Publish Date:

April 21, 2023

There’s a lot about marketing that hasn’t changed in generations. Creating funnel marketing is a good example of this. To create a non-icky marketing funnel, small business owners need to look no further than the layered approach perfected by the Fuller Brush man.

What am I talking about? What does a door-to-door salesman selling brushes to homemakers have to do with creating a marketing funnel?

Back in the day, Fuller Brush men sold brushes and related cleaning supplies door to door (and in those days, it was mostly men selling to women). The Fuller Brush men were motivated; if they didn’t sell, they didn’t get paid, so they figured out what worked and what didn’t.

Everything they did was focused on selling as efficiently as possible. They used the school of hard knocks to fine-tune his selling system. He learned how to turn potential customers into loyal customers. He had a crystal clear understanding of the sales process and his place in it. He had to.

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We can learn a lot about the digital marketing funnel from the traditional marketing funnel techniques they perfected. You can use the same time-proven ideas to improve your marketing funnel.

So let’s break it down. What did the door-to-door salesman do that you can apply to your marketing and, more specifically, to your marketing funnels?

Marketing Funnel Stages

Top of the Funnel: Keep the Door Open

Top of the marketing funnel - knock on the door

Lead generation is hard, so selecting the correct neighborhood is key for the door-to-door Fuller Brush man. It was essential to focus on neighborhoods with as many leads as possible. He wanted to be efficient, so the neighborhoods he canvased had a good number of his target audience who were receptive to his pitch. Marketing qualified leads made his job easier.

You can take the same approach with your marketing funnel. Start by selecting an audience or group of people you want to target. Based on your consumer research, you should already know your target customer. Then reach out and knock on the door.

He told the woman who answered the door that he was from the Fuller Brush Company, but he didn’t have to tell her what the Fuller Brush Company was. The company’s advertising in magazines and on television did this for him. He didn’t waste her time telling her what she already knew.

Instead, he told her that he had something new, interesting, and valuable that would make her life easier, more fulfilling, and more enjoyable. He told her how he would solve her problem to get her attention and engage her in conversation.

In this first stage of the funnel, he had many ways to engage the interest of the customer, but he didn’t just pick an approach and go. He knew that the neighborhood was full of qualified leads and had a pretty good idea about who lived there. He tailored his pitch to reflect his relationship with the woman at the door. He used one technique if they hadn’t met before and another if she had purchased from him in the past. A one-size-fits-all approach didn’t work for him.

Above all else, he needed to keep that door open in the introduction phase. At this point, nothing else was important. He never lost sight of his primary goal. Regardless of the approach he used, he emphasized the benefits she would receive from their conversation.

Design the top of your marketing funnel to be the Introduction.

Paid advertising like banners, social media ads, search engines and search engine marketing, and other forms of paid ads have only one job: to get clicked. Don’t ask digital marketing to do more than it can do. Let the sales page do the selling. Equally, don’t ask the sales page to support the brand. Be like the door-to-door salesman: have each of your marketing tactics focus on its goal to keep that door open.

An effective digital marketing funnel keeps the door open

The Non Icky Marketing Funnel - keep the door open

The digital world isn’t as forgiving as life was when the Fuller Brush man plied his trade. Your reality is that your marketing funnel has five seconds or less to do three things:

  1. Communicate that the consumer is in the right place—consistent branding
  2. Show them what they’ll get if they stay—benefits, not features
  3. Make it crystal clear what they should do next—make their pathway clear

In addition, your marketing funnel needs to support the promise with reasons to believe: reviews, testimonials, and demonstrations are a few of the ways your sales page can do this.

The Middle of the Funnel: Showcase Your Offer and Builds Trust

Colorful Fuller Brush Brochure

Once she was receptive and a conversation had started, he used brand marketing materials to show his customer how his products would benefit them. He emphasized how they would make her life easier, more worthwhile, and more satisfying.

He used product features to support his claims. He demonstrated the product to prove that his products and services were good quality and worth the investment.

He also used testimonials; a testimonial, especially a testimonial from a neighbor, was gold. Testimonials gave everything he said a ring of truth because product features were easy to duplicate or dispute.

Use testimonials in the marketing funnel to support trust

You should do the same on your marketing funnel sales page. Use video or animation to demonstrate your product or service in action. List the benefits and the features and attributes that support your promise. Use customer reviews and especially testimonials, as reasons to believe.

No hard sell here, just a friendly presentation of the facts that keep the door open. Like the Fuller Brush man, demos and third-party testimonials are your most effective marketing funnel tools. They’re a one-two punch that’s hard to beat.

