Most of the time, we’re in the business of staying far, far away from the dark underbelly of advertising and marketing. But it’s Halloween, so why not shake things up a bit? From now until the end of the month, we’ll be posting the most evil, devious, and treacherous ways to decimate your competition. Stay tuned, because this is going to be almost as fun as taking candy from a baby.
The Sales Funnel Is A Lie
In the world of academics, a sales funnel is nice and neat. Customers enter at the top, the “awareness” stage, with many available options. As they begin to make a decision about which product or service they will purchase, they move through various “consideration” stages where they discard options that do not fit their mental model of the perfect product. As they narrow down their choices, they begin looking for vendors. A purchase is made, and money changes hands. A neat, nice little package of bullshit that we call classical commerce.
Let’s look at what an actual sales funnel looks like. A customer has a problem. They search Google for an answer. Some people on a forum somewhere recommended a variety of solutions 8 years ago. The customer goes to Amazon. Here, they review a variety of products at different price points. They learn new jargon and terminology and begin to Google those terms, adding more products to the consideration list. They decide to buy a product on Amazon. They Google to see reviews and, if they’re satisfied with the reviews, Google again to find a lower price.
Funnel Busting: Entering the Sales Funnel At The Bottom
In the pristine academic world of the sales funnel, all considered brands must enter at the top with everyone else. That is perfectly acceptable; if you can be one of the solutions mentioned on a forum alongside your competition, you will be better for it. But it’s expensive to get in at the top and nurture customers throughout the whole funnel.
The fact is that you can enter the funnel wherever you damn well please. The bottom of the funnel is certainly closer to the sale than the top, so why don’t we do that? In our “real” example above, our customer’s last search was for price, likely alongside a specific model number, SKU, or brand name. Why can’t you enter into that search result with a well-targeted PPC ad? You can. Offer the same functionality in a product at half the cost, and you’ll be entering the sales funnel at the bottom, rather than the top.