This post was driven by this very funny video with Brian Posehn doing stand up at SXSW poking fun of Joseph Jaffe and New Media.
Flip the Funnel is Mr. Jaffe’s Book which is linked here:
The premise is that it costs less to keep customers than get new ones. This idea goes back to the stone ages when the first spear tip maker had his first competitor for business. I have 16 years of Customer Service and Account Management experience. I have seen from both sides companies not investing in quality or customer service and thus losing clients while replacing them.
Where this specifically works is in Service Industries and High Ticket Item OEM’s whether consumer or industrial. Service is easy. Your not taken care of you flee to another company or person. Big ticket items have the highest potential for buyers remorse. Try a new soda flavor and you don’t like it, you toss it but do not cause pain to the Brand. Will you really stop drinking Coke just because Coke Vanilla tasted like Waste Water? No. But if you are upset you bought that car and your stuck with it for awhile, your never going to buy that Brand again.
But does this work for consumer brands? Yes and No. Whenever there is an equal out there it is very hard to Flip the Funnel. Can Coke win all my business Flipping the Funnel? No. Never. Not anyone’s. People will substitute Pepsi when the deal at the market means saving money. (See previous blogposts on how Point of Sale trumps Ad Spend every time). But Coke can do this at their Wholesale Clients like Restaurants that usually only offer one brand. That is someplace that Coke can Flip the Funnel because service will often trump a pure price play and their retail patrons can’t choose the ‘or equal’.
What about other Brands? I personally think we patronize certain Brands or Products and do not know why. We try something, like the price point and found no problems using it so we go back and don’t actually think about trying another Brand or Product for a long time. I really don’t think the Brand did anything besides get lucky. But often this is price driven. And when you sell on price often you are vulnerable to someone else’s better price.
Now with Store Brands coming in with almost equal taste and quality it is really hard to win and keep customers without a constant effort of coupons and rewards. Super Markets and anyone with a Loyalty Card Program do this the best. It doesn’t mean they are truly Flipping the Funnel with superior attention or service, but the bribe of something back for the patronage is very strong. Think Frequent Flier Miles or a buy 10 sandwiches get one free at your local Sub Shop. But again we do patronize places that are cleaner, happier employees, better quality stuff and know we have to pay more gladly. But I don’t think the products themselves can Flip the Funnel because service is not involved. Service is required.
See my post on Skullcandy
High end brands definitely have an edge. They can combine quality with cache/image to keep you. Often this brings great service to the mix. Higher end products are sold at more upscale retailers that spend more to ensure the value proposition is there. And while a Brand might lose me if they product turns out shoddy, I won’t blame Nordstrom’s who gave me great service. Unless I specifically ask a sales person an opinion that turns out wrong.
For Service Industries or Big Ticket Items Brands MUST Flip the Funnel. For other consumer product Brands maybe spending a bit more on quality vs focusing on price will help them win more business.