We're going to take a little trip down memory lane because, the truth is, that I didn't always use marketing funnels.
I worked in corporate marketing for about 17 years before I opened my business. When I first got started in this online game, I never really heard the term marketing funnels.
I had always approached marketing from a piecemeal approach. I never thought about putting those pieces all together.
A little over a year into my business, I wanted to take my business from mostly corporate consulting into the online space. I saw a lot of opportunity working with individuals instead of giant corporations. That year I tried to launch a product and I sold zero copies, in fact, I couldn't even give it away. I learned a lot of hard lessons from that, but that's not the story I'm going to tell today.
You can watch the video here
Diving into the Online Space
Today the story that I'm going to tell is what happened after I sold absolutely zero of this product. I kind of moped around for about a month and a half or so. Did I really want to keep pushing into this online marketing space, or did I want to just stick with corporate consulting. That would have been much easier for me, since I had been doing it for the last 16 years.
I kept coming back to really wanting to get into this online space. There had to be a way for me to figure this out, I just knew it. Then, I had this big idea that I was going to study webinar systems, email systems, and Facebook ads. What were all the things that I had seen other people doing to be successful? How did they interact on social media? What were they posting? You name it, I was studying it. After that I spent a couple months really diving into doing nothing but studying in my spare time. And then in late 2013, I launched this whole effort.
There were Facebook ads, I was blogging and guest blogging, I got featured in a couple great places, there were videos, two or three webinars. I put together this whole effort and I went all in. This was not easy, I was working seven days a week. The good news is, I added people to my email list, I got people to show up for my webinars, all of those early indicators were really strong. People were paying attention, they were signing up, they were opening my emails and they were coming to my webinars.
After I did my second webinar, I had about 80 people who signed up to have a one-on-one conversation with me. When I was done doing all my calls, it turned out only about half of those people actually showed up for their calls.
And you might be saying, “Wow, Michelle, you really buckled down and you got busy and, holy cow, you had 45 people have a conversation with you.” I wish that I could tell you, “Ta da,” that's how I launched by business. But the truth is, after those 45 to 50 hour-long conversations, I had exactly zero customers. I did not convert a single one of them into a coaching client – not one.
I was certain that this was going to turn out and that people were going to sign up to work with me. Then, when I got through with that last call, I am not going to lie, I got off the phone and I lay down on my couch and I just starting crying. “Clearly, I thought, “I'm not cut out to be an entrepreneur.” There must be something wrong with me. This is what I do easily for other people, so why can't I do it for myself?
Time to give up?
It was a really hard time because I wanted this to work. I really wanted to figure this out. Although I talked with my husband and a couple of my entrepreneur friends, I didn't really have a lot of people who understood what this crushing failure really meant. It felt like I had given it my all and that my all just wasn't good enough. Knowing I could be successful in the corporate world, even if I hated it, I wondered if I should just go back and get a job?
I just decided, NO. I can't give up yet.
Instead of giving up and drowning my sorrows in wine and chocolates, I decided to really break it down. I took a step back and said, “Okay, if I was doing this marketing plan for a client of mine versus for me what would I do.” I took my emotional connection, my hopes and dreams out of the equation. If I was to do a strategy for a client, what would I do differently? And I had this huge aha moment. It was like a kick in the gut to be honest. It wasn't like the light bulbs went off and the angels were singing, it was like, “Oh, my God. I cannot believe that I didn't see this before.”
Putting it all together
And here's what I saw. Instead of having my Facebook ads, my video series, my webinars, my emails all working together, they were in little silos. Each piece was doing their own thing. Nothing was really tied together. I was following this webinar system, and I was following this email system. I was doing all the right things, but they weren't cohesively integrated.
And I just had this aha moment one night as I was pacing around trying to figure things out and I stepped on one of my kid's Legos. I was like, I should be building these things on top of each other like Legos instead of individual silos, each doing their own thing.
Building with Funnels
That's really when I started getting into funnels. And I just tore apart everything that I was doing and determined how can I integrate this? How can I create this thread that ties them all together so that they build on top of one another, versus almost competing with one another?”
