If I were the head of marketing and were forced to completely turn off one of my marketing tactics—perhaps because we were at the beginning of a global pandemic and my advertising budget was taken away—I might worry that would have an effect on my ability to generate new business. If I’m measured on how much new business I generate at the top of the funnel, I might be nervous that the business (and perhaps my job) would suffer. Remember, I’ve been successfully correlating my tactics to the leads I’ve been generating (“lead attribution”). The story I’ve been telling is that the tactics I’ve been using generates leads. We’re about to mess up my story.
What I like about the Airbnb story is that they had so much success with organic and direct traffic, they were able to stop paying to fill the top of the funnel and their business didn’t suffer for it. The only way that happens is if you’re investing in the customer journey such that your current customers not only bring in repeat business, but they tell their friends. Your customers and their stories become the fuel that brings new business into the awareness phase of the customer journey.
Another way to look at it is that instead of investing in a funnel, you’re investing in the customer journey
(or, perhaps, investing in the brand
). Yes, you often will still need to invest in tactics that insert prospective customers into the awareness stage, but if you’re caring for your customer’s experience along their journey with your business, your customers
will help you do the work of filling the funnel. Existing customers will consider buying from you again (if you’re providing value and delivering a good experience) and will tell their friends, colleagues, etc., bringing more prospective customers into the awareness stage of their customer journey with you.