The traditional Industrial Economy sales funnel/buying cycle has a number of tiers with the goal of marketing to progress your target market through each tier of the funnel:

  • Unaware – People who do not know your product/service exists
  • Awareness – People who are aware your product/service exists
  • Interest – People who are interested in your product/service
  • Consideration – People who are investigating/researching who is the best product/service fit for them
  • Decision – People who are ready to make a buying decision

In today’s Connection Economy we still have this funnel, but since customers can now be in relationship with brands (and other customers) over time, the New Sales Funnel looks like:

  • Unaware
  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Decision
  • Fan – People who have bought from you and will now prefer you over other suppliers (& tell others)
  • True Fan – People who are obsessed with you and will buy everything you release, including limited editions, no matter the cost
  • Ambassador – People who are so delighted with the brand that they proactively convince others to get on board.

Marketing in today’s Connection Economy, therefore, no longer stops when people make a buying decision.

The end goal of marketing now is to create products/services that are so remarkable, that customers become such fans, they can’t help but convince everyone else they know to also get on board (and be smart, cool, trendy etc, just like them).

Even though the New Sales Funnel extends 3 tiers on the old, because of the very different end goal, this fundamentally changes who you reach in the original 5 tiers and how you reach them.

You can’t just bolt on an extra three tiers, you need to design all 7 tiers to work towards the same goal.

Begin with the end in mind.

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Adam SugihtoFondu_Matt Recent comment authors
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Adam, are there distinct stages for a target’s progress through the stages?

Does someone who progresses from Decision through Fan, True Fan and finally to Ambassador carry more weight in their evangelism than a customer who vaults directly to Ambassador?

(i.e. Should I be seeking to progress everyone neatly through all stages, seeking all contacts at all levels, or going Get Rich Quick with the vaulter?)

I know who’d I’d listen to more, but fashion perhaps dictates otherwise 😉

Adam Sugihto

Hi Matt, *Great question* 🙂 The path may vary slightly and a brand can’t be in control of the exact journey a target will take. However, what is important is knowing that the end goal is now different, the messaging used at the top of the funnel must change. Essentially brands now want to set a new level of expectation for potential customers, that yes we want you on board to purchase (almost treat that like a given), but there’s more to it than that – we’re here to take you on a ‘journey of becoming’. Obviously this opens up… Read more »


I suppose I had High St in mind when I was thinking on this. We routinely see new cafés open and either go directly to totally full, or sit there like a wasteland, with very little in-between in the opening weeks. Which, I suspect, is partly a result of highly fashionable Ambassadors raving about a place even though the relationship is pretty shallow so far. We’ve had bartenders tell us ‘you HAVE to keep changing it up, or else you die’, which is pretty sad, but perhaps that’s either THE business, or at least the sector they were into. I… Read more »

Adam Sugihto

Fantastic thoughts Matt and great questions. I can’t comment too much on Bricks and Mortar retail, however I will observe that there is now a meeting in the middle. Purely bricks and mortar businesses are realising they need to be online (& social) and purely online businesses realise they now need bricks and mortar presences (or at the least, occasional popups). I think there’s a fascinating case study to be done for Bricks and Mortar businesses who understand the power of nurturing relationships online and use it to extend their interest far beyond initial hype. I also think similar to… Read more »


Sorry, I mangled that first line –
Is there a preferred path for a target’s progress through the stages?