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Funnelling your customers

Diane Hall


Graphic of a Marketing Funnel

It’s a common word in marketing: ‘funnels’. The idea being that, from the moment a potential customer sets eyes on your shop/site, they’re taken on an effortless journey with various pause points. The aim is that, at each of these points, they fall more and more under the spell of your brand, and their belief that they need to buy more from you to move from point A to B, from B to C, and so on, just gets stronger as they progress further through your funnel.

At point A, where a potential customer has no knowledge of you, your brand or your product/service, they’re typically hooked in with an informative product that’s low cost in nature. Something’s that’s automated, i.e. that doesn’t need you to be present to deliver/sell it. This initial product is a conversion tool, that turns these potential customers into people interested in buying from/working with you. Typically, this is a book, a free online course or a webinar.

In these ‘informative products’, the business owner aims to educate their prospects—by showing that they understand where the customer is at the moment and where they’d like to be, that they, as the expert, have a real solution that will help them, and that they understand the challenges their customers face. The know, like, trust model.

The number of stages may differ from business to business, but each one should be designed to move the customer further down the funnel, giving a little more value at each juncture. The very last stage is one-on-one time with the business owner/expert.

This process allows the business owner to sell autonomously at the beginning, to many people at the same time—almost like casting a net into an ocean. By the law of averages and due to many different reasons, people will drop out at each stage, and only the most engaged people who have bought into the brand and owner’s offering are left standing at the end…if you had to turn this journey into a visual, it would look like a funnel. More people at the beginning than at the end; however, those at the end will be willing to spend a lot more than those in the initial stages to get the business owner’s dedicated help, advice and support. The entrepreneur, having only a finite amount of time to offer, sells his hours for much more than he would without the funnel method, safe in the knowledge that it’s beavering away in the background, bringing in even more qualified, warm, willing prospects for the next week/month.

It’s a tried and tested method that works.

However, what some business owners fail to do is recognise that each stage needs as much thought put into it than if it was a business in its own right. This is because, when someone moves from one point to the next, they adopt a different outlook, their needs will have changed, and they will have different questions about the step to come than the one before.

People at point A will have very different reasons to move on to point B than those at point D to E. A number of entrepreneurs fail to focus on this, and end up losing people near the end of the journey that need not be lost. They place all their energies into the introductory product/service and just hope for the best.

To ensure customers move effortlessly through the funnel, they need to believe that they’re becoming more important to you, not less. You need to break down your support, from beginning to end, and understand the forces at work within each stage. What would make a customer stay with you at point C if they saw someone doing what you do, or they believed they knew enough to help themselves from that point on? Carry out a SWOT analysis on each of the individual stages. It’s a task that you don’t need to do that often, but it could make a real difference on the last stages of your funnel, which are much more lucrative. Remember: it’s much easier to upsell to a warm prospect or previous buyer than it is to convert a cold lead.

The more automation you can put in place, the more time this frees up for the people willing to pay good money for your undivided attention; however, the people in your funnel mustn’t feel that they’re being serviced by a robot. They still need to believe you’re present and attainable at every juncture.

Like most things in business, using a funnel method within your marketing strategy requires balance. Done well, it can be very effective and largely effortless. If it’s rushed or treated as just an afterthought, people will drop out or be turned off, and you won’t have an idea why.

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