The Buying Funnel and Why It Matters in Marketing


If you’ve been in sales for any length of time, you’re aware of the Buying Funnel. It defines the process by which you succeed in sales: taking prospects through your sales process to where they become a customer at the end. A funnel’s design - wide at the top and narrow at the bottom - represents the fact that not everyone who enters each stage will move to subsequent stages. This is true in more than just sales. In marketing, the buying funnel describes the process a prospective customer goes through when making a buying decision. It is used as a strategy in advertising, social media marketing, digital marketing, and inbound marketing…to name a few. Bottom line, the Buying Funnel matters in marketing, and here’s why: 

What is the Buying Funnel? 

The buying funnel describes the process a buyer goes through in making a purchasing decision.

Leads start out at various stages of unawareness - no knowledge of what options are available, what businesses are options, or why they may even need the products or services you offer. The goal of a marketing campaign is to bring them into awareness - to where they start to become familiar with a business, its name, and a little about what it does. The process continues until a prospective customer eventually understands what a business is about and what it can do for them. Then, as the need or desire for a solution becomes apparent, a buyer acts on their new conviction that a business they’ve been hearing about can solve their problem. Finally, the action step is when a prospect picks up the phone or walks into a business and ultimately makes a purchase. Viola! The Buying Funnel in action!

Buying Funnel - Zimmer

The Buying Funnel in Marketing

Just like in sales, marketing is designed to also take prospective customers through the process of unawareness, awareness, comprehension, conviction, and finally action.  It's important to remember that, with the Buying Funnel, consumers will be at any stage of the funnel at any given point in time. It is a fluid and constantly moving process. Consistent advertising ensures your business is there, helping buyers progress from one stage to the next, and that you are top-of-mind when they enter the conviction and action phase. Remember, your competitors are scanning the market also. The role of a strategic marketing campaign is to put your business ahead of the competition in the minds of your customers. This is done by using a combination of awareness campaigns and action campaigns in your marketing strategy.

Here's Zimmer's Director of Sales Carrie Berkbuegler to talk about how this process works specifically: 

It’s Not About Either/Or…It’s About Both/And

BOTH strategies are critical to a complete marketing campaign’s success! Action without Awareness teaches consumers to wait until a sale is announced before they shop. Awareness without Action creates lots of goodwill in the community and builds business over the long term, but can be agonizingly slow in generating a quick response. Both strategies are designed to walk prospective customers through the stages of the buyingaction and awareness campaigns funnel…an extremely important process that can’t be circumvented. It can also never be stopped. Statistically, only 2-10% of the population is in the action phase at any given point in time...which means 98% of the population isn't buying from you - yet. For that reason, you'll never arrive at complete conviction…that EVERYONE who may ever be in the market for your goods or services has arrived at a stage of marketing nirvana - where everyone is aware of your business, understands completely what you do, and is convinced that you alone are the perfect solution. I hate to be the bearer of bad news…but that will never happen. If it did, Ford, McDonald's, and Walmart would have stopped advertising ages ago. 

The Buying Funnel is an important part of the marketing process. A few things to remember though: 

  1. It takes time…nothing happens overnight. Marketing is a long game, one that is won through persistence, dedication, and strategy. 
  2. Don’t get your strategies and your outcomes mixed up. Too many people do awareness campaigns and expect action results. It doesn’t work that way, 
  3. Don’t give up. When you feel like quitting…don’t. Talk to your marketing rep about how you’re feeling. They can help you when fear sets in and can make changes to your campaign when adjustments are necessary.

The Buying Funnel applies to strategy within types of advertising as well! Watch for upcoming blogs on how the Buying Funnel is implemented in digital marketing, social media marketing, and inbound marketing.

the buying funnel


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