Everyone’s fixated on getting traffic, whether paid or organic. As if, somehow, this will unlock the door to a flood of new clients.
Truth is, traffic should be the last thing on your mind. Sure, you need it, but if you don’t have the right marketing system in place that attracts leads and properly nurtures them over the buying cycle, you’re just burning cash with any form of online advertising.
Today I’m sharing the exact marketing system I used to attract more clients than I could handle back in the day. Plus, I reveal the tweaks that make this rock-solid system work today and into the future.
In this episode I discuss:
- Why you should begin with the end in mind
- How to get in your prospect’s head
- Why syncing the buyer journey to email is critical
- How to educate people into choosing you
- Why demonstrated (instead of claimed) authority rocks
- Advertising secrets of the best of the best in paid traffic
- How “content upgrades” work with smart advertising
The Show Notes
- More on the first free Unemployable webinar
- Become an Unemployable Member at no charge
- Ask a question for the show here
Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable, the show for people who can get a job, they’re just not inclining to get one, and that’s putting it gently. If you’re a freelancer or a solopreneur, Unemployable is the place to get actionable advice for growing your business, improving your processes and enjoying greater freedom day to day. The get the full experience, register at no charge at Unemployable.com. You’ll get to access to upcoming webinars and more. That’s Unemployable.com.
The First Unemployable Webinar
Brian Clark: Hey there. How are you? This is Brian Clark and you’re listening to Unemployable. Thanks again for joining us and to kick things off, hopefully you’ve heard the news one way or another, but the very first Unemployable webinar, totally free, is happening on August 25th and that is taking place, I believe, at 1 pm Eastern time, which is 10 am Pacific.
I’m hoping you’re going to join us. It’s going to be really good. Basically, it’s me and my COO Tony Clark, who is also my first partner in the tiny start-up that we initially launched off Copyblogger in 2007.
We’re going to talk about the management processes that Tony put in place when we were just a three-person company, which allowed us to efficiently reach seven figures in revenue in one year, in conjunction with my content and marketing and strategy and all that good stuff. And it’s the same processes that we use to grow to our current level of over 55 people virtual company, people all over the planet, and it works really well.
I do want to clarify though, you don’t have to be this super ambitious entrepreneur that wants to hire dozens or hundreds of people to get benefit out of this webinar. Remember, in my companies before I met Tony, I had amazing marketing processes. I had all the clients I could handle and more, but my management processes were so bad that I almost worked myself to death.
Even then, when it was just me and some independent contractors, these processes would have really made my life a lot more enjoyable and they’ll do the same for you regardless of whether or not you ever want to get bigger than you really are right now. But if you are interested or you’ve to that thought in your mind that someday I may need to add people and how do I do that, this will be really illuminating to you.
If you are a current Unemployable member, all you have to do is log in at Unemployable.com and go to the member area. You’ll scroll down to the webinar section and you’ll see the webinar description and date, and there’ll be a big blue button that you can push one click and you’re automatically be signed up for the webinar.
Now, you need to do that because this live webinar space is limited. If you’re not already an Unemployable member, that also is completely free. All you have to do is go to Unemployable.com and register. You’ll receive an email confirmation that you’ll need to click to confirm your membership and as soon as that happens, you’ll be given instructions about how to access the member area and, in particular, sign up for that webinar. Again, August 25th. Looking forward to diving deep with you guys.
So, some of you may be thinking, “You know, Brian, I’d like to have the problem of having more clients than I can handle. It’s better than the opposite, I suppose.” Yeah, if you marry great marketing processes with great management processes, you’ve got a pretty sweet gig going on and of course, that’s the idea, which leads us to a listener question from a designer named Cathy Porter. Let’s listen.
Listener Question: Is it worth it for web designers to advertise and if so, where?
Cathy Porter: This is Cathy Porter with Go To Graphics Gal in Tacoma, Washington. Is it worth it for web designers to advertise and if so, where? Thank you.
Brian Clark: Hey, Cathy. Thanks for the question. Yeah, absolutely. Advertising for any service business really can be highly effective. As for where, I think the answer is where are the people you’re trying to reach? AdWords has made Google into one of the richest companies in the world because that search engine intent, when someone types in designer in so and so town or whatever the case may be, that shows an amazing intent that that person is interested in hiring a web designer.
LinkedIn comes to mind. You’re basically offering B2B or B2SMB services as a designer and Facebook advertising is just lately the 800-pound gorilla because regardless of its non-business focus compared to LinkedIn, just everyone is there. You can reach just about everyone there. You can reach just about everyone in some capacity on Facebook.
Let’s go back before really we had all this social advertising options. Back when I started my real estate brokerage in 2002, I started with paid traffic while I developed content to rank well in search engines and get organic traffic from search. That took time, so I obviously needed to do something before that kicked in.
