I wanted to clarify some things for you today. Most of the clients I work with have thoughts around building marketing funnels.
They have this perception that, they have to have a full on, step-by-step setup to draw people in. That they NEED a freebie, a website, ads, landing pages and all the rest. They say all this without really understanding the concept of a marketing funnel. Also, I’m going to use marketing funnel and sales funnel interchangeably throughout this episode as the principles are the same for both.
An important disclaimer here. This episode might sound quite technical in the beginning and I mention concepts that you might feel way out of your field of expertise. HOWEVER, that’s just to lay the ground for how we can do it in an easier, simpler and totally doable way – even if you have ZERO understanding of marketing. So, bear with me! Fully lean into what I’m about to teach you here. By the end of this episode, you will not only know what a marketing funnel really is, you will also know how to use the concept in a super easy way for yourself.
So, I have a background in all things digital marketing. I’ve done everything from building websites, sales funnels, set up ads in Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin and Google. I’ve done all things SEO (search engine optimization that is) – technical and content related. I’ve done in-depth keyword analysis, competitor analysis and all the rest. So, as you can see – I know my way around the digital marketing space. I’ve been around marketing funnels for quite a while, and I can assure you, they don’t need to be overwhelming, confusing or difficult to use – as I said; even if you know NOTHING about marketing.
Now, I’ll give you two different examples of digital marketing funnels. One based on general digital marketing and one based on SEO. I’ll give you these examples to demystify and simplify sales funnels so that you can use them in a way that’s more conducive to where you’re at in your business AND what your strengths are. And don’t tell yourself that “yeh, I don’t know if I have any relatable strengths that I can use for this purpose”. Just stop that! You do. Listen on, and you’ll find out how!
SO! A very common marketing funnel goes something like this:
As you can see, this sales funnel captures your attention with the freebie and nurture the relationship to the point where you might buy from the provider. You’ve probably opted into a marketing funnel that looks something like that at some point.
Here’s an example of an SEO funnel: We have something that’s called long-tail and short-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are simply when people enter into Google (or another search engine) just one word or a couple of words when searching for something. They are not very specific. It’s more generic and broad. This is an indication that people are at the top of the sales funnel. They’re in the beginning stages of the journey of making a purchase and want to research what’s out there. They probably don’t know exactly what they’re after. Then we have long-tail keywords. These are more like full sentences or very specific searches that contain quite a lot of detail. For example: Short tail can be “electric car” and long tail can be “white audi etron”. This indicates that the people searching on Google (or equivalent) are further down the sales funnel and getting closer to making a decision to buy. A marketer would set up different types of ads for where people are in the funnel. A “buy this” – or, in other words a “hard sell” – a very sales directed CTA at the top of the funnel wouldn’t convert a lot of people because they are not ready for it. At that stage, a marketer would be more focused on helping the user learn more about the product or service. To spark an interest for further investigation, rather than the direct “buy now” approach.
Don’t worry about the different parts of the sales funnel and how to market in each part for it for now. We’ll get to that – and I promise, it’ll be simple!
Now, as you can see. A sales funnel – or marketing funnel, is just that. It’s a pyramid put on it’s head. In the general digital marketing example, we start with a low barrier to entry and very low commitment to getting into the sphere of the person marketing. A lot of people will opt into the freebie. This is what we call “top of funnel”. Then, a few will be interested in your work – this is what we characterize as middle of the funnel. And finally, and some will buy – which is bottom of funnel. In the SEO example, again, we see that we start broad. As people mature towards making a decision, their searches get narrower and more specific. We’re starting to get into bottom of funnel.
There are lots and lots of ways of segmenting a marketing funnel. Some also divide a funnel into marketing at the top and sales into the bottom. These are just semantics. It’s just people in the various industries who have put their own spin on it so that it’ll work better for their specific needs.
There is one way of dividing a funnel that is super simple that I like to use as reference. It’s called the AIDA model and it’s just an abbreviation for:
This is where I’ll help you simplify and implement a marketing funnel in a way that is super simple and helpful for you as a coach building your business.
