Before I start, let me say that this is one of the lengthier blog posts that I’ve created, but at the same time, if you read this, take it in and actually do something with it, it may be the most valuable one I’ve written. I’m not into hyperbole, but seriously, these 2000 words have the power to change your fortunes in your online efforts if you read them and act on what I’m telling you.
Ok, on with the show…
We’re friends and I think it’s time we had a serious conversation about funnels because so many that I speak to get entirely freaked out about this topic. This problem is entirely perpetuated by the mutant underbelly of online marketers that have turned “funnels” into some kind of dark art or form of witchcraft for their own selfish gain. They are either selling you overpriced “programs” and coaching or they peddling some nonsense software product as affiliates.
Don’t be fooled by this lunacy.
There’s a lady at the moment who is selling a whole boatload of nonsense about how her latest program can help you “find your jam” and then teach you how to create your own funnel so that you can be like her and have houses in two countries and your kids can learn to read words by using business class lounges at airports where they serve unlimited free marshmallows. I’m not kidding, that was all in her sales video.
I’m going to do you a solid. I’m going to basically identify your biggest problem AND I’m going to tell you how to build out your own funnel all in this one, free, mildly entertaining post.
I know, I know… Hold the applause.
First off, let’s address the elephant in the room, the problem that the vast majority of people trying to establish their online business have…
You don’t have a “core” offer.
Some of the people I talk to don’t even have an offer at all. This is my favourite story on this topic that I like to tell that sums up this problem entirely.
A few years ago, I was at my mate James Schramko’s monthly Superfast Business members meetup here in Sydney. This new member who was keen as mustard was talking to everyone in the room all evening. I went and ordered dinner, collected my food and sat down with my friends Cate Richards and Mark Beeley to catch up with them and shoot the breeze.
The new member made his way over, sat across from us and started talking a million miles an hour to us about all of the stuff he was doing, who his “mentors” were and everything he knew.
While he talked and talked, I ate my dinner. Seriously, I was totally into my Cheeseburger – I’d had a long day and I was a bit tired, but I vividly remember this Cheeseburger. I don’t really like ketchup and I always ask them to leave it off, but this night they left it on and there was something about this spiced ketchup they used that just fired up all of my taste buds.
And while he’s rabbiting on about the five thousand things he’s working on and what he was going to do, I just thought, “Bro, you’re killing the moment I’m having with this cheeseburger.”
So I took a drink, wiped my mouth and pulled out my wallet. I reached into the wallet, pulled out my Amex Card and dropped it in front of him on the table. I said to him, “I will have one of every product and service that you sell, just put it on that credit card.”
I went back to my burger and the guy said, “I don’t have anything to sell.”
For me, that story encapsulates the biggest problem people have – they don’t have an offer.
Before you worry about your funnels, upsells, downsells, how to integrate everything into your help desk and what reporting tool you’re going to use take this one piece of simple advice… GET A CORE OFFER!
My newsletter is my core offer. Everything I do with Casual Marketer drives people to that offer – each person who joins is worth on average $250/yr to me.
I like to have my core offer be recurring because I’m lazy, I like to sell someone something once and then just keep delivering value to them. In exchange, I don’t need to sell to them anymore, we just keep the status quo in our commercial relationship.
Now, let’s pretend you have an offer, time to help you design your funnel.
A key word that I use in these emails all the time and that ends up appearing in my monthly newsletters on a fairly regular basis is “congruence”. Keep this in mind because it’s important.
The next layer up from your core offer in our simple funnel are your front end product offerings. Your front end products probably aren’t recurring and generally speaking they’re probably going to be tactical solutions to that your target audience for your core product are facing. You want to have a series of the front-end products that address a bunch of tactical issues your core audience can relate to.
Why is that important? Well, this is where congruence becomes your friend.
Here’s an example. Imagine that your target audience are people who buy properties that are in need of some renovation, they fix them up, update them and then flip them a year later. Your core product could be a “DIY Home Renovators Masterclass” that covers every single area of the topic from finding properties, to ways of getting financing, hiring trades, styling for the prospective buyers and how to pick an agent to sell with. Just imagine it is the dog’s bollocks of information products on this topic.
