Your Comprehensive Marketing Plan
If selling is hard for you, then you need a paradigm shift.
Very few of us like wearing the salesman hat. It conjures up all kinds of ideas about slimey tactics, manipulation and other things that people with consciences want no part of. Yet we still have to run our businesses.
If your present view of sales and marketing is that it’s a necessary evil, you’re in danger of self-sabotage when it comes to promoting yourself and your product.
Like most things, there’s a ditch on either side of the road. There’s also a way to sell, without being sleezy or annoying, and without blackening your soul.
Your Offer to the World
It all starts here. You have to sell something you truly believe in, and know that it’s in people’s best interest to buy from you. You can’t only be in it for the money.
If you don’t 100% believe in what you’re doing, you shouldn’t go any further in business until you address this issue. Is it your internal struggle, or do you need to sell something else? Do you need to improve or change your product, or change your belief?
If you’re dealing with self-doubt and limiting beliefs, despite evidence to the contrary that your product is worthy, and you haven’t written out a list of benefits which should form your sales copy, I urge you to do that. It will help you get in touch with the value you give people.
The other side of this is believing so much that you give it away because you know how good it is and you just want to see people benefit.
But if you really want to help, you need to charge, because people rarely value what they haven’t paid for. Charging also helps you take your offer to a larger audience, which benefits more people.
Sales is service.
Shift your mindset in such a way that you consider your job as a salesman to be helping people to identify what they want or need and how you can help them get there. Hopefully that will be through your product, and if not, steer them to the right thing for them. Listen and be helpful first.
Sales is also education.
Like service above, you might need to spend some time educating people on why what you have helps. Many times they don’t know how to recognize the source of their problem, let alone what they can do about it. Selling via education will be perceived as you doing them a favor if you do this right. Blogs, books, free ecourses, informative emails and social media posts are all examples of this.
Sales can be entertainment.
We’ve all seen the funny commercials and have read entertaining sales copy. If you are a natural entertainer, let that be one of your sales method.
Not everyone is your customer.
I run a flower essence business. Do I believe everyone should use them? Of course! But I market to very specific types of people, because I know who is interested and willing to work on their emotional issues. I spend my time and marketing budget there and I know that I will never have to do a hard sell. It’s not my job to convince anybody to be my customer. My job is to help the ones who are actively looking for the solution that I provide. Knowing your audience will save you a ton of frustration.
If you shift your perception of sales away from the idea of trying to convince people to buy from you, to helping as many people as you can, you’ll feel better about the process.
“Selling is not something you do to someone, it’s something you do for someone.” -Zig Ziglar
Let any of the above three; serving, educating, or entertaining, be a part of every interaction a prospect has with you, and you can’t go wrong.
So let's get into some marketing. No matter what business you're in, people have to know, like and trust you. If you can always be looking for ways to establish those things with your audience, you'll go far.
The 5 Stages of Marketing are as follows:
◦ Attract prospects
◦ Build relationships
◦ Present the opportunity
◦ Retention and repeat business
This is more or less the journey people take with you, and more and more tend to drop off with each level. It is important to nurture your people through this process to get them to take the next step with you. If you can effectively steward the clients/customers you have, you'll have a better business with less money and effort invested.
If you spend all your efforts chasing down new customers without having a system in place, that is not effective marketing. However, that is exactly what most people do, they focus intensely on stage one and four.
Today, we are going to look at all of these stages and make sure we are effective in each. We’re going to look at various strategies for each stage, and choose one or more that fit our businesses, and line up with the vision, the values, and the natural propensities and gifts within us.
What we are not going to do, is push ourselves in a direction we think we ought to go because it’s popular and other people are successful doing it. Instead of trying to shore up our weaknesses and get better at a certain thing, we need to double down on our strengths and take those to a new level.
How Do You Communicate the Best?
All of marketing boils down to communication. It’s really that simple. And to make it even easier, we want to look at when and how you are “in the zone” so to speak in your ability to communicate. You’ll notice that the “meat” of this class is text. That’s because I’m at my best when writing. It’s not that I can’t get on video (as above) but if I really need to be specific and thorough, I will choose writing.
Other people might find the cursor blinking on the screen, or the blank page intimidating and a long hard process, but can talk fluidly and coherently live and unrehearsed or with a few notes.
