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November 2, 2016

Marketing Funnel Toolkit, Part Two: Strategies for ToFu content

Most businesses have thousands, if not millions, of potential customers. Catching their attention, convincing them that they have a problem and that you’re the best person to solve it, is a daunting task – and without a strategy, you’re more or less digging blindly for gold. You might get lucky, but most of the time you won’t.

At the top of the marketing funnel, the only way to turn heads is with great content. Think of it as your ‘cold open’ – it’s the killer scene at the top of a 60-minute TV show that makes the audience want more. Whether it’s through a funny 40-second video, a top-ranking landing page or a thought-provoking magazine feature, the goal is to make a first impression, and to make it really count.

You can’t do that without knowing your target audience inside out. Know their gender, age, location, hobbies and interests and what drives their decision making. Use this as a base when considering what kind of themes and formats will engage them at the top of the funnel.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

The trick behind ToFu content is putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and walking around in them. At this point in the marketing funnel, prospects aren’t thinking about buying. Instead, they’re looking for entertainment, seeking answers to questions and searching for ways to solve a problem. So your first step is obvious: find out what entertains them, what questions they have and what problems they’re trying to solve. If you don’t have access to or budget for in-depth research, try using some free tools and your own shoe leather. Harvest top-line insights from Yougov’s free profiling service, and trawl discussion forums and social media services in search of frequently asked questions and common gripes.

Don’t push product (yet)

ToFu content keeps product pushing to a minimum and instead focuses on generating awareness of both the brand and the problem. Ensure content answers questions, informs and guides potential customers. Consumers love content that’s educational, heart-warming, inspirational or funny, so use your content to leverage these emotions.

Optimise ToFu content for search engines

While ToFu activity gives you an opportunity to develop big, fun, brand-building ideas, it also demands some nuts-and-bolts SEO work. At this stage in the marketing funnel, you want to be seen. So it’s important to optimise your existing site, and any new content you create. Do some thorough keyword research – like researching personas, this is something you should be doing at the start of every content campaign.

Re-purpose content for different channels

Your content marketing strategy should outline where you plan to promote content in order to reach your target audience (again, you’ll need to use audience research to figure out what the best channels are). But don’t approach this as a simple matching exercise, with one idea pinned to one channel. Think about how you can re-purpose content for different channels. At its simplest level, that might mean creating attention-grabbing or conversation-starting tweets based on a longer blog post. But the possibilities are endless – spin listicles off into social quizzes, or turn a piece of thought leadership into a deck for Slideshare.

Opt for maximum impact with minimum detail

ToFu content should pique curiosity by providing unique, interesting, shocking, useful or entertaining information. Keep it light to whet the audience’s appetite and hold their attention. It’s unlikely anyone will digest your 20,000-word ebook as a first interaction with your brand – but they might pay attention to a focused, impactful rendition of one of the book’s key insights. Then you’ve won their attention, and made them more likely to read that ebook (and even trade their contact details for it) further down the funnel.

Establish yourself as an authority

This is particularly true for b2b marketing. Use ToFu content to demonstrate your expertise. Show potential clients any problems they might be missing. Highlight gaps in the industry that you can fill and make a case as to why these issues need addressing. Demonstrate your knowledge and show the benefits this knowledge can bring when it’s turned into action.

Ready to continue through the funnel? Move on to part three, in which we’ll look at strategies for MoFu content.


In this series:

  1. Marketing Funnel Toolkit, Part One: Introducing ToFu, MoFu and BoFu
  2. Marketing Funnel Toolkit, Part Two: Top-of-funnel content strategies
  3. Marketing Funnel Toolkit, Part Three: Middle-of-funnel content strategies
  4. Marketing Funnel Toolkit, Part Four: Bottom-of-funnel content strategies

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Marketing Funnel Toolkit, Part Three: Strategies for MoFu content