I was recently on the phone with my sister, who is an HR director. She is working on an amazing new venture with women in her city to help aspiring female entrepreneurs navigate up-leveling their businesses, similar to Shark Tank.
“You know,” she said, “this is such a great opportunity for them to get their businesses out there. They will really up their brand awareness.”
“Yes,” I replied. “That’s the first step.”
“First step?” she asked, “There are others?”
She had no idea that marketing and promotion went beyond getting your brand seen in public.
Yes, there is a process to this thing we call marketing and promotion. Some call it a customer journey. Others a marketing funnel.
But what it really boils down to is a series of events that you plan out in advance to introduce yourself to your prospective future customers so that eventually you will have achieved the magical trifecta, where they will,
- Know you.
- Like you.
- Trust you.
Which leads to purchasing from you again and again.
You won’t have a solid lasting relationship without all three.
When my husband and I were in the getting-to-know you stage of our relationship, even though we had gone to the same high school and were in the same tiny class of 200, I remember Facebook-message chatting with him and asking if he was an ax murderer? Because obviously he was going to be 100% honest with me, I knew him from high school. And I liked him. A lot. I had always thought he was the most handsome guy at our school. (And I still believe that to this day.) But I didn’t yet trust him. That bridge had to be built over time.
What are the steps needed to build that bridge? There are three on my list that your audience needs to take to know, like and trust you, which should inspire them to continue along the journey through steps four and five, cementing you as the go-to brand for your niche. Let's look at the steps.1. Know you exist.
The first step is the one my sister already knew about. The one she assumed was the only piece you needed to be successful as a business. You can achieve this through multiple avenues, namely
- “Outbound” marketing - paid advertising
- “Inbound” marketing – creating valuable content and promoting it through channels such as blogs, podcasts, videos, etc.
- Word of Mouth (this is the best way; you want to figure out how to boost this as much as possible.)
- Referrals – maybe you get your business listed on a website or in a directory of similar businesses
As a collection, we call these “top of funnel,” if you think about this in terms of a marketing funnel, or the start of the customer journey.2. Get on your email list.
In the marketing world, the email list is the holy grail.
Why is that? Because you don’t own your social media channels. If Mark Zuckerberg got tired of having to show up in court and get asked embarrassing questions like where he stayed the night before and decided to throw in the towel on his whole empire, there go all your Facebook fans and Instagram followers. Poof!
But if you had convinced them to visit your website or some similar webpage where you asked them to opt in to join your email list before the platforms disappeared, you could still contact them and continue on with your relationship, without batting an eye.3. Follow you on social.
Your website is pretty static, you most likely only update it with new blog posts or offers. While I just waxed on about how finicky relationships can be with social platforms, I’m now going to do an about-face and encourage you to be on social.
Social is where you get to be social, and what do you love about social? It’s fun! It’s enjoyable! It’s like hanging out with your favorite people, getting invited to all the parties you want to be invited to, and getting a level playing field to interact and talk with anyone alive today who you have always wanted to rub shoulders with! And discover new people/places/brands/excitement!
Social media is a like an all-you-can-drink rockin’, energy-infused sports tonic, doling out dopamine hits with every notification app Ping! Because of its addictive nature, it’s where most peeps hang out. And talk. And share. And talk some more. And share some more.
Through all this finding and talking and sharing we are attracting people to us and pushing others away. For those we are attracting to us, we’re building solid relationships. You come to expect certain things from certain people and brands, and return to interacting with them based on the valuable content they are sharing. This way someone new comes to know who you are, like you, and trust you.4. Purchase from you.
WHEW! You have achieved the know, like, and trust factor, and it’s time to take this relationship to the next level. Beyond giving you their attention, you now want them to show how committed they are to you through their wallets. (Because she who has the biggest ring wins, right? Or the biggest box of chocolates? Or the most gorgeous deeply-sweet smelling bouquet of exotic flowers?)
Yes! Big signs of affection are great, but even just a small purchase flags an audience member as someone who is dedicated to you. The ring that came from the 25-cent gumball machine is just as sweet a sign of appreciation.
Generally, you want to offer someone a low-risk offer under $10 to see if you are meant for each other. Writing a book and giving it away for free-plus-shipping is one of the better marketing tactics. Books are a great way to introduce your world to your future fans, and you can market your business throughout the book. Build a case as to why your new fan absolutely needs what you offer in her life!
Once you’ve gotten someone to raise their hand and say, “yes, I’m interested in what you’ve got” by purchasing a small something-or-other from you, you then want to have a plan in place to lead them up what is called the value ladder.
On the value ladder, you have entry-level products that range from free to exclusive. At the bottom you might have a free podcast, free class, or free consultation, and then after that the low-cost book or white paper. Then you might have a mini-course or day-long event. After which you offer a full-blown course or industry event. At the top of the ladder, you might offer exclusive one-on-one coaching or maybe a Mustang with all the bells and whistles.
(I always wanted a green Mustang. Every time we got that big envelope from Publisher’s Clearing House I always gently tore out the green Mustang sticker and pasted it in the box as the prize I was going to win.)
You might think that the buyers journey/marketing funnel ends here. But that is not the case!
The final step is when you get a fan to fall so much in love with your brand that they become your unofficial spokespeople.5. Tell their friends and family about you.
Yes, this is the final step. Every time someone gushes about you on social or in email, make sure to get screenshots to share as future testimonials.
I am way more likely to eat at your food truck if my best friend posts on social that she just had the most amazing taco of her life at the park near the duck pond. This is how your brand will spread, remember that word of mouth thing I mentioned in Step 1?
You’ve made it this far, so hop on over to my Facebook page and tell me one new thing you learned about this whole promotional journey that you had never thought about before. What are your next steps for implementing in your business?