But don’t confuse your comfort zone with what you should be doing. Fear and resistance can often point to something you’re meant to do and the enemy trying to discourage you. A better marker of which methods you should use are what people seem to respond to the most and your natural strengths.
Establishing Credibility in Your Market
Many people have an internal battle over their credentials or lack thereof. They believe that they have to have a degree to be taken seriously, or that they have to be already successful in a field. While there are certain areas that require degrees or other sorts of paper proof in order for you to legally operate, there are generally other less expensive, less time-consuming ways for you to establish credibility.
One reason this may be, is that when an authority certifies you as something, you are obligated to operate by their standards. This is to encourage uniformity and maintain their good name. This is a good thing, unless you get revelation to do things differently. Whether this is a positive change or not, you will have to step out from under that certification or else be operating in rebellion. I now have certifications that I don't talk about.
There’s also something to be said for "searching the matter out" rather than passively accepting what you're taught, which results in greater ownership of your expertise. You'll be speaking through your own authority on the subject, instead of parroting your teachers, and perhaps not having full understanding.
I believe God's intentions here are to take us all places beyond where others before us have gone. To travel along the waterways of the Spirit where we can flow without restriction of man's regulations and customs.
So if you don't have a degree or certification what can you show?
◦ Your track record
◦ Your experience
◦ Social proof (testimonies, reviews, endorsements)
◦ Being direct
◦ Good grooming and dress
◦ Overall professionalism
◦ Your work in print (book, blog, articles, newsletter)
I use books to demonstrate my credibility for Freedom Flowers. It's one of my better sales tools. Amazon is it's own search engine, and it's full of people looking for solutions to their problems.
Who am I to talk to you about imposter syndrome? I mean, who do I think I am? It's not like I have overcome this and am this huge authority like Tony Robbins or something... Who in their right mind would listen to me?
Imposter syndrome is actually a thing in the secular world of entrepreneurs. We know it as the enemy yakking at us. I actually like that someone put a specific name on this particular brand of accusation, so I'll go with Imposter Syndrome from here on out. What it is, is the voice that says that you're a fraud, you have no real authority in your line of business and when you get found out, you'll be ruined, so don't be acting like you know anything, ABOUT ANYTHING!
It affects us all. If you think you can earn your way out of it, you'd be mistaken. As soon as you get the piece of credibility you thought you needed, it morphs into another accusing and demeaning thought. You might think it only affects people that don't have the right education, or experience but that's not true. They have their own internal battles.
That doesn't mean you give up on getting the right experience, education and up leveling your skills, however. You do that because you are pursuing excellence, not because you'll finally feel that you've arrived. If anything, more knowledge has the opposite effect, showing you how little you know.
But if you're waiting for this tipping point where you "feel" totally prepared and competent, you might never start a business, or charge what you are worth, and you won't own your voice or fulfill your purpose. Beyond that, you're doing the world a massive disservice by not fully showing up.
In case you think this is humility, here's how you know. Imposter Syndrome will stop you from doing what you need to. It shuts you up —and down. Humility lets you show up and be imperfectly and transparently you, moving forward in your call. Humility comes with gratefulness for opportunities, Imposter Syndrome comes with feeling undeserving.
So suck it up buttercup! You need to recognize where that voice is coming from and that it's an indicator of you being on the right track.
You also need to shift focus from yourself and go help the people in the way that you're called to. This redirect will help you immensely to bust past it.
You may have heard it said that God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. Hang onto that one. We've got a whole book of examples of people who were not initially looking like all-star material but stepped out in faith because they trusted God. We have that. Secular entrepreneurs don't.
Imposter Syndrome is most definitely a spiritual battle. And by the way, business is most definitely ministry, assuming your motives are right. Imposter Syndrome may have an intriguing name, but when you boil it down, it's the same ol tactics, and we can use our same ol weapons. Fire away.
Stage 1 is attraction. It's how they first discover you exist. I'm sure you've already put a lot of thought into how you're going to get yourself out there. Let's focus on it some more. Here are some ideas.
