Understanding the Most Fundamental Shift in Marketing

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Marketing Hourglass explained by John Jantsch (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

When I want to make marketing extremely easy to understand, I sit small business owners down in front of the above graphic and have them fill in some process, touchpoint, campaign, product of service in each of the seven blanks. The idea behind this graphic I call the Marketing Hourglass is that marketing is no longer a hunt and close business, it’s a be found, build trust, nurture, wow and refer business.

The most fundamental shift of all in marketing is the need to logically and systematically move prospects along the path of know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer – this is the entire game these days. Now, what tools and tactics you bring to this game will certainly differ, but the end game is still the same.

I wrote last week that the Most Powerful Form of Lead Generation is a Happy Customer and the hourglass model put the focus squarely on that idea. While most businesses use a marketing model that tends to lean heavy on the desire to go from know us to buy from us, any business that fills each of these seven touchpoints will be well on their way to finding and keeping customers that become part of the lead generation and conversion team.

I explain a bit more of my thinking on this tool in this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or


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  1. I love the graphic — if its ok, I’d like to use it in my marketing classes in the fall. It really sums up a lot of what I teach in the Principles class about consumers. It really takes the traditional sales funnel and adds depth to reflect a relationship marketing perspective. It emphasizes that ROI can’t be measured by looking at sales alone because that overlooks many of the major marketing objectives that lead to successful business.

    You might think about another graphic to reflect how the firm achieves these goals by combining targeting, understanding, customer engagement, planning, monitoring, and modifying aimed at moving consumers down the hourglass.

    Angela Hausman, PhD
    Assoc. Professor of Marketing, Howard University

    1. Sure Angela, and I have a wall size poster of this graphic that I would love to send for the class as well – let me know if you would like me to send and where. You can use our contact form to send address

  2. I really like the way you present this. It’s the referral part of this which I think is the key. Retaining customers is extremely important, but getting new customers is vital if you are to stay in business. Retention alone is inevitable decline (good post on that here from Kevin Hillstrom: http://blog.minethatdata.com/2009/05/death-spiral.html ), however ‘retention + referral’ = sustainable growth.

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