I've been working with several clients recently on the notion of creating a marketing funnel, also called a sales funnel, sales pipeline, or marketing platform, depending on what business you're in. If you imagine a funnel, wide end at the bottom, and gradually narrowing as you go to the top, this is the sales pipeline through which potential, current and former clients travel in their business relationship with you. The idea is to get prospective clients in your target market to enter the funnel and become repeat customers by purchasing various goods and services from you at increasing price points.
What I see quite often (a marketing blunder for which I am also guilty) is that most service professionals have one item in their marketing funnel - their 1:1 service, whether that's coaching, virtual assistance, web design, copy editing/writing, pest control, landscaping, professional organizing, financial planning, etc. They offer absolutely no other way for someone in their target market to sample or benefit from their expertise.
My clients typically get stuck in one of the following marketing scenarios:
1. They've hit the 1:1 service ceiling in some way. They either have a full schedule and can't take on additional clients without expanding hours or hiring help, or they don't want to work as many hours in providing individual client assistance (i. e. they're tired of trading time for money)
2. No one is buying the pricey 1:1 service.
So, then, what's an independent service professional to do? Map out your marketing funnel.
Your marketing funnel should have 9 layers, as outlined below. Please note that these price points aren't fixed but are merely established as a guideline for you to establish your own price points with your target market based on what your target market can afford to pay or will pay for your type of service. The price points refer to your total customer purchase. For example, if you sell an ebook/audio package for $399, the total purchase price is $399. If you have a monthly subscription service, like for a monthly consulting retainer that runs $700/month and your client has agreed to pay for one year, your total customer purchase is $8400.
1. Target market layer: As much as I had to disappoint you, your target market isn't “everyone", even though I'm sure you provide a wonderful service of which “everyone" should take advantage. Going for this shotgun approach rather than a laser marketing approach will make your marketing very difficult and permit the wrong people to enter your marketing funnel. So, you need to put a screen on your marketing funnel and ensure that only your target market enters.
2. Entry layer (free): This is your free offering that you provide on your web site in exchange for a prospect's contact information - a free newsletter, ebook, special report, ecourse. etc. This freebie serves as your introduction to prospective clients so that they can begin to get to know, like and respect you, which are the progressive steps necessary before they'll decide to buy something from you.
3. Introductory layer ($5 - $150): This is your lowest price point at which someone can purchase your expertise. You can offer ebooks, special reports, subscription ecourses, audio products, teleseminars, etc. Most of your offerings at this level should be information products that require little, if any, of your individual time.
4. “Not Quite Newbie" layer ($150 - $450): This is a higher level price point at which you can sell more in-depth versions of the types of information products listed above that showcase your expertise. You may provide some of your time in your offerings at this point, but only in a group setting, like a teleseminar series, discussion forum of a membership subscription web site, or group coaching/consulting.
5. “Experienced Newbie" layer ($450-$1000): At this level you may be providing a bit more of your time in group settings, or offer items like home study courses or special packages that bundle several of your products together.
6. New Expert layer ($1000 - $3000): You'll begin to offer your 1:1 time again at this level. whether it's to offer some open office consulting hours each month as an addition to some type of action group you're leading, or to create a short-term service retainer.
7. Expert layer ($3000 - $5000): Clients at this level will buy exclusive group time with you not readily available to the public, like a bootcamp conference on a particular topic or a year-long service retainer.
8. Master Expert layer ($5000 and greater): This is the level at which a client is paying handsomely for some type of 1:1 time with you, whether that's a year-long commitment of coaching, consulting, mentoring, advising, etc. Only a few clients going through your marketing funnel will buy at this level.
9. Well-educated client outcome layer: After traveling through your marketing funnel, you should now have a bevy of loyal, dedicated customers who return again and again and make referrals to you because of the value and results they received from participating in your marketing funnel. You'll need to continue to add and update your product offerings, as this well-educated client may travel up and down the funnel again as his needs change.
What do you offer in your business at each of these layers? Take out a piece of paper and jot down these price points and fill in the blanks from your current offerings. Where are the holes? How can you plug the holes? Creating a marketing funnel in which members of your target market can buy your expertise at several different price points will increase your exposure to larger numbers of your target market, ultimately bringing you more clients willing to go through the marketing funnel experience.
Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter
Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Business Coach Donna Gunter helps self-employed service professionals learn how to get more clients online. To sign up for more FREE tips like these and claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at http://www.GetMoreClientsOnline.com Read about running an online biz at our blog, http://www.getmoreclientsonlineblog.com