I always get asked how I manage all the projects and companies I’m involved in. What most people don’t understand is that there is only one marketing strategy for everything I’m doing, and that this makes things a bit more manageable.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard freaking work, but it is possible.
One thing that’s different about my funnel is what I do after we acquire a customer –I call it post-acquisition marketing. Advocacy and relationships are not something many people focus on, but they’re where I spend 40%-50% of my time.
I try to offer the best customer support I possibly can. I want to ensure we’re treating our customers as human beings and helping them become smarter and better at what they do.
We also focus on building relationships with our customers and clients. My philosophy is that “people buy from people” and “love the people you work with.” This means I want the people I work with to be in the “friend zone” instead of just being customers. For example, I’m going to Salt Lake City this weekend and going snowboarding with one of my clients.
Let’s take a look at how this works in practice.
Scalable and Non-Scalable Marketing
I split the tactics I use within my marketing strategy into two categories – scalable tactics and non-scalable tactics. Scalable tactics are those that pretty much anyone can do with a little bit of information. You might need money or specific resources, and it’s probably going to take time, but in most cases, you should just be able to decide on a tactic and get started.
Non-scalable tactics are those I’m able to execute because of my own knowledge and skills – things like public speaking or leveraging a book deal. While there’s no reason, theoretically, that you couldn’t emulate these tactics, your current skills and experience will make a big difference in how easy emulating them will be.
My Sales Funnel
At the center of my marketing strategy is my sales funnel. It’s made up of six steps – four pre-sales steps and two post-sales.
Before the sale, I work on boosting exposure, building awareness, gaining trust and credibility, and getting leads to consider a purchase from my brand.
After the sale, I work on turning customers into advocates, and from there, on building genuine relationships with them that exist outside of the business.
At the top of my marketing funnel is exposure – this is about getting eyeballs on my content and increasing general awareness of my brand. It’s not about traffic to the website (although that may result from the techniques employed here).
Scalable exposure tactics
Get published in large publications
For me these are publications like Inc, Forbes, Huffington Post and Entrepreneur. I’m writing for most of these sites most weeks. Even if each post only gets a few hundred views (though some get many more), between them all this adds up to a lot of exposure from a diverse audience.
Create 10x content
In case you’re not familiar with the term “10x content,” it was originally coined by Rand Fishkin. Essentially what “10x content” means is content that is 10x better than anything else currently in the search results for that topic.
It was born out of a backlash against the phrase “good, unique content,” which was setting the bar far too low. “Good” and “unique” isn’t enough. If they want results, marketers need to be focusing on creating content that’s better than anything out there already.
Write for industry blogs
This is very similar to the tactic above, except, instead of writing for big publications that cover lots of topics, I’m writing for very focused, industry publications. In my case this includes Search Engine Journal and the Content Marketing Institute.
Non-scalable exposure tactics
A book deal
This is something I’m working on right now. The result should be plenty of exposure to a wide audience, which is great (even if most of them are at the very top of the sales funnel). Unfortunately, it’s not an easy tactic to emulate. It’s very time-consuming with relatively little chance of actually getting your book published.
I create content that covers issues which concern both myself and my target customers (salespeople and marketers) – things like how to delight customers and turn them into advocates or how to effectively use email outreach.
Interviews, podcasts and expert round-ups
These are all opportunities that result from my personal brand – something I’ve built over time and with a lot of hard work. This is why I consider these things to be “non-scalable.” There’s no reason you can’t land similar opportunities if you already have a personal brand or you start working to build one now, but securing an interview when your name is little known, or totally unknown, will be pretty tricky.
This is when someone visits my website or another of my web properties (a social media page, for example).
Scalable awareness tactics
Industry guest posts
These fall under exposure too, but I include them here as well because they’re an effective tactic for driving traffic to my websites.
Podcast (The Growth Mapping Podcast)
We make the Podcast available on iTunes and from there it drives traffic to my sites.
Create 10x content
Like industry guest posts, this generates exposure but it also drives traffic.
Blogging for my own sites
At the moment, the sites I write for most often are sujanpatel.com and Webprofits. These posts get shared on social media and rank in the search results. Consequently, they send traffic to these sites.
Non-scalable awareness tactics
This entails collaborating with other publishers on their content. For example, last year I wrote one of the modules for HubSpot Academy’s Content Marketing Course. This is considered non-scalable because you generally have to build your personal brand before opportunities like this will surface.
Speaking at conferences is just one example. Again, if you want to do something similar it pays to be at least a little known in your industry and to have some experience in public speaking under your belt.
