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A lot of people have been talking to me lately about their faulty funnel. And no, that’s not because I’m a doctor specialising in matters of a ‘personal’ nature. It’s because I’m a marketing strategist who’s spent years talking to clients about the prototypical marketing funnel… only to find it lacking the minute I move beyond the level of a campaign. So today, I’d like to propose an alternative model; one influenced by the way that sports teams are assembled and run.

If you’d prefer to watch this blog rather than read it, feel free to do so below.


It’s important to make sure we’re all on the same page; that we all understand what I mean by a sales funnel.

Funnels are typically used in marketing circles to visualise the journey a customer makes from being made aware of your product or service, to considering making a purchase, to ultimately buying. As the number of people naturally decreases through that process, so the funnel visually represents that and helps a marketer to understand how best to focus their efforts and budget.

The problem is that the process-to-sale is only one part of marketing. Ultimately, selling is hard work – and expensive! So most businesses will agree that the best customers you can target are those that are already in your system – those that have ‘fallen out of the bottom of the funnel’ so to speak. How does our pre-existing model account for them?

And here’s the hidden fault in the system – how do you come up with the thing that you’re putting into the top of the funnel? Ultimately, you need to develop something of substance before you even get your funnel out, and that substance has to be substantial enough that your customers take notice. 

Developing that ‘substance’ costs money and requires effort – as does looking after your pre-existing customers – yet the sales funnel neglects both and, as such, many business owners and marketers neglect them and then wonder why they’re constantly finding themselves chasing sales.



Here’s my alternative model; lay out your marketing activity like it’s a line-up for a sports team. You can choose a football team, a rugby 15, a cricket XI, an American football formation or a basketball line-up… whatever you like. But note how, in every single one of those teams, there are players whose primary responsibility is converting, assisting, commanding the middle of the field, providing solidity and finally, a safety net in case of things going wrong.

These team roles should now be applied to your marketing activity. Got a website that sells your product? That’s a converter. Running ads that guide traffic to that site? They’re assistants or commanders.

But here are the parts the funnel misses. In order to run those ads or to make that website as compelling as it can be, you need to be creating brand propositions, key messaging, images, articles and videos that inspire, entertain and inform your customers? At best, hinted at and alluded to in the funnel, in my Line-Up these activities are the defensive players in your team.

Similarly, what are you doing to prevent losing customers? Are you monitoring your social media feeds for complaints? Do you send newsletters to ensure they don’t forget about you and encourage repeat sales? Then those need to be accounted for too. These are the customers that have gone through the funnel and are now sloshing around on the floor according to other models. In the Line-Up model, however, they’re the goalkeepers, the wicketkeepers and the rugby full-backs who act as your last line of defence, snuffing out threats wherever possible and – if they’re good at what they do – starting off the attacks again.

They’re not the glory boys who score all the points, but they are absolutely vital to ensuring your team isn’t constantly having to outscore the opposition. In the Line-Up model, they are given the same amount of importance as your converters and a marketing strategy built around a balanced approach to team-building is a strategy that is set up for long-term success.

Over the coming months, I’ll be expanding on this model and going into more detail about which marketing activities most easily lend themselves to specific roles in your team.

Follow me on social media to see new updates first and if you’d like to discover how an X-CMO can use the Line-Up model to help you embody your ambition, contact me using the form below.


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