Smart Marketing Tactics: Across Eras and in Any Phase of Growth

Smart Marketing Tactics Across Eras and in Any Phase of Growth

I’m admittedly super nerdy when it comes to consuming as much content as I can about marketing, business and self-development, and I recently finished reading a book all about persuasion marketing as it relates to neuromarketing — basically the things that light up our brains and make us want to say “YES!” to a sales offer.

We all have parallel triggers that make us want to buy things, #becausescience.

But what I found even more interesting, is how oddly similar the persuasion marketing techniques and tactics lined up with the strategies mentioned in the classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” written by Dale Carnegie and originally published waaay back in 1936.

The sales mediums have changed, but strategies haven’t.

I work on these “strategies” and “tactics” with my business coaching clients, but I hate to even call them “strategies and tactics” because that can feel manipulative and disingenuous.

They are the things that make people LIKE us. They are the ways that we can show up and let people know that they can TRUST us. Because we want to buy from people that we know, like and trust, right?

So what were the main similarities between the suggestions in the persuasion marketing book and Dale Carnegie’s?

>>Show trust to gain trust, feeling trusted releases oxytocin, and builds bonds. That’s why the “I’m trusting you with these business secrets” line works so well. Other ways to show trust include offering trial periods to your product, free strategy calls or even product samples.

>>Flattery leaves a strong and lasting impression. When you’re posting and building relationships in Facebook groups, respond to people’s comments, tag and acknowledge them using their first names and compliment them in an authentic way.

>>Learn and remember people’s names. We love the sound of our own names, don’t we? When you first see a group photo, whose face do you look for first? Your own. It’s not narcissism, it’s just human nature. Showing people you care about THEM makes them care about you. As you are working to grow your business, keep a spreadsheet (or use a customer relationship manager, or CRM, like Streak, Insightly or Cloze, to take notes about everything you learn when you talk to someone), then you have it to review before talking to them again.

>>Smile! Whenever you’re on a coffee chat, Facebook Live, or discovery call (even just audio!), make sure you’re smiling the entire time. People respond positively to those that smile, it even triggers mirror neurons that might even make them smile back at you.

Of course there were plenty more tactics, but I just wanted to share a few as they relate to our industries. They’re simple sales and marketing tips that we sometimes overlook. As someone who does FB ads I know all of the strategies related to the “FB slot machine” can seem sexier but these tried and true techniques are what build your funnel and make ads actually work for you.

Try them. It will work. You can trust me. 😉

Can you think of ways to bring these strategies into your sales funnels or Facebook ads?

Ten Steps to a Successful Advertising Campaign

online marketing strategy

The Facebook ad itself is only a teeny-tiny portion of any online advertising or other successful Facebook ad campaign.. Although it might be the first step of the campaign, it’s roughly about 10% of its success.

When clients come to me wanting to run a Facebook ad, especially in the coaching and online service-based industry, the very first thing I do is take look at the overall picture of the other 90% before hitting “Publish” on the ads.

What is the other 90%? It’s the sales funnel (which I’ll break down into nine steps for you below).

The reason most of my sales funnel clients come to me is because they’re feeling stuck and overwhelmed with the ENORMOUS amount of options available when creating a funnel. But let’s simplify it.

Any funnel setup will work, as long as it’s executed proficiently to a well-understood audience.

Focus on using your most engaging channels within your funnels.

Let me say that again.

Create your funnel in a way that feels good for you.

Are you good on video? Use it. Do you feel like you best communicate through email? Do that.

There’s no perfect formula or hidden secrets to connecting with your audience. If you’re comfortable and passionate about the way you’re communicating, people will feel that. The point of any sales funnel is to take gradual steps from stranger to a warmed-up lead. We want to focus on building your credibility to the point where your audience feels safe and ready to buy.

You might build a funnel that doesn’t work, and that’s okay. The main thing to focus on is continuing to test and modify as you move forward. (And don’t forget, action is the best education!)

