Why sales and communication should speak the same language? Discover what a communication funnel is and start building the Tower of Babel.

Is there a communication funnel or a communication tower?

There is a critical term marketing professionals who help companies to sell more are familiar with: sales funnel

However, marketing professionals also use another one, just as essential, but less known: communication funnel.

Since I would like to make this second term better known, in this post, I’ll write about the communication funnel. Specifically, I’ll focus on the following three questions:

  • What are the similarities and differences between a sales funnel and a communication funnel?
  • When does a communication funnel become a communication tower?
  • How the sales funnel and the communication tower build the marketing iceberg?

Would you like to know more about these topics? Let’s start with the definition part!

What is a sales funnel

To start, I provide you with the definition of a sales funnel:

“The Sales Funnel or Conversion Funnel is the process that allows you to define the journey a Buyer Persona must travel from the first visit to your website until completing the sales process and becoming your customer.”

Sales Funnel: Everything You Need to Know, Genwords.com

Although there are many definitions, I chose the Genwords’s because it contains the three essential elements that help us understand the nature of a sales funnel:

  • Process – It’s a living organism, which changes and evolves. As a company’s goals change, the sales funnel changes, too.
  • Journey – The journey from the first to the last phase of a sales funnel involves a particular transformation. For example, a visitor may enter the process looking for information and exit it by buying the product.
  • Sale – Finally, the sales funnel ends when we meet its purpose. In most cases, the goal is selling.

A sales funnel turns a VISITOR into a CUSTOMER.

What is a communication funnel

Regarding the communication, it’s more common to speak about a communication strategy than a communication funnel.

It’s also less challenging to define the first term than the second.

Despite lacking a precise definition, the same three elements from above characterise the communication funnel:

  • Process – Just like a sales funnel, a communication funnel is a living organism, too. When a brand decides to modify its voice, vary the tone or remake the style guide, communication changes.
  • Journey – The journey from the first to the last phase of a communication funnel also involves a particular transformation. For example, a reader may enter the funnel looking for a piece of information and exit it identified with the brand values.
  • Sale – Finally, a communication funnel doesn’t end when the sale closes. Instead, communication continues through user experience.

A communication funnel turns a READER into a brand FOLLOWER.

(From this moment on, I’ll focus on written communication since that’s the field of my expertise.)

What these two funnels have in common

Sales funnel and communication funnel have more aspects in common, besides these three elements.

Both funnels are composed of a particular number of stages

The stages of a sales funnel are the following five:

  • Attraction
  • Interaction
  • Decision
  • Conversion
  • Loyalty

The stages of a communication funnel are the following three:

Both funnels start with the same stage

The two funnels begin with the attraction stage:

  • SEO – One way to attract potential customers is to invest in web content, optimised for search engines (content writing, organic traffic).
  • SEM – Another one is to invest in search engine advertising and social media ads (PPC copywriting, paid traffic).

Besides, in most cases, both funnels start at the same time.

With each stage, the number of people decreases

As the process continues, the number of people in the funnel reduces.

  • TOFU (Top of the Funnel) – The majority of them remain on the top of the funnel.
  • MOFU (Middle of the Funnel) – In the middle part, they are less.
  • BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel) – Only a few people reach the funnel bottom and convert into customers.

What are the differences between a sales funnel and a communication funnel

So far, we’ve seen:

  • What a sales funnel is
  • What a communication funnel is
  • What these two funnels have in common

Now it’s time to answer the question about the differences between a sales funnel and a communication funnel.

However, before doing that, let’s remember that both funnels start with the same phase.

When the attraction phase ends, the situation changes.

  • Speaking of the sales funnel, with each next phase, the visitor “goes down” towards the bottom, turning into a customer.
  • On the other hand, with each next phase of the communication funnel, the reader rises to a higher level.

In other words, when the attraction phase ends, the communication funnel rotates at an angle of 180 degrees and starts resembling a tower.

From the funnel to the tower: communication like the Babel

Speaking of the tower, I wasn’t referring to just any tower. I was referring to the Tower of Babel (and marketing).

The myth of Babel relates that the people who survived the Great Flood inhabited the ancient city of Babylon and began to build the Tower of Babel, to provide shelter in case of another flood. – In those times, according to the myth, all people on the Earth spoke the same language. – Since people were building a tower so high it could reach heaven, God made them speak different languages. Thus they abandoned construction and spread throughout the Earth. – The myth aims to explain the origin of different languages, while the Tower of Babel stands as the symbol of human rebellion against God.

Knowing the audience means adapting the messages

Communication seems more like a tower than a funnel because, as the communication process progresses, we begin to get to know our audience better.

This knowledge allows us to personalize the messages, increase their relevance, and adapt them to the audience’s needs.

  • Content writing – Messaging focuses on informing and explaining terms and concepts in which a relatively broad audience may be interested.
  • Copywriting – Messaging directs to a small audience, who needs the solution to a specific problem (the goal is to highlight the benefits that the solution provides).
  • UX writing – Messaging centres on an even smaller audience, the one that decided to use a product or service to solve their problem (the goal is to enhance user experience).

Speaking the same language means understanding the goals

The second reason is that we must speak the same language to continue building a project. 

And when I say we, I refer to:

  • Professionals who communicate messages
  • Professionals who focus on sales activities

By the way, I don’t mean literary the same language. I understand “speaking the same language” as seeing the big picture and understanding:

Building the tower means fighting to fulfil our goal

In the end, the Tower of Babel doesn’t have to denote (only) rebellion against God or someone else. The Tower of Babel may also represent aspiration, struggle, and energy we invest in the fulfilment of our goal.

Therein lies the third reason why communication seems more like the Tower of Babel than a sales funnel. 

The ultimate communication goal is to assure the audience gets the right messages, following the brand’s values, regardless of whether we close the sale or not.

The funnel and the tower make the marketing iceberg

To conclude the post, let’s remember the main two ideas:

  • There are (at least) three similarities between a sales funnel and a communication tower, but also three differences.
  • These are not separate processes. Instead, they are connected and dependent on each other.

Therefore, we could say that both the sales funnel and the communication tower make a particular iceberg, the marketing iceberg:

  • The sales funnel is its invisible part.
  • The communication tower is its visible part.

In other words, there is no communication without the sale, just as there is no sale without communication.

And without sale and communication, there is no marketing.

A Writing-Friendly Question: How do you perceive communication, like a funnel or a tower?

Stasa Durdic

I'm a content writer, copywriter, and UX writer. Serbian by birth, in Barcelona by occasion, writer by decision. I'm in love with the yellow colour, the art of storytelling, and the following phrase from Don Draper (Mad Men): "The client loves to pay the media, and the CREATIVE loves the PENCILS."

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