The lifeblood of every business is sales and marketing. Attracting new customers and clients is a critical task to ensure that cash continues to flow into the business.
Almost every small business owner faces the dilemma of choosing between working on their business or working in their business. They focus on getting some new customers in, then they get busy serving those customers, and then suddenly, those customers are gone, and none are waiting in their place. So, the focus goes back to bringing in new customers.
It’s feast or famine and an ongoing cycle that plagues most business owners. To further compound the problem, when no customers are coming in, money is tight, and it’s hard to make any real investment in attracting new customers. So the modern business owner spends their time trying to figure out systems and do it themselves. They then get a little bit of traction, get busy with customers, and the do-it-yourself system stops running.
Do you see the problem here?
The difference between working in your business vs. on your business is a concept made famous by Michael Gerber in his best selling book, The E Myth.
Despite the book’s success and the fact that most business owners have heard this concept, the modern business owner is still facing similar issues. These issues are in large part due to the digital economy we find ourselves in now. We have websites to maintain, Facebook and Instagram posts to make, emails to send, ads to run, etc. Combine that with the overwhelming amount of information and advice found on the internet, and it’s no wonder most business owners can’t seem to gain traction.
Books, podcasts, YouTube how-to videos, and Facebook posts from various experts have us running around chasing shiny objects. Many business owners get caught up thinking they just need one funnel, or some Facebook ads will bring in some new business, or maybe a new website.
But nothing changes.
All of this stuff becomes one more thing to manage… one more software… one more thing to do… one more disappointment.
Learning how to manage it all is a full-time job, and it’s not bringing in the promised flow of clients!
The real problem isn’t even that the business is going through these cycles. It’s the hopes and dreams put on hold. The “maybe one day” that never comes. The time lost, the opportunity missed. Most business owners love what they do and find joy in the work, but the payoff of being a business owner seems just out of reach.
So what’s missing?
Well, most business owners will tell you that if they just had more time or just had more money, they could put all the pieces together. If they could only figure this all out and get it running efficiently, they’d be able to make it all work.
This is what makes sales funnels, Facebook ads, Yelp Advertising, and any other solution so appealing. They make a big promise; they make it sound so easy. But what they often leave out is that it’s just a piece that they are selling. Now, don’t get me wrong; each of these tools/services can be incredibly powerful. But the trick is knowing when and how to use them. None of them work as well on their own as they do when they are part of a system.
You’ve probably heard of ClickFunnels and the idea that any business is just “one funnel away.” Russel Brunson, the founder of ClickFunnels, has created a fantastic software, but the promise can be misleading. You can be one funnel away…
…so long as you have the other aspects dialed in.
If you step back and look at ClickFunnels, you’ll see that they don’t just have a funnel in their marketing. They have a comprehensive understanding of their marketplace, they understand who they are targeting, they know what ads to run and have huge ad budgets, they know exactly how much they can spend to acquire a customer, and they know exactly how to extract the maximum value from each of those customers.
They employ a very sophisticated marketing system to sell what appears to be a simple system. Soon, I’m going to break down the fundamentals of what they are doing and how you can make it work for your business.
I have to point out, though, ClickFunnels is a multi-million dollar company, and they have teams of people working on each of those aspects every day. So while it can get very complicated, they are still building on basic principles – they are just using more advanced approaches.
They didn’t start as a multi-million dollar company, so their marketing wasn’t as advanced as it is now. They started with fundamentals and then scaled their marketing as the business grew.
What I’m about to share with you are fundamental principles to building simple, high-efficiency marketing systems. Through my work as a consultant, in management and directorship roles at marketing agencies, and as a small business owner, I have worked with hundreds of local business owners in various marketing aspects. In every single one of those small businesses, there were only a few core areas that drove all sales activity.
The businesses that have the most success use each of the following elements. Not a single one of them could grow their business using only a few – the ones that tried remained stuck in the feast or famine cycle.
At the highest level, these elements fall into two main categories – attracting prospects & converting customers. Grab someone’s attention, build their interest, make them an offer – marketing in it’s simplest terms. If only it were that simple, right?
Let’s expand on these categories and then go into more actionable practice.
The attraction elements consist of Know, Like, & Trust as in, “People do business with people they know, like, and trust.” (Another quote found commonly amongst marketers.)
Conversion elements consist of Capture, Nurture, & Close.
Two more equally important elements that supplement the attract & convert categories are Repeat, and Refer.
In order, you would line up the elements as;
Know -> Like -> Trust-> Capture-> Nurture -> Close -> Repeat -> Refer
Effective marketing systems address each one of these elements because each of these elements relates to natural human behavior. We assess our solutions, our purchases, who we choose to associate with, and with whom we choose to do business. We are tribal; we stick to our groups, our beliefs, our habits. By having elements that touch on our natural behaviors, we make the process simple, natural, and relatable.
Think about human relationships in this context. When we find new friends, when we meet new people, we naturally go through this cycle;
- You meet them (know);
- You assess whether or not you like them (like);
- Before sharing any personal information or extending invites into your circle, you assess whether they are trustworthy (trust);
- You choose to extend the relationship by getting contact details or extending an invitation of some sort, maybe a simple Facebook friend request (capture);
- You build the relationship through continued conversation/interactions (nurture);
- You bring them into your circle by acknowledging them as a friend, or more if it’s romantic (close);
- You continue in that relationship (repeat);
- And, you introduce to others (refer).
If you’ve ever heard of a CRM, you might now have a better understanding of why these systems are referred to as Customer Relationship Management tools. They also typically include tags or steps for each of these elements.