Curious about the other 9 steps to a successful campaign? Well, here they are:

  1. Research – This is a hugely important step! Don’t forget to survey your market, typically 10-15 people is a good fit.
  2. Offer – I often start with the offer and work backwards. This helps me make sure everything is in alignment with my ultimate goal.
  3. Lead Magnet – The whole purpose of your campaign is to give this away, build trust and show your expertise. It’s offering something of value in exchange for a lead. The lead can be an email address, a webinar attendance, or scheduling a free call. It must add a defined value and/or solve a pain point for a defined audience.
  4. Landing Page – This is where you bring your audience, also considered a click-through. It’s important that this feels like a seamless transition (and works best with no other content or page navigation to distract them).
  5. Thank You Page – This is often a seriously overlooked piece (and is usually the thing you threw together in 30 seconds, right?)!  Include information about you, about what they can expect moving forward, restate the benefits of joining, and how they can keep in touch with you (or maybe join your Facebook group?).
  6. Targeting – Make sure you’ve researched your audience well enough to know how to target them. I try to stick with competitors they’ve shown interest in, but I also test this against 3rd party data offered up in the behaviors area of targeting.
  7. Emails – Set up your email funnel to continually offer value and build on the budding relationship.
  8. Retargeting – Continue with retargeting based on how the audience has reacted to your emails and other steps in your funnel. Have they clicked on certain offers like a webinar or video series? Keep track of that stuff.
  9. Split Testing – What’s working and what’s not? When you run ads on Facebook, they work really hard to use their algorithms to continually show the higher performing ads. Shut off and rework what isn’t performing well (but don’t over-react and do it like 4 hours after starting your ad, sometimes this stuff takes time). If you’re not getting the results you’d like, get an expert to support you.

Where do you get stuck on this 10 point system? I’d love to hear, what are your biggest questions about using Facebook ads or creating a sales funnel for your business?

Three Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

3 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

For the longest time imposter syndrome was keeping me stuck.

I would have (what I thought to be) a great idea and I’d set out to gather information and research on exactly how to put my great idea in motion.

I was so stuck in my own head, and afraid that someone else was already doing what I wanted to do. I was even telling myself that they were probably doing it better than I could do.

The comparison blues would set in, and I would hit a wall with thoughts of “why would anyone trust ME to deliver this content?” or “Why would they buy from me when someone else is already offering the same thing.” And then I’d just stop.

Instead of doing the amazing thing I had set out to do, I would back down, like a scared puppy with my tail between my legs, and retreat to my invisible offline hiding place.

And it didn’t feel good.

I am SO thankful that I have gotten past that cycle in my business, but I haven’t forgotten the lasting impression it made.

The imposter syndrome cycle is vicious.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I let imposter syndrome rear its ugly head and paralyze me from the value I wanted to serve to my audience.

It took some mindset shifts to overcome my imposter syndrome and close out those negative, stuck feelings.

Here are the top three things I did to overcome.

First of all, remember (even in the offline areas of our lives), comparison is the thief of joy. If you’re having issues with comparing yourself to other entrepreneurs in your space, just stop it.

1. STOP THE SCROLL.

Uninstall the Facebook app from your phone, and give yourself designated time periods and specific tasks when you’re using it.

For example, only use Facebook groups to publish your own posts, post in groups, or respond to things in which you’ve been tagged. If you know your list of keywords, search your top used FB groups for your keywords and respond once a day. (I will be SO happy when a tool is released that lets you “listen” for your keywords via email notifications, like Google Alerts, but for Facebook groups!)

Mindlessly scrolling is not only a waste of your precious time, but it starts to feel crowded and noisy.

Another app I recently installed is the Facebook Eradicator extension for Chrome. It replaces your Facebook Newsfeed with an inspirational quote… a huge improvement, in my opinion!

You do you. And you do the work. You are amazing and made for this. Stop hiding and stop over-educating or over-researching. Success and growth doesn’t happen when you’re only taking in information instead of putting it out.

2. YOU’RE NEVER THE ONLY ONE

Secondly, know that you will NEVER be the only one in the world doing something (and if you are, that’s probably not a good sign). You don’t need to recreate the wheel or go blazing a brand new, never before seen path in order to be successful.

What you DO need to do, is say things with your authentic voice.

There are hundreds of differently light bulbs available, right? And how many different types of toothpaste put out by the SAME brand? (I think I read something like Crest has 46 different varieties available on the market today.) All very similar, yet all perfect for a specific audience with unique needs and pain points.

I digress. The point is, even if a market might feel oversaturated, you can do it better. You can say it in your voice, with your values projected and it will feel completely original.

