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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Vanisko

ELI5: The Sales and Marketing Funnel Explained



If you’ve ever read through any business or trade publications, I’m sure that you have heard the term “The Sales Funnel” or even “The Marketing Funnel." You might wonder what these terms mean and how they relate to you and your business goals.


Understanding the Sales and Marketing Funnels is essential to every business.

If you sell any product or provide any service, all your potential customers progress through each stage of the Sales Funnel before they make their final purchasing decision.

In Explain Like I’m 5 (ELI5) terms, the Sales Funnel is the journey a person makes from not knowing anything about your product or service to the decision to buy (or not buy) your product or service.


There are many stages of the funnel, but the entire process can be broken down into three basic steps:

1. Top of the Funnel (TOFU): AWARENESS

2. Middle of the Funnel (MOFU): CONSIDERATION

3. Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU): DECISION

First, potential customers must become aware and discover that you even have a product or service that can solve their ‘problem’. Then, they show an interest in your product and consider it as a solution to their problem. Lastly, potential customers decide to purchase (or not to) your product or service to solve their problem.

It’s called a funnel because like a funnel it’s wider at the top with many potential customers and narrows to the end as the number of potential customers lessens as the journey ultimately culminates towards purchase.


As customers go through the stages of the sales funnel there are different ways to advertise and market to them. Advertising changes depending on what stage of the sales funnel you are trying to attract. The way you advertise to potential customers at different stages of their journey is called the “Marketing Funnel”.


The Marketing Funnel is how you are going to advertise to those customers at each step of the sales funnel, it is the process of advertising to generate leads and eventually gain customers.


Top of the Marketing Funnel is focused on lead generation.

  • The goal is to catch attention and attract prospects.

  • Your marketing message should concentrate on brand awareness, getting customers to recognize your brand and know your name.

  • Your media placement should cast a wide net in an effort to gain the most impressions. Traditional forms of advertising, like Out of Home and TV placements, are good tools to generate lots of impressions.

Middle of the funnel is for lead nurture.

  • The goal is to transform general leads into qualified leads.

  • Your marketing message should focus on developing relationships and supporting buyer research and evaluation.

  • Your media placement is more targeted. Digital marketing, including CTV, is a great tool to target qualified leads.

Bottom of the funnel is for lead completion.

  • The goal is to convert leads into customers. In this stage, customers are making their final decision about whether or not to buy a brand’s product or services. Ultimately, the sale is or is not made at this point.

  • Your marketing message needs to convey urgency and/or give potential customers specific reasons to choose your product over competitors, such as discount offers or product scarcity.

  • Your media placement should be highly targeted to specific individuals who have expressed interest in your products previously. Retargeting and geo-fencing are good media strategies for this phase.

Whereas the Sales Funnel helps you understand your potential customers and what they are thinking and doing at each stage of the sales journey, the Marketing Funnel helps you understand how to reach and connect with the customers at each stage of that journey. With these insights, you can invest in the right marketing activities and channels, creating the most relevant and engaging message to attract potential customers as they journey through the sales cycle.


A3 Media can help you develop a strategy to effectively target your potential customers during their entire sales journey. No matter what stage(s) you are pursuing we can help you develop an advertising plan that optimizes media channel usage to effectively reach your target audience at each stage of the sales funnel.


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About A3 Media

A3 transforms media from an expense into a smart investment. Since 1997, we have successfully helped regional businesses launch new products, expand into new markets and increase sales through media plans that make every dollar spent do more. Our clients include brands such as Yuengling and Ashley Furniture. For more information about how A3 Media can help your digital marketing efforts, please call A3 Media at (610) 631-5500.

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