How I turned my business into a revenue generating machine.
You have probably thought about how some companies experience a steady growth and huge flow of customers while others just try to make a living.
What if there was a proven formula you could follow to grow your business?
100 new customers: No problem.
$10,000 in new sales: Yup!
100,000 visitors to your website: Absolutely.
Contrary to what you might think there are plug-and-play formulas for reaching these goals.
Repeatable and scalable formulas. They aren’t complicated. But they are hard to find.
Most likely, this is how your current business structure looks like right now:
What if I told you I can teach you how to build a rockstar business model — in 10 minutes or so (that’s how long it takes to read this page)?
By “rockstar business” I mean one that keeps new customers flocking in by the thousands and existing ones compulsively coming back for more. Want a handy 5-step process you can start applying within days?
This is how a system looks like when deployed into an average business:
“Give me a break, Max Carter!” you’re probably thinking to yourself. But what if I told you that’s how AirBNB makes $900 million per year, Amazon kept Wall Street analysts bewildered for two decades, how Groupon became the fastest-growing web company ever, how hotels grind millions of dollars with fancy room upgrades alone, and yes — how dozens of other companies I have worked with at least doubled their revenue, making real profit and dominating their markets.
It’s not about buying TV ads, Yellow Pages, magazine folds and billboards on the roadside anymore. Marketing has evolved into a system responsible for everything from buying targeted website traffic, crafting relevant irresistible offers, to designing sales funnels, to automating follow-up emails that works mostly on autopilot allowing you to focus 100% on delivering your product or service.
The process I’m teaching you today is the product of decades of trial and error by legions of marketers. Known by many names, including funnel optimization or conversion optimization, it got most of its fame and fortune after digital marketing guru Ryan Deiss standardized it as Customer Value Optimization.
Nicknames and technicalities aside, the basic philosophy is unitary, straightforward and suitable to any industry and business model:
Never sell stuff to cold prospects. Instead, progressively turn anonymous visitors into loyal, repeat customers by offering value in increasing increments.
The virtual place where this happens is best visualized as a funnel: wide at the top, where random traffic pours from the Web, and narrow at the bottom, where money pours out of “converted” customers who’ve grown to know, trust you and paid you.
A funnel that’s “optimized” needs three things:
- a product or service to sell,
- choose a traffic source — where your customers will come from,
- a set of pre-planned stages that you’ll progressively take your prospects through.
And yes, we will cover all of these below. Once you read what waits for you on this page, your brain with melt and then spark so many ideas that you will jump out of your chair. I regularly use this process to grow my clients’ businesses many times over, and it works miracles every time. Let’s see how and why.
Getting Started: re-learn business and traffic
Marketing is what you do in business when you try to convince people to want and to buy what you have to sell. In short, it is best defined as that which creates, communicates and delivers value. In the most general sense, value is what you give to your customer to get them to a more pleasant (or less unpleasant) state — a leap that’s obtained by paying for products and services that solves customers problem or makes them feel better.
In the simplest terms, therefore, a proper setup business is one that delivers value and effectively communicates its benefits.
Sounds obvious? Think twice. Believe it or not, if you get this you’ll be ahead of most businesses in the economy — both mom-and-pops stores and larger companies.
Now, before the digital era, getting people to walk into your metaphorical store (website) was the essence of the marketer’s struggle. Not anymore. In a time when nearly 3.5 billion people (as of writing) are potentially only a click away, the key challenge is to zero in on the right customer.
Let’s get something straight: there is no such thing as not enough traffic. It can be bought in millions.
Set aside a fat budget for ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram and you’ll get thousands of visitors pouring in. But who are they? At this stage, no more than anonymous IP addresses, I’m afraid.
Lure vegans to your BBQ sauces webstore, and get all the karma: you’ve just made a humanitarian donation to Google. Now imagine you offer BBQ meat recipes to avid BBQ lovers, and they’ll feverishly poke through your tasty inventory like children in a candy store.