A non-icky marketing funnel guides potential customers

Active listening was a technique the Fuller Brush man used to improve his marketing. As the conversation warmed, he was careful to reveal only as much information as was required to make and support his point. He would ask open questions and then listen carefully. Given the chance, his prospect would fill in the blanks. Given the chance, she would describe the challenges she faced.

He used what she told him to highlight the benefits of the products he was selling using the visual representation of each product in the brochures he carried. He would use the product’s features to support the benefits of the product, they were reasons to believe what he was saying. But he didn’t give the entire pitch. He paused. He let her tell him what she was interested in, what she wanted to do. Then he would present another layer of information.

Test your way to digital marketing funnel nirvana.

Digital marketing doesn’t generally have the luxury of face-to-face conversations. But it does have the ability to test to determine what’s working and what’s not working. Use marketing funnel metrics to maximize the impact of your marketing funnels.

Make it easy for users to guide themselves through this stage of the funnel so they arrive at the sales page already mostly convinced. Supporting the customer journey is key. Make it easy for them to dig into what interests them. The deeper they go, the more interested they are, so giving them more information will be valued. Use short copy to get their attention, and as you learn more about the customer journey via their behavior, long copy will be valued.

Provide a means to take action early and often. Don’t make interested protect search for the Buy Now button. Use the Buy Now button like the Fuller Brush man’s pause.

The Bottom of the Funnel: An Effective Marketing Funnel Solves Customer Problems

conversion funnel - close the sale

When the woman was intrigued and engaged, he would present the argument. This part of the conversation focused on making the sale. Nothing else mattered at this point. He put all the resources at his disposal into one goal, how the product solved her problems.

The Fuller Brush Man was wise enough to know that it wasn’t about the products. It was all about the woman he was speaking with, her problems, and her challenges. He needed to give her the information she needed to convince herself that purchasing his products was the most sensible and reasonable thing that she could do today. No more and no less. Too much information, and she would shut down and close him off.

His argument was both rational and emotional. He had three to four salient “reasons why” for each product benefit. Three was often enough, and he never used more than four. He also understood how to touch the emotional triggers. How she would feel as a result of a great job done as a result of what his products could do.

His choices were tailored to reflect his learning and relationship with the woman. The buying process is a delicate balance.

Pro Tip

Make Your Sales Pages as Relevant as Possible: 🌟

  • If your ad talks about red widgets, the sales page should also.
  • Use benefits to make the argument. Use product information for support.
  • Only use as much information as is needed.

Finally, he would ask for the order. He supported “the ask” with assurances about how easy it was to buy and a brief reiteration of product benefits and the offer.

If this was a repeat customer, he would pre-fill the forms.

He closed with the extra benefits she would receive if she took action right now.

For example, he might say, “It only takes a moment to complete your purchase. Then you can enjoy the benefits immediately. Plus, you get everything at the low, limited time, introductory price. And if you buy two, I can give you the third for half off.”

The goal of this stage of the funnel is the sale, so make it easy to buy:

  • Don’t bury the CTA below the fold
  • Don’t ask for too much information
  • Don’t put your customers through too many steps
  • Add extra incentives

After the Sale: Always be Listening

During the sales process, he would take a moment to learn a bit more about the woman and her family. Over time he’d learned that his customers were surprisingly open while filling out forms.

For repeat customers, he asked questions about the neighborhood. Who else might like his products? Would she be willing to provide him with a reference or testimonial? He also took note of his surroundings.

He was always on the lookout for problems the woman faced. He was always listening with his ears and his eyes for new ways he could help.

Do the same throughout your marketing funnel. The microtransactions you include in your marketing funnels have two benefits. They build trust, and they give you information about what matters. Pay attention. You can use what you learn to build an effective sales funnel that will increase your average order value. You can also use what you learn to create content for content marketing. The more you know about the customer experience, the better your marketing will be.

Add Extra Benefits to Your Product or Service Offer

He wasn’t done when the check was in his hand and the product was delivered. He gave his customer a small token of his appreciation. This was often a sample product, perhaps something that was soon to be available. He told her that he had one just for her since she was such a good customer.

By adding extra benefits, he demonstrated, in a tangible way, how much he valued her patronage. Good customers expect to be rewarded. He wanted the customer experience to be awesome. He wanted her to look forward to his next visit. He wanted her to be one of his brand advocates.


Because he knew that there was something even more valuable than the first sale.