This can be your blog on your site, guest blogging on other people's sites who have a similar niche audience, email marketing, writing articles for different publications, or writing a book and marketing it on Amazon with a strong incentive and instructions for taking the next step with you. Posting on relevant forums and social media in a way to establish credibility counts as writing too.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
If you don't rank strong with Google, people will rarely find you from a search. Google is free traffic from people who are looking for what you offer and therefore not to be ignored. The biggest thing you can do is write amazing lengthy content. Not long ago, all the SEO freaks were realizing that what Google wanted was fresh stuff daily. They churned out a bunch of swill, with the right keywords of course, and ranked.
Now you can beat them with really great in-depth articles that answer customer questions or solve problems. Google's job is not to get you indexed. Google is all about creating the best search experience for the customer and bring up the best results for what they searched for. They will only get better at this in the future, so to ride all these changes every time they introduce something new, just make sure everything you do is for the customer.
If you are not a writer, keep in mind that YouTube is the second largest search engine, and the first largest, Google loves to prioritize YouTube videos. Learning YouTube SEO is well worth your time if video is your strength.
I have heard this is not the best thing for a service based business, word of mouth being key with that. However, if you need to get a lot of attention fast, I personally love pay-per-click ads and do well with them.
I can see this being beneficial if your customers are businesses or business people. Otherwise, I'm skeptical but it is at least relational and can lead to joint ventures.
JV's are two or more companies who have similar audiences and come up with some plan to work together to benefit each other's businesses. I'm already sorry for what I just said, but I don't want to be too specific and put limits in your head about how it's done. Odds are, you have seen this in action and not realized it. Ahem, this challenge.
What I'm seeing a rash of, (which means it's working) are the business professionals who send out emails something like this: "Hi Seneca, my friend so and so is having this free training on how to blah blah. He's a really great expert in this area and I know you'll get a lot out of it. Here's my affiliate link, because even though it's free, there's gonna be an upsell later and I'll make lots of money if you buy."
What better way than to have someone they already trust vouch for you?
Another thing I've been seeing, is the "bonus" stuff. Let's say I launch a class and am hustling to get people enrolled and you have a freebie that relates to my audience. I can pitch my class, do a "But wait! There's more!" and add two or three bonuses that will be fulfilled by you and others. Your free intro session, workshop, ebook, or other thing that my people will love and get excited about, and hopefully sign up with you as well as me.
Basically, JV's get you some exposure to the right people that you would have a hard time reaching otherwise.
Fairs, markets and shows
If you can pull together a great looking display, stay active all day rather than sitting, especially if you can create product or perform your service so people see you doing it, great! Have your newsletter sign up stuff, a card reader and some good free info that they actually will want. Bonus if it's something they will keep and refer back to.
Such as Ebay, Etsy, Odesk, Elance, Udemy, Amazon etc. The reason to do this is to go where the buyers already are. The problem is, you have to deal with their terms and conditions. A cycle I have noticed, is that all these kinds of platforms start out being a great thing for sellers, and then the policies shift to become less and less favorable. Never ever base your entire business on one of these. Do not put all your eggs in somebody else's basket. Some of them? Definitely!
Many times, it pays to be an early adopter. Watch these platforms as they get started. Not all make it, but if you can get a good foothold early on, you can go to the top with them. The best time to start with Etsy was several years ago. Ebay, at least 10 years ago. I'm not saying that your time with any of it has come and gone, but it's more difficult than it used to be. I'm even seeing it with Amazons Kindle publishing.
Anywhere there's money being made hand over fist, you can liken it to the gold rush. There will be crowds, exploitation, gaming the system, bad motives and ultimately the crackdown. You want to be there before all that hits, and be well established in a position where nothing can touch you. To do that, you need to be in the right place at the right time, and it will probably mean taking a risk on a new up and coming platform.
More and more, we seem to be moving toward a system where the good guys win. Social media used to be the thing. Back in the day, your Facebook page could spam your fans newsfeeds with your promotional junk all day long. Now if you want Facebook to show it, you have to put out stuff that people actually want to see. There are lots of marketer tantrums being thrown right now over these kinds of changes, within Google search and Facebook especially. It's frustrating, when you've learned how to work the system and then they change the rules.
However, this is hopefully a change in the right direction for marketing as a whole. It demands you treat people right and holds you to a higher standard. If you insist on considering only yourself, they insist on limiting your exposure. Doesn't that make you happy as a consumer?