Then what I figured out was that for every $1,000 I spent, I got $10,000 back in revenue and this is important, because that’s the key metric, return on investment, and you’re going to want to spend as little as you can, in order to get the most amount of return, right? Except a lot of people don’t think that way. I was doing really well with paid traffic alone and of course when search kicked in, I cut back a bit on the spend because we could only handle so many clients. Go ahead and see those processes problems again.
Here’s my point: in order to increase your conversation rate from advertising, you want to advertise content and not your services. I know that drives people crazy to a certain degree because you’re like, “I just need traffic and then people will come and hire me.”
The problem is it doesn’t really work that well, that way, and you really want to implement a system for lead generation as opposed to overspending on ads and praying that enough clients show up to justify the thin margins that you’re getting out of it.
Here’s the thing, traffic is the last thing you should be thinking about. I’ll tell you what, if you’re in this industry and you want to get traffic, talk about traffic because that’s what everyone wants. That’s what they think will solve all the problems, but it’s actually the quickest way to spend money getting traffic that makes no money and you don’t want that. People think traffic is some kind of magic, if you’re paid or otherwise. Not the case.
Why You Should Begin with the End in Mind
How do you go about this? Well, you’ve got to begin with the end in mind. This is one of my favorite sayings. Stephen Covey gets a lot of credit for this one, but it was actually Aristotle who said it thousands of years ago. Smart guy that Aristotle. “Begin with the end in mind.” What do you really want? Do you want traffic? No. You don’t want traffic. You wouldn’t do anything if clients just showed up at the door, right?
How to Get in Your Prospect’s Head
Let’s start with that. Who are these people? Why would they show up? What do they want? What’s their problem? What’s their desire? How do they think and feel about “I need a web designer?” What is that process? We always think about, “Okay, I’ve got to convince them to hire me,” but there are other questions and perceptions and concerns in people’s mind that are provider agnostic, it doesn’t matter who they hire.
They have these concerns about the process, about the cost, about the end product that they’re going to get. Answering the other questions as an authority figure in the sense that you are a designer and you understand this stuff and sharing that with them, answering those questions literally answers the questions they have about you in the process.
Why Demonstrated (Instead of Claimed) Authority Rocks
You’re basically creating authority instead of claiming it, and this really knocks out 85% of the selection process in their mind without them feeling sold to, or pressured, or anything of that degree. That’s what’s so amazing about it. Essentially, what you’re trying to do is build an email list before you try to sight the up and again. The best practice is to advertise content to get them to opt in for something and then, after educating them enough to do business with you, that’s when the time to start pushing the service angle a little bit more comes in. Need to know who these people are.
You have an existing design practice. Start with past and current clients. Sit down with them if you can, if they’re local. Get them on the phone. Talk to them. It’s tempting to say, “Why did you hire me?” You can ask that question but it’s of lesser importance than trying to get inside their head or get inside their shoes as an exercise in empathy because this will give you the information you need in order to craft content that will resonate with them and, again, performs that selling process without this overselling.
Why Syncing the Buyer Journey to Email is Critical
Another thing you have to understand about them is what’s the buyer cycle, as opposed to the sale cycle because they start without you. They have the empowerment to research, to ask, to explore before you even know they’re out there. What’s the journey they have to go on in order to choose you? Then you’ll know where you need to show up and the things you need to address with them in order to make them more comfortable with you as the only logical choice when it gets there.
An example from the real estate days. I primarily focused on two groups of buyers, first time home buyers and relocation buyers. My research showed me, and practice showed me, that first time home buyers would generally decide to do business with me or not at all within the first 30 days. That’s a very different cycle of which I need to bid them certain types of content to address their problems and desires.
Relocation buyers, on the other hand, started looking online as early as a year ahead of time, so I had to craft a very different stream of lead nurturing, if you will, to make sure that when the time came and they actually pulled the trigger and decided to move, I was the one who was showing up and providing value month after month or as the case may be.
What’s the buyer’s journey? How do they start? How do they feel? How do they think? How do they perceive when they start and then what’s the actual average process that they have to go through? For a design client it could be less than 30 days and I’m guessing that’s correct.
How to Educate People into Choosing You
Now you have this information and then you have to create content that educates them to do business with you. I guess the best way I can help with this is give some examples. With first time home buyers, the kind of things that they had in their minds that had nothing to do with whether or not they chose me, were things like how to negotiate the deal? How to choose an inspector? What repairs should they insist on? What should they be okay with? All of these type of things that are not the normal course of anyone’s life and this is probably the biggest financial transaction they’ve had to date, maybe ever.
