(4 min read)

The marketing funnel, which can also be referred to as the path to purchase, is essentially the different stages a customer will go through as they decide to purchase your product.

Every person embarks on a psychological journey to reach a point where they feel safe and comfortable to exchange their hard-earned cash for your goods or services.

The top of the funnel (ToFu) is the first stage. The harsh reality of the this stage is that most people won’t even be aware that you or your brand exists. Some could argue that this makes ToFu the most important part of the funnel, as a customer will never purchase a product of which they are not aware, a thought highlighted by the Aberdeen Group’s assertion that,52% of Best In Class companies are focused on Top of Funnel lead generation.”

“The mantra should change from “Always Be Closing” to “Always He Helping.” – Dave Hahn, GoFundMe President and CPO

Marketers use many methods to raise awareness and inspire people into ToFu.

Some methods are ancient, like print, TV, and radio, while others are new, like banner ads, SEO, and content marketing. The goal of these strategies is to market to the largest amount of people possible in the hopes of reaching someone who is interested, sometimes called the “spray and pray.”

This may seem lazy, or just archaic. Surely, with the rise of obsessive metrics analysis, we would have figured out by now how to target only those who need our specific product, right when they needed it. But, until we all upload our consciousnesses into the internet, there is no way to predict exactly who will want your product, and exactly when they will want it. What you can do to influence these future buying choices is to continually present your product, company, and brand as the most valuable choice of all. Not just best, but most valuable. As TopRank CEO Lee Odden says, your product needs to “be the best answer.”

So, whatever you are “spraying” out of your ToFu, it needs to be marketing that that provides relevant information, that is trustworthy and in the best interests of your potential customers.

On a more primal level, ToFu must be a place where you can connect to your customer’s pain points and, through your marketing, make them feel that your brand understands them and cares just as deeply about their concerns. In the words of GoFundMe President and CPO Dave Hahn, “The mantra should change from ‘Always Be Closing’ to ‘Always He Helping.'” That way, when a possible customer is ready to make a purchase, you will have already taken up real estate in their internal shopping mall as a vendor worthy of consideration.

But before we can understand what specific types of content you need to be outputting to fill your ToFu, and how to create it, we will look at the history of ToFu and the changes to consumer behavior that are shaping the funnel we use today.

Check back next week to read How Top of Funnel has Changed, and How It Hasn’t.