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  • Writer's pictureHearst Pittsburgh

Crispy, Crunchy TOFU: Top of the Funnel Advertising and TV Brand Lift

Last week on the blog, we discussed dark funnel marketing and what we can do to influence the steps along the buyer’s decision journey occurring outside the traditional funnel. This week, we are coming back into the light and revisiting the equally-important traditional funnel model in the world of advertising.

The traditional marketing funnel remains a cornerstone in the marketing landscape for good reason. In a world where the buyer's journey can be complex, nonlinear, and influenced by various touchpoints, the traditional funnel model offers a simplified and structured approach.


It makes the entire advertising process less overwhelming by breaking it down into manageable parts. Advertisers can focus on one stage at a time, ensuring that they are addressing the unique needs of their audience at each step of the journey.


This funnel outlines the various stages that potential customers go through before making a purchasing decision. These stages, often abbreviated as TOFU (Top of the Funnel), MOFU (Middle of the Funnel), and BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel), represent different levels of customer engagement.


Let's talk TOFU (or top of the funnel advertising)


At the very top of the funnel (TOFU), advertisers are faced with a grueling task: go from nothing to something. Imagine this: Your brand is a newcomer at a big party. It's relatively unknown, and the challenge lies in introducing yourself effectively and making your presence known. Navigating this metaphorical room at the top of your sales funnel will present some challenges:

This room is loud. “Noise” is an often-discussed concept in marketing and advertising, and its perhaps presents the biggest hurdle you'll face here at the TOFU. Consumers are exposed to an overwhelming amount of content through various channels. Cutting through this noise and ensuring that your brand doesn't get lost in the shuffle can be quite demanding. It's not merely about getting noticed; it's about crafting content that engages and influences.

This room is crowded. Everyone at this party is eager to share their stories and capture the spotlight and all kinds of brands are clamoring to be heard. Consumers are constantly bombarded with messages from a multitude of companies, all striving to make a lasting impression. Standing out in this crowded space becomes even more challenging when your competitors are present, all with their unique value propositions and marketing strategies. When it seems that everyone is trying to tell their own fascinating stories at once, it is not only harder for your narrative to shine; it's even more crucial.

This room is full of strangers. Starting at the top of the funnel means you're essentially beginning from scratch. Identifying your ideal target audience can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. It necessitates thorough market research to understand your potential customers' demographics, preferences, and pain points. Without this knowledge, you might find yourself investing resources in the wrong channels or crafting messages that don't resonate.


Some of those strangers are skeptics. In our metaphorical crowded party, you'll find that not everyone is open to new conversations. Many attendees are skeptics, cautious about who they engage with and what messages they entertain. In marketing, this is equivalent to the challenge of establishing trust and credibility, especially when your brand is relatively unknown.


The stakes in a room like this are high: This is not just a room filled with strangers and competitors; it's a place where the future of your brand's success is determined. The choices you make here, at the top of the funnel, have a profound impact as consumers make their way down the funnel towards a brand selection and purchase. You must make your presence known and become a trusted and memorable part of your customers' journey.


In this noisy room of high stakes and intense competition, the brands that succeed are those that are heard and use that hard-earned attention to create a lasting space in the hearts and minds of their customers. It's a journey that begins at the top of the funnel, where first impressions matter, and where the future of your brand's success unfolds.


Brand Lift: Reaching New Customers at the Top of the Funnel

"Brand lift" is a pivotal concept that measures the change in consumer awareness and perception of a brand after exposure to marketing efforts. It goes beyond merely tracking how many people have seen an ad; it delves much deeper into how the audience's awareness, attitudes, and intent to engage with the brand have been influenced.


Brand lift is a quantitative and qualitative assessment. It is typically measured through various metrics, such as surveys, customer feedback, and key performance indicators (KPIs) like increased website traffic, social media engagement, and conversion rates.


So, why exactly is it so important to understand brand lift to keep bringing in new prospects at the top of your funnel?


First Impressions Matter: Brand lift is particularly crucial at the top of the customer journey funnel because it sets the stage for all subsequent interactions. It represents the initial point of contact between a consumer and a brand, making it the foundation upon which all future relationships are built. When a brand succeeds in lifting its perception, it increases the likelihood that consumers will progress further down the funnel.


Building Awareness: At the top of the funnel, the primary goal is to generate awareness about the brand. If potential customers are not aware of a brand's existence, they cannot proceed to consider it or make a purchase. Effective brand lift strategies ensure that the brand's name and image are etched into the consumer's memory, securing it's spot within the consideration set at the time of purchase decision.


Setting the Tone: A positive first impression can foster trust and loyalty, while a negative one can deter potential customers. Brands must use early interactions to convey their values, personality, and uniqueness, and create a lasting, positive impact.


Differentiation in a Crowded Market: Brand lift strategies help a brand stand out in a competitive space by showcasing its unique selling points. This initial differentiation piques the consumer's interest and makes them more likely to explore the brand further.


Driving Engagement: The initial brand lift can inspire consumer engagement, such as following the brand on social media, signing up for newsletters, or visiting the brand's website. These actions represent the first steps of the customer journey and can eventually lead to conversions.