Even Tony Robbins doesn’t recommend recreating the wheel. If you admire and feel inspired by what someone else is doing, research the methods they use to get from Point A to Point B, and then reverse engineer it in your own voice.

(HOWEVER, DO NOT COPY THEM. Inauthenticity doesn’t feel good for anyone… not you, not your customers.)

I know personally, comparison and noise are the main causes of my own imposter syndrome.

So finally, lean in to those feelings… be scared, be intimidated, feel inadequate..

3. DO IT ANYWAY

These feelings are a sign you are stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing out your own boundaries.

The best way to quickly get over imposter syndrome?

Get strategic when you’re feeling on top of the entrepreneurial world. Create your content and visibility plan when you’re on the top of the mountain.

Then, if you start feeling low, like an imposter in your industry, or unproductive, stick with your plan.

Keep on runnin’ and never look back.

The Why of Your Business

This morning I asked in my Facebook group, what is your why? This is such a common question around entrepreneurs right? We’ve got our vision boards and our mantras, but that’s not the why I was talking about.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Are people going to work with your business for the reason that your “Why” you’re in business is that you want to work at home in your yoga pants? Probably not. Are they going to hire you because your business “why” is that you want more flexibility in your schedule? They might appreciate your drive, but it’s not going to make them support your business.

The WHY of your business goes deeper than just your personal reasons for starting the business. Your WHY needs to be the very culture and messaging of your business.

There are a hundred thousand writers out there, why should they hire you? There are thousands upon thousands of coaches. Why you? Why your business?

I don’t know about you, but when I start thinking about those questions, I automatically switch to the “What”. What I provide, the adjectives, right? I do it better. I can provide services faster.

But that’s gaining customers on, novelty, not loyalty.

When you switch the focus to gaining customers on loyalty, that’s when your business will explode.

So, there’s a scientific reason why this works. When you show up and stay consistent to your WHY of business, that’s when you’re appealing to the limbic btain, which is the center of your brain. The limbic brain is responsible for our feelings, like trust and loyalty. When you focus on what you offer, you’re only attracting the neocortex, which is the analytical side.

That’s why when we listen to our instinct or our knee jerk GUT reaction, it’s a decision from our limbic brain. It’s when we ignore our gut instincts and listen to manipulative sales tactics, that we experience buyers’ remorse. And manipulative tactics include things like those countdown timers we’ve all seen or sale prices, free bonuses, etc. They aren’t necessarily sleazy ways to do business, and they work, they work pretty well, but it’s not going to built a loyal audience. The second their friend says “Oh, well I hired this designer instead”, if there’s no loyalty to you and your services, they’ll jump ship.

Knowing your WHY and being consistent with that is going to attract your people. When you’re consistent, it creates an understanding and a brand loyalty, right? It’s just like Apple computers. In the Steve Jobs era, their following was compared to a cult. Their company culture and focus has changed in the last couple of years, and their stock prices are reflecting that.

When you’ve got brand loyalty, the competition doesn’t matter. You can CHARGE more for your services and people have built a relationship with you based on identifying with your company why or your culture. You can take longer to deliver because you’ve built loyalty and trust.  When you try to sell your services based on being the cheapest, the fastest or offering steep discounts, you’re not creating brand loyalty. If you’re offering your services for free, you might get a fast “yes” on your proposal, but you’re not working with someone that is going to come back again if you raise your prices.

You need to focus on helping your clients make decisions based on feelings, not facts. And you can’t do that if you aren’t 100% clear on the WHY behind your business.  People choose you for your voice, your personality, your relationship with them. As long as you’re consistent in your who, what, when, where and why, you’re acting as a leader in your business, and people want to follow a leader. They trust someone who acts as a leader.

So, how do you do this? You’ve gotta dig deep and understand your external business WHY. You need to analyze all the different areas of what you offer, who you want to help, how you help them, and when people need you the most.

When those items are consistent across the board, that’s when you’re showing up as an authentic business, and THAT is the sweet spot of building trust and loyalty. That’s when people will hire you because it just FEELS right.

For the last year, I pussy footed around with my whats. What I offer. What I do. Who I help. How I help them. It wasn’t until I became clear on my WHY that things started to fall in place for me, and showing up consistently started to feel really good.

So even though I know marketing, I know design, I can occasionally write copy that doesn’t suck, my WHY is about being kind and building relationships with people.

