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An interesting discussion has popped up on Twitter. Dharmesh Shah started the whole thing on his excellent blog, HubSpot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog, when he posted Marketing Tips In Exactly Three Words (MktgTriplets). In his own words:

For some reason, I’ve been obsessed with trying to condense ideas into
as few words as possible.  I find the wordsmithing oddly enjoyable… So, I thought I’d take a stab at distilling down some advice into
“marketing triplets” (marketing advice in exactly three words).

Shah listed 47 "triplets" of his own, including:

1) Spark a conversation.

2) Dissect your data.

3) Hire a writer.

4) Don’t spam people.

5) Say something useful.

6) Try something new.

Shah's followers on Twitter have added many, many more three-word phrases, so I started thinking about what I would add to the conversation. And instead of coming up with a list, I challenged myself to come up with just one triplet. What would be the one three-word phrase that I think would distill down as the essence of marketing? Here's what I came up with:

Fill The Funnel.

Why so important? Simple. Your list of customers and prospects is your most valuable asset. Without that list, nothing else happens or can happen. We all know the age-old adage, "Build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door" is bogus. You can have the most amazing mouse trap ever designed, but if nobody knows about it, nothing happens. Your success is in the list.

Fill The Funnel.

Customers die. Customers go out of business (even long-time important customers, as so many of us, including me, experienced in 2009). Customers find a new supplier. Our bucket is always leaking and if we aren't regularly filling the funnel with new prospects, then we eventually get to experience that oh so positive word spin of Negative Growth (what idiot came up with THAT one?).

Fill The Funnel.

New start-ups scratch and claw to find customers. They pull out all the stops to get people to notice them; breaking the rules of the game so people will give them a chance to present their new product or service. Old, fat companies often don't. They ride the momentum of current customers keeping them alive and not taking the same risks that got them there in the first place.

Fill The Funnel.

Continually chasing new prospects forces you to stay fresh, interesting, and valuable to your marketplace. Every year brings new marketing and communication tools, so you must stay on top of learning. The same marketing strategy that brought you success five years ago is dull, boring, irrelevant, and worst of all, IGNORED today. In order to even be able to fill the funnel today, you've got to be none of those things.

This is going to be my new mantra for 2010 and a phrase that my clients and readers are going to hear from me over and over.

Fill The Funnel.