All business owners should understand the marketing to sales funnel. Wikipedia calls it the purchase funnel. Many people call it the marketing funnel. You can click the image here for the Wikipedia definition and history that goes back more than 100 years.
The top of the funnel is large, meaning that it is supposed to include a lot of people. That’s about making people aware that your business exists. In a traditional marketing mix it was advertising, public relations for media mentions, possibly promotional activities like contests or seminars or speaking engagements, and so forth.
The funnel narrows, meaning that the numbers grow smaller, as it moves downwards from all those people aware of the business to just the people who might consider buying. So, for example, in classic marketing this is narrowing down from everybody who sees an ad to those who respond to an ad. They are interested. They are considering it.
The funnel narrows again when people make contact. They become leads. They click a link on the web to find out more; they call the phone; they visit your store.
At this point the funnel has narrowed from marketing to sales. It’s about converting prospects to customers. It’s about actual choices and factors that determine choices, like price, selection, delivery, and perception.
Perception is one of my favorite parts of the funnel because it defies classification. It’s down there at the bottom influencing the actual decision to buy, which is sales. But it’s also up at the top of the funnel, influencing eventual conversion to sales with large-scale factors like brand image and reputation. Think of it like this: how much does the reputation built in marketing influence the ultimate purchase decision? Do you choose the car, the computer, or the restaurant based on price, delivery, and selection? Or does reputation make a difference?
Does you social media activity, for your business, fit into this marketing-to-sales funnel?