What I had heard when I was on the phone with people was, “Michelle, this is such great advice. Michelle, I love this. I just don't see how you can help me.” When I was on the phone with people, and I heard something like that all I could think was, “Nooo. I'm losing another one.”
But as I reflected back, what I heard them saying was “Michelle, I don't see what your value is. I don't really understand what you do.” They had great conversations with me and they liked me, but they were thinking, “I don't know why I would hire you because I don't know what results you would get for me.”
That was the major aha. That's when I said, “All right, I need to tear all these things apart and I need to make them work together. I need to have my videos feeding into my email series and not have them be on two totally different highways having really different conversations. I need to make sure that my webinar takes those videos and takes those emails and builds on it even further. And I need to be really consistent in what I'm talking about with people so they understand the value that I could bring to them.”
There were other realizations too. I had technical and tracking systems that needed to be fixed. But I wanted to share this with you because I didn’t just give up!
After that self reflection I came back fighting! I told myself “I'm not giving up on this entrepreneur dream!”
After I tweaked and altered those same pieces, so that they worked better together and relaunched in just a few months. In that time, I added over 1,000 people to my email list and I had lots of people show up for my webinars.
Second Time’s the Charm
This time I was a bit more selective on who I allowed to have conversations with me, so that I wasn't getting inundated with 80 plus requests and 45 to 50 calls. This time I had people apply and almost all of them showed up. In the end I had 15 new clients.
I will be honest with you. There is a reason why I don't teach sales. I'm not a hard core salesperson. What I look for is a connection and how I can support. When these people showed up, they had gone through this whole series where I had shown them the value that I could give to them. So when we were on the call, they weren't saying, “Oh, just give me your brain and I'm going to run away and never pay you or talk to you again.” Instead, they told me, “You know, Michelle. In this email where you were talking about this specific scenario, that sounds a lot like what I'm going through right now. Can we just dive into this a bit?” And I'd say, “Yeah.”
The Funnel Warmed Them Up
These people came ready to have a specific conversation. My funnel had prepped them for what I could do for them. Then at the end it was a really natural conversation. “Would you like to continue working together on this?” The number who said “Yeah!” was significantly more than the zero percent that had agreed to work with me before!
I will tell you, I didn't really change my sales approach that much. What changed is all of the framing, all of the mindset, all of the proof that they received before they got on the phone with me. And all of that happened through my funnel. Through a funnel that, honestly, wasn't even that good.
My funnels have come a long way since then. I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't. But even an imperfect funnel with the idea of utilizing the same conversation throughout can significantly to improve your business. Honestly, it saved my business. Because if I hadn't had those people sign up and say, “Yeah, I want to work with you,” I probably wouldn't still be here today. I'd probably be back at a corporate job.
If you've gone through something similar, I'd love to hear from you. I think the more we share these kinds of learning stories, the better.
Is this is where you're at in your business right now; you've had that kick in the gut where you feel like you've really put your all in? If so, I really want to encourage you to take a look at a marketing funnel. In fact, I have a free quiz. You don't even have to sign up to have a conversation with me. You just answer a few questions and the quiz will tell you which funnel is right for you. I have also thrown in some free training on how to set it up. Then you can focus your efforts on getting all those pieces tied together. You won't have to figure it all out like I did.
From Silos to Legos
So, that’s the end of my confessional. I hope it gave you hope. If you've been working your buns off trying to figure out the marketing in your business and you feel like it's still a big roadblock, I want to ask you to go back and take a look. Are all of your pieces working together? Are they stacking on top of each other like Legos, or are they separate little silos doing their own thing. If they're like silos, hey, you're in good company. I was there, too.
All we have to do is figure out how to go from silos to Legos. We want to go from individual efforts to building block efforts. And that will help your business tremendously.
You can tune in with me each week (9:00 AM Pacific, 12:00 PM Eastern) for the Marketing Funnel Show. I look forward to getting to know you. You can also join me in Funnel Chicks, our free Facebook group. I'd love to have you show up and ask your questions and get good answers. Let's go on this funnel journey together!