Trust and Credibility
Getting traffic to my websites is really important, but if I want to convert those visitors into customers, they need to trust what I say and believe that I have the knowledge and skills to help them.
Scalable trust and credibility tactics
Blogging on my own sites
In addition to bringing people to my sites, this content demonstrates my knowledge and skills.
10x content does the same – it drives traffic, but it also builds trust by presenting me as an expert.
Webinars are essentially seminars that take place live, on the internet. They’re a chance for me to talk to leads and answer their questions in real time. This validates what I know since there’s no hiding behind a blog post or coming back with answers later – the pressure’s on to prove myself then and there.
When someone visits my website or opts in to my email list, they will be targeted with more of my content. This builds trust in two ways:
- Seeing my name creates familiarity with my brand.
- Each piece of content they consume further cements me as an expert in their eyes.
Non-scalable trust and credibility tactics
Again, this is a great way to showcase my knowledge and it’s not something just anyone can really do.
This is when somebody becomes a lead – when they make an inquiry or start a product trial, for example. This means they’re considering becoming a customer – we just have to identify their objections, and help them overcome them.
Scalable consideration tactics
While webinars are great for building trust and credibility, they also give me an opportunity to address objections and potentially close that sale.
This is something I’ve been doing a lot more of lately. Videos allow me to address common objections in detail, which in turn encourages leads that are sitting on the fence to take that next step.
Non-scalable consideration tactics
Helping people has always played a big part in my marketing and the building of my personal brand. I don’t do it with a particular aim in mind – sales are a pleasant byproduct of this tactic – not the end goal.
That said, when I get to talk to the right person at the right time, it’s a seriously effective tool for driving conversions. Even those who don’t buy from me often tell their friends.
Your sales flow links the different ways leads become customers. For example, there are four ways someone could become a customer of mine:
While each of these can exist in isolation, they also link together to create a “flow.” At the top is my least valuable type of sale – when someone buys an ebook. However, those who buy my ebooks are more likely to become SaaS customers, who are in turn more likely to book me for a training session. At the bottom of the flow is my most valuable type of customer – those who become a consultancy client.
Some of the biggest brands I work with – SAP and Tumblr, for example – started their relationship with me by buying one of my books.
Paying attention to your own sales flow can help you upsell to current customers more effectively.
This is part of my post-acquisition sales strategy and it’s something that I think is as important, if not more important, than the stages before it.
What I want is to turn new customers into brand advocates. If I can do that, they’re going to stick around longer and they’re going to be much more likely to send new business my way.
Scalable advocacy tactics
Arrange (or host) dinners
This is one of the oldest tactics in my book. It’s quite labor-intensive, but it’s lots of fun and it works really, really well.
Essentially what I do is invite a handful of people over for dinner. I might host at home or book a restaurant. That all depends on where I am at the time. I keep it really casual but I’m also careful about who I invite. I want my guests to get along but I also want each of them to bring something different to the table.
A lot of marketers use retargeting to exclusively target leads that haven’t converted. I think they’re missing a trick. I also use retargeting to increase the exposure a current customer is getting to my brand, my content, and the other services I offer that might be of interest to them.
Non-scalable advocacy tactics
Talk to customers
Most of the time I’m answering support queries myself. This is because I think it’s so important to talk to my customers as much as possible, learn about the people I’m selling to and their pain points, and use those opportunities to build real relationships with them.
Again, this is something I do earlier in the funnel, but I don’t stop once someone becomes a customer. If a customer asks for my help, I’m there.
This is a step up from advocacy. When I have a genuine relationship with a customer – one that exists outside of business and money – they often also become “true fans.” These are people who will do pretty much anything to help me out. I can talk to them on the phone, count on them to share my content, and rely on them to give me an honest opinion on new projects.
In other words – they’re really, really important.
Scalable relationship tactics
Every time I travel, I email my clients and customers, let them know where I’m going to be, and invite them to come by and say hi.
Alternatively, I might reach out to specific people and ask them if they fancy meeting up for a coffee, or coming to one of the dinner parties I mentioned just above.
Non-scalable relationship tactics
Hanging out online
I’m in about 15 groups on Slack and a handful of Facebook groups that I’ve invited my customers and clients to. I’ll get involved as much as possible by answering questions, even when they’re not directed at me or related to business.
This is my downtime. It’s a way of socializing, but at the same time building deeper connections with people who are going to help grow my business.
What do you think of my marketing strategy for 2017? Are there any tactics here which you’re not already using and are thinking about trying out? Let me know what you’ve got planned for marketing your brand this year in the comments below.