Meet the Lifecycle Marketing Sandwich

Yes. A sandwich.

It seems that systems-oriented marketers love to develop frameworks representing discrete movements within the machinery of marketing, customer relationships, loyalty, and whatever else we can try to systematize.

Marketing funnels were so 2016. They fell out of fashion when we discovered flywheels, which will themselves be subsumed by Marketing Hyperboloids (ca. 2022), The Customer Journey Möbius Strip (ca. 2025), and The Customer Acquisition Fractal (ca. 2028).

This year, however, we’d like to talk about The Lifecycle Marketing Sandwich.

We’re cheeky about marketing process descriptions, which are actually useful. But they’re defined far too narrowly — as if someone tried to silo elements of human health without acknowledging an overlap between, say, sleep and exercise.



Lifecycle marketing is a three-headed beast; we need to understand whose lifecycle we’re focused on.

It’s common for marketers to build their strategy around a sales funnel-style lifecycle that centers on their brand’s point of view.

There’s also the customer lifecycle; this defines when and how often they buy products and how they use those products.

Then there’s the marriage plot: the shared loyalty lifecycle, which is the structured development of a customer relationship. This refers to how a brand interacts with customers over their lifetimes and how customer attitudes and behaviors around the brand evolve.

Once you recognize how these three lifecycles interrelate, you’ll be better prepared to align marketing and customers across what the brand is trying to achieve, the tactics and initiatives that will impact the customer, and what attitudes and behaviors bloom as the relationship develops.


Define success. Every marketing activity must link back to at least one core business objective. The Marketing Lifecycle, like the classic sales-style funnel, defines the step-by-step outcomes that lead from awareness to conversion and beyond. Setting each desired outcome on the path to purchase gives marketers clear visibility into measuring the effectiveness of given marketing activity.

sales funnel


Without a bit of translation, the average consumer would never recognize themselves as described in the Marketing Lifecycle. To be truly customer-centric, you need to understand the lifecycle from your customer’s perspective. The same story told from two differing points of view can illuminate some extraordinary insights.

As the oft-quoted Theodore Levitt wrote in Marketing Myopia, 

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit; they want a quarter-inch hole.” 

But even that doesn’t go deep enough. We can go straight to: 

“They want a well-maintained and orderly home.” 

Forgive the pun (or don’t): the deeper you drill down to understand the needs and challenges that customers face, the better you can tailor your tactics, messaging, and even products to optimize customer movement across the lifecycle and create meaningful and timely engagement.

customer lifecycle


Brand loyalty is the product of well-aligned marketing and customer lifecycles.

Each stage of the shared loyalty journey is defined by a set of customer attitudes and behaviors vis-à-vis your brand. If you can understand how these attitudes evolve, you can take steps to break down the barriers that prevent customers from moving into the next stage.

Paying attention to how these stages align with the Marketing and Customer Lifecycles can also help you plan a more effective marketing strategy.

customer loyalty


Now we show off our Sandwich Artistry:

These lifecycles align and support each other in planning, programming, and seeing results.

While they might not all begin at the same time, their stages neatly stack up.

lifecycle marketing sandwich time!
Now that you can see the full impact of marketing and sales activities from a high level, you can think bigger about how one piece here might affect the far-flung part over there. 

Take stock of how customer behaviors align with your objectives and how those drive the evolution of your shared relationship. 

This three-tiered strategy framework covers objectives to outcomes and ensures customer-centricity, high-impact content, and better business results.

Join us next week when we dive into how to overcome obstacles related to lifecycle marketing.

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