Don't leave this one up to the whim of the customer. Ask for them. And don't just ask your current clients, but past, as well as people who know you and know your character and strengths. To generate lots of referrals, provide an exceptional customer experience of course, and when asking for referrals, be clear on the kind of people you want referred. Tell them who your niche is by saying "These are the kinds of people I feel I can help the most. Can you think of a few people and tell them about me?"
Make the referral process a system, where you check off your list when working with each client, that you did ask for a referral. Come up with a reward system. Free session, coupons, thank you cards or something else that would make them feel appreciated if they get you a new customer or client. Have this stuff ready to go so that it's easy for you. You might want to have a gift certificate or coupon that you give every client so that they can pass it along. Ideally you would have both a printed version and an emailable version. This should be for a complimentary consultation, or product or service that they will get a lot out of, yet leave them wanting more. This makes it easy for the person to give, because it's actually a favor to their friends. If you can't do free, make it a nice discount.
If you do the gift certificate referral system, I think it's best to be upfront about what it is you're doing. If they appreciate you, they'll be happy to try to link you with friends that are good prospects. Here's some sample text.
"Merry Christmas (first name)!
I wanted to thank you for being a great client and I hope you're happy with all your _________. It’s a great honor to be working with you, and it's my greatest hope that I'm making a difference for you.
I'm hoping that you can refer me to some friends that you think would appreciate what I do, and to make that easy, I have a gift certificate for a free session you can pass along.
You can either email it, or print and stick it in a Christmas card. Hopefully that helps you spread a little Christmas cheer and I get some exposure for my business. Feel free to send as many emails, or make as many copies as you need.”
Insert cool coupon graphic here.
For a client that's willing to email their contacts with your coupon, ask them to send a personalized email to each rather than a mass mailing. Provide them with some text they can copy and paste to make it easy for them and ensure that your proposal is communicated well. They can tweak it to fit their personality if they want.
Put an expiration date on the coupon. Maybe a month out, so that people can't put it off indefinitely. You can also give a different "gift code" for the redeemers that corresponds with each referrer for tracking purposes.
You'll notice that we essentially just got rid of some Christmas shopping for them. Who wouldn't want to give something like that? And once somebody tries your service, they recognize the value of it. This is much different than trying to recruit somebody to be your sales rep.
Below are some Stage 1 strategies you can use. With your strengths in mind as well as what is relevant for your business, consider these for when you do your worksheet.
- Public speaking
- Getting referrals
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Joint Ventures
- Fairs, markets, shows
- TV, radio, podcast interviews
- Social media
- Other established platforms such as Etsy, Elance, Odesk, Ebay, Amazon
- Facebook Live, Youtube
- Webinars and teleconferences
Stage 2: Relationship Building
Stage 2 is where the "know, like and trust" factors really have to happen. Initially after they visit your website, meet you for the first time, respond to your ad, what is the next thing that needs to happen?
In a perfect world, they hand you money right? If you're selling something with a low cost, you can probably make some sales right off. It really depends on your business. For the most part, we are all too skeptical and jaded.
You can look at ads from the 50s next to today's marketing and see the adjustments that have had to be made.
Blogging is a great way to let a little more of your personality come through while increasing your SEO and providing value to potential customers.
Most email systems will let you set up an automatic RSS to email feed, which means the minute you hit publish, it goes to your email provider and mails to everyone on your list or segment/group.
That said, if you don't have a newsletter opt-in box on your site by now, stop everything and get it done. The only time it makes sense not to do this is if relationship is not a factor in your business and you don't plan on retaining customers. People are slipping through your fingers as we speak.
Follow through with integrity. If you said your newsletter contains three tips each month, then do three tips each month. If you follow through on exactly what you say, you will stand out from 90% of marketers. If a potential client can't trust you to send out a newsletter or be on time for a phone appointment, why should trust you when you say you can get them the results they are looking for?
I would recommend not trying to be everywhere. It's a serious time investment. Choose either a platform that your audience likes, or what you like to use personally, conquer it and then if you want to branch out, fine. I have the largest following on Facebook since that’s where I personally like to be. Instagram is hired out by somebody who likes doing Instagram. What works on one network doesn't necessarily on another, and if you are not willing to go over on that site and engage, then don't even bother.
