Of late, I find myself referencing what I call, the marketing funnel. Essentially, the marketing funnel is a visual tool I use with clients to get them thinking about the sales journey from prospective consumer to loyal customer.

Here’s how it works: Think of your target market as a sea of faceless individuals, each vying to discover the best product or service they can come across at the price they’re willing to pay (in some cases pay more if the circumstances are right).

Simply put, you must market to them in ways that appeal, lure and secure their loyalty. This is what comes from executing a strong marketing plan. Funnel or not, reaching the right people with the right message about who you are and what you do or sell is critical. If you don’t do this, you won’t grow your business, increase your income or raise your visibility. As a business owner, I imagine you’re in it to win it, right? You aren’t selling widgets for fun- it’s most definitely for profit.

Not everyone will buy your product no matter how you market to them. However, as you move people down the funnel to the narrow end (read: sale) with proper communications strategies and clear product and service offerings, you will increase your business. You will make more money. You will not only have more customers, but you will have happy ones who will come back again to buy and refer you to their friends. Once they’ve reached the narrow end of the funnel (again, read: $$), you must continue to nurture the relationship you have built with your customers in order to guarantee customer loyalty.

On that note, wouldn’t it be nice to see a steady stream of customers coming out of the narrow end of that funnel and not just trickling out? This is the difference between strong and weak marketing, good and bad planning and success and failure.

So when I work with clients, I often hear myself saying, “You need to get them to drink the kool aid from the marketing funnel” to get business owners thinking more about the ways they communicate with customers and nurture the buying process. By offering up this visual along with a little humor, it’s usually not too long until they themselves are whipping out a piece of paper asking me to draw it out.

And that’s when the fun really begins…