By: Jonathan Young, Marketing Services Director


The classic marketing and sales “funnel” is such an intuitive metaphor; it seems like the ideal way to describe the customer acquisition part of every business. And for considered purchases in mature categories, that’s probably true.


Those “customer journeys” all start somewhere out in The Market. On that classic funnel chart, The Market is the empty space above the inverted triangle graphic that’s plunking leads into your Sales queue like a chocolate factory.


But what about less mature product categories? Or more obscure ones? What about categories undergoing seismic disruption? Or the products and companies that are actually doing the disrupting? If people don’t know who you are, don’t know what you do and don’t know why they should care, awareness is less than a baby step on the road to winning customers.


The challenge is so daunting that a whole generation of marketers has thrown up their hands, screaming, “Just figure something out!” And they called it “growth hacking.” Then they wrote a bunch of books about their pseudo-discipline and priced them accordingly.


Unfortunately, addressing this marketing challenge calls for real discipline. It calls for cultivating understanding in the marketplace. Relevance. Significance. Real bond-building. No silver bullet can pack a charge that powerful. You need an arsenal.


Mercifully, such arsenals exist. They exist in the established relationships between publications and the professionals who supply them with the news and perspective that is their lifeblood. The arsenals include all the existing relationships, market segments and the data that goes with them that make up social networks.


That big empty space above the Sales funnel that yields prospects like magic has been catalogued and mapped. Just not for you alone.


If you want to fill your Sales funnel (and you know you do!), you need your own catalogue. You need your own map. You need a communications funnel that sits directly above the one Marketing and Sales looks to for nourishment.


Above this funnel is the space that PR professionals—with their relationships—influence like a kind of weather. It’s the space where social media connects the dots to produce targeted awareness. It’s the space where content and email marketing lure, nudge, and inspire your suspects with information that harmonizes with the “buzz” in the publications and on social media.


This is the funnel above the funnel.


So, next time you are having trouble attracting prospects—before you fiddle with your funnel—raise your sights. The answer may be a little higher, above the funnel. That’s where your customers’ journey really begins.


And if you need some help reaching them, we’re here to help you go there.