James Hankins wrote an article for MarketingWeek titled Forget funnels, here’s a new model for the path to purchase (2 February 2021).

« Marketing funnels have had a bit of time in the sun lately. Mark Ritson believes they are the cornerstone of every marketing strategy detailing their importance in prioritisation as opposed to literal application… Ritson is right, they are useful but in a conceptual way. »

« Brands need a new model for path to purchase that better reflects consumers’ buying behaviour. May I present to you the ‘Hankins Hexagon’… A new model, practical in nature and with an associated change in metaphor that helps make more sense of the complexity inherent in human buying behaviour. »

« Each point is connected to every other point. This got me thinking, what if each point was classified as a ‘decision node’ or a point of inflection? This interlinked model allows all points to be connected to all potential decision nodes. The benefit being there are no pre-formulated pathways or directions. As each node is linked to every other node this theoretically represents a vast number of potential paths to purchase. »

« How does it work? The assumption at its core (and based on truth) is that pathways are non-linear and this has always been the case (despite the AIDA model’s best intentions). »

« So, what does that mean? Well, simply put, a person can make their own way from A to Z any way they choose. In reality there are very few ‘fixed’ pathways and most are two-way (feedback loops and changes of mind). This model posits that an individual can start wherever and eventually make their own way to purchase, that is if they do buy in the end because not everyone always gets there. »

« The interesting point is that for different brands and different categories you’ll probably find a dominant path because the lines between these ‘nodes’ are actually probabilities. That’s the actual point of advertising after all, to increase the probability that a person chooses your brand over another and in this model you can prioritise where you invest to improve those pathway probabilities. Much like digital touchpoint analysis, this can then be turned into a decision tree. »

« when aggregated it’s clear that a normal distribution will be in effect (i.e. most common pathways will take up the core 68%).»

« you can prioritise where you invest your cash to maximise penetration. What are the most likely routes to sale in your category or for your brand? Which nodes are important, which less so? »

« Measuring changes over time to identify trajectories would be the next step down in terms of measurement but no less important. »

« The relevance of pinball… Applying the model, marketers can use their investments as ‘flippers’ or ‘bumpers’ to guide people to final score (that is an extra ball) with the impact of communications acting like geometry to improve the probability you’ll score highly. »

« The biggest difference being that the hexagon leaves all paths open rather than forcing you through the messy middle. »

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