How would you describe your business growth?
The fact is that no matter where you are in your business growth, whether your business is pulling down 8-figures or just getting started, whether you are an owner or a marketing director, you are likely facing – and fretting – some combination of these scenarios.
We’ve all heard the stats: 80% of businesses fail in the first 18 months… and half of the rest are shuttered within 5 years.
The fear that this might happen to you keeps you up at night… and creeps into your day, too, right? And that creates a vicious cycle. It’s hard to focus on growth when you’re focused on staying afloat.
But there is some good news in that doom and gloom… 10% of businesses survive and thrive for 10 years or more!
We believe that those thriving businesses have been successful where others failed because they mastered Growth Optimization.
In our years of growing our own successful businesses, and helping many clients grow theirs, we noticed commonalities and patterns, which we have put together into this system we call Growth Optimization. It’s the framework we use to help our clients produce scalable, lasting growth, grounded in the core “evergreen” features of their business and market, but with the built-in flexibility to adapt and change.
It doesn’t rely on beta-technology, reinventing your business, or short-lived marketing fads. It relies instead on the one constant in any successful business: customer relationships.
In fact, it’s the same system that successful companies like Starbucks, Apple, and others use. It works for businesses of all sizes and industries – for coaches and consultants, for service businesses and ecommerce stores – because it directly impacts the only three ways to grow any business (as per legendary marketer Jay Abraham):
- Increasing the number of customers
- Increasing the average transaction value per customer
- Increasing the number of transactions per customer
Growth Optimization accomplishes all of this through connecting – or creating – core business components to develop a big-picture strategy for generating, building and deepening customer relationships.
It translates the way humans interact in the real world to the digital world, regardless of the medium or platform.
Bottom line: Growth Optimization enables you to generate consistent, predictable revenue now – and create a platform for sustained growth in the future.
Learn Growth Optimization
Before we get started, we recommend that you download our Growth Optimization Quickstart Guide. Feel free to write all over it. Share it with your team. Wallpaper your office with it if you like…. The point is… It’s yours to use!
Keep in mind: Growth Optimization isn’t a funnel. It’s a system of connected components. Each part builds the success of the others.
We will go into detail on each of them in a bit, but here are the seven components:
- Attention Drivers
- Lead Generator
- Sales Qualifier
- Core Offer
- Profit Maximizers
- Nurture Paths
- Authority Builders
Pay careful attention because this process applies to any industry or vertical you can imagine. We have used it to successfully grow businesses including: veterinarians, plastic surgeons, IT integrators, cooking schools, coaches, consultants, makeup artists, luxury travel agents… to name just a few.
We help our 6, 7, and 8-figure private clients using the same structure we lay out for you below.
In this post, we’ll take you through all the components and offer many actionable tips for you to get started. It’s not a 5-minute read, so sit back, grab some coffee and get ready for a value firehose. Don’t worry… at the end we will show you how to make this all so much easier. (But don’t skip around, there are gems throughout.)
So, before we get into the weeds, let’s start with…
“Ugh. Did you just say planning?” …Said every client ever.
We get it. If you are like most people, you’re eager to get started generating leads and making sales.
But without a plan, you are guaranteed to end up where you started – or worse, a lot poorer than when you started. Therefore, the first step in Growth Optimization is a deep dive into your business that will set you up for growth and scale.
Growth Planning is all about answering the tough questions so you can discover where your greatest opportunities lie and start to truly scale.
We encourage clients to think big when it comes to potential new buyers. You might be used to warm leads who know what they want and are only concerned with price points and features. Think bigger.
Growth optimization provides opportunities to reach people who don’t even know they need or want your product (yet) and to ascend them to a purchase. In an ideal world, who would you serve?
Think about your ideal customers:
- Why are they buying what you have to offer?
- What are their fears?
- What are their desires?
- How does your flagship product transform their lives?
Think also about where and how you can grow:
- Which existing areas in your business can be best optimized for growth and scale right now?
