Book Summary: Flip the Funnel

What if the "social media revolution" was about anything other than Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram? What if it was actually about a shift in how you run your company?

What if, for the first period in history, you could truly mean it when you claim you placed your client at the center of your business?

"You're damn straight that this is what it's about," I'm sure Joseph Jaffe would say. Indeed, he believes it is time to "Flip the Funnel."

Traditional marketers might remind us that we need to guide a prospect through a funnel. There, they become aware of your product, get interested in it, want it, and eventually take action. Hey! They had the entire world shouting: A… I… D… A! A… I…D… A!

But things have changed, and AIDA is beginning to resemble a Model T rather than a Ferrari. It's out of date, simplistic, and lacking in information.


Because the reality of business tells us that we need more people to purchase from us. We also want them to buy more frequently, spend more money in the process, and tell everyone about how great we are. AIDA concentrates entirely on the first point, ignoring the other three.

So, how do you alter your behavior? You turn the funnel over and find that AIDA's Action is just the beginning. In fact, you can achieve ADIA by entirely flipping the typical funnel around.

  • A = acknowledgement
  • D = Dialogue
  • I = Incentivization
  • A = Activation

This is the reality in which we currently live. Your manual is "Flip the Funnel."

Learn all you need to know on how to Flip the Funnel and succeed in this new economy. Consumers want to be treated with dignity and respect and are ready to pay a premium for it. My friends, retention is the latest acquisition. You can take that one to the bank, as you'll see in this book.

Part I - The Traditional Funnel

A mouse eating cheese (as clickbait) as the person hands out through a computer screen. This represents a traditional view as the creator only uses it to get views.

"Third prize is you're fired." I'll never forget the scene from Glengarry Glen Ross. "You've got leads," Alec Baldwin declares in front of a gathering of salesmen. "Mitch and Murray paid good money for them. Get their names and sell them...get them to sign on the line which is dotted!"

This scene is clearly exaggerated. However, he discusses a fascinating concept: the typical marketing funnel. AIDA. Attention, interest, desire, and action, the bright light at the end of the tunnel. Everything else, such as the customer's positive experience, is someone else's problem.

The concern is that this view, that marketing's purpose is to produce leads at any costs, is as prevalent now as it was when they called "action" on set and Baldwin began his now-famous monologue.

We've spent billions of dollars attempting to persuade individuals to follow this path. Super Bowl commercials, magazine covers, and, more recently, a slew of viral videos.

The trouble with this mindset is that it doesn't matter how many people view your YouTube video of a "kitten on a treadmill" - what you actually need and desire are lucrative, long-term client connections.

It's revealing that the most prestigious advertising prizes (given, predictably, at Cannes) had nothing to do with how good they were at generating revenue.

The issue with this way of thinking is that it is really outdated. It's overly simplistic. It also leads to a business that fails to provide "as promised."

How many catchy advertisements can you watch to make up for a really bad flight experience? Although it's become trite, the world has changed dramatically in the last five years. You will soon be awarded the third reward if you disregard these new facts.

Part II - A New Way Forward

A male on a rocket flying upwards showing a new way forward.

There are numerous options for moving forward, but only one that properly captures the new reality we are experiencing.

The first approach is to make the funnel longer.

A large number of organizations have arrived. We'll build up a client loyalty program since "we adore our customers," right? Maybe we'll get a new CRM so we can keep bombarding our newfound clients with offers since "we love our customers," right?

We can also perform one-to-one marketing. The "Dear customer" phrase is replaced with "Dear Bob," which is my particular favorite.

These tactics do not work in the long run, and they have a detrimental impact on loyalty.

Forrester Research has verified this in the banking, mobile phone, and consumer packaged goods areas. What was the one thing that had a strong link to loyalty? Previous experience, trust, and dependable service are all important factors.

I believe it boils down to one basic and essential factor: genuine concern for your clients. You're not coming from a place of trying to figure out how to create value if you spend the entire day trying to discover methods to deceive people into buying from you. As a result, you won't. Yours is the third-place award.

Turning the funnel on its side is the second alternative. The customer's voice has gotten greatly amplified during the last five years.  

From a 1 or 2 all the way up to a Spinal Tap-inducing 11. You could do it, but the fact is that it will happen whether or not you do anything. If you choose this new path, you'll almost certainly win second place (the steak knives) and maintain your job.