My parents always tell me stories about being a little girl on vacation and finding anyone my same height and age and instantly wanting them to be my friend. We vacationed in Florida once, and I met a little girl who was French and didn’t speak a word of English. And we played and played and played.

My why is being able to relate to people. So, while my WHAT might be teaching you how to run Facebook ads, you better believe that it’s going to tie back to my WHY or “how can you use this ad to build relationships with your audience”. If we’re talking about the technical details of creating a sales funnel, you KNOW that it’s going to be based on not only what works, but what is going to help you build loyalty through your brand. Because a sales funnel is basically a trust funnel, right?

Everything I do, is going to be driven from focusing on being a good and kind human and building relationships with people and teaching them to do the same thing with their online marketing.

So, if you’re in a position where you don’t fully KNOW your why yet, and you’re still operating and marketing based on your whats, then I have a worksheet for you to download.

Since you’re likely reading this on your phone, or on your computer with your phone in your hand, so text FBLIVE to +1 (773) 770-4377 and I’ll have the worksheet emailed to you.

Alternatively, you can go to alliebjerk.com/why/ and sign up to have it emailed to you.

How to Repurpose Your Facebook Live Videos

How to Repurpose Your Facebook Live Videos

Facebook Live lets you broadcast a live-stream video from your phone. If you’ve live-streamed a great video you’d like to keep, follow these steps to download the video file from your Facebook:
First, log into Facebook.com and go to your profile.
Next, locate the Videos tab below your profile’s cover photo (along the bottom of the image or in the More drop-down).

Now, click on Videos to see a list of videos you’ve posted to your profile. 

If you click over to video library, you can see a list of your recent Facebook lives, or any other videos you may have uploaded to your page.Once you’re there, you’ll want to click on the pencil icon to edit your video.

Here, you can title your video and add up to 8 tags that suit you or your business video. Because I’m all about teaching other business owners digital strategy, I chose popular keywords around that topic.

[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type=”single solid” top_margin=”10px” bottom_margin=”10px” sep_color=”” border_size=”1px” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][fusion_text]Subtitles are also a major plus for your videos. According to a recent survey, advertisers are seeing an immediate 14% lift in engagement when you simply add captions to videos on social media. Facebook also makes it super easy to add them to the replays of your live broadcasts (although, as you can see, the pre-defined subtitles need some major editing).

[/fusion_text][fusion_imageframe lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”none” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”none” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] How many times have you been mindlessly scrolling through Facebook only to skip over caption-free videos because you didn’t want to disturb anyone around you with the noise? Captions help keep those viewers interested.

(Side note: Make sure you use subtitles in your video ads, too.)

Because we all consume content differently, I recommend adding the Live broadcast to your YouTube channel, where you can use YouTube’s platform to trim and edit your video as you see fit for that source. You can also separately edit and optimize your video for people searching YouTube.

I also recommend transcribing it to a written blog post to feature alongside your embedded Live broadcast on your website. This can help you gain keyword traction and maybe even some SEO love from the search engines.

Of course, if you’ve mentioned anyone or collaborated with someone to create your Facebook live, ask them to repurpose and share the video as well. Live videos are a great way to expand your reach and grow your impact online

 

 

The End of Course Remorse

There’s a problem with the online course industry, and I’m calling it out.

I recently saw a post in a group about “buyers remorse” when it comes to the programs that ring in at $2000 or more. While these courses are jam-packed with info, it can be overwhelming. Recent stats have shown us that over 80% of people who buy courses let them go unfinished.

Logins forgotten. Content purchased and never consumed. Yikes.

Think of all that wasted money that could have been invested elsewhere (like, maybe, all of the tools it takes to manage your online marketing?), somewhere that would actually help you successfully grow your business.

So where do we go wrong? And how do we  fix it?

I’ve done it. I’ve reasoned with my husband on why I HAD to have “X course” (even if it meant putting it on a credit card) and then never finishing the course.

Guilt.

Shame.

Regret.

New shiny object.

Rinse. Repeat.

Not feelings I want to share with people who deserve the exhilaration and freedom of owning their own successful business. (Shameless promo to prove I stand by my theory: All of my courses are specific and small enough that you don’t have to transfer a credit card balance to purchase them.)

And if you have to sit and think if you can afford it, I don’t want you to purchase it. Not yet. 