Optimizing your business starts with having a crystal-clear vision of what value you’re offering, who your ideal customers are, and where they “hang out” online. Get this right, and you’ll never regret a dime spent on pouring traffic into the funnel.
The whole funnel optimization process rests on several theories such as Marc Andreessen’s Product/market fit, quirks of psychology such as the foot-in-the-door technique used by all door-to-door salesmen and now online marketers (researched since the 60s) and especially the “three immutable laws of business growth” by marketing demigod Jay Abraham.
No need to get all technical and business-schooly, though. The key principles of marketing you want to keep in mind are pretty straightforward:
- If you’re better than your competitors at customer acquisition and you can spend more than your competition to acquire new customers — you’ve won;
- Profit comes from higher-value and repeat transactions;
- You acquire and “optimize” customers by progressively increasing the value that gets exchanged.
Keep these principles in mind, as they define each of the five steps we’re going through. Now that you know principles of marketing, let’s review the key stages of the advanced sales funnel. Here they are listed and summarized:
- Turn anonymous traffic into leads (contacts) with a Lead Magnet;
- Turn leads into paying customers with a Tripwire — a very low-cost “icebreaker” offer;
- Maximize average transaction value per customer with your Core Offer;
- Boost your bottom line with Profit Maximizers — upgrades on the core offer;”
- Rinse and repeat with a Return Path.
Step 1: Break the ice with a Lead Magnet
Also known as a “bait,” the lead magnet is a low-ticket and highly specific piece of value that you give in exchange for contact information (usually an email address). The value in question can be an educational video, a case study, a guide or even a limited trial to your flagship software.
The bait works as an “icebreaker” and gives you a channel to market further to prospects who have expressed genuine interest in what you can offer (they’ve given you their contact, after all!). No money exchanges hands at this stage, but this is by all means a transaction — a valuable contact in exchange for valuable info.
In practice, lead magnets are often those little boxes that pop up when you read website pages or blog articles asking you for an email address. Another form of lead magnet can be a car test drive at your dealership, before getting into the car they get all your information to later try to get you back into the dealership. It can also be a free trial offer of your software. A request for a free quote for your services. You need to think what small chunk of your product or service you can offer in exchange for an email address, one that is highly relevant to your audience and solves a specific problem for your customers.
Here are few examples of great Lead Magnets:
This is how a lead magnet should not look like. This example is too general and is not enticing enough:
Step 2: Create a customer with a Tripwire
After receiving your visitor’s email, you can now start to build a relationship by providing with more value and help through well-crafted emails. If you do this part right and build trust and a genuine relationship, your newly-acquired contact is now ready to open up her heart and wallet.
Enter the tripwire: a low-priced, impossible to resist offer and (again) very specific piece of value whose goal is to turn leads into customers. Tripwires are by default priced at a fraction of your real-deal product, the core offer. (In practice, this translates to $1–20 for most business models).
Common examples are webinars, private Skype sessions, low-priced (e)books or paid trials. Best example of this technique is used by Groupon, which essentially lets businesses (usually small and local) sell tripwires. By posting ridiculously cheap deals on the Groupon’s website, local businesses get immediate access to new customers that they’d never reach otherwise. Everyone wins, right?
The “ridiculously cheap” bit is key here. Tripwires are usually best sold at break-even or loss, as they not only turn leads into customers, but also help you segmentate the market almost for free.
Here’s what I mean.
Suppose you sell a 6-month personal training program as a core offer. It’s great to both lose weight and build up some serious muscle mass.
You offer two tripwires: a nutrition plan booklet and a 30-min exclusive mass-building video tutorial. You know for a fact that those who buy the booklet are into weight loss, and the rest into muscle mass, so now you can send different offers and promotions to each, highlighting the relevant benefit in your program.
Here are few examples of Trip Wires:
Read the full blog post with more examples and worksheets at Clients Funnel.
Step 3: The Core Offer
The core offer is your main flagship product or service. It’s the thing most of your research and development energy goes into. It’s your set of organic cosmetics, your 6-month training program, the hotel room, the custom built kitchen, wedding photography service, cooking bootcamp, or the fancy enterprise software.
