It’s tempting to see the ‘Lightbulb Moment’ – a burst of unexpected clarity or insight into a problem we previously couldn’t solve – as a magical revelation that is visited upon us. Beyond our control, welcome but unbidden.

But we know really that the Lightbulb Moment is brewed up over time: a mix of experience, knowledge, creativity, individual and collaborative application. There’s still magic in it though. Those ideas come to you on the train, in the shower or while out for a run. Typically when you’re not engaged in that particular problem – hence the feeling that inspiration is an external thing.

You can create the conditions for that penny drop moment, but you can’t tell when (or if) it will actually fall. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

So, being the helpful souls that we are, F&G is going to accelerate the rate and volume of Lightbulb Moments you experience in 2020 by getting some amazing brains to share their moments with you. Watch this space for our Lightbulb Moment interview series for some serious inspiration.

We’ll kick off the series with a Lightbulb Moment of our own: Flipping The Funnel

20 years ago the Cluetrain Manifesto was published, a set of essays looking at the impact of the internet on marketing and heralding the end of business as usual. It contested that the internet was not like other media in that it empowered users and facilitated conversations, fundamentally challenging the old notions of broadcast style marketing.

Opening up access to information and the tools to create it, led marketers to talk about the ‘Attention Economy’ and wonder how brands could capture customers’ eyeballs in this new world.

But one of the authors, open source thinker Doc Searl, went further with his concept of the Intention Economy. In 2006 he wrote:

“The Intention Economy is built around more than transactions. Conversations matter. So do relationships. So do reputation, authority and respect. Those virtues, however, are earned by sellers (as well as buyers) and not just “branded” by sellers on the minds of buyers like the symbols of ranchers burned on the hides of cattle.

The Intention Economy is about buyers finding sellers, not sellers finding (or “capturing”) buyers.”

Buyers finding sellers.

Fast forward to 2020 and we all know the transformational impact of the internet / digital. And yet we stick with marketing models born a hundred years ago. The marketing funnel is a theoretical model to illustrate the path a customer takes towards purchasing a product or service. The original model AIDA standing for Awareness Interest Decision and Action, was born in 1924.

Just in the last 20 years we’ve seen seismic change: the proliferation of consumer choice, the complexity of business, democracy of access to information and the tools to create it, the breakdown of old structures of authority and new expectations for customer experience.

My lightbulb moment is that the old concept of the funnel doesn’t work anymore.

Traditionally marketers have assumed awareness is awareness of your business, interest is interest in your business. But customers aren’t automatons looking for something to buy, they’re thinking about themselves and the problem they’re looking to fix.

My lightbulb moment came when I realised you need to Flip Your Funnel. Your marketing funnel needs to be about the customer and their problems, not about your brand and what you want to broadcast.

In the ‘Flipped Funnel’, the awareness stage is when the customer is aware they have a problem and they’re trying to diagnose and define it. The consideration (or ‘interest’ in the AIDA model) stage is where the customer is researching all the different ways they can solve their problem. At the decision stage the customer has decided how to fix the problem and is looking for confirmation and reassurance that they’ve made the right choice.

Note, the agency resides with the customer.

So a successful marketer is one who builds understanding of the customer and the stages they go through and then markets into that. They make it easy for the buyer to find the seller.

This is how to create cut through. How to move from transactions to relationships. It has to be based on understanding, being helpful and earning respect. Authenticity. It also gives marketers – particularly the B2B marketer who knows they need EQ in their marketing but can’t work out how – the ‘in’ that’s needed to be relevant and connect with their customers on an emotional level.

My lightbulb moment: the funnel is dead, long live the Flipped Funnel.