I’m not trying to rock the industry boat.. (Maybe a little). But I want to help as many entrepreneurs as I can.. And I understand what it’s like to be at the humble beginning of the journey.

I cover a wide variety of courses.. And I’m arguably not a guru, thought leader or industry expert in many of the subjects that I teach, but I’m a voracious student. Before I create a course, I put my heart into inhaling all of the content I can, so that I can implement it into my own growing business, then I go into sharing mode. Most of my teaching shows my real life learning stages, so that you can learn from the mistakes I make along the way as a peer versus a guru on a pedestal.

I’m a mom of almost three ((hello, third trimester)), I drive a mini van and I live in Minnesota. I don’t have photo shoots at glam locations telling you about my recent 7 figure launch. I believe in keeping it real and sharing with you the details and industry secrets needed to grow your business online.

At the beginning of starting your business, you’re making the least amount of money and you probably need courses the most. I believe in offering course “experiences” that come with one on one support and a fair amount of hand-holding to get you the results you deserve.

 

Stop Selling Your Freedom

You started your own business to gain freedom.

Freedom from:

  • Being stuck behind a computer from 9-5
  • Being away from your family forty plus hours a week
  • An inconsiderate boss breathing down your neck
  • Working your tail off for $20 an hour while the company is profiting 5 times that

There’s a saying that entrepreneurs will work 80 hours a week for themselves to avoid working 40 for someone else. And for many of the hustling self-employed, that couldn’t be more fitting.

But there’s a problem.

Even if you start a business doing something you love, working crazy hours, doing everything in your business, and trading your hours for dollars is a recipe for burnout.

My guess is you’ve reached a breaking point in your business. You’re too busy, you’re unhappy, and you’re not feeling satisfied.

The romance of being self-employed has worn off and you’re ready for a new challenge.

Think about how much money you’re currently making in your business. Then think about the design of your business. The amount of money you’re making is a direct reflection of the current design of your business. With a few small tweaks, you can easily go from a profit of four figures a month, to five, and then six figures a month and beyond.

When you’re working at a job, you’re trading your time for money. Depending on the design of your business, you might be self-employed and still trading your time for money. You’re literally selling your freedom.

And here is why that matters:

The only resource you can’t acquire more of is time.

Once time is gone, it’s gone. We were all given a finite amount of time on this Earth, and it’s not to be wasted.

When your goal is to make major cash in your business, you need to detach your income from time. Your income must not rely on time to make money.

Too often, people get in to business with the wrong notion – you can’t just “do what you love” and expect to get rich. You need to follow a formula and a plan, with a strategically designed business to go from surviving to thriving.

If you’re here, it’s because you want to make more money in your business. Money means freedom. If you have more money, you’re able to go on more vacations with your family, you’re able people to help manage your tasks, you’re able to invest in items that continue to grow your wealth.

At the most basic level, in order to go from trading dollars for hours, you need three things in your business: systems, sales funnels, and passive income, and a pretty combination of those three. That’s IT. That’s all you need to crack the code.

What changes do you need to make in your business to crack the code and shatter your earning ceiling?

Five Rules to Follow for Major Wealth as a Solopreneur

As a service-based business owner, I’ve made a couple guesses about you, and you can tell me if I’m right (or if you’d like to challenge my assumptions).

  1. You want to make a difference for people in their lives. You want to teach, you want to inspire, and change lives with your content.
  2. You would like to understand how to make more money in your business, without selling your soul to work all the time.
  3. You’re likely already making a survivable amount of money in your business, but you’d like to bring that to a new level.

When you think about your designing your business, there are five factors that need to be in play in order to grow your business quickly, making you tons of money and without taking over your entire life.

You can design your business however you’d like. If you want to make a few thousand dollars a month, you create your business structure to do that. If you want to make 5 figures a month, you’ll need a different model. If you are looking to generate 6 figures a month, it’s totally possible, but you’ll need to carefully structure the design of your business to make it a reality.

If you’re a service-based business, you’re likely going to max out your monthly income making somewhere in the five figure range each month. Eventually you’re going reach a price ceiling, max out on your available working hours, or need to start outsourcing, relying on outside sources to continue your quality of work and meeting your deadlines.

However, there are strategies to push your income to the next level.

