One of the central concepts of marketing and sales is the funnel — through which companies are supposed to systematically move prospects from awareness through consideration to purchase.

But consumers are now more informed, connected, and empowered than ever. Does the funnel still work in a digital, social, mobile age?

We asked some of the leading marketers in the world — from companies like Google, Intuit, Sephora, SAP, Twitter, and Visa — to assess the relevance of the marketing funnel. What we found says as much about the future of business as it does about the future of marketing.

According to these marketers, the primary problem with the funnel is that the buying process is no longer linear. Prospects don’t just enter at the top of the funnel; instead, they come in at any stage. Furthermore, they often jump stages, stay in a stage indefinitely, or move back and forth between them.

For example, consider items that come recommended on an e-commerce site. With a click you can add them to your cart, moving straight from awareness through consideration to purchase in only a few seconds. The same holds true on items discovered in a Tweet, Facebook post, or Pinterest board.

In both B2B and B2C businesses, customers are doing their own research both online and with their colleagues and friends. Prospects are walking themselves through the funnel, then walking in the door ready to buy.


Your website is what gives your potential customers their first impression of your business. Unfortunately, many business owners are making costly mistakes that could affect their sales and their reputations. Many entrepreneurs decide to create their own websites in order to save money, but before you go this route you should keep in mind that making web design mistakes can cost you.

Here are the top oversights made on countless small-business websites and how you can avoid them:

1. No Call to Action - Without telling your customers what to do, they simply won't do it. In fact, a staggering 93 per cent of small business' sites don't display their email addresses while 49 percent don't share their phone numbers on their homepages. Want them to buy a product? Tell them to! Want them to contact you? Make your contact information the first thing they see when they land on your site.

2. Poor Design - If your website is poorly designed, what do you think your customers will think of your service or product? The design of your site is the first thing consumers see. Make them feel confident by giving them an organized, attract first impression.

3. Time-Consuming Updates - When you run your own website you're wasting countless of billable hours on updates, just as 64 percent of business owners do!

4. No Metrics - A whopping 75 percent of small-business sites don't use analytics to measure their website performance. Another 60 percent don't think they have the tools needed to make sense of their site's analytics or take action when an issue arises. Professional website designers know what to look for in order to ensure your site is not only attracting the right audience but is maintaining their interest.

5. Poor SEO - If you're not helping customers find your website, you might as well not have a website. With 26 per cent of small business sites not found in search results because of poor SEO, it's important to ensure you're not one of them! When you know the best keywords for your business to be found and incorporate them into your site's titles, meta information, and on-page content, you are on the right track to standing out amongst the competition.

6. No Social Media Links - You want your customers to share your brand with their friends. To help make this happen it's important to include social media widgets for Facebook and Twitter for easy sharing.

7. No Mobile Optimization - Since most people check out websites on their mobile devices it's important to ensure your website is optimized for their phones and tablets. Unfortunately, 60 percent of small- business websites aren't mobile optimized.

8. No Designation IT Person - Have you ever clicked on a website only to be brought to a completely different page? That site was likely hacked and is now facing costly and time-consuming headaches that could have been resolved if there were a designated IT person to prevent such a security breach from happening in the first place. With a single cyber attack costing, on average, $8,669.48 and 44 per cent of small-business websites having endured a cyber attack, it's important to put an IT person in place as soon as possible.

Since the inception of BHIVE, we have been testing a number of different social media outlets. We must report that Facebook is the least favourite for any business looking to connect and engage with their target audience. If you are considering using Facebook for your business, here are three reasons why you should reconsider:

1. Facebook double dings you. First to grow your page and then again to "boost" your message to those you already paid to "like" your page.

2. Little or no engagement. If you are looking to engage people on Facebook, you have to trust Facebook's targeting methods, which you don't know who will see your ad.

3. Chances are the Facebook runs a like farm of their own to justify your investment. I mean, if you look at who is liking you, they are no different than the ones you can buy from "Buy Facebook Like" type websites. Do we have proof? The videos below makes some pretty strong suggestions to that same fact. Facebook fraud? Maybe, but we couldn't say that and risk a lawsuit now. #lol

Announcement Sept 2014: BHIVE will be launching a crowdfunding campaign of our very own soon, but we need your help! Click here to and sign up to receive more information about our upcoming campaign.

Crowdfunding, or crowd-sourced fundraising, exploded in 2013 and continues to grow in popularity in 2014. Start-up financing has evolved from approaching investors to generating a supportive and generous community of peers. Embracing this method of raising funds as part of your business growth strategy can catapult you to the success you've been striving for, but don't think of creating a crowdfunding campaign without social media support. Having a social presence is integral to gaining the support you need for your crowdfunding campaign.

Social media is popular because people want to feel closer to the brands they use. Understanding this, as a business owner, you should view social media as a way of doing business rather than just a way to mingle. Growing your online communities to spread brand awareness, connect with consumers and other entrepreneurs, share ideas and information as well as engage in meaningful conversation helps to build trust and credibility.