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Communicating Using the Groundswell: The New Marketing Funnel

April 28, 2009

Traditional marketers and advertisers have been stuck on an old idea, called the Marketing Funnel (or A.I.D.A. in the advertising world). Because of social media and the groundswell, we are learning that it doesn’t always work that way anymore.


Source: Forrester Research, Inc.

Source: Forrester Research, Inc.


The traditional marketing funnel says that people go through 5 steps before becoming loyal consumers of a product. These five steps are:


  1. Awareness “I see that ad”
  2. Consideration “I’m thinking about it”
  3. Preference “I think I like it more than its competitors”
  4. Action “I’m buying it”
  5. Loyalty “I’m going to keep buying it”


As we have talked about many times in class, communication is no longer in one direction like this. People go through many more, or many less, stages of thought before buying something or believing something. Word of mouth is so principal to our way of consuming, the consideration and preference steps are small steps because we may talk to a friend about it first, or look it up online. 
The old time advertising way of directing consumers to purchase a product has similar drawbacks. It is pretty much the same as the marketing funnel, but has four steps and is set up like a pyramid. Its four steps are:



  1. Attention “I see the ad”
  2. Interest “I’m thinking about it”
  3. Desire “I want it”
  4. Action “I’m buying it” 


 You can see the similarities in the two ways of approaching consumers. People are changing these approaches to communicate to consumers, and an example is the video for Blendtec that comes from Groundswell. Blendtec stumbled on the idea of using YouTube as a marketing tool to promote their heavy duty blenders. They produced videos that “tested” their blenders’ abilities to, well, blend. From two-by-two lumber, to iPhones, to golf balls, they filmed their blenders blending it all. This became a huge hit instantly, and brought in many new consumers. It really shows how marketers are figuring out their own ways to approach consumers using the groundswell, even if they stumble on it in a test room.

Jasmine DuVall


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