The Customer Journey Marketing Hourglass

Sales funnels have been around since the first caveman sold the wheel.  Don’t fact check that.  Sales funnels consider the customer’s journey to a purchase decision.  It is typically something like this picture below with stages like awareness, interest, decision and action.   

As customers go through the funnel stages, it’s natural to lose customers through the stages.  It’s the job of a small business to create the most effective sales funnel possible.  However, the standard sales funnel doesn’t fit with how consumer behavior has changed with the era of information.  This is where the Marketing Hourglass comes into play.  

The Marketing Hourglass is a modern sales funnel that considers how consumers use technology capabilities and all the new sales tactics before they eventually make a purchase decision.  Small Business owners should know what marketing strategies their business uses for each one of the Hourglass stages.

Feel free to download and print this hourglass to fill out as you determine if your marketing practices have created a true sales funnel.  When filling out or considering your own hourglass, it’s important to know many marketing strategies can go across multiple stages.  With that out of the way, let’s get started. 


Being aware of a business or new product/service offering is the first step in the sales funnel.  Some small business owners think this stage only applies to when businesses are just starting.  With new business offerings comes the challenge of letting customers know about the new solution to their problems. 

Ads, referrals and articles are all the major ways customers become aware of a business.  Ads are the most popular way of distributing new business developments, but there are many different advertisements forms a business needs to consider.  Check out Online Advertising for Small Businesses to consider the best options for your business. 


Once you have a customer’s attention, it’s the like stage where you convince them you’re a business they should do business with and support.  The typical strategy for this stage is to have a marketing website that engages the customer and provides them with valuable content to make their decision. 

Businesses use social media, blogs, videos, podcasts, and newsletters to convince customers to like them.  Don’t be misleading or too pushy with this stage, but making touchpoints through more than one of these channels leads to greater results. 


When a customer gets to the trust stage, they want to feel a certain sense of confidence in the business they’re evaluating.  Customers build this trust by exploring client testimonials, case studies and reviews. 

While all 3 are important, let’s take a second to consider reviews.  The most popular review platforms are Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Amazon and on the business’ websites.  Starting with claiming your Google My Business listing should be your first step. 


A relatively new stage of the customer purchase journey is the try stage.  We all take advantage of this stage without even knowing it.  From Netflix 1-month free trials to hitting demo golf clubs at the range, there are many different forms of trying out a business without making a purchase. 

The try stage will vary greatly depending on your business but giving away free or nearly free content so a customer can feel confident in buying your product is the goal.  Examples of giveaways or freemiums include trials, demonstrations, webinars, DIY workshops and starter products. 


The buy stage isn’t the final stage!  Caring about the customer satisfaction rate is important at this stage.  Going above and beyond the customers’ expectations is a great strategy in the buy stage. 

The buy stage includes actions like delivery, finances, starter guides, customer service team, how to videos and customer service kits.  Be creative with how you help your customers use your product and they’ll be sure to come back for more. 


The repeat stage is all about convincing your customer base they made a good decision buying from your business, and they have received value that exceeds what they paid.  It’s also an opportunity to create sales opportunities for your other products and services. 

Actions in the repeat stage include customer events, post project surveys, review process and educational content of the full capabilities of your product/service you just sold them. 


The refer stage is perfectly setup from how the hourglass leads a customer up to this point.  Keeping customers happy by creating a positive customer journey is the benefit of the hourglass, rather than the old sales funnel that emphasized the sales aspect. 

Reviewing the previous results of your hourglass funnel and improving weaknesses will improve your chances of customer referrals. Peer2Peer events are a great way to get more customers involved as well. \"\"

Examining your hourglass or customer journey is essential no matter what form it takes.  The hourglass should be one step in your overarching Marketing Strategy plan.  Ensuring your marketing channels are aligned with one another will make the difference between optimized marketing campaigns and ones that just spend money and waste time. 

Some businesses need help with developing their marketing strategies, others need help doing the marketing work and some need help with everything to do with marketing because they don’t have the team or time.  

As a certified Duct Tape Marketing organization, we have the expertise, experience and resources to help with specialized marketing strategies and executing the plan. If you need help with anything marketing related, First Call Web is here to help.  Call for a free consultation today.