In this wrap up of Season 1, Brennan synthesizes the many insights from the first five episodes into a single step by step strategy for getting more clients. As a way to bring cohesion to the guests’ different approaches, Brennan follows the outline of DYF’s newest course, The Blueprint: Getting Clients Online.
To get clients online, you’ll first need to create a proper sales funnel. You’ll need to develop a service offering, validate it, set up proper marketing for it, and attract your clients. Since sales funnels can be leaky you’ll also need to look at the greater process and track where you’re losing your potential clients. You can start by thinking about what your end-goal is: are you selling a technical service, a consultation, a physical product?
In determining what form your end-goal will take and how to best present it, you should create a positioning statement or proposal. A good proposal takes a client’s need and merges it with the skills or services that you provide. The proposal will be a positioned statement of work/opt in, or service offering. Of course, you’ll want to front-load all of the steps that lead your customer to your proposal into your funnel and automate for something more systematically scalable than a one-off proposal, but starting with this concept will help you build backwards. Eventually, you will create a funnel that leads the client to the sales offering from moment one.
Brennan encourages you to ask yourself what “unfair advantage” you have over your competition based on your previous experience, your talents and skills, or your familiarity with your clients’ pain points. This edge, combined with your work history, can help you create a positioning statement that will anchor your business. Your statement should answer the questions, “who?” “what?” and “why?” You should identify who your target audience is, what their common problem is, and why you are uniquely capable of solving it. Once you have this statement, you will be able to anchor your business within a reasonable scope and avoid tempting tangents that might be mistaken for growth opportunities. Brennan warns that the funnel should not be the summation of your business but rather just one channel through which you acquire leads.
From here, Brennan’s process involves creating an internal manifesto. This takes the two or so sentence positioning statement and develops it into a set of guidelines. The manifesto will include information about target clients like who they are, how they describe themselves, their language and terms, where can they be found, what are the implications if their problem can’t be solved, what are their business risks, and what is the upside for them if it is fixed? Brennan points out that you shouldn’t speculate on the answers to these questions. He references Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers who says the best content should be curated not created. She encourages consultants to listen to their target audience, dig deep, make calls and find out what they actually need in their own words. Brennan says your internal manifesto should be a living document that develops as you add new information made up of the actual language and pains that your customers have. Brennan concludes that while the positioning statement is looking outward (“looking at my backstory, I think I can do _____ for you”), the manifesto is a more inclusive expansion of that that features actual production data (language, themes etc).
The next step Brennan recommends is creating a “marketable document” from your manifesto findings. This is document could simply be a google doc, but it will help you normalize the data you’ve come up with to make your service or product marketable. Questions we seek to address in this document include: What beliefs, values and worldview do these clients have? What are their goals? What is the monetizable pain they’re facing? What common objections do they have? What are they fighting against? What insenses them? By reducing this information into what are essentially the components of a sales letter (identifying problem, creating the solution and then making the offer) you can create a product that is derived from the customers’ actual need and surround it with the information your customers need to hear to dispel their objections. This document alone could lead to your first sales as you shop it around for feedback, but its main purpose is just to validate your product. You’ll want to get reactions from the people you’ve already talked to who fit the profile you’re targeting. Let them know you’ve been developing the product based on what you learned from them and from other conversations. Ask what they think about it and if what you have created addresses their pain points in the best way possible. If so, then you’re ready to build your sales offering.
The “sales offering” will become the destination at the end of your funnel –the goal that you are leading your customers to where they either buy or don’t buy your product. Unlike the marketable document you created, your sales offering needs to be shareable (i.e. a webpage rather than a document). Brennan encourages you to avoid the common pitfall of selling and educating simultaneously. Instead, he wants you to think about how you can make your customer problem-aware before they even get to your services page. Customers who are problem-aware may not know you have a service that can help them but they will know what they need help with and that should make your service offering much more appealing.
The job of the services page is to get clients to book a consultation, buy your product, or hire you and of course these transactions all require that they trust you. As you build your funnel backwards, each step is about preparing the client for the next stage of the funnel. In this case, your next step will be to establish trust so the stage before the offering page might be a “freebie offer.” (The stage before that one will be about ensuring the customer is eager to opt into the free content). A freebie offer is a product you’re selling in exchange for an email address and the customer’s time. Some freebie offerings we’ve seen in our Season 1 podcast episodes are Kev Kaye’s webinars and Josh Doody’s email templates. In both of these examples, the freebies are exchanged for contact information and time –which can be the foundation of a relationship between client and service provider. They also ensure that the customer is problem aware.
Freebie offers take a lot of different forms including webinars and workshops, email courses, content upgrades, assessments, quizzes etc. (for Brennan they were initially free live seminars in his office). The marketable document you created should tell you what your customer’s needs are, and your freebie should tell them the solution. Though it may seem counter intuitive to “give away the answer,” the target client will be someone who is not a do it yourselfer. Good clients will recognize they have a problem but don’t have the time to fix it. Instead they will trust your authority and experience to fix it. Not only does every stage of the funnel have a job, it should also have a call to action. This should focus on giving the client the shortcut to a solution. With the freebie, the offer is: you’re now fluent in the problem, here is the solution or you can hire me to take care of it for you.
