If you’ve been in the entrepreneurial space for a little while you will have no doubt heard people throw in the word ‘funnel’ around. Often with little to no explanation of what that really is, or worse they use it as a plug for their product or service and make it sound complicated. As we all know, complicated is impractical.
What is a funnel?
When marketers and entrepreneurs say funnel they don’t mean the kitchen implement. Funnel is just a marketing term for a visual representation of the journey that your customer goes on. Specifically, the journey from first making contact, to being a paying customer. That journey can be broken down into three main stages. Each stage filters out people who are not likely to buy from you, or are not ready yet.
You have probably heard of things like landing pages, clickfunnels, and so on. These things are tools, they are not the funnel itself. They are also not at all required. They have their place but they do not serve as a replacement for a funnel. A funnel can take many forms and use many (or none) different tools
Stage 1: The top of the funnel
The top of the funnel, the first stage, is the awareness stage. It is where they become aware of you, the problem that they have, they become aware of the potential for solutions, of who you are and how that relates to them. That awareness can be built through your social media content, through your blog, through your interactions with people, through your marketing campaigns, through lead magnets and freebies, and so on. If you think about all the times that you’ve downloaded a free PDF or ebook and have been put onto someone’s mailing list, you have entered their funnel at the very top. You have taken that first step on the journey, you have made contact with their ecosystem. While lots of people use freebies it doesn’t always have to be free, the actual, whether it’s free or not is irrelevant. Stage one is the first contact you have with that brand.
Stage 1 of the funnel, the top, is the stage that is most densely populated. And it’s the bit that people start with, procrastinate over, and often stop when they are attempting to build their funnel. So, as previously mentioned, the top of your funnel, that’s things like your content on social media, your freebies that you’re giving away (lead magnets), your blogs, podcasts, YouTube channel, your whatever it may be. That’s the first point of contact where people go from, “I have no idea who you are,” to, “Oh, you’re that chap. Okay.”
So the first part of the funnel, stage one, the top, is all about building awareness. Awareness of you, your product, and/or your service, the problem that they have, and your skill set or expertise.
Stage 2: The middle of the funnel
Next, we have the middle part of the funnel, the research stage. This is where you nurture the relationship and educate the prospect. So at this point, the person, the potential customer, has decided that they are experiencing a problem that they might want to fix or find a solution for. And that solution could come in many different forms. They are looking into what the potential types of solutions could be.
You have brought them into your world by providing that freebie or they’ve seen your content, or whatever. So they’re on your mailing list, they are following your social media, or they are in reasonably regular contact with the information that you’re putting out into the world. So now we need to move them further along and guide them towards a sale.
Ready, aim, deploy
That is where more targeted content comes into play. Let’s say, for the sake of example, they’re on your mailing list. They’ve received that freebie to get them on the list, that was the first stage of the funnel. Then you are going to send them emails over a period of time, to nurture those people, to get them feeling comfortable with you, getting them feeling comfortable with your particular type of solution for their problem, and educate them on how things could be if they had implemented a solution. You’re going to do that by talking about the problem, how you solve the problem, the people that you’ve solved it for, and the impact that you’ve had on people when you solve that problem.
Building a solid foundation
Because you have an ideal customer profile in place you are going to use this stage of the funnel to show the people going through it that you understand them, the dynamic of their life, how they think, and how they feel. That understanding goes a long way towards creating a strong and healthy relationship between you and them and you are going to, in that time, also build up trust and likability.
So that is the middle stage of the funnel, the research stage, the nurture and education stage. The potential customer is looking for the different types of solutions that exist for the problem that they experience. That is your opportunity to provide them with some much more targeted content to ensure that they get a good idea of what a solution looks like for them and a good understanding of your solution. Your solution to their problem and how that is going to change the way that they feel.
Stage 3: The bottom of the funnel
The final stage of the funnel is where the person is the potential customer is looking for a solution to implement. So they have signed up for your freebie, they have enjoyed your content, and they now have a good idea about what a solution looks like for them. So this is your opportunity to be the person to provide that solution.