The five factors of a highly profitable solopreneur business ($20K per month and beyond) are the following:

  1. It has to solve a problem.
  2. It can’t be “too easy” to get started.
  3. You need to be in complete control.
  4. You have to be able to grow the business, without maxing yourself out.
  5. You have to value your time.

See? Easy. It’s all in the structure and design of the business.

Solve a problem:

Your business needs to solve a problem. It also needs to bring value to the market. If you’re going in to business to make money, that’s not enough motivation to keep you going when the road gets rough. You need a stronger purpose, with a need to make people’s lives easier.

It’s not enough to “do what makes you happy” if you want to be financially successful. You need to be able to give something to the selfish consumer.

“How can you help me?”

“How can you make my life easier?”

“How do you plan on solving my problems?”

That’s what your potential customers REALLY care about, not how they’re helping you by buying your product.

Serve the customer, not the dollar. Attract money, don’t chase it.

Anything that’s easy isn’t worth doing.

If someone is trying to sell you on a “get rich quick” scheme, or trying to get you on the phone or out to lunch to tell you about a top-secret, great opportunity to “make money in your spare time”… RUN.

Again, anything that’s easy isn’t worth doing.

Growing your own business is hard work. It takes overcoming failure and challenges. It takes emotional strength and ignoring the naysayers.

While you don’t want to go into a business with ZERO competition or demand, you also don’t want to become a sheep in a field of business owners all trying to sell the same product with the same marketing scheme.

You need to stand out and stand above.

Be in complete control of your business.

There are many business models out there that allow you to “own” your own business without having control. For example, selling products online through eBay or Amazon, or even handmade products for Amazon Handmade or Etsy. You’re at the mercy of a larger entity. Same with affiliate marketing – if your account is shut down, your income dies with it.

 In order to reach great wealth in your business, you need to be in control of all the moving parts.

Your business needs to have growth potential. 

One of the hardest parts of selling a service, whether it’s copywriting, graphic design, web design, online marketing services or virtual assisting, is selling your time hours for dollars. At some point, you’ll be hugely successful, in which you’re running out of time. You literally will not have enough hours in the week to get everything done. And that, (assuming you’re running an ethical business and not charging for hours not completed) is where you’ll max out on your income.

This is also where most entrepreneurs get stuck.

If you reach a point where you need to start outsourcing YOUR work, you start risking quality changes, staff turnover, excessive time spent on management and other issues that arise when you start growing your team.

Who and how do you want to serve?

If you’re selling virtual assisting services for $30/hr, you could increase your price in order to make more money, but eventually, you’re going to reach a price ceiling that’s beyond what clients are willing to pay.

However, if you really want to scale your business, step back and create a team of virtual assistants, making your business growth exponential, and you’re in complete control.

Value Your Time

 One of the hardest parts of owning your own business, is that it can be a total and complete time suck. Sure, the harder you work, the more you’ll make, but I sure hope there’s more to your life than working.

If you start your business, (or evolve your business, like I did), to make a mind-blowing amount of money each month, you need to place a huge value on your time.

Own your business, don’t let your business own you.

Creating systems of automation in your business is a great place to start. Investing in tools that take hours out of your work day pays of immensely, even if it means an extra monthly payment. I personally invest in email marketing systems, course delivery programs, CRMs, data storage, invoice automation, proposal automation, anything to save my time.

Can you figure out ways to get your business to work for you, even when you’re not technically working?

When you add passive income to your business, it makes more money and frees up the amount of time you have available.

When you look at the list of five rules for major wealth in your business, which are you following in your business? I’d love for you to like my Facebook page and tell me what’s working for you or email me at allie@alliebjerk.com to tell me what’s working and what you’d like to improve.

You’ve created a job, not a lifestyle (and how to fix that).

You’ve created a job, not a lifestyle (and how to fix that).

You started a business for two reasons, you wanted the freedom of creating your own schedule, and you wanted to make money. 

However, once you’ve tasted the success of landing your first client, and your second client, (and even your third, fourth and fifth), the novelty of being self-employed has worn off and now you’re working 90 hours a week for 15 different bosses (your clients) and a reeeeally crabby direct manager (yourself).

You haven’t created a lifestyle business, you’ve created a J-O-B.

You’re smart, creative, relate well with people, and you’ve already overcome some so many challenges to get this far.

You choose the amount of money you want to make in your business by the way you structure your service offerings.

