Are you ToFu, MoFu or LoFu?

Or where shall you place your effort when planning and rolling out your online marketing effort?

I love Tofu

thanks masmad

This started with a funny discussion with one fellow partner who works for an online marketing software company around a glass of wine after a long work day, bringing me to this new terms I didn’t know yet. Acronyms are like TV to me: most of the time they annoy me but sometimes I really like them and this was the case!

So what about this ToFu,  MoFu and LoFu thingy I started with, if you don’t know them? New indie music categories? Yoga disciplines or martial art? None of these…

In the online marketing jargon, these terms are intended to categorize online marketing activities, software, and solutions (at least after a few hours of discussing the topic). ToFu stands for “top of the funnel”, “MoFu” is middle of the funnel and LoFu the bottom of it (From what I saw, people tend to use MoFu but I like LoFu better…). Catchy acronyms, no?

The real question I look at here is about where to put your energy when you are developing an online marketing effort. It is a very common question for online marketers, as it’s impossible to do everything well and everything at once. As a direct result, it is quite legitimate to ask where to start and what to focus on. I am certainly not enough of an expert to provide THE right answers but I still have some ideas…

From a strategical point of view, it’s a no-brainer; you must cover the whole journey of the online customer acquisition!

Indeed, if you are serious about online marketing, it really makes no sense to not invest in all battles! You must have a plan to grow your traffic and broaden your funnel (ToFu).  You must have a plan to better nurture your audience and prepare them to jump to the lower level (MoFu), and finally you must have a plan to efficiently transform the ones from it that qualifies them for the customer profile!

Just like a triathlete cannot bypass one of the disciplines, an online marketer can not think about improving all steps!

I have a good example, based on my own experience, that really goes in that direction:

A year or two ago, I was looking at a collaborative Q&A solution, and I heard about a company that was making some buzz, who was coming up with an innovative solution in that respect. The company was very good at the top and mid level (ToFu and MoFu): I was into their offer, ready to be nurtured, engaged! A few smart blog posts helped me think about my needs and think about what they offer. Result: I clearly positioned them as the best candidate. I was ready for stage 3 – LoFu: look at detailed budget and operational questions and may be engage with a sales person! And here is where they were not good at all! I hope for them that they have improved, but apparently they didn’t want me as a customer… It was impossible to reach their Sales team and get details on pricing despite all my effort to buy.

 Failing at only one touchpoint can have global consequences on the end result and can ruin the experience.

I still don’t understand what happened (my best bet being that the company was not ready to sell and the first stage of the demand generation marketing machine was launched too early.  It should have stayed a buzz and teasing thing). After a bit of patient waiting, I totally changed my mind and categorized this company as a not-serious and opportunistic vendor that I would in no way want to deal with!  I would not change my mind anymore!

Funny enough, a sales rep from this company called me something like 6 months later, but no need to say that my perception was not reversed at all. I guess (and hope for them) that they improved in the meantime but for me, evil was done. Also for the curious (total disclosure here,), I decided in the meantime to implement OSQA, a pure open source solution.

A classic of customer experience management: failing at only one touchpoint can have global consequences on the end result and can ruin the experience. Summary:

The only viable strategy is to care for all the stages of your funnel!

But this is about strategy, and not about tactics. And, especially if you have limited resources and most of us are in that situation, it is also important to be able to focus your effort! So, what can we say when it comes to tactics? Here I wish I would know about it all and was more of an expert, as it can be very tricky. I do have some ideas to share though:

  • No case is like another.  If you look for a pre-made tactic, there are quite some chances your findings will not fit you
  • The first thing is certainly to know about yourself and your organization so you can pick the right tactic and know where to improve. Assess strengths and weakness of your organization, check out risks and opportunities in regards to this, use traditional “good sense” driven SWOT analysis
  • Always have your final goal and KPIS in mind.  It is good to have metrics for all activity but make sure they always connect to the final goal of your online business. As an example, a typical mistake would be to only look at traffic when working on ToFu, and not the final goal (for instance Online Sales)
  • All is connected.  It is certainly good, if you can, to iterate small steps and tackle the 3 levels of your online marketing in an incremental manner
  • Always make your team aware of the 3 layers and make sure they are committed to the final goal, even if some are focused on some specific area of your funnel

And finally, I would say that you should alway think “lean”. The “think big, start small” motto fits perfectly to the online marketing discipline. There is a lot of room for successful, measurable small activities that are really meaningful as long as you keep the global, “big” thought of where you want to go!

About tactics: be lean, think big, start small!

Hopefully, I’ll get some time soon to rant on the topic more, as it is really interesting and so much of a recurring question! In the meantime, I’d take any advice or view on it! For now I’ll stick with these acronyms, and will enjoy a dose of ToFu or MoFu.  Back to my real work!

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