The Most Important Sale is the Second Sale

shoppers in a queue - the second sale is the most important sale

It’s an accepted fact that loyal customers drive profitability. Forbes reports, “Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t focus on customers.” This comes from the five ways that loyal customers add value to your business.

He made notes about what he learned:

  • What his customer bought
  • What he observed about the home
  • Who else in the neighborhood should he visit

He used this information to inform his next visit. He didn’t want to be the door-to-door salesman when he next appeared at the door. He wanted to be a valuable partner in his customer’s household enterprises.

You can use your marketing funnels to gather and use information similarly. Effective marketing funnels lead to a better sales funnel.

Invite interaction in your marketing funnels.

Capture information about the customer. Record what they are saying through their actions and what they do. Use it to inform your marketing strategy and improve future conversations. Microtransactions of increasing value build trust. Trust is marketing funnel lubricant.

The Non-Icky Marketing Funnel – Conclusion

Your marketing funnel should support the customer’s journey.

Craft each touch point to support the customer journey efficiently and effectively. Don’t expect any single step to do all the work. Understand your marketing funnel works and how it’s going to support the customer’s journey.

Use your digital marketing to attract prime prospects.

Don’t ask advertising to do more than it can do. Use your advertising to generate interest and drive the right traffic into the marketing funnel. Let the sales page do the selling.

Use the mid-funnel to keep the door open.

Remember, you only have five seconds to let the customer know they are in the right place, show them what they’ll get if they stay, and give them a clear pathway to action. Interactions are vital in the mid-funnel. They nurture leads by engaging your prospect’s interest and building trust. Use middle-of-the-funnel marketing to nurture leads and attract prospects for the right reasons.

Use your marketing funnel to showcase product benefits.

Make your argument using your benefits, and reserve product information for support. In the mid-funnel product demonstration, comparisons, reviews, and testimonials are effective ways to showcase product benefits. Only give as much information as is needed when it’s needed. Outside in, not inside out.

Make landing pages as relevant as possible.

Each ad should land on an associated landing page. When I managed Toyota’s digital marketing campaigns, I optimized landing pages so they were highly relevant to the marketing messages that got prospects to the page. We improved conversion by as much as 60%. Consistency is key. If the Facebook ad or marketing email talks about lamps, send the traffic to a sales page that features lamps.

Make it easy to buy.

Ask for the sale. Don’t bury the CTA below the fold. Repeat the CTA throughout the sales page. Don’t ask for too much information or put your customers through too many steps.

Add extra benefits to your product or service offer.

A consumer’s interest doesn’t vanish as soon as they buy. In fact, it’s as high immediately after they purchase as it was before they purchase or take some other action. Use this high level of interest to introduce additional purchase options, such as “Would you like fries with that.” Use it to reinforce the buying decision and to introduce related products and loyalty programs. Set up an email automation that’s triggered by the website action. Cultivate your customers, and they will become brand advocates.

Invite interaction.

We’ve touched on this several times already as we work through the marketing funnel strategy, but it’s worth repeating. Your website is a fulcrum. It’s an opportunity for your customers to gain value from their interaction with you, and it’s an opportunity for you to gain value through your interaction with them. Use your marketing funnel sales page to capture information about the customer, and use what you learn to improve your marketing strategy.

The application of these time-proven techniques will contribute greatly to an effective digital marketing funnel. Let us know what you use in the comments.

Marketing Funnel FAQs

What are the stages of a marketing funnel?

The stages of a marketing funnel are typically awareness (top of the funnel), consideration (the mid-funnel), and action (bottom of the funnel).

What is the most important sale?

The most important sale is the second sale. Make sure that your marketing funnel works toward this goal. The second sale demonstrates customer satisfaction, and having happy existing customers greatly increases the chances of a third sale.

Why are microtransactions important?

Microtransactions build trust with your customers by providing them with interactions of increasing value. This builds a positive reputation, further strengthening customer loyalty and enhancing prospective customers’ chances of responding to remarketing.

In conclusion, a funnel marketing campaign doesn’t have to be icky. Digital marketing funnels that support customer journeys are essential for any business looking to increase sales efficiency and build long-term customer relationships. Following the steps refined by the Fuller Brush man’s traditional marketing funnel, you can create a non-icky marketing funnel that creates value for your customers and for your business.

Author: James Hipkin

Since 2010, James Hipkin has built his clients’ businesses with digital marketing. Today, James is passionate about websites and helping the rest of us understand online marketing. His customers value his jargon-free, common-sense approach. “James explains the ins and outs of digital marketing in ways that make sense.”

Use this link to book a meeting time with James.