Solopreneurs and business owners are at serious risk of burnout because of all of the tasks they are managing. From sales to project management, client tasks and personal marketing, it’s no wonder that most business close their doors after three years or less.

There are four main ways you can save you business (and your sanity).

  1. Sales Funnels
  2. Systems and Automation
  3. Outsource
  4. Passive Income

If you implement one or all of these strategies, you’ll be able to get back to loving your business, while working less hours and making more money.

Sales Funnels

Getting a sales funnel in place will save you TONS of time in the long run (although, I’m the first to admit, it takes a lot of time and focus to get set up – but, it’s totally worth it!).

When you’re creating a sales funnel for your business, it’s best to start with your final offer first. Brainstorm your ultimate goal of what you’d like to sell without any effort (services, a group consulting or coaching offer, or online course). Start by thinking of what problems you could solve for your customers – are there questions that you get asked over and over again? Do your clients have issues trying to DIY easy items (tasks that you’re not interested in doing for them)? If you can answer one of their needs or solve a problem for your clients, you know you’ve got a winning idea.

Then think of supplemental information that would help build up your authority towards being an expert in that final offer.

Ideas include:

  • Assessments
  • Guides
  • Ebooks
  • Mini Course
  • Video Series
  • Quizzes
  • Guides
  • Tips, Tricks or Checklists
  • Swipe Files
  • Trial Offers of Your Services
  • Webinars
  • Case Studies

Systems and Automation

When I first started my marketing agency, I was all over the place. I’m not making any excuses, but as a creative and marketer, I’d much rather do the fun stuff, like designing or working with my people, than focus on my systems. Ugh.

But it’s a necessary evil if you want a functioning business with happy customers.

Not to mention, once your systems and automation are in place, it’s a lot easier to outsource.

To create systems in my business, I started by taking notes on everything I did. I took an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper (one for each of my clients), and created a list of everything I complete for them on a monthly basis. I am more of a pencil and paper type of person when it comes to jotting down notes and brainstorming, but then I transferred all of my notes into a calendar template using the Trello app. I was able to keep myself organized and scheduled, and I did a lot better meeting deadlines and over-delivering for my clients.

Automation is another huge piece. Using social media planning tools (to which the social media managers out there will attest!) can be a huge time savings for you. I sit down at the end of each month and plan out a month of content for the following month. This includes blog posts, social media posts, and live marketing/sales items and more. If you follow weekly themes, it helps cement in your clients’ brains everything you can do for them versus jumping around to a different subject every single post.

You can also use tools to send your monthly invoices (especially easy if you have your clients set up on a monthly retainer).

Automate everything you can in your business, and you’ll save tons of time and money, even if you have to invest in some additional tools.

Outsource

There comes a time in every business when its owner is ready to take a step back and focus on the that bring them the most joy in their business. If there’s a task that you find yourself constantly putting off, consider hiring an outside contractor or specialist to manage it. This could be something like scheduling your social media posts or sending out your invoices.

Depending on your industry, there are a number of ways you can outsource your work, including:

  • A contractor in the same industry
  • Student Interns (Please pay them!)
  • Hiring Overseas Help
  • Hire a VA

Outsourcing your work can be challenging for a couple different reasons. For one, you’ve put a ton of time and effort into your business, and it’s scary to hand over some responsibility to someone else. I’m a total control freak, so allowing someone else to step in and help was really scary for me. You also have to be super organized, have your systems in place, and be able to give directions well. The person to whom you outsource also makes a huge impact on your success, so make sure to interview and follow your instincts.

My personal favorite way to save your sanity in your business:

Create Passive Income

Every single service-based business can create passive income.

  • Retainer Based Packages (I can honestly say this is the #1 reason for my business’ success thus far.)
  • Group Programs (Teach what you know. You’re an expert in your craft, so you can either educate a group of potential clients, or help a fellow business owner who is a few steps behind your current standing.)
  • Courses (Online courses are huge right now and gaining popularity. Everyone has something to teach, and you’re no different.)
  • Membership Sites (What kind of content is your client looking to receive on a monthly basis? Create a membership site and watch the dollars add up.)

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating a lifestyle business, and a brand you fully enjoy. Thanks so much for reading!

How to Create a Marketing Funnel that Generates Sales

How to Create a Marketing Funnel that Generates Sales

“Allie, what is a marketing funnel?”

