Since 1965, the long-running soap opera “Days of Our Lives” has featured an opening with an hourglass with sand trickling grain by grain to the bottom, while the dulcet voice of Macdonald Carey gives us the voiceover—”Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives.”
I know this because my mother has watched the show since I was a wee bairn. She won’t give it up, but who am I to criticize. The show HAS been around since 1965, so they must be doing something right.
Think about your life and how time passes like sands through the hourglass. Each itty bitty grain of sand represents a day in our life and time passes. Gulp!
But today we are talking about your marketing, and how like the hourglass, it might be stuck in a funnel. I want you to really think about your marketing efforts. After all, that IS why you are here right? To learn about marketing your small business?
Is your marketing stuck in a funnel?
What about your marketing? Are the days passing by like sands through the hourglass, with nothing accomplished from your efforts?
If so, you’re not alone. And I think the reason this happens with many small businesses–their marketing stalls—is because they are stuck in an old marketing model, the marketing funnel.
You may be familiar with the term. With a marketing funnel, potential customers are crammed in at the top of the funnel, then squeezed until you have only several buyers at the teeny tiny end of the funnel.
But here’s the issue with this marketing model—really great leads (great potential customers) are not effectively converted to sales, referrals, and repeat business. It’s a one-and-done scenario where you get their business, thank them, and then move onto the next customer.
What’s the alternative to the the marketing funnel?
As a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, I’m familiar with, and a fan of the Marketing Hourglass™.
With the Marketing Hourglass™, your optimal sales force is your customer base. And you setup a system to make certain that they are happy customers who are eager to spread the word about your business and come back to you for repeat business.
Instead of cramming people into a funnel, selling to them, then moving on to the next customer, you plan a thorough customer journey based on the stages of Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer. You then work to fill in the gaps to make this journey map work.
You want prospects to get to know you. To make sure they know and understand your business, write a blog based on articles that will do well in a search. Think about advertising, and start thinking about referrals. But the key element is your blog. How do you start to blog? I wrote this short, sweet post for B2B firms about how to start blogging, but anyone can use it to get writing.
You’ve done the work to get them to your site. Great. Now it’s time to give them a reason to come back. In this phase you can create an email newsletter that gives them something valuable or maybe a detailed white paper or eBook. The trick is to create something that shows you as the expert.
Okay, you’ve got their attention. Really got their attention. Bravo, now it’s time to build trust. This is a crucial step because people usually won’t buy unless they trust you. In this phase you could use detailed customer success stories in the form of videos, posts, pdfs, or all three. Your blogging and social media involvement starts to play in here. As others start to trust and share your content, you need a plan for a certain level of engagement, mainly in the form of social media engagement.
But the key is storytelling. Demonstrating why your company does what it does and is so good at it. This builds trust.
As John Jantsch writes here, “Try is a phase that many people skip, but I think it’s the easiest way to move people to buy, particularly in highly competitive and highly priced situations.”
I agree! This is where you really ramp up your efforts when it comes to showing success. Think about it as a trial. A place where you deliver more than your competition–offer something at a discount or for free.
The best way to start is with how-to content. Think worksheets, tips and tricks videos, checklists… basically excelling content your competition charges for.
I’ve been telling you to create great content up until now and I’m not going to stop here. Just because someone buys from you doesn’t mean you stop providing valuable content.
Think about creating a welcome brochure or some sort of orientation that will make their experience with you that much better.
Continue to educate clients that buy from you. Don’t stop thinking like a teacher. Send clients emails to share secrets, tips, anything you can to help them.
Schedule meetings after the sale–to make sure they are satisfied, get feedback, and track results they are getting by working with you. The secrete is to not stop.
And, at the very bottom of the hourglass is…
You want clients to be happy AND ideally, you want them to tell the world about your company. Make certain their experience with you is a great one. Ask customers for testimonials. Sometimes simply ASKING for a referral is all it takes because so many businesses don’t do it.
Think about how you can make it as easy as possible for people to refer you. In fact you should teach happy customers as well as industry partners to refer you. Make it easy for them through the use of content (videos, ebooks, etc.)
Map out every interaction with customers…
1. Before they buy from you tell them you’ll ask for a referral at the end.
2. Create a new customer welcome kit (see “buy” above).
3. Give them something for free along the way or simply surprise them mid-stream with a thank you card.
4. Don’t always ask for a referral at the end of a job. In John Jantsch’s book “The Referral Engine,” he states that there are key stages in the customer journey that are actually the best times to ask for referrals.
Don’t stop! Continue to look for ways to improve your customer experience.
So the lesson today? Forget about the funnel, embrace The Marketing Hourglass™ and see how far it can take your business.
This is just one step in a series.
Do you want to bring your brand to life? Taking a few minutes to complete my brand audit will help you think about your current marketing efforts and what might need to change. It will also help me suggest several ways to improve your branding and marketing now: http://mcbreenmedia.com/contact/brand-audit/
After you complete the form, we’ll contact you to schedule a time to go over the results and see how we can help.