You are going to provide them with a solution by simply asking them. You’re going to ask them to take action on that problem and you’re going to put forward your solution. The first and second stages of the funnel have already built some measure of trust and likability. The customer has already decided that you’re a good fit for them. You are who they want in their world and they’re already in your
This is your opportunity to ask them to take action, “Are you ready to take action and resolve the problem that you have? Are you ready to feel better about your life? Are you ready to improve your situation?”
At this point, something that you can do is to highlight the dangers of not implementing a solution and provide them with information about how to actually implement the solution that you’re going to sell to them because it’s all well and good saying buy this thing, but they need to know what to do with it. More often than not, people want to know what they’ve got to do with it before they buy it. People don’t buy things blindly, or not very often. This is your opportunity to give them an in-depth understanding of how to implement your solution and provide them with some (at least three) good reasons why they should.
Be bold, be assertive, be confident
At this stage, you need to talk to them with confidence. Well, you need to talk to them with confidence all the way along but at this point you need to talk to them with confidence that they are going to buy from you. Talk to them as if they have already decided. Be careful though, you don’t want to be arrogant in your delivery. You just need to be sure of yourself because that puts them at ease and it makes them feel comfortable. And, most importantly for you, it also helps them come to the decision to actually buy from you. It makes it feel like it was their decision to buy from you, and that it has nothing to do with the journey that you’ve taken them on. The way that you speak to them, the confidence with which you deliver that message to them, will help them feel good about that decision. It will help them feel like it’s the right, if not the only, decision for them. And then they’ll buy.
There you have it, funnels explained and (hopefully) simplified
And that is a marketing and sales funnel, explained and simplified. It’s not a complicated thing, it’s really not. In fact, nothing could be simpler. Funnels are an indispensable resource for your business. It is how you generate custom and create income. Funnels form the foundations of all healthy businesses and they do the heavy lifting when it comes to creating satisfied customers.
Don’t rush, let your funnel do its work
There is an issue with funnels because lots of people will say such things don’t work. And the issue that they have tends to fall with the middle stage of their funnel. If you went around and asked marketers, copywriters and entrepreneurs, how long they run that middle stage of their funnel, most will say, a week or two, around eight to 10 days I believe is the average. But the average sale comes 30 to 50 days after the initial contact with your funnel. So, after stage one of your funnel, a fairly long time passes before that person becomes a customer. Your middle stage, your research stage, needs to be long and engaging. It needs to keep them on the hook all that time.
That is the bit that trips people up the most because they often want to rush that stage. If you met someone in a bar then went out for one date, would you ask them to marry you and expect them to agree? I certainly hope not. Business is no different.
Slowly and carefully does it
The top of the funnel, the first point of contact, is over in a flash. That part is really quick and fuelled by lust. To some extent, so is stage three, the bottom of the funnel. The looking for a solution stage. When you get to that point, it feels like it’s just happened.
To get to that stage you need to make sure that your middle stage is nice and long. You need to keep them at that stage and nurture them properly, especially if your product is a high ticket product or service. When I say high ticket what I mean is, It’s expensive and it requires a reasonable investment. So you need to nurture them properly, otherwise when you bring them to the bottom of your funnel and they’re not ready yet. They’re not actually looking for a solution and your suggestion to buy and implement your solution at best falls on deaf ears and, at worst, makes them feel like you are pushy. Then they end up on your weekly (monthly, or whatever) newsletter, or they end up fading away in the background in your social media audience and never buy from you at all.
Funnels crafted for your ideal customer
I mentioned before about having an ideal customer profile which may have left you scratching your head, wondering what the hell I am even on about. Well, that is something I can explain to you in-depth, or more accurately, have already written about. Because I have already written about it I won’t repeat myself, instead, I will direct you towards the piece I wrote on that very topic. https://mybizacademy.co.uk/ideal-customer-profile-understanding-and-implementing
If you would like some help creating your funnel then you can contact me through my company website and I will happily book you in for a 1:1 session to help you get it sorted. You can do that by clicking the following link https://mikethebizguy.co.uk/Contact