The final alternative, and the most logical, is to entirely reverse the funnel. We've all heard the studies that claim that acquiring a new client is significantly more expensive than maintaining an existing one. So, why, oh why, do we pay such little attention?

We'd be much more successful, according to Jaffe, if we focused more of our attention on the other end of the funnel - what happens after the sale is made.

But, because we despise change, he was gracious enough to reverse the funnel and alter AIDA to ADIA (see how he did it?). The funnel is really flipped. Brilliant.

So, once a consumer makes a purchase, we acknowledge them, have a conversation with them, reward them, and activate them.

Part III - How to Flip the Funnel

A woman showing the progress of the buying process.


On the opposite side of the funnel, the first thing we do is acknowledge. This makes individuals feel valued and as though they made the best decision possible. This recognition can take a variety of forms, including:

  • Say the words "thank you." Isn't it easy enough? Many people would tell you that it's one of the most powerful two-word combinations we have.
  • Report on your progress. Nothing is more frustrating than placing an order and not hearing back until your new book, furniture, or restaurant meal comes. Tell them when your steak will be ready or that it will be prepared in 5 minutes.
  • Check-in as a courtesy. Call your consumer for no other reason than to inquire about their well-being. They're going to adore you for it.

Now, there's a proper way to do things and a bad way to do it, and it all comes down to delivery. I recently had an encounter where the lady behind the counter said all the right things but delivered them in a manner that made my skin crawl. Even worse than no recognition at all is real acknowledgment.


The "dark" side contracts while the "light" side grows as we proceed down the funnel. It's time to take the next step and participate in discussion with your clients now that you've created some trust.

We live in what some refer to as the "many-to-many" era, in which arguments appear to go on forever, and our position in them is unclear. Remember that our duty today is to be prepared to converse with our consumers on their terms.

So here are some things we can do to start the discussion:

  • Create a club, a forum, or a group for your customers. The purpose is to bring the group together, not to control it.
  • Allow dialogues between the firm and consumers and interactions among customers to develop and thrive.
  • Don't be a lone wolf. Do not be a high school kid who never got on the dance floor because they lacked the bravery to take the initial step. There are several benefits to getting on the dance floor, just as in high school.
  • Listen. The finest conversationalists in the world are also the best listeners. Keep it in mind.
  • Find a good balance between technology and humans. If you work in a large firm, some technologies may assist you in managing the massive flow of data. But keep in mind that you can't automate everything. People want to communicate with actual people, not computers.


A customer service rep saying thank you with hands together for buying from them and spreading the news.

Now is the moment to start thanking your clients for keeping them coming back for more.

Jaffe poses an excellent question: what proportion of your revenue comes from recurring customers? If you haven't already, you should start measuring. You can quantify it if a firm like Coca-Cola can - who knows that 12% of their consumers contribute 80% of their revenue.

You'll want to thank customers for buying from you and spreading the news about your business. If you're still not convinced, consider this amazing argument made by Jaffe:

"You're already indirectly paying a network, publisher, or radio station money to persuade people to purchase your product. So why not cut out the middleman and pay them directly?"


Until now, the attention has mostly been on the customers. However, if you truly want to blast the top off the funnel, it's time to start utilizing the strength of the audience.

This is the section of the reversed funnel that is least usually used because it looks nothing like our old traditional world. As a result, we must look to the few doing it effectively today for direction.

Nike is a company that sells running shoes. There are millions of them. Nonetheless, their "Nike Run London," "Human Race," and Nike+ programs have developed a fantastic community.

So here's how someone decides where to acquire their next pair of running shoes: do I go with another company, which may or may not offer shoes that are more suited for me, or do I go with Nike and get amazing shoes AND a global network of individuals who share my enthusiasm for running?

To me, it appears to be a straightforward decision.

Nike has even created an app that records your runs and provides comments as a crucial community component. Then think about what you'll tell your other friends looking for new shoes. That's some serious stuff.

Part IV - Tying it all Together with Customer Experience

A digital call centre enhancing the customer experience by giving solutions; this is the beginning of a good service.

When you consider what the flipped funnel is striving to achieve, it incorporates what has just become the new buzzword in business: "customer experience." After all, isn't it the only thing that matters to the customer?

One thing you should do to make this happen is to make sure that everyone on your team is working on it.

The front-line staff, not the CEO, are the most visible in this new age of smartphone video and social networks. It's not enough to declare your dedication to "excellence in customer service"; you must live and breathe it so that your consumers can see and feel it.

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