Some of what you share through media, newsletters or other, can and should be personal. Share stories from your own life that would help your audience. Let people in. Photos, videos, posts about your life.
Remember you are still an expert and need to come across as one, so this stuff gets sprinkled in rather than becoming your personal dumping grounds.
There is a lot of power in vulnerability. Share your struggles and how you overcame, or plan to overcome. I have a whole bunch of strangers rooting for me.
While that might make most of you nervous, it's a great opportunity to let them see that you're a real person, and you'll see who they are as well.
Most likely, people will want to stand back and watch you for awhile before buying. So what provisions are you going to make for them to do that?
Just a few ideas...
- Your own YouTube channel or podcast
- Write a blog or do a vlog
- Have an email list and send regular emails
- Social media
- Classes or workshops, esp free or cheap
- Ask questions, find out what they need
- Contact management systems
- Free resources, (events, downloads, samples)
- Success stories, (testimonies, case studies, social proof)
- Keeping your word
- Your own facebook group
- In person events/being active in the community
Stages 3 & 4
Stages 3 and 4 are opportunity and making the sale. They blend together a bit, so I'm going to lump them into one.
Stage 3 can take a myriad of forms depending on your business. How you present the opportunity for people to buy will likely require a lot of listening to the Spirit and trial and error. I can give you some ideas to start with.
The obvious place that this can happen is your website. However, this may or may not be the most effective way to go about it. What is considered a good conversion rate on a website is 1-3%. (Hint - don't let this be your ceiling, mine is between 5-6%) A good conversion rate from a free introductory session, live event or so forth is from 30-90%. Your website alone, especially in the beginning when you have little traffic is probably not going to cut it.
Let me just say, that I'm not diminishing having a web presence. Your website is a great way to sell in your sleep or when you're otherwise preoccupied. It demands very little from you, so building something that converts well and gets traffic is important.
In order to sell without the sleaze, two premises have to be in order.
- You have to 100% believe that your product or service makes a positive difference.
- You have to operate from the perspective that not everybody is meant to be your customer. You may be selling something that would benefit everybody on the planet, but the majority would be a waste of your time to convince.
Your job is not to convince anyone to be your customer. Your job is to help them identify what they want, and then determine whether your product or service is the best means of getting there. That will mean that sometimes, they need to go somewhere else.
Let's get back to #1 for a minute. Believe in your product. If you don't, you have 3 options.
- Go sell something else
- Improve the product
- Deal with your limiting beliefs
If you don't believe in what you're doing despite positive feedback and your people getting results, then you will sabotage yourself in the sales dept. In addition, prioritize getting testimonials and feedback. Read and reread those daily until it sinks in.
This can be one on one, to a group, scheduled or spontaneous or a free consultation. It can also be a sales page on your website. It's best if you develop this to provide lots of value for the recipient of your pitch. Respect their time, put something in it for them, regardless of whether they buy from you or not. This makes it 10 times easier to get them to agree to being sold to. It's a great way to establish the know like and trust factor as well.
A good example is a complimentary consultation. I'm going to go into this in detail.
You need to advertise this on your website with at minimum, an opt-in box. It may even be your hook for getting them on the mailing list. Or you may make the offer to those who have expressed enough interest to get on the mailing list. You might give current clients "coupons" to give their friends. You also might want to have appointment booking software on your site to make this as little work as possible and lower the barrier to getting the appointment.
For coaches and similar service type people, this is not to be thought of as a sample session. This is more of an introduction to see if this relationship is a good fit. You'll want to articulate something of that sort up front in the appointment. Being upfront about how this is going to go down will put them at ease. You'll say something like "My agenda today is for you to get a lot out of this conversation even if we don't wind up working together. If it seems like we're a good fit and I'm confident that I can help you, I'll invite you to become my client at the end of the conversation and we can sort out the details then. Does that work for you?" Make it clear that you ONLY want to work with people you know you can help.
From there, you go over what it is they are wanting. Dig in and help them get clarity. Help them get to the true motivation. Direct the focus to one main issue, you most likely can't go over all their problems in one sitting. You will be ineffective. If you can help them have a breakthrough in one area, they'll be thrilled with you.