- Which new growth opportunities exist for you to target next?
- Where do your ideal clients spend their time and what messages will speak to them?
Here’s how you can start to tackle your own Growth Plan:
- Identifying your ideal buyer avatar – why do they buy and how does your product transform their lives?
- Getting clear on what you are really selling: What is the transformation you offer?
- Where can you best reach that audience?
- Is anyone else offering similar products or services as you, and how?
Once you’ve fully answered the core questions about your clients and your market, and what exactly you are offering them, you will have a solid basis for moving ahead with optimizing your growth.
Now, let’s look at the seven core components of Growth Optimization.
Before anyone can hear your message, you need to get their attention. That is the job of the Attention Driver.
Think of the inflatable waving tube men outside of car washes, or skywriting advertising jet ski rentals on the beach. These are classic offline attention drivers.
What makes them work as attention drivers is that they direct large numbers of people to your business and develop the audiences that will listen to your message.
But where these examples would fail when translated online is that they don’t provide a whole lot of value. Ideal Attention Drivers must provide some value in the form of entertainment, information or education – or they quickly get lost in the shuffle and won’t necessarily get you the type of lead you will want.
A well-crafted Attention Driver creates and warms up audiences that will be incredibly useful later on. It’s a way to invest in developing customers at a lower price point in the long-term by reaching audiences of potential buyers and generating buzz and engagement in the short-term.
Some examples of ideal attention drivers include: a podcast on your area of expertise, a buzz-worthy social media campaign (think “ice bucket challenge”), or a value-filled video teaching one specific element of your training.
The keys to success at this stage are 1) to get your message in front of a highly-targeted audience of potential customers (that you can retarget later with even more highly-targeted touches) 2) to deliver content that is relevant, timely and useful to that audience and 3) to establish rapport and a strong first impression with your brand and your business.
One Attention Driver method we’ve found particularly effectively lately is Facebook Video Ads. They’re a very cheap (as in 1 cent per view – or less sometimes!) and an extremely powerful way to introduce your business or your offering to huge, targeted audiences that have never heard of you.
We recently ran a product launch for one of our clients, Lisa Sasevich, using video to warm up an audience 470,000 potential (targeted) buyers.
The video is fun. It’s engaging. Most importantly, it’s useful for Lisa’s audience of entrepreneurs. It’s an incredible initial contact with her brand that helped her generate over 7 figures for her business.
Here are the critical actions to take to create your Attention Driver:
- Figure out where your customers are hanging out and how to target them. Make sure you’re using a channel where you can easily reach many of them (think 500k+) and retarget them with later touches. This is often Facebook or YouTube.
- Create valuable, buzz-worthy (shareable) content that also shows off who you are.
- Introduce your brand, business or product to large, cold audiences through paid ad campaigns.
- Ads allow you to be hyper-targeted and create the predictability and scale for reaching new audiences that every business needs to thrive.
Of course, it’s great to have millions of people love your company. But you will be leaving a lot of value on the table without capturing their information with a solid…
Leads are the lifeblood of every business.
The success or failure of your business hinges greatly upon your ability to generate new leads predictably and at scale over the long term.
So, how do you do it?
Here’s the typical structure for digital lead generation:
- An ad – on Facebook, Google, Linkedin or another platform – promising a great entry-point offer that only your ideal buyers would be interested in.
- The ad viewer clicks through to a landing page, with an offer specific to that audience and aligned with the ad.
- The landing page persuades the user to offer their email address or other information in exchange for the lead magnet, which is free but highly valuable content that gives a specific piece of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information.
To be clear, while no money is changing hands, this is a transaction. Prospects are providing their contact info – and allowing you to contact them – in exchange for that piece of content, so that content must have an equal or greater value in their mind.
As this is often the first transaction you will have with someone, it will influence their judgment of your value to them. Provide an “under promise, over deliver” experience with the lead magnet, and leads are likely to assume you will do the same if they hire you.