Measuring Campaign Effectiveness: Measuring brand lift provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. By comparing pre- and post-campaign awareness and sentiment, brands can fine-tune their strategies, focusing on what works and eliminating what doesn't.


Brand lift is the gateway to the customer journey, making it a critical aspect of marketing. It shapes consumers' initial perceptions and awareness and sets the tone for their entire brand experience. Understanding the significance of brand lift at the top of the customer journey funnel is vital for any brand's long-term success and growth. It is the starting point on the path to establishing strong, lasting relationships with consumers.


The Role of TV Advertising in TOFU Brand Lift

At the top of the funnel, the primary goal is to cast a wide net and introduce your brand to as many potential customers as possible. It's about creating that initial spark of awareness that can ignite a lasting relationship. By crafting compelling TOFU strategies, you can attract a broader customer base and reach beyond your existing audience to capture the attention of new prospects.


When it comes to reach, few (if any) mediums can rival the impact of television advertising. The reason is simple: it's a medium that has stood the test of time and continues to be an integral part of people's daily lives. While digital one-to-one targeting strategies down the funnel can work wonders in driving a customer to make a purchase, here at the top of the funnel, it's about creating that initial spark of awareness that can ignite a lasting relationship with huge audiences.


Here's why TV advertising is still the most effective way to reach a vast audience:


Broad Coverage: Television has a presence in nearly every household. It's a staple of entertainment, news, and information. This ubiquity ensures that your brand message can find its way into the living rooms of millions of potential customers.


Diverse Demographics: TV caters to a wide range of demographics. Whether you're targeting young adults, families, or senior citizens, there's a TV channel or program that speaks to your audience. This versatility is a key advantage for advertisers looking to reach various customer segments at scale.


Engagement and Impact:

The combination of visuals and sound in TV ads creates an immersive and engaging experience. It's this unique combination that leaves a deep impact on viewers. TV ads have the power to evoke emotions, tell compelling stories, and make a memorable impression.


Trust and Authority:

Television is often seen as a trusted source of information and entertainment. When your brand is featured on TV, it gains an element of authority and credibility. This trust can significantly influence how potential customers perceive your brand.


The specific role of TV news in opinion formation is noteworthy. TV news programs often feature a variety of viewpoints and expert opinions on current events. Exposure to these different perspectives can influence how viewers perceive and form opinions on specific issues while keeping audiences deeply engaged. Engaged audiences are more likely to form opinions. Active discussions, debates, and interactive elements in news programming can stimulate viewer engagement and opinion formation. TV news plays a significant role in shaping public discourse and can influence opinion formation.

Multi-Channel Synergy:

TV advertising doesn't exist in isolation. It can complement and reinforce other marketing efforts, creating a powerful synergy across multiple channels. For example, a TV ad can drive viewers to visit your website or engage with your social media platforms, amplifying the impact of your campaign.


Real-Time Connection:

TV advertising enables real-time connections with your audience. Whether it's a live event, news, or a popular TV show, you can tap into the immediacy of television to engage with your audience during critical moments.


Memorable Moments:

TV has the unique ability to create shared experiences. People talk about their favorite TV shows, discuss memorable ads, and engage in social conversations. This can turn your brand into a topic of conversation, driving word-of-mouth and online discussions.


In a digital age where consumers have numerous distractions and options for content consumption, TV remains a steadfast and compelling medium for advertisers. It's the go-to channel for reaching a broad and diverse audience, creating that initial spark of brand awareness, and igniting the potential for lasting relationships with customers. TV advertising is not just about reaching a mass audience; it's about making a lasting impact on a grand scale.


Wrapping Up

In the ever-evolving landscape of advertising, where new advertising avenues seem to emerge daily, it's crucial to revisit the timeless classics that continue to hold immense value. The traditional marketing funnel is one such enduring framework. It provides structure and guidance to advertisers, making the complex journey of customer acquisition more manageable.


In this journey, we've delved into the Top of the Funnel (TOFU), where brands face the formidable challenge of transforming obscurity into recognition, and strangers into customers.


At this point in the customer journey, first impressions matter more than ever. This is where the concept of "brand lift" takes center stage and transcends mere ad viewership statistics. Understanding the significance of brand lift at the top of the customer journey funnel is paramount for any brand's long-term success and growth. It's the foundation upon which lasting customer relationships are built, setting the tone for all future interactions.


So, how can brands make a resounding impact and inspire brand lift at the top of the funnel? TV advertising holds a unique ability to create memorable moments, establish trust and authority, and reach diverse demographics - all on the scale it takes to win attention and engagement at the TOFU.


As you craft your advertising strategies, consider the wisdom of both the traditional marketing funnel and the remarkable influence of TV advertising. Harness the power of this medium to reach the broadest audience, make a memorable impact, and set the stage for continued customer engagement.


In the ever-changing landscape of marketing, remember that classic strategies often endure for a reason. TV advertising at the top of the funnel is one such classic, and when leveraged effectively, it can provide the breakthrough your brand needs to thrive in the crowded room of consumer choices. It's time to turn up the volume and let your brand's voice be heard.

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