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Susan DeMatei
February 12, 2013 | Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing | Susan DeMatei


Another consultant told one of my clients recently that they needed more tofu.

Top Of the FUnnel offers, (or TOFU, get it?) are commonly dangled in front of us to get us to give information and qualify as an initial lead. They are mainly business to business, and usually involve a white paper, webinar, or ebook that is advertised for free. But to gain access to it, you fill out a form.

What’s a funnel?  The marketing funnel is a classic marketing concept where the top is where the new leads come in…and they go through a qualification and advancement process with your brand until at the bottom you have loyal evangelists.  There are more people just trying out your product – the larger top – versus Club Members – the bottom.  Thus, a funnel.

I have seen some consumer and winery applications for “Tofu”. Winery examples include registering for a recipe book, or a video on food pairing to grow your database.

Although a very legitimate marketing practice, I’ve never been a fan. I feel..I don’t know…dirty whenever I fill out one of those forms. Like I’m just going out with the guy because I’ll get a nice dinner. I’m not interested in the company pitch, I just want to read the darn white-paper.

Some companies are relentless. After signing up for a webinar I was hounded for weeks by the rep. Finally I had to ask him to stop calling me. After that, I think long and hard about how badly I want to read that white paper or go to that webinar before I fill out a form.

However, because this is so very common, here is a list of my recommendations for implementation:

Not all leads are the same

Ask if they want to be on the mailing list, or how soon they might be looking to join a club or visit. They might not be a potential client at all and just buying a gift for a friend. All you know is that they were interested in that initial offer. Don’t make assumptions.

Don’t be the creepy stalker

Email them first. Don’t call. And don’t get too personal yet – these aren’t customers – they’re potential customers. They don’t know you. An auto email thanking them for their interest isn’t a bad first contact. Then slowly introduce them to your brand from there.

Don’t make me repeat myself

I like hubspot. They have good content. But If I have to fill out that darn form one more time smoke will come out of my keyboard. In this day of cookies and technology, there is no reason they can’t remember me and let me download articles and webinars and whitepapers without re-filling out the same information all over again.

Remember, “free” is a low barrier

In my single days, my girlfriends and I used to laugh about dating sites. Something that cost you serious money, like eHarmony, would get you serious daters. Something like a that had a nominal fee would get you serial daters. Free sites like Craig’s list would get you serial killers.

Beware. This is not going to be the most qualified list (see point # 1 “Not all Leads are the Same”) so sub-segment accordingly.

So while I’m still wary of Tofu, I realize it is here to stay and a valid form of database building.

Just use it judiciously…and season it well.


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