It can take some investment and tinkering to get it right. Some key factors that often impact the success of your lead generator are:
- Finding the channel your ideal customers are hanging out on, and figuring out how to target them
- Crafting the perfect message
- Designing a landing page design that converts… and, of course
- Delivering content your customers value.
Without serious consideration and testing of each of these steps, you might have a success or two but you won’t have a scalable system that will work with new products, on different channels, and with additional lead magnets for separate customer segments or stages of the customer journey.
The exact combination that works for each business might be different but the principles remain the same. Here are a few examples:
Life guru Tony Robbins offers a free 30-minute coaching call on his website. While that’s a high level of commitment early on in a relationship, if you have the time, a free session with a prospective client can be successful.
Tony clearly has the team to handle this, but it’s not for everyone. Most companies – especially time-crunched companies with less capacity – instead choose to automate the value they offer in their lead generation stage.
Sales master Zig Ziglar’s company offers ‘Five Free Life-Changing Tools’. That’s great value in exchange for someone’s name, email, etc.
Meanwhile, Neurogym – a company that sells ‘technologies for helping people expand their mental and emotional power’ – concentrates on its product value by using ungated quizzes to generate leads. People who complete their ‘Money Quiz’ are offered a free guide with specific tips tailored to their situation, in exchange for their contact information.
The quizzes draw people in because they’re short, easy, and engaging and the lead generation landing page (called an opt-in page) captures the lead’s information by offering specific and important value.
There’s no cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all solution. These examples are right for their ideal customers and business. Here’s how you can create a lead generator that does the same for yours:
- Identify the bare-minimum information you need from every lead. (first name, email, phone, etc)
- Consider what you’re willing and able to pay for each lead. On Facebook this should be $6 or less, with the goal of reaching between $3.50 and $2.00 once things are dialed in.
- Yes, it is certainly possible to generate leads for even less than $2 on Facebook. These benchmarks are good “baseline” numbers to shoot for across many industries and scenarios. This is also not a rule. If you’re paying $12/lead and have a 5x return on ad spend – $12/lead is not bad. (More on this in another post…)
- Create a system for offering a valuable lead magnet that your ideal customers will want in exchange for their contact information.
- This should include an ad to power the lead generation, a lead magnet to attract those leads, and a way (ideally automated) to convert and follow up with those leads so that you can both deliver the lead magnet and market to them in the future.
- Make sure every element of your lead generator works seamlessly and congruently. In nearly all cases this should be 100% automated.
That said, the internet is a big space – and targeting can only take you so far. It’s inevitable you’ll attract leads who either aren’t a good fit or just aren’t willing to commit right now. You will want to filter out the right leads and ascend them to a purchase with a …
This might sound obvious, but…
When leads are properly qualified, they’re exponentially more likely to buy.
That’s what the Sales Qualifier is all about.
When done right, it will nurture (warm) leads while simultaneously segmenting those who are ready to move to the next stage and buy.
The key is to generate commitment from the lead – in terms of money, time or energy – that effectively changes the nature of the relationship. Turning a lead who is “just looking” into a qualified potential customer.
This can be in the form of a webinar, a book, an email series, or other entry-point offers, depending on your specific business.
The meditation app Headspace, for example, offers a free 10-day program as their Sales Qualifier. Once you’ve completed all 10 meditation lessons, they know there’s a good chance you’ll be ready to subscribe to the paid version.
Here is another example from a different industry. ‘Maggie’ just bought a career coaching package from one of our clients who specializes in high-ticket executive training.
Maggie became a lead through a campaign we ran for our client on LinkedIn.
She received our client’s lead magnet – a free report – and downloaded it immediately. Over the next week, our automation campaign sent her three emails referencing blog posts. She clicked through to two of them, indicating her genuine interest.
When our client offered a webinar, she attended. During the webinar, our client pitched a follow-up call to attendees.
Maggie scheduled the call, attended, and converted to a high-ticket sale!