Out of any marketing model, strategy, philosophy, you are going to find these elements. Maybe they are called something different, maybe they are broken into more or less parts, but these are the elements. These elements are the foundation. Look at any sound marketing system, look at companies that are growing with excellent marketing, and you’ll find these elements.
I promised that I’d break this all down for you and how you can apply it to your business. I work with small businesses to implement and address these elements. If you want to work with me, I’ll do the same for you. However, if you’re the go-it-alone type, each of the following steps will give you a focus area to take back to your business.
I am a strong advocate of using any media that resonates with and will reach your target market. For almost any small business, digital marketing is current and effective, so as I go over these steps, I’m going to keep it strictly digital. If you get the concepts, though, you can apply this to other forms of marketing.
Know, Like, & Trust
We’re going to start with Know, Like, & Trust as these elements tie very well together, and each one influences the other in digital marketing.
In terms of digital marketing, for anyone to know you, they need to be able to find you first. They might search by a brand name because they heard you mentioned somewhere, or they may be searching for the products and services you offer. For brand-related terms (i.e. your business name), you won’t have much trouble showing up online if your business name is unique and doesn’t consist of generic terms, like Seattle Plumbing. For service or product-related terms, you will need to have a well-optimized website.
Getting found online is incredibly important, but once someone finds you, they need to determine if you are the right fit, solution, service, or provider for them. This is where these elements start to blend. Your website’s look and the content will influence whether you get found – it will affect your search engine optimization (SEO). Your content needs to quickly speak to your website visitor, who is your potential customer.
Imagine yourself searching for a local business. A website shows up at the top of Google so you decide to click on it. But the website looks like it hasn’t been updated in 5 years, and all of the content looks very generic. How do you feel about doing business with this company? Let’s say it’s for a bathroom remodel. What is the impression you have of this company if they look outdated and their presence has been neglected?
Not great, right?
Let’s say you find them, everything looks nice; it looks exactly like what you want. But, when you search the business name in Google, they have one 3-star review and zero reviews on Yelp. Then you think back, and you remember seeing another business that had eighteen 5-star reviews on Google, nine 5-star reviews on Yelp, and many other good signs that you can’t remember. You can’t recall who that business was, but you know it might worth checking them out as well.
Let’s say you go back, and you are comparing these two companies. Keep in mind; you don’t know anything about them except what you see online. Who are you going to call first?
The company with 3-stars might have better service, but they haven’t prioritized asking for reviews or working on their reputation. Instead, they are stuck in the small business rollercoaster (feast or famine), and the other business with poor service, but better reviews, is getting more customers. These are aspects of the Trust element – conveying and displaying trust signals and ensuring that your reputation and presence convey authority and quality.
For digital marketing, three factors that heavily influence your Know, Like, & Trust are your website, content, and reputation. You’ll use SEO and paid ads to drive traffic and put you in front of people searching for what you have to offer.
Capture, Nurture, Close
Once we’ve attracted a potential customer, we then move into the elements of Capture, Nurture, & Close.
When we Capture a prospect, we typically are referring to getting their contact information. This is often in exchange for some more information, a free download, or a trial offer. This can be as simple as an email address or phone number.
Typically, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool or other online tool is best for managing all of this contact information. Plus, CRMs make the next step a whole lot easier.
A lot of business owners understand how to get this information. A lot of business owners have this information. But, a lot of business owners don’t do anything with this information. This is often a sticking point for most business owners, and the next element, Nurture, provides A LOT of opportunities.
If I asked you, “how many times does the average consumer need to be contacted before they buy something?” what would your answer be?
You might say, “five”, “six”, or you might hit it right on the head with the most current, most often seen answer of “eight.”
You certainly would never say, “once.”
Eight is the average number of times a prospect needs to be contacted before they decide to buy. Most people have heard this. Most people know this. Yet, out of all of the business owners I have ever worked with, a lack of follow up, a lack of nurturing, is one of the most common problems I have seen.
They capture, try to close once, and then forget about the prospect. The joke often made is that you’d never propose on the first date.
Nurture, nurture, nurture; there is so much opportunity to be had in the nurture phase. People love to be paid attention to; people love attentive service. I love it. I’m sure you love it too.
Nurturing a prospect is easier now than it has ever been before. You can use email, text messages, phone calls, voicemail drops, Facebook Messenger, remarketing ads, the list goes on. It’s easier now than it has ever been, but probably more neglected than ever before as well.
Ultimately, nurturing leads to the Close phase. This is the sale, the proposal, the signed contract. This is the end game. The reason you are in business.
Any system that you have should have a clear, easy to use element which facilitates the sale. Whether that’s taking credit cards over the phone, cash at the store, invoicing, or whatever method works best for you. My word of advice here is that you make it easy and convenient for the customer. On numerous occasions, I have heard business owners debating whether they should accept credit cards online or use digital forms. If your customers want to pay you online or prefer to use digital, then I recommend you make it easy for your customer. (besides, in the end, it’s almost always easier for you as well after the setup and learning curve).
For Capture, Nurture, & Close, I recommend utilizing a CRM tool to manage your customer/potential customer information and nurture those contacts consistently via several channels (email, text, phone, social media), and have an easy sales mechanism.
Spice it up a bit with Repeat & Refer
A business’s biggest asset is its customer list. These are people who have done business with you before. If you’ve done things right, they like you and are probably willing to do business with you again. If you properly continue to nurture customers after the initial sale, you can encourage repeat business, foster goodwill, and even encourage referrals. As mentioned, people like to be paid attention to, so a good experience or good continued experiences will not go unnoticed. Use the tools you have to continue serving your market with good content, building your reputation, and continuing your reputation with your customers.