The way I see it, is that we are helping people graduate into maturity of wanting to work with us. Some will never be ready and never buy from us, and that’s okay. But some will and that’s what the funnel principle is all about. So, let’s look at this marketing funnel concept:
I like using dating analogies to help you understand. So, I’ll give you a metaphor here!
In the awareness phase, you might be single – and happy at that. But then, you see this person. You notice them, but there’s not a pull yet – you’re just aware of them.
The person comes over to talk to you, and it turns out you have a lot in common – and that the other person has a great personality. Now you’re starting to get curious. Before you leave, the person asks for your number, and you’re happy to give it – after all, you had a great night with this person. This is the interest phase.
The person asks you to go for a coffee, and you agree. You have a great time and you start to think that you kind of like this person – a lot. You start hanging out more and you feel a greater and greater pull towards being with the person. This is the desire phase.
After a few months of dating, you decide to pop the question. To see if this person wants to get exclusive – to get into a committed relationship with you. This is the action phase.
As you can see – the marketing funnel doesn’t have to be this mysterious, overwhelming, technical thing. It’s a natural progression from potential clients having awareness of what you do through to actually taking action and hiring you as their coach.
AND! I actually also like to add on “Nurture” to this funnel. So I guess the abbreviation now is AIDAN. Any relationship requires nurturing – including the ones that turns into paying clients. If you get into a romantic relationship with someone and don’t make an effort at all to nurture it, it will pretty soon turn into a less then desirable relationship. Same with clients. When you sign on a client – that’s when the work REALLY starts. That’s when you pour all of your heart, soul and expertise into the coaching relationship to help them feel like they’ve won the lottery for working with you! And – when you have super happy clients, they will be your best ambassadors.
So, now that you see how a marketing funnel is just starting out broad and low commitment and then funneling down to fewer people that are more committed, let’s see how this can look in a practical sense for you as a coach – in the pursuit of attracting more clients.
Again, we start out at the top of the funnel – which is the broadest. To be a coach who signs a lot of clients, people need to know about you. Your job is to create awareness around what you do for as many people as you can. (Quick disclaimer here – if you don’t have many followers on IG or whatever platform you’re on – don’t use that against yourself. I’ll talk about that in another podcast. So, for now, just play and get creative with visibility and awareness.) In other words, physically or online, meet as many people as possible and tell them about what you do. In a natural way – obviously. We don’t want to be anything else than a fellow human being who is curious about the other person AND also talk about what we do. This is where you can really dive into how you most like interacting with people. Really playing it to YOUR strengths. Do you love holding workshops? Getting interviewed, being on panel discussions? Do you like posting on social media? Do reels, lives or maybe share your great quotes? Get creative here. And, be willing to try it ALL. Clarity comes through experience – and experience is gained through trial and learning.
Now people have an awareness of you.
Now that people know about you, they might get interested in what it is that you do. They might follow you on Instagram and watch your content. Remember that this stage of the funnel is often invisible to you. What I mean by that, is that most of my clients have been lurkers – meaning that they haven’t liked or commented on my content. They’ve just been seemingly coming out of nowhere. So, they’ve followed me, but they haven’t made themselves visible to me through engagement. So don’t get discouraged if people aren’t engaging. Also, many people get hung up on not seeing tangible results – so it must not be working. But if you’ve had a workshop, a webinar or posted a super helpful post, someone might be in the process of convincing themselves that they want to hire you. A previous client might consider hiring you again – or someone in your wider sphere might be SUPER ready to hire a coach and are ACTIVELY looking for a coach that feels like a good fit – and YOU would be the one for them. Remember the six degrees of separation – which is that all people in the world are six or fewer social connections away from each other.
I mentioned a few scenarios of people being in the interested phase – and as you can see you wouldn’t be aware that it’s happening in any of them! And by the way, there are hundreds of more variations like these – where someone is in the interest phase, but you don’t know about it. You can’t possibly know how many people who are wanting to hire you.
