The short and sweet is not everyone you try to sell your product or service to is ready to buy it from you.
You need to identify, lead and “warm-up” your potential customers and clients through what we in the industry call an inbound marketing sales funnel. Once warmed-up enough, all you need to do is tip that potential customer in your direction and close that sale. To get to the sales point will mean guiding your potential customers through the sales funnel. We start with TOFU (Top Of Funnel), work our way down toMOFU (Middle Of Funnel) and end up at the pre-sale point or BOFU (Bottom Of Funnel).
How are we guiding these potential customers down the funnel?
What is being presented to them to entice them to do business with you and create a valuable relationship?
Here’s where we’ll get into the nitty gritty.
— TOFU —
It’s a mess. At the very top of the funnel is where most of the noise is happening. You have potential customers at different stages of their buying decision-making process and you can’t differentiate between them. Some of them might be looking for a “buy now” button and others (the majority) are looking for some basic information to learn about the product. Your job is to convert this noise into leads. Harness your landing page as a place where information can be gained and customers can also have the option of moving to the end of their buying cycle quickly.
Here’s where you begin to consider what you will present to your potential customers to turn them into qualified leads. We call this content marketing and at the TOFU stage you are seeking to inform. You need to provide content that is exciting and engaging, and most importantly, with little to no barriers consumption. Essentially, it has to be free – and easy to access. The kind of content you will find at the TOFU stage can include blog posts, press releases, cheat sheets, sample white papers, guides, how-to’s and short videos.
Creating a really good TOFU means your company needs to develop buyer personas, one of the most powerful inbound marketing tools you can adopt. Learn the demographics, pain points and priorities of your real-life prospects. What are their questions in the early stages of the buying cycle? Your company’s sales and customer service representatives are likely going to be your best insight. The world’s best TOFU is based on answering real-life questions people have when they first come to your company website. 1
Once your website visitors have most of their questions answered and presented in an aesthetically pleasing web page, they are now likely to engage with you and provide you with some of their information. This is very important. You need to make it easy for them to give you information in order qualify these leads for the MOFU stage of your marketing funnel. It is for this reason we call these leadsINFORMATION QUALIFIED – and now you are ready to guide them to the next step.
— MOFU —
In the middle of the funnel, you are beginning to see some clarity. Hopefully you have created a growing interest in those information-qualified leads through the free content you have created and provided, and now you can begin the start of personalizing each potential customer’s buying cycle. Your job is to continue developing interest in the product or service in general here and also begin showcasing how your company can provide said product or service at a better value than your competitors.
Here’s where you begin to consider what you will present to your potential customers to convert them from leads to prospects. This MOFU stage of content marketing is where you are seeking to engage. You need to provide content that dives deeper into product and service knowledge and you need to begin regularly connecting with your leads and turning them into prospects. The content marketed here has to come with a request – essentially having a slight barrier to access. The kind of content you will find at the MOFU stage can include longer videos, eBooks, subscriptions, comparisons, assessments and case studies. Your request has to be some contact information – preferably email or phone number.
MOFU (middle-of-the-funnel) content is most often distributed through email marketing, also known as marketing automation or lead nurturing. Questions you need to answer here are 1. How can you help your customers move through their sales process into being ready to make a purchase? 2. Are they interested in detailed comparison guides between you and your competitors or tutorials on how to put your product to use? Due to the fact that the length of a sales cycle can vary widely within a single industry, it’s essential to connect with your sales team once again to discover how you can match MOFU to your prospects’ questions and concerns before they make the sale. 1
Once your sales team has been informed on where prospects are headed and you have provided 2-3 forms of marketing content through email or phone call, your prospects who have continually shown interest are now warmed up enough to move on to the BOFU stage of your marketing funnel. We call the potential customers at this stage MARKETING QUALIFIED.
— BOFU —
At the bottom of the funnel you have potential customers who have essentially walked on to the lot with money in hand. Here, you need to continue to fuel the fire you have created. Your potential customers are now far enough down the marketing funnel and have engaged with you enough that you can be sure they are very interested in your product and service. All that’s left is the final bit of convincing that will see these potential customers move from a marketing engagement with your business to a sales engagement. Your job is to capitalize on your relationship so far and offer those final pieces of content that will truly showcase why you are worthy of their business.
Here’s where you begin to consider what you will present to your potential customers to convert them from prospects to customers. This BOFU stage of content marketing is where you are seeking to prove. You need to provide content that hones in on your expertise and the kind of business you can provide as you continue to maintain and nurture the relationships you have created with your prospects. The content marketed here has to come with another request – and have an increased barrier to access. The kind of content you will find at the BOFU stage can include executive summaries, demos, free trials, estimates, discount codes (to increase urgency), and possibly short events (if the number of prospects is large). Your request can include a mailing address or 1-2 questions seeking buying cycle information.
If your prospects have expressed an ongoing interest in your company’s products by opening emails, heading back to your company website or talking with your sales representatives, you need to make sure your content is enough to move to the sales side. BOFU content is the crucial piece that transform your inbound marketing leads into clients, so ensure your final offers are enticing enough to draw leads in the final stage of your sales cycle into customers. 1
Once your prospects have been given your best and most appealing content – and your sales team is updated on their interests and concerns, you can begin moving to an individualized sales consultation. Here, your prospects are SALES QUALIFIED and should match your initial buyer persona very closely. You need to request or seamlessly provide an opportunity for them to personally meet with your sales team or business managers to end the marketing funnel and initiate the selling process.
— CONCLUSION —
Marketers know that prospects have distinctly different agendas at each stage of their buying journey. When you focus on what drives each of your marketing personas as they make their buying decisions, you increase the likelihood they will ultimately buy from you. TOFU MOFU BOFU helps you organize your business thought process and identify where buyers are in their individual decision making process. Used correctly, with the right content and the right aesthetic appeal – it is a very powerful tool.