Khabib, McGregor and the death of the Funnel

Khabib, McGregor and the death of the Funnel

Last month, millions of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fans worldwide enthusiastically signed up for a historic live-streaming, pay-per-view fighting event between the two most famous mixed martial arts (MMA) champions, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.

My husband was one of them. For him, missing out on this live broadcast wasn’t an option. He placed his order via our local TV provider’s self-service app, and proceeded to wait with great anticipation.

But he didn’t get to see it. Somehow, the order wasn’t processed. After hours on the phone with service reps and multiple technical checks, our provider admitted it was a technical fault. There was no offer of compensation.

We’d been loyal customers of this provider for 15 years, religiously forking out dozens of dollars every month and tolerating their sub-par customer service in return for some quality British series and new VOD movies. Lately though, it seemed that they stopped investing in quality content too. So three months ago, for a few extra dollars, we added an OTT Netflix subscription and were amazed by the seamless multi-channel experience and personalization. In fact, it was so good, we eventually cut the cord completely and went with Netflix alone. “In such competitive times, I would have expected them to do something that will convince us to stay”, my husband lamented as we parted ways with our traditional provider.

Back at work, I was watching HubSpot’s co-founder Brian Halligan announce the death of the Funnel. In short, this model advocates that to grow, you must surround potential customers with relevant information, according to their position on the decision-making scale, so when they decide to buy, your business name will stand out from all the others.

According to HubSpot, with today’s customers much savvier than in the past and privy to a wealth of information to help them make purchasing decisions, the traditional approach of making “the loudest voice in the customer’s head”, no longer represents an efficient growth strategy.


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Inspired by Amazon’s Virtuous Cycle, they offer a fresh approach. It views growth as driven by an increased selection of products and sellers, where greater selection equates to a better customer experience. This in turn, leads to increased traffic and more word-of-mouth publicity, which ultimately attracts even greater numbers of sellers.

Based on this idea, they created a flywheel, composed of Delight -> Engage -> Attract -> Delight, and so on, whereby “word of mouth” represents the most powerful channel for customer acquisition – and the best means for achieving a return on investment. HubSpot also announced that are moving away from awarding their own sales and marketing managers by the number of deals they close, and instead recognize success according to the number of customers they retain. According to this groundbreaking approach, customers represent the “input”, rather than “output”, as the funnel model would traditionally suggest.

Unknowingly, that’s exactly the approach my husband expected from our former TV service provider. In today’s dynamic communications, media and entertainment market, given the variety of choices, fierce competition and ease of onboarding, he rightfully expected to feel happy about the choices he makes, the products he consumes and the brands he engages with. Indeed, we all expect to be delighted.

Don’t miss Amdocs Optima’s take on how to become a truly “customer-obsessed organization”, at our VIP lounge at AfricaCom in Cape Town, November 13-15.