Those were the type of things that I dripped out in the form of a course, basically. Here is the stuff you need to know. That’s what get them to sign up and then just step-by-step during that 30-day process, I gave them real valuable information that alleviated those anxieties and in the process, they said, “This is our guy.” Well, not everyone obviously, but more people than if I had taken a different approach, and that’s really important to do.
Back then, my technology, I had slapped together three different websites. It was really a duct tape situation. I had primitive autoresponders. The great thing about nowadays is this same procedure works like a charm, especially with the mainstreaming of online education. People are willing to pay money for courses, but therefore it becomes a great lead generation strategy. A lead magnet plus nurturing approach.
Advertising Secrets of the Best of the Best in Paid Traffic
Back in 2002, my paid advertising strategy was to target according to keyword, to determine what kind of buyer they were and then let them self-select which was appropriate to them, the first time home buyer course or the relocating buyer course.
Basically, at that time, all I did was send them to a laser focused landing page based on whatever the search term was, and back then, hardly anyone was using landing pages, but certainly not people in the real estate industry. Not only were they not using landing pages, they weren’t giving away free courses, they weren’t allowing unrestricted access to the MLS.
All this kind of stuff that I knew people were looking for and gave them in ways that the competition wasn’t. I would say these days not everyone is doing that still, but it’s more par for course than the outlier type of strategy that it was back in 2002. It still works. I just think it’s more necessary now. I might have gotten away with doing less back then, but I was so motivated to succeed I was going all out and that’s a good attitude to have, frankly.
These days, you could send people to a focused landing page but, again, the only thing that’s really changed is that people are more sophisticated, a little more wary about giving up the email address obviously. The value you present matters and that would be the actual course or whatever the other educational content may be. I prefer courses. We’ve been experimenting with that quite a bit lately, but there’s another strategy where you actually advertise an article, a piece of content and you’re starting the education right then. You’re starting the value proposition right then.
How “Content Upgrades” Work With Smart Advertising
Nowadays, I might have written an article for first time home buyers about the inspection process and what they could expect and what they should negotiate and who do they choose an inspector that’s on their side, not the seller side. Then at the end of that article, I would basically then present the pitch for the broader course saying “this is just a sliver of the information I give you in my first time home buyer course that you can sign up for right here.”
These days, people are calling that a content upgrade. It’s not really a new strategy but it is gaining in popularity and it’s just terminology to do it. You’re starting with content. You got them there by paying for the traffic. So on social networks content is shared and consumed. That’s what people want. They don’t want to be marketed to, but they will gladly look at content that’s relevant to them.
If you’re, for example, doing Facebook advertising and you’re targeting correctly, which is an art to itself, and then you get the right people reading that content, they feel good about you. You’re changing the frame of the offer to take this free course. That’s probably the most effective way to advertise content now. As opposed to advertising the course, you advertise an article that leads to an offer for the course.
Now, after you’ve got all that worked out, you’re ready to think about traffic and again, once you get paid working and you’re making more money, then you’re a busy designer. You don’t want to be creating content. Maybe you hire someone to work out this initial course for you or a small investment. It starts working with paid traffic. You make more money then you can choose to reinvest some of that money with another freelance writer perhaps, to create that long term organic content strategy for social and for search and all that.
I prefer to go ahead and reinvest even when paid advertising is working because it always makes me nervous to be in reliance on Google or Facebook. In general, Google AdWords is a competitive bidding system, so for years, the price just keeps going up and that’s an awkward position to be in.
Yes, use advertising. Use advertising to offer something people want instead of trying to hawk them your services right away and you’ll find that you’ll get way more clients than any other alternative ways. And if some people consume your course and don’t hire you, it’s fine. Don’t sweat that. Just realize that you have more clients and more revenue and more money than you would have had with a different approach.
Then finally of course, when you have that kind of machine going and your client base grows, the cool thing is then you start getting the true Holy Grail, which is the referral business. More and more clients that are happy lead to more referrals and that’s the best kind of organic traffic.
I hope this has helped a bit. We could do an entire course about this topic, but I think it’s important to understand that the hardest core AdWords pros in the world, the expert Facebook paid traffic people, they don’t advertise the product or service. They use content. It just works so much better, it’s just not even close.
This is not kumbaya strategy. This is just grizzled old what works better. You do have to do a little bit of work upfront, but the great thing I can tell you that once it’s in place, it just works, and then you can concentrate on delivering what you do best, which is design work or whatever the case maybe and that’s a nice thing, which of course make sure you have good processes for when the client comes in and that’s what the webinar is about.
I guess that’s it for this topic. Like I said, I hope it’s been helpful. If you have a question, again, go to Unemployable.com/ask. This is for registered members. If you want the webinar and you like to ask a question and you’d like all the other goodies that are coming in the near future, head over to Unemployable.com and sign up for free. All right, that’s it. Hope you’re having a great week. Keep going.