Do you see how it was the customer who demonstrated her commitment at every step of the journey?
All our client had to offer was something valuable (content in this case) and Maggie realized on her own it was worth the commitment. Because our client proved his value to Maggie, and Maggie proved her interest, the sale was much simpler and more natural.
You can create your own Sales Qualifier by:
- Determining the commitment a lead needs to demonstrate so you know they’re ready for your Core Offer – this may be time or money or both
- Developing the content or process that would warm a lead to your Core Offer
- Creating a path for your lead that simultaneously delivers valuable, persuasive content while generating commitment of time/energy or financial investment
Of course, you’ll need to demonstrate (even to highly-qualified leads) that the ideal solution to their problem at this time is your…
Your Core Offer is your flagship product or service, the one you sell most often… your bread and butter.
You may have more than one core offer, but for the purposes of any individual marketing funnel, you will want to identify one and only one. That does not mean you only have one product or service that you sell, but only one that you designate as your core offer.
For example, we have a client that sells corporate training. Their core offer is a seat in a three-day course that sells for around $3k. All of their marketing is geared toward getting people into these courses, even though they also sell large group courses for 10x that amount and more. Their bread and butter service which they can sell day in and day out is a seat in the three-day course.
Once someone is in the course, they can offer them upsells and cross-sells and if a lead is not right for the course, they have downsells. But the course is the focus.
Your Core Offer needs to make sense to those who have seen your attention driver, consumed your lead magnet and crossed the sales qualifier hurdle. In other words, it should feel like the natural next step for them.
You also need to ensure that your Core Offer has the appropriate messaging and positioning to present it as uniquely yours. This allows you to offer something that literally no one else has to offer, effectively making you the only choice. There can be no comparison shopping because they would be comparing apples to oranges.
How do you do this?
First, ensure that your Core Offer is in alignment with your methodology, and encompasses a piece of it. For example, if you are a sales coach, your Core Offer could be a three day workshop on creating the ideal sales talk. If you are selling online software, your Core Offer could be the mid-priced tier of your three tiers.
Next, name the Core Offer something that speaks to the promise of the offer, as well as builds on the previous components, so that the Core Offer is the next logical step for a prospect to take. After consuming content on speaking, selling and creating a sales talk, offering a workshop on actually creating that talk titled or subtitled “Creating Your 6-Figure Sales Talk” makes absolute sense.
Finally, price according to the value provided. Here is where many people get weak knees and give up, but stick with us. If you are offering a program that produces transformation in a client’s ability to close sales, for example, how much is that worth? It’s not just the time you spend on that program with the client, but your years of experience creating that process and program, as well as the potential increase in sales for that client. Your price must reflect that or perceived value will suffer.
There’s one primary reason why qualified prospects don’t buy (yet): the perceived value of your solution hasn’t yet eclipsed the pain of their current problem.
Here are a few ways to optimize the conversion of your Core Offer:
- Ensure that you make an ask at the end of the Sales Qualifier stage (i.e., at the end of a webinar). If you don’t ask for the sale, far fewer people will buy.
- Create the perfect email sequence or sequences to give qualified leads reasons and opportunities to buy – using a sense of urgency and authority to frame your value proposition.
- Optimize the core offer landing page (or your phone sales strategy) for maximum conversions.
- Develop a cart abandon recovery system (often email) that entices people to complete their purchase. (They didn’t say no. Chances are they just got busy!)
A Core Offer purchase will often be the beginning of the monetary relationship with your customer. Your Core Offer customers will form the base of your revenue and the platform for your long-term growth. They should be given plenty of opportunities to buy additional products, also known as…
The most expensive and hardest part of acquiring a client is over. You’ve taken a lead out from the cold and transformed them into a committed customer who trusts and values your company. Do not underestimate the value and power of this.
