This week has flown by – we have been swamped with a number of projects with nonprofits – and doing a host of new customized Fan pages.  Plus, our looming vacations have created deadlines that keep our nose to the grind and as a result, less blogging.

If you’ve followed us at any length of time, you’ve heard us give our definition of marketing – yes it’s even on the top right hand corner of our page.  John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing coined this definition years ago and we love it.  It’s all about relationships.  In John’s newest book, The Referral Engine, he drills this definition down a little deeper.  The graphic above represents the “Marketing Hourglass” as opposed to the traditional “marketing funnel” that we all heard about studying marketing (by the way, this is where we studied it).  In talking about the hourglass concept, John calls it the “easiest way to explain the marketing process” and I couldn’t agree more.

Funnel – take a large population (wide top of funnel), push your product on to them and squeeze them into a transaction and spit ’em out (small bottom tip)!

Hourglass – fixate your eyes on a large target and create a systematic approach to dating them, getting them to know-like-trust you.  But you’re not aiming for squeezed transactions, but conversions – and I’m almost metaphorically equating these to the religious kind.  When someone becomes a true convert (more than a transaction), they become life-long loyalists who REPEAT while also blossoming into your greatest ambassadors who REFER you!

Yes, if your customers are not referring you, it could be that they view your relationship through the eyes of the funnel rather than the hourglass.  The same holds true in the social media world.  We all push ourselves toward more Fans on our Fan Page, more Twitter followers on Twitter, and more subscribers to our email list.  These are important, but they are not conversion (link to Seth Godin’s blog).  But how do you treat these people when they signup or opt-in?

  • Are you squeezing them into a tranaction (funnel) or
  • Are you educating them toward your one-and-only solution that they will tell everyone about (hourglass)?

Referrals happen not just because you pay people to refer you (although we’ve done that with limited success).  Referrals happen when you make a connection with someone and treat them so remarkably that they keep coming back and/or they tell all their friends about how great you are.  Is that happening for you?

(in August, we’ll launch further into the principles of referral marketing with blog posts, interviews and workshops starting August!)