So we’ve started with conceptualization and created a product that our target clients want to buy. We’ve given them the means to do it, and the incentive to trust us. How then, do we get the attention of those target customers?
Our episodes featuring Matt Inglot and Benji Hyam provide some excellent ideas for getting in front of your target audience. Matt spoke to podcasts (both guesting on them and hosting one) as a method for broader visibility. Benji meanwhile, talked about blogging as one method of establishing authority. Brennan points out that this is also the model for Double Your Freelancing. He first provides free content that his audience finds through SEO, referrals and other channels. The content proves that he can help his target client by offering solutions to their problems so they then opt into his freebie offers. These further establish the trust between DYF and the customer so that hopefully, they’ll follow the call to action and purchase a product.
Brennan, like Matt Olpinski, offers products in addition to consulting services. Both of them have needed to bridge the gap between freebie opt-ins and high value services which can be a vast expanse when someone first hears of them. Brennan says the key to this is first getting in front of the customer through a guest post, podcast appearance, seminar or other means (Facebook ads in Kev Kaye’s case, brilliant SEO in Matt Olpinski’s case) and inviting the customer to “go more in depth” by offering a freebie that amplifies whatever has just been discussed. Since this freebie comes at just the price of contact information, Brennan says leads will be much more comfortable with that point of entry than they are with booking an appointment on your calendar or immediately filling in an application etc.
Since most people aren’t going to opt-in to your service offering or even necessarily your freebie offering, Brennan says you need to have some long-term nurturing elements in your funnel. He calls this “nudging the 98%” since far more people are likely to ignore your offering on sight than will opt in. Like Josh Doody, Brennan’s approach is using great content to keep his business at the forefront of the customer’s mind, building the trust needed to ensure they’ll opt in once they feel comfortable, have the appropriate need, or have the financial means to do so. One example of great content, as discussed in Episode 2, is developing case studies into blog posts. Potential clients will be able to see themselves in the examples of people you’ve helped, and get a glimpse of the action you’ll be able to take on their behalf, plus results you’ve proven you can achieve. Another example of relevant content is a summary of new strategies you might have heard about at a conference you’ve attended. Since all of this content should include a call to action, each of these articles serves as its own entry point into your funnel. Reinforcing your value this way also nurtures those leads that are in your funnel (maybe via an email list opt-in or other method) but haven’t opted into a product yet. More information about nudging and nurturing will be at the forefront of Season 2 which will cover automation, but the main takeaway Brennan wants to emphasize here is that content should be working for you.
When talking about lead generation, Brennan challenges listeners to think about the job/purpose of each page on their website and how well it is being executed. Matt Olpinski’s website, for example, is expertly optimized for local traffic. Since most first time visitors to his site will have found him through a blind Google search (vs a referral or an otherwise established presence), his landing page and supporting content are tailored appropriately. By exploring the purpose of the page and what you want your leads to get out of it, you can maximize the effectiveness of each page, email and other supporting content.
Lastly, Brennan invites you to take a look at the view from 10,000 feet which means stepping back and looking at the funnel as a whole. Essentially, you will be promoting your free content (via SEO, giving talks, blog posts, Facebook ads or numerous other methods), in order to get the lead to opt in to the freebie offering. The freebie offering, or lead magnet, points to the service offering by which point, the client should already be problem aware and have some level of trust in you. Here, you will highlight the problem again and make a case for how you can bridge the gap. Next, you’ll ask the customer to fill in an application, book a consultation or even pay for a roadmapping session. For the 98% who don’t buy into the service offering, you will continue to nurture them by feeding actionable content into your list, redirecting them back to the freebie offering and staying front of mind for them. Though you can’t control when your leads may need your services, when they’ll be able to opt in, or who they’ll recommend you to, you can “increase your luck’s surface area,” as Brennan calls it, by being present and ready with what they need when they need it.
For Brennan, one of the most fascinating parts of the process (and the reason he got into automation) is putting a value on each type of lead. He recommends that you work out the dollar (or your currency of choice) amount that each lead represents. If 10% of people who book a consultation actually become a client, and if an average client project is $10,000, then each consultation, has a value of about $1000 to you. From there, you can work backwards and figure out how much each opt in is worth (if 20% of people who land on your services page book a consultation, then each unique visitor to your service offering page is worth $200 to you). As you continue working backwards with the numbers, you get an idea of how many people you’ll need to get to your service offering page in order to hit your financial goals. You’ll be able to spot opportunities in your funnel (e.g. if you have lots of people opting in to your freebie but very few consultations being booked, you’ll know that’s a leaky spot in your funnel that you can plug with trust-building elements, better sales copy etc.). If you’re using paid acquisition (see Episode 4), pricing out your types of leads is essential since you’ll know exactly what to spend vs what ROI you’ll see.
All of the lead generation and sales funnel strategies Brennan discusses in this episode are explored much more extensively in DYF’s lead generation course, The Blueprint, and in the previous episodes of the DYF podcast Season 1. Though it is helpful knowing what strategies our guests used to get in front of their customers and close the deals that made them successful, Brennan encourages listeners to dig into the details and learn the whys and hows of each tactic. You can do this by listening to the previous 5 Episodes, or you can download the free Season 1 e-book which covers each episode-in depth. Building your familiarity with different lead generation techniques can help you expand your reach and create a more effective sales funnel.