The Stakeholder Involvement Cycle and the Customer Experience

How To

The transition from the sales funnel to the Stakeholder’s Involvement Cycle  (SIC) reflects digital’s changing the focus from customer “sales” to customer “involvement.” As the user experiences the product or service while moving through the various stages of the Cycle, the product or service grows in value to the user/stakeholder. For the brand, the goal is beyond just the sale; it is to create a sustained relationship or, even better, a lifetime brand Advocate or Champion throughout the Cycle.

Stakeholder Involvement Cycle  vs the Sales Funnel

Understanding the transition from the traditional sales funnel to the SIC is critical to implementing the Sustainable Marketing Normal. The traditional sales funnel is a five-stage customer journey. The first two stages (Awareness, Interest) are focused on converting visitors/potential customers to leads and leads to prospects. In the middle of the funnel (Desire, Action), for those remaining in the funnel, the marketing team focuses strategies on adoption and closing the sale. At the bottom of the funnel (Loyalty), the team’s focus is to renew existing customers’ interest in the company’s brand and its offerings.

In contrast, the SIC is designed to produce long-term assets and “social capital” in the marketplace. Businesses are not just looking to make a short-term profit and exploit their resources: people, planet, and community. Instead, the focus shifts from achieving short-term gains in sales revenue to developing ongoing stakeholder engagement and impact while fostering sustainable relationships based on mutual value.

Below are outlined the seven stages of the Stakeholder Involvement Cycle with a focus on the Stakeholder Experience (SX). During the movement through the seven stages, the target user changes their role in the process, as the value and involvement grow. The SX is not linear but progressive, as each experience builds upon a previous experience, deepening the stakeholder’s allegiance to the product.

As the customer moves from Awareness to Champion, the SX changes from inquiry about and engagement with the product or service to action-oriented initiatives to promote the brand, sustain the relationship, and consider the impact on the community and planet. For example in the funnel, potential customers were targeted at Awareness; in the SIC, potential customers can become aware or interested in a product from multiple marketing touchpoints; therefore, they can enter the Cycle at any stage.

At stages three and four (Involvement, Commitment), the team is beginning to deepen the stakeholders’ commitment to the product or service by synergizing multiple tools to gain the adoption of potential users. In the funnel, movement is one-directional (down), linear, and contracting; in the swirling Cycle, it’s interactive with expanding touchpoints at each stage before and after the Commitment (Action) stage. At this point in the SIC (Loyalty, Advocacy, Champion), the real value of the satisfied stakeholder goes beyond acquiring new users for the brand, but to activating those users already in the stakeholders’ community and networks. The sales funnel movement ended at Loyalty; in the Cycle, it has expanded to encourage the user to become an active stakeholder as an  Advocate and Champion of the product or service.

Stakeholder involvement is two-way and reciprocal: the brand actively listens to stakeholder feedback and responds with new features and investments in the community.

 As a user moves beyond Commitment, the team must consider the economic value of a satisfied loyal customer, brand Advocate, and Champion:

  • Customer acquisition– Costs 6-7X more to acquire a new customer than to sell an existing one.
  • Customer retention– A 5% increase in retention can increase profits by up to 95% because of repeat purchases and upsell of new products.
  • Referrals– Satisfied customers are 50% more influential than the average customer and predisposed to generate referrals.

With the economic value of the Advocate and Champion established, here are five ways to grow and sustain this powerful user base:

  1. Track Them– Listen, observe, and monitor their behaviors. Understand their values and motivations. Most like to share their brand experiences, break news first, and enjoy promotions and discounts from the brand – i.e. cash in on the perks of being “in the know.”
  2. Reward Them– The top reason people follow brands on social media is to earn rewards and gain access to exclusive content. Invite them to be members of the exclusive inner brand circle and share their SX with others.
  3. Ignite their Passions– Certain users are advocates and champions because they are passionate about your brand and want to share it. Your job is to ignite that passion by creating stories, videos, and fun games that they can share or use to generate their own content.
  4. Connect with Them– Maintain regular contact with Advocates and Champions, keeping them informed of upcoming events and promotions. Consider them your first line and an extension of your marketing effort; they can play a significant role in the success of your marketing campaign.
  5. Measure the Results– Track and evaluate the results of brand Advocates’ and Champions’ shares and click-throughs. Ticketing service Eventbrite found that, on average, every social media share generated $1.78 in ticket sales; Facebook shares came in at $2.52, email at $2.34, and Twitter shares were $0.43.

Recent Challenges in the Stakeholder Involvement Cycle

While the Stakeholder Involvement Cycle provides a structured framework for engagement, recent challenges have emerged that necessitate adaptation and innovation. Here are some notable challenges:

  1. The increasing complexity of stakeholder landscapes- Today’s products and services often involve a multitude of diverse stakeholders with complex and often conflicting interests. Managing these complex landscapes requires careful analysis, skillful communication, and robust conflict resolution mechanisms.
  2. Balancing power dynamics- Power imbalances among stakeholders can hinder meaningful participation and decision-making. Addressing power dynamics is crucial to ensure that the voices of marginalized or underrepresented groups are heard and their interests are considered.
  3. Incorporating Technology-Driven Engagement- The rise of digital platforms and social media has transformed stakeholder engagement. Organizations now face the challenge of effectively leveraging technology to engage stakeholders while ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for all.
  4. Addressing Public Trust and Credibility- Public trust in institutions and organizations has been eroding in recent years. Rebuilding trust requires transparency, accountability, and genuine commitment to stakeholder engagement. Organizations must demonstrate authenticity and actively address stakeholder concerns.
  5. Balancing Conflicting Stakeholder Interests- Stakeholders often have competing interests, making it challenging to find common ground. Organizations need to employ effective negotiation and conflict resolution techniques to navigate these complexities and foster collaboration.


The Stakeholder  Involvement Cycle views the consumer decision process through the lens of the Stakeholder Experience. Cultivating brand Advocates and Champions from satisfied customers is critical to the success of your organization’s marketing efforts.


  1. Brainstorm five ways that brand Champions can create user-generated content (UGC) to share with their network.
  2. Think of one of your favorite brands. On which digital channels are they best supporting the efforts of their brand Advocates and Champions? Which other channels or venues should they consider incorporating?