Start with the End in Mind

Now that you know what your prospects want, you’re ready to start creating your products and services right?!  Before you start consider the following question:

What are the intended results you want to achieve with each of the products and services in your funnel?

It’s beneficial to determine this before creating or offering the product or service as your answers will influence your marketing strategy.

For example, you may offer a free audio as an incentive for website visitors to join your ezine. If you want to introduce your subscribers to your expertise and style, you may choose to give away the audio of a teleclass that gives subscribers three or four action steps they can take to start resolving their challenge. If you want to introduce subscribers to the first product in your funnel, you may offer a sampler audio of that product. If this product is an ebook, then you could offer a free chapter instead of an audio.

This complimentary item may be in the form of an ebook, audio, video, ecourse, membership trial, or combination of these.   These incentives can also be used to entice people to follow you on Twitter or other social media sites. Your freebie needs to have a compelling title that invokes the curiousity of the reader. We’re bombarded with messages all day long so you need to stand out and catch your visitor’s attention. The item has to contain valuable content that is related to the challenge the person is trying to resolve.

Some people create a free ebook and encourage others to pass it on to their friends and colleagues. Usually you’ll find links inside that promote their lead product, their other products and services, or affiliate products. If it’s a brandable ebook, affiliates replace the original links with their affiliate links for the products and services. That way they can give the ebook away to their list and get credited for any sales.

In 2000, Seth Godin first released “Unleashing the Ideavirus” as a pdf ebook in exchange for a name and email address. He gave away over 200,000 free copies before a hard cover edition was even available. When this self-published version was released for sale online, eight weeks after he started giving away the free ebooks, 26000 copies were sold in three weeks.

As you can see, there are many different strategies for how to set up the top of your funnel.

Build a Relationship via Your Ezine

Once someone has subscribed to your list or ezine (and thereby entered your funnel), the next step is to develop a relationship with your subscribers. You do this by delivering quality content in your ezine on a regular basis. If you only send your ezine out periodically, it’s easy for your subscribers to forget who you are and report the email as spam.  Let your personality show so people get to know you. While some people will purchase your products right away, most will want to get a taste of what you offer and your style. Remember to weave in offers for your products and services in your ezine.

Some of you may be thinking, “but I don’t want to be pushy or keep selling to my subscribers.” Time for a perspective shift. If you have a product or service that can truly help your prospect resolve their challenge or answer their questions about an issue – which is likely how they found your site in the first place – you’re doing a disservice if you don’t let them know about it.

You don’t need to be pushy. This can be done tastefully and subtly. I recall authour Cheryl Richardson sharing she did this at the end of her free monthly teleclass by stating that she had a few coaching spaces open. There is an art and a science to obtaining the right balance of the two.

What About Follow-up Messages?

In addition to your ezine, you may decide to send a series of follow-up messages to new subscribers to your ezine. The purpose of these emails is to support the subscriber to read or listen to your freebie and to remind them or even introduce them to your products or services and how they can support them to solve their challenge.

The first email would contain the link to the page where the person can download the free audio etc. that you offer. The next couple of emails can support or encourage your new subscriber to read or listen to the freebie.  If you’ve ever downloaded a report that you intended to read later but forgot, you can see the benefit of this type of follow-up message.  You may also point out parts of the report or audio that you think are important. Of course, you also need to include links to your product but these can be woven in naturally or included in the p.s.

Some people may consider the second email and beyond spam, as they never asked to be subscribed to a series of follow-up messages – just your ezine. You could state in the first email how many emails are in the series of follow-up messages and your reason for sending them. Let the person know they can unsubscribe at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link. Always include a link at the bottom of each email so people can unsubscribe.

On the next level of your funnel, you have lower priced items for sale. Once someone makes a purchase, send them a series of automated follow-up messages. The first email would let the purchaser know how to download the product and include trouble-shooting instructions. The next couple of emails could support the purchaser to maximize their use of the product (especially if it’s software). In one email you could send them an unadvertised bonus. In a later email you could recommend a related product or service to the purchaser. This approach can also be used on subsequent levels of your funnel.

As you can probably guess, there are a variety of strategies and philosophies about follow-up messages (purpose, frequency, content etc.) so you’ll need to choose the right one for your business and your subscribers. If in doubt, keep it simple.

I’ve tried several autoresponder programs, including those that are bundled with shopping carts. The one I use and highly recommend is aweber. It’s a third-party service, meaning the software is hosted and managed by the company on their servers. I’ll write more about autoresponders in a future post.

Until then, plan your funnel!

Part 1 of the Series: Creating a Funnel for Your Coaching Business

For Part 2 of the Series: What Do Your Prospective Clients Want?

2 thoughts on “Start with the End in Mind

  1. Adrian S. Arnold

    You are awesome. I have been coaching for five years. I now what to have professional certification. I am exploring my options. You information is simple, practice, and user friendly. Hats off to you. You have inspired me in so many positive ways. I just completed research on coaching programs but am exhausted. I am in Georgia and will attend an GCA meeting June 13 in ATL. I have been blessed to receive personal testimonies from about 7 different coaches that share their decisions to choose one program over another. Certification is a must. I just want one best for me and my finances…smile…Any thoughts, suggestions?

  2. Sue Post author

    There are different types of certification – those offered by coaching training schools and those offered by associations. If you are already a skilled coach, you could look at the skill-based certification offered by the International Association of Coaching (IAC). You may still need some coach training in order to master your skills and obtain their certification.

    You mention that obtaining certification is a must but you don’t say why. Currently there are no regulations requiring a coach to have certification. If you wish to work as an executive or corporate coach the hiring company may require you to be certified. Find out if they require or prefer a certain type of certification. Are you clients asking you if you have certification?

    You said that you just completed your research of some coaching programs and that you have testimonies from several coaches. Asking other coaches is a great step to take. In order to narrow your choices consider: your preferred learning style, the skills you want to learn, the school’s coaching philosophy etc. If you’re in a specific niche, you may want to consider niche specific training.

    In my How to Become a Coach ebook it takes two chapters to cover coaching and certification. So I can only cover some of the basics in response to your question here.

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