solutions like yours? Who else in the company are weighing in on the decision.

Then, take a few of your internal experts to lunch. Some of them would love to help you create some content that makes your prospects better buyers of your product or service.

Now go science something.

Resources and links

Brian Massey

Conversion Scientist™ at Conversion Sciences
Brian Massey is the Founder and Conversion Scientist™ at Conversion Sciences. He is the author of Your Customer Creation Equation. His rare combination of interests, experience and neuroses were developed over almost 20 years as a computer programmer, entrepreneur, corporate marketer, international speaker and writer.
Brian Massey
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