People must be aware you exist before they can buy from you. That’s obvious. Every funnel on the planet starts with awareness sitting up top. The general progression for a client-based business is something along these lines:
- Step 1: Awareness
- Step 2: Consideration
- Step 3: Purchase
- Step 4: Loyalty
- Step 5: Advocacy
Many of us in the client game try to build businesses that skip the awareness and consideration steps. The voice in our head is trying to convince us,
“Our clients will tell everyone they know because they love us. We don’t have to write blog posts, produce videos, buy ads, or send compelling emails. All we have to do is make our clients happy and more will come.”
This Ain’t Field of Dreams
Clients aren’t going to come running because you opened your doors. You’re just another______ (fill in the blank with your chosen profession).
I’m not throwing stones. We made this mistake with my previous branding firm. I convinced myself that clients would be swarming us because of our fantastic work. And to be fair, my logic wasn’t completely wrong. We got more than our fair share of referrals and repeat business, but not enough to drive the consistent, steady, and predictable growth you want.
The company’s revenue graph looked like a mountain range. Some months were glorious peaks and others were treacherous valleys. Our revenue was completely reliant on loyalty and advocacy. We put the onus on clients to grow our business.
Prove It & Then Pour Fuel On It
Prove that you can get results for clients before worrying about trying to get more. Referrals and repeat business are indicators that you’re delivering results for clients. A business with a shotty product won’t last. People will only buy a piece of sh!t once. You’ll be caught on the hamster wheel of client churn if you can’t retain any of the clients you land. Work to deliver a remarkable experience for every client.
Once you have the product nailed, it’s time to pour fuel on the fire. Every brand must have a method for raising visibility. This is how you flatten out the revenue roller coaster and guarantee growth.
Go Deep Instead of Wide
Where do your clients spend time and look for answers? Don’t waste your efforts on Instagram if your clients are on LinkedIn. Figure out where your clients spend their time and then focus your efforts on killing it on those channels.
You don’t have to be a master of blogging, Instagram, Pinterest, Medium, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook ads, Twitter, tradeshows, Google ads, and every other possible channel. Focus your efforts on the two or three spots where your clients spend the most time. It’s much more feasible and beneficial to become a master of a couple of channels instead of a sporadic participant on every possible channel. This graphic from the book Essentialism is my favorite visual reminder of this principle.
You only make a little progress if you try to go in several directions at once. Contrast that to putting all of your energy in progressing in one direction. Think of the growth and progress you can make traveling that far in one purposeful direction. This is the difference between focusing on going deep versus attempting to go wide.
The best combination I’ve found is to be fantastic on one organic channel and then compliment it with paid advertising. This approach allows you to saturate your target audience with your message without losing focus. You can go from zero awareness to a recognized brand in a short period of time. Your time and efforts are primarily put into an organic channel and then supplemented with paid advertising to increase exposure.
Consistently Remind Them of Your Value
Now that we’ve nailed the awareness step, we can work on pushing more people to the consideration and purchase steps. This starts by moving someone from our awareness platforms (social media, paid advertising, tradeshows, etc…) to our email list. Social media and advertising are great places to gain that initial awareness, but they’re terrible places to convert people into clients.
Social networks, search engines, and advertising channels can change the rules. Facebook and Google crushed many businesses with algorithm and policy changes. The ability to reach your audience can disappear overnight. This won’t happen with email. You own your email list and nobody can take it away.
Email also moves people to a purchase better than any other platform, that’s a fact. Get the right people on your list and start sending consistent reminders that you exist. Don’t sell, sell, sell on these reminders. Focus on providing value to your audience. Showcase your expertise and genuinely try to help people. You’ll build trust and a percentage of your list will become clients when they’re ready.
Put It All Together
Your company will take off when referrals and repeat business are combined with a consistent source of fresh new leads that are nurtured with reminders of your value. You’ll be unstoppable when you master the top and bottom of the funnel.
One client in the top of the funnel leads to multiple clients by the time they hit the bottom. Make sure you’re always pouring new potential clients in the top of that funnel.