Print Materials in the Marketing Funnel
  by:  |  Sep 27, 2016
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Last updated on April 20th, 2022 at 02:18 am

A Marketing funnel — also known as a purchase funnel, sales funnel, or decision funnel —  is a theoretical model that shows how customers make decisions. As the names imply, these models use a funnel to show the reduction in the number of prospects that get through each stage.

Despite many of the names given to them, these models are not just useful for sales but for any situation where you want prospective customers to opt-in. Social media likes and follows, surveys, and other promos are just some of the actions you could lead your customers to that do not necessarily involve the sales department.

Classic Models

You may have come across the classic AIDA model if you’ve taken any business course. The letters stand for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action.

Other alternate models include TIREAThought, Interest, Risk Evaluation, Engagement,  Action), REAN (Reach, Engage, Activate,  Nurture) and others.

marketing funnel showing AIDA


There are dozens, if not hundreds, of variants on this idea, optimized for different needs. Regardless of the model and how many stages the model has, it’s best to understand the overall intent of a marketing funnel, rather than get hung up on specifics.

Top, Middle, and Bottom of the Funnel

tofu - top of the marketing funnel
Trick MmMuffin recipe (01): Tofu via photopin (license)

It’s crucial to know which projects are normally TOFU (top-of-the-funnel) and which ones are MOFU or BOFU (middle and bottom of the funnel). This helps visualize which projects may better attract customers versus projects that may be more optimized for converting or retaining them.

Examples of actions that may be considered TOFU:

  • Social media shares
  • Television and radio ads
  • Flyers and business cards are given out indiscriminately
  • Cold calls
  • Banner and billboard advertisements
  • SEO and PPC marketing

Actions that are conventionally MOFU:

  • Targeted mailing
  • Giving business cards and other marketing materials after the customer has signaled interest
  • Opt-in marketing
  • White papers
  • Free downloads
  • Educational blog posts like this one

Actions considered BOFU:

  • Aftersales service
  • Assessments and consultations
  • Coupons
  • Free trials
  • Testing
  • Samples
  • Real-world freebies

Projects may also affect multiple parts of the funnel at once. Opt-in marketing, for instance, can also be considered TOFU. Assessments and consultations can be anywhere in the funnel. So long as you understand the purpose of a funnel, the stage where you put a particular marketing action doesn’t matter that much.

Drawbacks of Marketing Funnels

  • Older models may not accurately reflect the current understanding of repeat business.
  • Not all models show customers going back and forth at each stage.
  • Marketing efforts often affect most or all parts of the funnel simultaneously.

Marketing funnels work best as visualization and as a framework. While funnels are very useful for understanding how to connect with customers and allocate resources, they are not meant to be taken literally.

Which print materials work best at each stage of the marketing funnel?

Different print materials for the marketing funnel
It’s hard to generalize which print products work in each general area of the marketing funnel without knowing the content and distribution methods used. That said, our customers tend to use our products as listed below.

Top of the funnel

Typically you want print materials with a relatively low cost per prospect reached. At this stage, not all prospects you reach will be interested in your offer. To reduce costs, it’s best to concentrate on materials that generate that interest instead.

Middle of the funnel

At this point, your prospects have signaled some interest, and you’ll want materials that help maintain it and drive them through the sales process. Educational materials and reviews often figure into MOFU content strategies.

  • Brochures
  • Targeted opt-in direct mail
  • Multi-fold flyers
  • Menus

Bottom of the funnel

This is where print really excels. At this point, prospects have already signaled interest in closing a deal with you. Materials used at this point in the marketing funnel should be optimized not just to close the sale but also to encourage repeat business.

  • Catalogs
  • Booklets
  • Thank you cards
  • Detailed brochures
  • Gift certificates
  • Magnets

However you decide to use our products, it’s always good to understand the context where they will be used. For this purpose, there are few tools as handy as the often misunderstood marketing funnel.


How do you use your print materials? Comment below.


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