When I say marketing funnel, I’m talking about the kind of funnel that you absolutely must get right if you want to sell products and run an efficient business.

marketing funnel nurturingYour marketing funnel is made up of several stages, moving a potential client from total stranger to a total fan of your work. It’s the process of converting a first-time visitor or browser into a happily paying customer.

Especially in the online world, where consumers have A TON of options and noise coming at them, a marketing funnel is made up of different pieces that will help you gain credibility and their trust. Through each level of the funnel, there are different stages of trust and types of content that the potential client will be prepared to consume, in relation to where they are with “getting to know” you and your business… not so different from dating. You wouldn’t want someone to ask you to marry them on the very first date, just like you likely won’t buy from someone without any sort of prior introduction.

There are basically two ways to market a business.

1. Cold Calling/Billboard in a Desert Approach

For businesses who are purchasing lists of phone numbers in order to call and pitch, their close rates are at about 1%. That’s a lot of wasted effort on the other 99%. Why? We have no prior proof that this audience is even remotely interested in what we have to give them. They’re not necessarily qualified leads, and they likely have NO CLUE how much our product rocks. Without that initial contact and time to start building rapport and a relationship, a swift no and a kick out the door (or in this instance, a phone “click”) and our contact with that person is gone.

You wouldn’t place a billboard in a desert, would you? Trying to reach clients when you know nothing about them or their level of interest is a complete waste of time and money.

2. Meeting the future customer on their turf

On the other end of the spectrum, businesses who are more focused on creating valuable content and placing it where a customer or client can find it when they are ready to begin the buying cycle have a much higher close rate. Potential customers can engage with your content (blog posts, infographics, videos) and learn about your company and its services without a cold call from a salesperson. Not only are they more receptive to the sales process (and not instantly tense and waiting for their chance to hang up), but they are a high-quality lead because they’ve already shown interest in what you have to offer them. Close rates for these types of customer contacts are typically close to 50%.

Most businesses are somewhere in the middle of these two examples.. they haven’t yet “perfected” their sales funnel, but they aren’t exactly calling strangers out of the blue to sell their products.

There are basically four stages to the sales funnel, and each stage needs to be treated accordingly.

A successful marketing funnel has EACH of the following stages:
“Create < Market < Sell < Delight”.

Step #1 – Problem/Need Recognition – Create

If your future client doesn’t recognize that she has a need that must be filled, she’s not yet ready to make a purchase. In this stage, it’s important to create simple, easy to consume content, in order to start help her start realizing she might need help solving a problem. In the case of coaches and creatives, this would mean creating content

Step #2 – The Search for Information – Market

A search for more information is triggered once the problem has been recognized. Depending on the size of the need at hand, the hunt for information can take on a variety of forms and lengths of time.

Step #3 – Considering the Options – Sell

Your customer will start comparing her options once the problem has been recognized and she has begun her search. She will start sifting through the available options, including information provided, value perceived, and packages offered. Depending on the size of the purchase ($50 Facebook image design or $20K coaching package…), this option consideration can drastically vary in size.

Step #4 – The Purchase

Ah, yes. Your notifications let you know the purchase decision has been made. Your customer has identified her problem, sought out the information to solve that problem, shopped around and chose YOU as the best option to solve her problem. In this stage, it’s important to remember that customers are easily swayed by negative feedback and a difficult to navigate website; two VERY important keys to remember in order to close the deal

There is a piece of the puzzle that most funnel education neglects to mention. The journey is not complete just because the customer has bought from you.

happy with online sales funnel

Step #5 – After the Purchase – Delight

This is where the magic will happen for your business. The step AFTER the sale is even more important that the first three steps of the marketing funnel. You never want your clients to feel any level of buyers remorse or regret (something I’ve learned the hard way).

You want your customers to be greeted by a thoughtful onboarding process, personal attention, and all the resources they need to use and enjoy your product successfully. Give them this experience, and they’re more likely to confirm to themselves that they made the right choice. A confident and happy buyer is likely going to shell out the recommendations, referrals and endorsements. However, on the other hand, if your brand new customers experience disappointment and regret after their purchase, they’re more likely to request refunds, write negative reviews, and recommend that others in their social circles purchase from your competitors – a business killer in the online world, especially.