No need for traffic-and-conversion funnels. Keep it transparent and organic.
A lot of solopreneurs are getting indoctrinated by digital marketers into believing that they need a complex sales/marketing “funnel”.
It goes something like this:
- You see an FB ad (or an email) about a wonderful free thing… a special report, video series, email course, or an intriguing quiz.
- You can only get that “free” thing by giving them your email address. (The “opt-in”) — see my other article No More Lead Magnets.
- You get 3 or more emails giving you “value” in the form of written tips or brief video lectures, but what you didn’t realize is that they’re also indoctrinating you for the purpose of selling you some specific thing.
- You then get an email that brings you to a sales webpage (usually quite long!) or invited to a “free” webinar, or a longer video that tries to sell you on the thing they were intending for you to buy this whole time.
- You then get cleverly-written email reminders until you buy, or opt-out. Sometimes it includes scarcity tactics (buy in the next 2 hours and you’ll get this amazing bonus or discount!)
There are as many variations of this funnel as there are clever marketers. You might see a “5 day challenge” re: you’re trying to change in your life, or it might be a long webinar (which plays everyday on autopilot) that is cunningly-designed to hook the viewer into buying.
These funnels can also include “tripwires” (low-price product that triggers a system to automatically upsell the customer), or score-based targeting (if you don’t buy it, automatically follow up X number of times until you do), and other forceful tactics.
The traffic and conversion funnel idea is based on persuasion psychology (“indoctrination”, scarcity, FOMO, cult-mentality) and an analytical-control worldview that suffocates a true heart-based relationship with your audience.
With funnel obsession, you see your audience as potential $$… or if they don’t turn into money, they are considered “funnel leaks” and taking up unnecessary resources.
You are taught to force your audience through a carefully designed (contrived) system of messaging and buying, as if they are lemmings… all supposedly for “their own good”… and for your profit.
These funnel/pipeline teachings are turning us into profit-driven automatons, and squeezing the heart right out of business.
Instead, can we relate to our audience as soulful people, whom we want to truly connect with, uplift, help, and befriend?
Can we keep our “sales funnel” (if you still want to use that language) as simple and organic as possible?
As solopreneurs, we need less complexity in our business… and more heart.
This is what sets us apart from faceless corporations.
Here is an example of a simple, transformational pathway for your audience:
- Consistent free content (be authentic, helpful, and generous)
- Low price offering (help them as much as possible via DIY products)
- Higher price offering (for those who can afford and benefit from handholding / more personal contact with you)
Bottom Line: let it feel genuine to you, and generous to your audience.
Consistent Free Content
As you might know, Authentic Free Content is what I preach, and do my best to model. Stop seeing your free content as a “teaser” or sales tool, otherwise it can build discouragement & resentment within you.
Instead, see your Free Content as a cause, a mission, a passion of your business to educate and uplift as many people as possible.
Be prolific in giving away content. You will help so many people.
You’ll also be helping yourself get smarter much faster than if you were stingy about free content, giving yourself constant practice in teaching/writing.
Through social media, you’ll be getting feedback (about what’s working and what’s not) more often than if you only hid away your content in paid products.
Of course, your increasingly-better free content will also attract your ideal clients to you.
Low Price Offerings
Ideas for low price offerings include:
- $5-10 e-book
- $10-$30 one-hour online workshop or group session
- $30-$100 online course (my examples.)
Let your audience know about these low-price offerings regularly… though less often compared to your free content.
The hardest sale is the first one. By having a low-price entry point into your offerings, you are being gentle in allowing your audience to try what it’s like to buy from you, when they are ready.
Higher Price Offerings
These are best offered to those who have bought some of your low-price offerings.
It can include your 1–1 services, or your group programs.
Have them listed on your website.
Occasionally invite the people who took part in your low-price offerings, but again, be gentle and allow them time to decide without trying to persuade them.
If there’s a true deadline to sign up for a program, follow-up maybe once or twice, only as courtesy reminders… not persuasion tactics.
People who are ready and willing need only to be reminded, not persuaded.
Aim to be so authentic and gentle with your marketing that your audience ends up contacting you about your 1–1 services. They are hoping you will say “Yes, you can be my client.” My business arrived at this stage a few years ago, after a year of doing authentic and consistent free content, and then another year of low-price offerings. Since then, my 1–1 client roster has been consistently full, with an ongoing waiting list.
Keep it Organic and Transparent
Instead of designing a funnel with an ulterior motive of selling them, keep your interactions with your audience organic and transparent.
If you want to sell something, sell it directly. Don’t beat around the bush.
Don’t bait-and-switch (what was supposed to be a wholehearted “free” thing ends up being a sales funnel.)
Avoid manipulation, hype, desperation. Choose instead to strengthen genuine trust, loyalty, and organic word of mouth… the true result of authentic marketing.
Activity that is intending to sell, but with a large buffer of free stuff in between, e.g. free webinar opt-in, to email autoresponder, to free facebook group, to free discovery call, etc… all of it is waiting with baited breath for the final action of the person buying. And when it doesn’t happen (most of the time it doesn’t), it feels like a blow to the business owner. It’s discouraging, and confronting, since you weren’t transparent to begin with.
Authentic content marketing is different — lots of activity as well, but the intention is to serve, and that creates value at least for one’s own professional growth, and as you get more skilled, it creates more and more value for your audience, eventually drawing forth your ideal clients.
Let each person decide to buy at their own pace. Don’t try to persuade.
Let it be organic, not forced, and you will nurture a healthier and deeper relationship that will create and expand gratitude and real value for everyone.