THE FUNNEL ALIBI*

THE FUNNEL ALIBI*

Central to the conversion funnel thesis is that marketing communication moves the consumer from their initially disengaged state through to deliberation and conversion. At the top of the funnel is brand-building which may comprise of emotional elicitation and non-price, quality reasons to believe. At the bottom of the funnel is often direct response, performance marketing which often relates to price and availability and is designed to clinch the sale.

If only that was a reasonable approximation of how humans process information. Our brain parallel processes synthesizing both brand-building and activation messages simultaneously. This is not to say that all elements of the communications will be effective at the single point in time; Ironically, the quickest part of the brain to respond, the limbic system, is the slowest to facilitate the neural pathway between the target discrete emotion and the brand.

Unlike the emotion’s neural superhighway, cognitive processing is a slow, single lane that requires the consumer’s non-divisible attention.  Of the cognitive tasks, price is fastest, whereas non-price or quality claims can take longer to edge past the consumer’s well-honed cynicism filter.

Binet and Field in ‘The Long and Short of it’ call this, ‘long-term brand-building and short-term response advertising. This has become the fashionable justification for creatives advocating a disaggregated marketing communication.

Emotion is our decision-making detonator.  When separating brand building from activate now, creatives are separating the detonator from the explosive.

Based just on correct brand linkage and awareness, for a two-stage funnel with an emotional anthem followed by a retail campaign, we have found instances where only a few percent of the target make it through the funnel to arrive at a consideration point.

If you are producing purely emotional top of the funnel “brand building” communications then unless your objective is to win awards, you are almost certainly wasting money.

*Extract from ‘The funnel alibi: Why brand building and activation should be undertaken simultaneously’ WARC https://www.warc.com/content/paywall/article/bestprac/the-funnel-alibi-why-brand-building-and-activation-should-be-undertaken-simultaneously/133260