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Alternatives for Marketing and Sales Funnels

Tailor your products or services to fit the needs of your target market and watch your business thrive.

Unearthing the Marketing and Sales Funnel Fallacy and The Framework Alternatives That Work

It’s time we stop using funnels. Marketing and sales funnels are failed experiments built on an outdated premise. Let’s consider what’s wrong with funnels and why we need a modern model for marketing and monetization.

  • Marketing and sales funnels are built on a faulty premise of not knowing your market 
  • Funnels are transaction-based, depend on paid traffic, ignore customer success, limit the customer journey, and create low-value engagement 
  • Instead of funnels, consider alternatives like the Inbound Flywheel, Marketing Hourglass, and 1:1 marketing mindset 
  • Marketing and sales funnel alternatives prioritize customer success, personalization, and understanding the individual needs of each customer 
  • By focusing on your ideal buyer and tailoring your products or services to fit their needs, you can improve conversions and revenue.

F Your Funnel, Bro

So why do I give marketing and sales funnels an “F” grade? 

Marketing and commerce funnels have a faulty premise. It’s this false belief that has created such fanfare about funnels. The mistaken assumption is that you don’t know your market.

The Funnel Hype Machine

By starting with this flawed premise, funnel hackers have created a false doctrine for marketers: 

  • Create an offer
  • Advertise the offer on as many channels as you can manage
  • Send traffic to a landing page for the pitch presentation
  • Use Upsells and one-time-offers (OTO) to offset ad spend and increase average order value (AOV)
  • Make money on a handful of buyers who found value

Voilà, you just made a million-dollar funnel! Welcome to the two-comma club! 

Not so fast.

The Fuss About Funnel Frameworks

You can drive traffic to your funnels if you have cash flow to buy ads. If you have an irresistible offer, you’ll get someone to make a purchase. That means a profitable funnel generates a higher AOV or lifetime value than the costs to acquire a customer (CAC). The best outcome is more sales revenue than ad spend.

Sounds fun.

Now, you must focus on fixing leaky funnels to optimize customer conversions. Instead of creating unmatched value for your market, you’re a marketing plumber.

Funnels provide a simple business framework. Don’t get me wrong. I was a believer, too. Now, you can consider me a recovering funnelholic

The Problem With Funnels

Funnels are not fool-proof. Here are some fundamental flaws in marketing and sales funnels.

  1. Funnels are transaction-based: The value creation ends once the buyer makes a purchase.
  2. Funnels depend on paid traffic: Continuous advertising only works for some businesses.
  3. Funnels ignore customer success: The post-sales experience is not the focus. 
  4. Funnels limit the customer journey: The buying experience starts and ends outside the funnel.
  5. Funnels create low-value engagement: High-value relationships need a high touch.

What Are Marketing and Sales Funnel Alternatives

Funnel strategies thrive in commodity-driven markets with no target buyer. On the other hand, once you know your market, a custom approach will be wiser.

Frameworks are important. Digital marketing frameworks provide scaffolding so that we can build empires that last. Let’s look at four alternatives to the traditional funnel methodology.

The Inbound Flywheel

Hubspot popularized the Inbound Flywheel as the evolution of the funnel.

The flywheel is an iterative customer journey that expands as customer lifetime value (LTV) grows. The flywheel avoids the one-time purchase funnel approach and focuses on LTV.

We adopted the flywheel to depict our marketing and commerce goals. The business outcomes align with our core content, automation, and marketing capabilities. We recommend you explore the Inbound Flywheel.

Grow Your Audience

The Marketing Hourglass

The Marketing Hourglass is visually different from the flywheel. Unlike the flywheel, the customer journey can start at any stage. Like the Flywheel, The Hourglass aligns marketing, sales, and support efforts.

The Marketing Hourglass prioritizes customer success so that you can build a referral engine. You can lower your CAC by increasing sales with existing customers and getting referrals. John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, created the Marketing Hourglass

1:1 Marketing Mindset

One-to-one marketing is a shift away from the mass marketing approach of funnels. 1:1 marketing harnesses customer data to personalize engagement at each buying stage.

1:1 marketing leverages automation to get the right message to the ideal customer at the best time. By leveraging data effectively, brands stop wasting money on mass advertising to fill funnels. One-to-one is a total mindset shift in marketing.

A New Mindset

So, why did I change my mind about marketing and sales funnels?

I offer you two words: Customer Immersion.

The more you know about your ideal customer, the more targeted your offers will be. This insight had a direct impact on our marketing strategy and campaign metrics. You can minimize wasteful advertising the more you focus on your ideal buyer and her core challenges.

End Shotgun Marketing

Funnels are the shotguns of marketing. You’re going to hit something no matter how poor your aim is. 

The question is: can you sustain shotgun marketing when superior approaches exist? 


Funnels have their limitations. Marketing and sales funnels work best for guiding prospects toward a purchase. However, funnels often ignore the individual needs and preferences of each customer. 

The customer journey is dynamic. A one-size-fits-all funnel can cause missed conversions and revenue. Your business should investigate 1:1 marketing strategies, prioritizing personalization to connect with and convert your audience.

Tailor your products or services to fit the needs of your target market and watch your business thrive.

Next Steps

When you’re ready to move beyond the Funnelmentals to do marketing that creates 10X opportunities, schedule a consultation. I’d love to show you which marketing and sales funnels alternatives works best for your market and business.

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