From here on, the investment required to sell additional products to the same customers is usually less. What you want to do now is maximize the profit you receive from your new customers at little, if any, extra cost. We, naturally, call these offers your Profit Maximizers. 😉
There are business models that focus exclusively on Profit Maximizers. A classic example is movie theaters: they break even on tickets and make nearly all their profit on concessions.
What could you offer to further transform the lives (or businesses) of your current customers? What would get the customer to their desired transformation faster or with less effort?
One of our clients is a professional coaching company that offers an online training course as its Core Offer. The course content is great on its own, but buyers are immediately offered the chance to get the most out of it by purchasing tickets to an event with in-person training and the chance to network with other customers and members of their community.
At the event, our client maximizes profit even further by offering a high-ticket mastery program for the most dedicated customers, among other offers.
Of course, the remaining leads – the folks who aren’t ready to buy the newest training course must not be left behind. There are many people who engage with every step of the product launch but don’t buy.
So, after a product launch is over, they are offered a down-sell – an item priced less than the core offer. The down-sell is intentionally designed to get them only “part of the way” to the transformation they would have received by having the core offer.
The success of post-launch down-sell campaigns can significantly increase the profitability of a launch and can generate substantial revenue in their own right.
Developing an effective Profit Maximizer strategy is an ongoing project that’s going to evolve with new Core Offer products and changing customer interests. Here’s what you can do to get started:
- Organize your customers into segments and determine which additional products will help them get the most out of what you already offer or achieve the desired transformation faster or with less effort.
- If you don’t have any products or services other than your Core Offer, think about what you could create that would fit the bill – maybe a faster outcome, or additional support or personal attention/access. Think, “What do my customers need most that they would trust me to deliver?”
- Decide appropriate times, methods, and messages to offer the Profit Maximizer(s).
- Sell both up and down – depending on your offer. Remember not to neglect the almost-customers: leads who came close to buying and may be interested in a down-sell.
In each of these components, the crucial ingredients are timing and relevance. Many leads will purchase your Core Offer and go on to buy a Profit Maximizer, but often they’ll wait. In fact, up to 90% of your eventual buyers may not buy on the first touch. Until they do, you absolutely must continue to seed and build your relationship using …
Can you relate?…
A friend calls every so often, but only when they need something. Chances are you did them the favor the first two or three times. Eventually though, you probably stopped picking up the phone. Who wants a relationship that only “takes, takes, takes”…?
It’s the same thing when companies only email their list with offers. Who wants to buy from a company that only sees people as ATMs?
Unfortunately, it is far too common – even with major retailers – to see companies that concentrate exclusively on short-term gains instead of nurturing leads and customers that are the long-term future of their business.
People aren’t going to buy all the time or every time you ask… and that’s okay.
You still need to find ways to engage both leads and current customers, and nurture them (gently) over time to ascend to the next stage of their buying and relationship with your business.
Luckily, there have never been more ways to keep in touch with customers. Blogs, email newsletters, podcasts, and organic social media all offer excellent nurture paths for folks who have gotten stuck along the customer journey.
Getting Things Done – David Allen’s company offering products on work-life management – offers a podcast that supports customers at every stage of their GTD practice. The podcast offers stories and practical tips that connect buyers to products, keeping them engaged in the community until they’re ready to buy again.
One of our favorite nurture paths comes from the nonprofit world. The Central Park Conservancy’s Twitter feed offers absolutely beautiful images of the park. It’s like spending a day there.
Would we follow them if they just asked for donations all the time? Absolutely not.
Instead, they offer free value, nurturing us to a contribution by reminding us how great Central Park is, once or twice a day. Only every once in awhile do they ask us to donate and of course, sometimes we do. 🙂
To create Nurture Paths that that engage your leads and customers and prepare them to purchase, remember these key points:
- Nurture Paths mean not (always) asking for anything. Or, at least, doing so rarely on some channels. They are ways to demonstrate what a swell, generous company you are, deliver free value, and build community among your leads and customers so they’ll stay engaged as they prepare to ascend.
