I’ve been talking to a lot of small creative businesses about their approach to marketing and most people are using the same techniques – blogging, posting on social media, trying to boost their SEO – and it’s just not working as well as they would like.
I call this approach ‘luck’ marketing. It’s hoping to get lucky either by hoping for referrals or hustling on social media by posting organically and then hoping to slide into someone’s DMs.
There is nothing wrong with developing organic leads, but those kinds of activities should be the icing on the cake, rather than your main source of business.
Here’s the difference between organic lead generation and having a system.
Think about social media. When you are ‘luck marketing’, you’re likely to be spending a lot of time on the content treadmill, posting a large amount of content and hoping that, by chance, an ideal client might stumble across it, read it and take action because it resonates with them.
Don’t get me wrong, organic content is important for building trust and positioning yourself as an expert, to the people who are ALREADY in your audience and who already know who you are and what you do.
But the truth is that posting regularly isn’t going to bring in a reliable volume of new leads. It will grow your audience, but only very slowly. You’re taking a gamble that your content, which has a shelf life of just a day or two, will somehow beat the algorithms and get seen in people’s social feeds. You might get lucky occasionally, but you can’t bank on it.
On the other hand, imagine having a system where you create an irresistible piece of content, which your ideal client really wants, and which is shown to a large amount of carefully targeted people.
Add an automated sequence of emails to build the relationship, throw in some handcrafted personal touches, and you’ve got yourself a system that you can scale and it’s powered by your website. That system runs on autopilot, constantly feeding people into the top of your ‘funnel’ and nurturing them until they become a client.
I know which one I’d rather have. Or you could keep hoping to get lucky (just kidding – don’t do that.)
The Buyer’s Journey
Before we talk about the moving parts of a funnel, we need to run through a few key concepts. Apart from relying on a short time window, one of the main reasons ‘luck’ marketing doesn’t work is because you are showing the same content to your audience, whatever stage they are at, in terms of their relationship with you.
But someone who has never heard of you needs to see completely different content compared to someone who is highly engaged with you and ready to buy.
Generally the stages of a marketing funnel look like this.
1. Awareness. Where your audience moves from never having heard of you to being aware of you and interested in what you’ve got to say.
2. Consideration. Where your audience is considering working with you but probably shopping around, looking at reviews and making comparisons to your competition.
3. Action. Where your audience decides to become a customer.
The Value Ladder
Let’s talk about getting them from Awareness to Action. You might have heard the term ‘value ladder’ before.
The value ladder takes your prospective client through a series of ‘transactions’ which increase in cost until they buy your core offer. When I say transaction, that doesn’t necessarily mean that money changes hands.
For example, at the very bottom of the value ladder, you create free relevant content that people at the Awareness stage want enough to give you their email address in order to get it. It doesn’t cost them money, but it’s a transaction of sorts. They are giving you something you value (their email) in exchange for information they value.
Once someone is aware of you, it’s time to move them onto the Consideration stage by nurturing the relationship. Real human relationships take time to develop – in our personal relationships, we don’t go from strangers to best buddies overnight. (Though in marketing terms, if you create content that strongly resonates with your ideal clients, it’s possible to massively accelerate the relationship. And if you can achieve that, you’ve hit the content marketing jackpot!)
The value exchange at this point in the relationship is time. Once someone has given you their email, you can send them a series of automated emails and retarget them on social media with specific content which encourages them to move deeper into your world and feel more attracted to your brand. If they are taking the time to consume your content, they are giving you their time.
The final step? Causing them them to take action and convert to being a client by responding to the irresistible offer you place in front of them. At this stage in the relationship, hot prospects should be highly engaged, responding to your emails and making direct enquiries.
In order to actually become a client, what they need now is a ‘conversion event’, where they take that final step and book with you. Thinking about photography enquiries, this is most likely going to be an in-person meeting or a video call. At this stage, your nurturing emails and social media content should be nudging them to make the relationship personal.
The Moving Parts
A simple funnel needs only three components and all of them are low or no cost. You probably have these things in place already but haven’t been using them in this way.
- You need a website, set up with the right landing and conversion pages, so that you can measure your success. Nearly every website platform allows you to do this.
- You need an email marketing service like Mailchimp, Mailer Lite or ActiveCampaign (my fav). These services are free or low cost if you are just starting your list.
- You need a Facebook Ads account.
Now, I’ve hit you with some pretty hardcore marketing terms in this article because I wanted you to be able to recognise them. If you start digging into marketing books, you’ll come across them again and again.
But I don’t want you to think that marketing strategies mean you have to come across as being salesy. Remember, you are in charge of the content that they see and read and none of has to look like an ‘ad’. Content can take many forms – from blog posts to behind-the-scenes videos in Instagram stories. You can place any content, in any format, in front of your target market if you’re prepared to pay a little do that.
This brings me neatly back to where we started.
The ‘luck marketer’ produces a lot of content and posts it on social media in order to attract people in the first place.
The clever marketer produces content for each stage of the buyer’s journey and serves it up to the right person, in the right place at the right time, all automated, all of the time. And that’s what’s called having a system.
Which kind of marketer are you going to be?
If you’d like to find out more about marketing smarter, come and join me at https://themarketingfix.co.