Now, front end products for this could be things like, “Maximizing Value From Your Kitchen” or “Design and Build Your Garden Areas For Under $2000”. You could have a half dozen of these small little info products that offer the potential audience a tactical solution to a problem you’re facing. These products also allow you to reach out to the wide spectrum that you address with core offer.
You see the congruence though, right? If someone buys one of those lower cost front end products, then there is a natural progression to your core offer. You’re front end is attracting the right kind of audience for you to target with your core offer. Also, these same people may also be interested in your other front end products, so you have plenty of options.
We’ve now addressed two layers of your funnel. Let’s talk about the outer most edge, lead generation pieces. The best way to think about these things in my experience is that for each front end product you have, try and get one or two optin offers (people often call these lead magnets) that address very specifically a specific problem that your tactical solution addresses.
The best way to explain this again is with an example.
Take our “Maximizing Value From Your Kitchen” front end product, kitchens sell houses, so for your target audience that might want your core offer, this is a very congruent product to offer. To get people onto your list so that you can market the front end product to them, you need to give them something to get their attention. This is where a free, one or two page checklist might be valuable – “10 Must Have Features Of A High Value Kitchen” is an example.
Alright, let’s pull your simple funnel together logically.
You have someone see a link in a forum or a Facebook Group for people interested in home renovation that offers a free checklist of high value features of a modern kitchen in exchange for your email address so that we can mail you the PDF.
From there, you could have an automated email sequence setup that over the next few days sells them on the idea that great ktichens will add extraordinary value to your property, but you don’t have to break the bank to get that outcome. The key is maximizing the value from the things you’re doing and investing in the right stuff. Then you pitch them your “Maximizing Value From Your Kitchen” front end product.
If the person buys that product you can then move them into a sequence that starts talking to them about the benefits of your core offer and projecting those benefits into their situation. If the person doesn’t buy the front end product, no you can either still move them into a sequence for your core offer OR potentially just move them into a sequence for your Gardening front end product.
On and on it goes, if the person doesn’t buy your front end product, you can just keep cycling them through all of your other front end products until perhaps they’ve seen them all and you move them along to the core offer, or whatever.
That’s a simple funnel, nothing to sweat over.
But wait Sean?!?! You never once talked about ClickFunnels or Infusionsoft? What about my four upsells and nine downsells, where do they fit in?
That’s the unnecessary sorcery and witchcraft that the people selling you BS about this stuff try and fill your head with to make you feel like you need them. They blind you with technology and nonsense jargon that they make up. The one I hate the most is, “tripwire” popularised by Ryan Deiss. A tripwire is what triggers an explosion – I want to want to blow up my leads.
Seriously, look at Casual Marketer as it stands right now… Here’s my simple funnel – I get people onto my email list through my natural charm and charisma or I bribe them with a free issue of my newsletter. Once you’re on the email list I send you emails like this one every single day that aims to educate and entertain you. At the end of these emails there’s a link where you can buy the physical newsletter if you want. Occasionally I do a bit of a harder sell on the newsletter in one of these email and every so often I might make an offer for my coaching programs when there are spots free, probably once or twice a year.
That’s it. Very shallow funnel. Works a treat for what I’m doing. This is approaching a six figure business from a list of about 2000 people with that simple approach. Next year I’m going to add the front end layers I mentioned so that I can do more paid traffic and I’ll probably add in an affiliate program to generate more traffic, but basically, it’s simple and it works. You can count the total number of automation sequences right now that I use in ActiveCampaign for this business on one hand and have one or two fingers left over.
What I do have though is a core offer that works. Like I said, every single person that signs up for the physical newsletter is worth about $250/yr in my pocket. To me, that’s a nice little business model.
This has been a very long post, but hopefully it’s alleviated the complexity and fear of funnels for you. Everyone I talk to around this topic, I largely give the same advice to – simplify and get your core offer right. If you don’t do those things, it doesn’t matter what software you use, how cool your sequences are or how much you spend on paid traffic, you’re not going to succeed. Conversely, as I’ve demonstrated to you, if you get the core offer right, you can be successful with even the simplest of funnels.
So go away and sort out your core offer!