Your job is to talk to people who are at the stage of interest and desire in your marketing. You want to speak directly to the people who are interested in working with you and just need a tiny nudge to feel safe enough and confident enough to book a consult or ask to hire you. I talk about this at length in my episode called “Create a Niche that Sells”, so make sure to check out that episode!
Keep in mind that, just like in dating, some people are ready to go all in very quickly, whereas others need more time to move to the next step – which in this case is desire or action. You just keep producing great quality honey, and someone will find you and want some of that!
At this stage, your people are beyond interested. They are wanting to hire you. This is where they are strongly considering getting on a consult or reaching out asking to work with you. They might have started to save up, move some funds around, or looking into getting some credit – because they know that they really want this. When they do get on a consult with you, they are very invested in what you’re about and what they can get from hiring you. So, when someone gets on a consult, they truly desire working with you. It’s just that last bit of safety and confidence needed before they take action.
The action part is when they actually pull the trigger – so to speak. They feel sold on you, your offer and what they will get from working with you. So much so, that they want to exchange their monies for it. In other words, you’ve helped them see how much value they’ll get. You’ve showed them that you’re a product of the product, and that this is a safe investment. It’s not only a safe investment, you know that this is the best investment that they’ll ever make – which is one of the reasons why selling them coaching feels amazing.
And, just to mention it, sometimes people don’t even want a consult. They just want to hire you – full stop. Yes, that’s right, you don’t always need to have a consult. Some people are just so sold, so ready, so keen that they just want to throw money at you and get to work. They feel that NOW is the best time. They don’t want to stuff around anymore, they’re over themselves and just want to get to the next level or achieve those goals RIGHT NOW. They are ready to make the change – starting TODAY. Tell me how I know – this was me! I was SO READY.
This is the final step in the “funnel”. The fastest and easiest way to keep earning more and more money is to have returning clients. We want people to have such a good experience working with us – and getting such great results that they’ll want more. If they resign or buy another service from you – or if they get such amazing results that they can’t shut up about it (or people just notice that they’ve changed for the better), you’ll get way more business. In marketing, we’ve got something called retargeting and up sale. Retargeting is when you for example see Facebook ads because you’ve looked at a product or you’ve purchased from that store before. An up-sale is when someone has either put something in their cart and are shown a similar product – you’ve probably seen “you might like this” or as seen on Amazon “other people also buy”… So they’re trying to have someone who is in the desire or action stage to buy more. Both of these hinges on the principle that it’s easier to sell something to someone the second time – if they’ve enjoyed the product. This is what’s called customer loyalty. Taking care of customers to have them want to come back for more – because it’s an easier sale and worth every effort.
I’m only telling you about these concepts so that you see why companies use them, but that’s not what we want to focus on. We want to nurture in the sense that, we make sure our clients get the best experience ever. That they feel like they’ve won in life because they found us. That they feel so grateful to be able to turn their lives around and finally figure out how to get what they want in life.
So, to be really clear when it comes to everything that I’ve been speaking about here – like the sales and marketing funnel: I don’t recommend you go around and think of people as prospects that you can funnel down into a purchase. The vibe that you’re going to give off by doing that will be pretty shitty. Think about it, right – if you met a person, or came across a person online that thought of everyone they interacted with as a lead or a prospect, you wouldn’t like that. You’d feel used, as if they wanted something from you. So, don’t use what I’m teaching you here in the wrong way. Meaning; thinking in literal, technical and mechanical terms about funneling people down into a sale. I’m creating this episode to demystify marketing funnels – to make them more HUMAN, and to use them in a way that makes more sense. That makes them in more conducive to relationship building.
You want to see people as beautiful, whole humans who you can help, if they so desire. You interact with people in the way you would if you were making new friends or dating someone. From awareness, to interest, to desire, to action and finally to nurturing the relationship.
Okay! That was what I had for you today! If you found this helpful, make sure you get yourself onto my value-letter list, which is where I share lots more helpful tips to improve your marketing. Head over to my website, martinethomassen.com. You can also find a link directly in this episode description.
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