It’s Time to Flip the Marketing Funnel

Whether you’re marketing your own business or someone else’s, chances are you’re familiar with marketing funnels. Also known as a sales funnel, a marketing funnel is a model that illustrates the consumer’s journey. In theory, a marketing funnel lets you know what your business must do to influence clients or customers at each stage. It begins with brand awareness and consideration, and it either ends with a purchase decision or extends to ensuring brand loyalty.

From this model, a philosophy was born: the philosophy that your marketing efforts need to reach a large number of people in order to convert a few. Many businesses grew from this philosophy: most notably, click funnel type software solutions, which include a series of pages that lead to an invitation.

Prospects often enter a click funnel through a link on a social media post, a paid search ad or an email. The link takes the prospect to a landing page specific to a product or service, where they are then asked to click through several more pages. If you’ve ever clicked an ad for a product on Facebook, you’ve experienced this. You click through pop-ups asking you to subscribe, deals encouraging you to purchase one product or several, before finally reaching the page where you make your final purchase decision. A conversion at the end of a click funnel might invite you to register for an event, a webinar, a program or a course. These items usually require payment but are sometimes offered for free.

Website design page on a laptop

Marketing funnels are time consuming to create and implement. But we believe “It’s Time to Flip the Marketing Funnel” with a different, easier and — for many — more enjoyable way to market your business.

If you’re an entrepreneur trying to market your business with click funnel type software, prospects will notice you; after all, you’re paying for expensive ads and sending out endless emails to drive prospects to your landing page. That said, while marketing funnels do have their place, “trip wires,” up-sells, down-sells and one-time-offers are not the best ways to market most businesses.

Maybe you’ve invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours only to realize that funnels don’t work well for your business…or, maybe you’re holding onto the belief that you’ve cracked the funnel’s code. Either way, take a moment to consider this alternative strategy to make your marketing work for you.

Four women discussing business at a tableThink back to when you started your business. How did you find your first clients? For the vast majority of entrepreneurs, their first clients were either those with whom they were already acquainted or those they were referred to by people they knew. The point being, these clients already liked and trusted you, or they were introduced to you by someone who already liked and trusted you. Chances are, for at least your first year of business, you probably gained more than 50% of your clients in this way. For Prosper for Purpose, 100% of our business during the first year was from referrals, and those referrals helped the agency hit multiple six figures in a matter of months.

However, what often happens to done-for-you service providers is that, by year three, organic referrals no longer occur. That’s when many business owners panic and decide they need to employ all the trendy marketing tools and tactics. What those businesses overlook is that they used to get referrals simply by talking to people they knew about starting their business…and they could still be gaining referrals and growing their revenue by going to their core base: their customers, prospects and referral partners. In essence, they began the referral process by being excited and passionate about launching a business, but once the clients started rolling in, they forgot to keep up the hype to continue that process.

The first category in the flipped funnel involves cultivating your one-to-one relationships and growing your audience from there. Relationship marketing is based on the idea that your highest priority prospects are your current clients, followed by your former clients and, lastly, the people you previously invited to be your clients but, for whatever reason, didn’t accept. In the traditional model, these are the bottom layers of the marketing funnel. But when you flip the funnel and change your focus, you can worry less about the quantity of your leads because the quality of your leads is so much better.

Begin with your current clients. Whether you’re offering “done for you” services, consulting or coaching, consider what else your clients need to achieve greater success. If you run a mentorship program, perhaps your clients could benefit from private coaching sessions, a VIP day or even a retreat. If you provide one-to-one services, consider offering an additional service or an enhancement to your current services. If you can’t think of anything else your clients need, reach out to them for their thoughts on what else they could use help with.

Next, contact your former clients. See how they’ve been since you worked together, ask for feedback and look for opportunities. They might surprise you by saying, “I’m so glad you reached out! I’ve been thinking about calling you.” If their response isn’t quite that enthusiastic, it’s still a good idea to touch base and keep yourself on their radar so they’ll think of you whenever they do need help. It also allows you the opportunity to ask if they know anyone who could benefit from what your business has to offer.

Finally, contact your past prospects who didn’t become clients or customers and ask how business has been since you last connected. Make the interaction personal by referencing a specific issue or goal they had and ask how they’re progressing.

The second category in the flipped funnel is referrals. Referral partners are people who serve the same ideal client that you serve, but they offer a different type of service. Examples of good referral partners for our agency are businesses that offer solutions in SEO, digital advertising and sales. The best referral partners have common clients that they serve in different ways. They can vet one another and refer prospects back and forth. The leads are warm and, therefore, easier to bring in as clients.

Two women sitting at a table talkingThe overall idea behind the flipped funnel approach is that you build relationships by offering value and generating a spirit of reciprocity. The short term benefits to this approach include less tech, (usually) less time and fewer expenses. Of course, there are also long-term gains. When you serve people in a way that’s more personal, current clients stay with you longer and refer you to more people, former clients return or refer you to others, prospects who didn’t convert the first time often end up as clients, and referral partners send you warm leads.

Leads that come in through the top of a traditional marketing funnel are cold and often don’t turn out to be the right fit. In contrast, leads gained through the top of a flipped funnel will be better suited for your business.

Check back for more posts on the flipped funnel approach.

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