- There are many, many channels – such as blogs, podcasts and email newsletters – that can serve as Nurture Paths, each best for different types of content. No need to limit yourself to just one or take on everything all at once.
- Think about what content can add value to your customers’ and leads’ experiences.
- Remember that Nurture Paths can focus on multiple stages of the customer journey at once. For example, a blog can offer content for leads who might become customers as well as content for customers who might buy a Profit Maximizer.
Growth Optimization is about the natural and mutually beneficial building of a relationship with any given lead or customer. Each relationship is critical and every component of Growth Optimization we’ve shared so far has the potential to catapult your business to the next level. But there’s one final component that really is the proverbial “cherry on top”. It’s the difference between “expert” and “thought leader” – “Amazon bestseller” and “New York Times bestseller”.
We call them…
We’ll let you in on a little secret… There’s no moment when the world proclaims in unison “you are an OFFICIAL authority in [insert your field here]”.
If you want to be known as an authority who people follow, buzz about, and eagerly await for new product releases from, all you need to do is position yourself as one. Claim the title, so to speak.
Some great examples Authority Builders are reviews and testimonials from clients, being featured prominently in respected media, speaking on stages, having your own unique system or methodology, or being a bestselling author.
Here’s a classic Authority Builder used on the website of ‘Entrepreneurial Guru’ Ali Brown. This ‘authority bar’ highlights the recognition of her expertise. She could maximize the impact of this recognition through content amplification – running retargeted ads to the best articles that feature her.
Not that you need to be published to position yourself as a thought leader. Getting Things Done sells posters that map out its proprietary method. If you saw it on your colleague’s wall, you’d know they were legitimate.
A great way to automate Authority Building is by using a testimonial-getting email campaign that asks for a review when your product or service is delivered. One of our cosmetic surgery clients has quickly ascended into the top ranks of New York surgeons thanks to an abundance of fresh positive reviews online.
Can you think of anything else that qualifies as an ‘Authority Builder’? Think hard.
Maybe this blog post? 🙂
Think about it. We’re offering our system to the public, demonstrating our years of expertise, to continue to position ourselves as an authority in digital marketing.
That sense of authority makes every other aspect of our marketing – from our Attention Driver to our Nurture Paths – more powerful.
Here are key things to know as you develop the Authority Builder component of your marketing:
- Claim the title. If you’re an expert, position yourself as one. No one needs to call you an authority before you do.
- Teaching people your methods and offering advice is a powerful way to demonstrate authority in your space.
- Media appearances, celebrity endorsements, and other external validators can be built into your marketing in ways that position you as a thought leader and extend the value of those placements for years to come.
- Ask your current and past clients for reviews and recommendations. Everyone wants to know others have had success working with you.
So there you have it. Our complete methodology in a box.
Now, let’s get you started…
Implementing Growth Optimization
Whether you’re just starting your business or are well established and bringing in over 7-figures, the first step in implementing Growth Optimization is Growth Planning.
We get that planning doesn’t sound “sexy” or “fun” but this process will determine the success or failure of your business as you grow.
Growth Planning helps you identify:
- where to start,
- what to optimize next, or
- what to build next.
So go ahead and look back at the Growth Planning section of this post. Write down five things you can do in the next month to improve.
For most businesses, even established ones, you’ll want to start with getting your Attention Driver, Lead Generator, Sales Qualifier, and Core Offer – aka your “Growth Platform” – fully optimized and consistently acquiring new customers.
If you can’t honestly say right now that you have a proven, reliable and predictable process for generating lots of new customers, while building goodwill and repeat business, without any slimy sales techniques, this is where you should focus your time, energy, and investment.
This is especially key for $1M+ businesses because, without a solid Growth Platform, your attempts to scale will only sink in the loose sand that is your marketing strategy.
Want to supercharge this process?
Apply for a complimentary one-on-one Growth Consultation with a Visify Growth Optimization Specialist that will help you identify your best next move.APPLY NOW »