Most businesses start and stop at this stage. They are trying to market this high-value offer to cold prospects (and are terribly failing doing that), who haven’t heard of and couldn’t care less about them.
But you know better by now. You have worked smart to gather contacts of your customers with whom you’ve transacted twice (lead magnet and trip wire), and with whom you have built great relationships with and most importantly gained their trust. By offering your core offer to these customers at this stage they are 10x-20x more likely to purchase it from you than if you would have went for this sale right at the first point of contact. Would you marry a person if on the first date he or she asks you how you are goning to name your kids? You would probably run away without looking back twice.
For some business models, it’s ok to end the funnel here, but the savviest of business owners will go deeper, reinvesting each dime of profit into further customer acquisition. For them, the real magic happens in the next step.
Step 4: A rockstar bottom line with Profit Maximizers
Profit maximizers are offers that enhance or complement the core — and do so rather profitably. They come in two flavors:
– The upsell: a premium version of the same product. Think upgraded options at car dealerships or the ubiquitous “basic/most popular/pro” pricing in subscription-based services;
– The cross sell: a different product that enhances the original. Think additional car warranty or banks offering investment and retirement plans when you open a simple checking account.
Maximizers essentially leverage the established bond you have with your customer after such a long history. That’s why they’re happy to buy upgrades and spend more money than planned:
– Oh, you bought our comprehensive WordPress video tutorial series? How about getting your first premium theme from our affiliate program?
– You ordered a Big Mac, would you like to make it a meal? Would you like to supersize your meal?
– Love our paycheck management software? Why not send your HR manager to our $3,000 training seminar?
– Your basic room is super comfy, but how about upgrading to a beautiful ocean view suite and enjoy the sunset?
You get the gist. If they’ve made it this far in the funnel, your customers could probably be in for an upgrade — especially if they feel they’ve gotten away with a “steal” on the Core Offer.
Step 5: Rinse and repeat
This final step is actually a recursive one, as it involves tactics that you want to implement from step 1 to 4. The goal here is to both maximize the number of transactions per customer and deliver “stuck” prospects further down the funnel.
Remember, there are three fundamental ways to grow your business:
- Increase the number of customers
- Increase the average transaction value per customer
- Increase the number of transactions per customer
See, it’s called a funnel for a reason: a few customers will compulsively take everything you throw at them, but most will never go past the lead magnet. The return path makes sure you keep the former engaged and excited, and the latter persuaded to give your next offer a go. Both outcomes imply delightful content and a large set of tricks and tools, which I go over in depth in my marketing university and in separate blog posts.
For now, here’s a taste of some common techniques used for getting the customer back to purchase again:
- Email marketing: custom content and targeted offers at each stage of the funnel;
- Ad retargeting/ Remarketing: a panacea of sorts, involving tracking previous visitors with ads all around the Web;
- Loyalty programs: the more the transactions, the juicier they get!
- Organic social media: it’s all about the conversation!
With a great return path, any funnel will see a significant increase in conversions (sales) at each stage. And the better part is that the process is mostly runs on autopilot.
Before you go and crush it
Get the worksheets here to help you implement sales funnel system into your business.
Now you have the blueprint to a system that generates millions for companies that you come into contact daily with such as Groupon, Starbucks, McDonalds, Amazon, Walmart and so many more. A truly rockstar revenue model that takes your customer by the hand into a vicious circle of opportunity and value.
Start with a irresistible offer, target the right targeted surfers, turn visitors into buyers, and progressively skim the truly valuable customers by spoon-feeding cumulative chunks of value. Build a relationship in the process, gain trust by giving more and more without taking, never forget to pique interest and refresh memories with awesome communication, offer your services and products to your audience (jab, jab, right hook technique), and get ready to rock that stage!
Can you already see this working in your business? You definitely should.
Also do not forget to check out the exclusive training, where you can learn absolutely everything about growing your business online: from having no presence online to dominating your industry and crushing your competition.
Otherwise, if you feel your business could use a pair of expert hands to get you more customers and increase revenue, consider working with me.