Ask them to identify the obstacles they face in relation to this particular issue. Brainstorm with them on strategies for overcoming. Make suggestions, refer them to helpful resources. If your product or service is what they need, say so. If not refer them elsewhere! In this process, you’ll also get a feel for how much reluctance there is to change. If there is a victim mentality, or an unwillingness somewhere that you are not confident you can get around, this is a person that is going to need a lot of your energy for little to no breakthrough.
If all is going good and you would like to work with them, and feel that you can make a difference, personalities jive etc, talk to them about how you would continue on from here if they were your client. Focus on the benefits instead of the features. The benefits are your results, and features are the “how." How is always an afterthought.
Flat out ask them to sign up with you! Don't beat around the bush. You're not being pushy here, nor are you needy or manipulative. Nothing to be ashamed of. Just extending the invitation. The only reason you wouldn't do this is if you don't want to work with them. You don't have to take everybody that comes along. If you sense trouble or that they will be a drain, wish em well and on to the next.
In more of a product-based business or a low cost service, I’m still in favor of this overall approach, but it’s a more hands off version. For me it looks like education. My goal for my website is for them to be able to understand if essences are going to help with their problem, which generally means deconstructing beliefs ASAP that this means physical healing, herbal products or essential oils. Those people need to get rerouted to another company. A quiz is taking the place of the free consultation to help them quickly locate a potentially helpful essence, though it’s not the same as a human helper. I write books that are about healing, but only one of them is actually about flower essences. The others lay out alternative ways to solve problems and mention flower essences as an option.
Stage 5: Customer Retention and Repeat Business
I don't know about you, but repeat customers are my favorite customers. We've already been through the education process, they already love me, I already love them, they're rounding up new people for me, so they're easy.
Let's deal with a possible objection to customer retention right now. I manage to keep selling to the same people over and over again. I have a product that is designed to heal in a permanent way that you don't need to use for life unlike many drugs. People will judge one of two ways by my retention rate. They will either say "Wow! That must be awesome stuff if they keep coming back." Or they'll say "She's not getting anything done if they're working with her for years." The people in the latter camp are going to be the ones resistant to working for customer retention, thinking that they need to do a quick fix to be doing right by the customer. It's different for every business, but I bet you can find a way to continue to provide value to them in a way that they would be thrilled to stick with you.
In my own business, once they get relief from whatever drove them to me in the first place, they continue to set the bar higher. We discuss secondary issues, or we discuss how they can fine tune things to get what they want out of life. I can help with PTSD or I can help with procrastination. It makes no difference to me. In the words of a customer, "I've grown so much, it's boggling. It's just that I'm ready for more freedom, ready to make sure that I have plenty of whatever I might need, and ready to expand."
There always has to be a next step people can take with you.
At the risk of making you really depressed, every solution comes with its own new problems. What this means for you as the solution provider is that you can stay in business selling to the same people if you do this right. If you provide something, what is the logical thing they will need next? If you have tried to get through checkout at godaddy you've seen this in action. You buy a domain, "Oh, you need hosting! Here you go. You need security. We got that! You need a professional email that matches your domain..."
- Show other possibilities beyond what they’re currently working on.
- Take time for gratitude/prayer time for the customers you have
- Identify new needs
- Offer unexpected value
- Celebrate their wins (they don’t always do it, helps them be more cognizant of progress)
- Create continuity programs
- Follow up on how they are doing
- Show appreciation in various ways (gifts, discounts, verbal expression)
- Stay top-of-mind and relevant through Stage 2 activities like email and social media
So with your strengths in mind, and fears on a shelf, let’s get into your worksheets! This was a really big lesson, but the worksheet is simple and when you’re done, you’ll have a tailor-made marketing plan. The lines between stages blur quite a bit and you’ll likely have the same activity applied to more than one stage. That’s ok, it makes it easier for you, we just want to make sure that all stages are covered.
- Complete worksheets and post here in the comments one strategy for each stage you are going to implement in your business.
- Block time on your calendar for future implementation. You may need to develop an ongoing schedule to do certain things on a regular basis. You might also set a reminder to look at this again in 3-4 months and evaluate how it’s going and whether you want to change it up.
Leave a comment
Comment as a guest: