“Developing top-of-funnel content that is of business value but doesn’t feel salesy.”

That was one of many responses I received to the following question that was part of the questionnaire I sent before launching my newsletter: “What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to the content marketing industry?”

And today I’ll address this response by sharing a simple recipe you can use to create top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) content that’s valuable for your business. But first, let’s recap what ToFu content is and its role within the sales funnel.

Top-of-the-Funnel Content and the Sales Funnel

The sales funnel is the path a customer takes toward buying your products. In its simplest form, the funnel consists of the top, middle and bottom of the funnel. The top is the awareness stage, the middle—the evaluation stage, and the bottom— the purchase stage.

Your goal is to guide as many customers as you can through this funnel toward a purchase by creating valuable content for each stage of the funnel.

ToFu content, then, is the content you create for the top of the sales funnel. Content types include whitepapers, blog posts, how-to videos, webinars, and any other educational content focused on building brand awareness.

Because ToFU content is educational and often the first interaction customers have with your brand, avoid selling out the gate. “But if I can’t sell, how do I create content that’s valuable for my business?”

How to Create Valuable Top-of-the-Funnel Content

Well, as we’ve seen, ToFu content already has inherent value: It’s a brand building tool. It allows you to guide customers to the consideration stage where they begin to strongly consider buying your products. 

But getting to that stage requires you to develop the right kind of ToFu content. Content that addresses a customer problem your product also promises to solve and includes the right mix of subtle CTAs.

Let’s look at how you can create this content.

1. Solve a Customer Problem

Find common customer problems by sending customers a survey or finding questions on Quora. Answering questions your audience has is often the best starting point when creating content like this.

Once you understand your customers’ struggles, produce content that addresses and solves these problems. If it’s a blog post, ensure the content is actionable, with insights and links to other resources. Include examples. Avoid fluff pieces like “10 Tips to Boost Your Profits”. Don’t tell them how to do something, show them.

2. Ensure Your Product Also Solves This Problem

For the content to be relevant to your funnel it needs to address a customer problem that your product also promises to solve.

For example, if you’re a company that offers small business accounting software, with features that help service-based businesses charge late payment fees, then it makes sense to write a ToFu post titled: Should You Charge Late Payment Fees on Invoices?

On the other hand, if you write about ways to help creatives break out of a rut, then this wouldn’t be a funnel post. Sure, you may be solving a customer problem, but it’s not a problem your product also solves.

3. Include Subtle CTAs

After you’ve provided value, include a subtle CTA encouraging prospects to sign up to your mailing list so that you can continue marketing to them.

You could even sprinkle a few CTAs throughout the post and include links to other articles to encourage further interaction with your brand.

And there you have it, a simple recipe to create ToFu content that’s of business value:

  • Find a common customer problem
  • Make sure it’s a problem your product also solves
  • Include a subtle CTA to encourage a sign-up 

P.S. The above example about late payment fees is a ToFu blog post I wrote for FreshBooks. Notice the CTA at the end encouraging customers to test the late payment features plus links to other related articles? Or the CTAs sprinkled throughout? The approach is simple: Value first. Sell later.

P.P.S Having a recipe to create ToFu content is one thing, actually creating the content is another ball game altogether—it can be hard work. So, if you need help or just simply want to chat about any upcoming content projects, get in contact to arrange a no-strings-attached call where we discuss your business, content goals, and see if we’re a fit for one another.

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