Many businesses, due to the global pandemic, have had to shift their company from the physical public sphere to the digital landscape and focus entirely on setting up and navigating the online world. For some, this was a paralysing move to make.
In this guide, we’re going to offer some suggestions of how you can take advantage of this collective slow down and perform better despite its effects. So, I wont ramble on with anymore intro business and we'll get right into the heavy lifting.
BTW, This level of effort is what I'm talking about when we work on our sales goals (and the gym)...
Step 1: Establishing The Brand foundation (Who, Why, What, How)
For those who have read our guide on setting up your Brand Foundation, you will know this already (and hopefully have it already written on a piece of paper). If you haven't, don't worry! I'll give you the run down. For a more extensive version of this step, check out the Brand Foundation guide.
Question 1: Who do you help?
Some say location, location, location. We say specificity, specificity, specificity. Throughout your entire journey, specificity is your greatest ally- without it you may lose clarity on your business direction and purpose.
If your niche targets particular artists, outline those exact artists. Don't just say your target audience is “artists” in some general field. You wouldn't say you target “25 year olds” or “people with blonde hair” so you shouldn't say your target market is one entire populace. If there are multiple groups you target, then find where they all overlap and target that group primarily. Being succinct in this way means that you give your audience a particular identity- one your brand can live up to. It’s not effective to attract everyone. In fact, it's impossible. You already know its better to have 100 loyal customers who love your brand than 1000 customers who purchase your product/service once.
🔥 Tip: if you feel like you're trying to define your audience by seperate buckets, consider defining them by the overlap of those buckets.
Question 2: Why do you help these people?
The why question is all about your purpose. Why does your brand actually exist? Which problem do you solve? It's your mission statement. The middle man, the facilitator that plays cupid between your customers and your brand.
Share your bigger picture with your ideal audience. You might be surprised that consumers become loyal customers based on the values you hold and are proud to share front-and-center your website if you speak to their values! So be true to your brand values and match with your niche.
Question 3: What benefit does your help provide?
Make sure your benefit statement is attention grabbing and speaks to the outcome that you really want your customers to experience. Ensure they're confident in the decision they made to engage with your brand.
🔥 Tip: write out 6-8 outcome statements that your brand will create for someone. Which of these outcome statements do you feel the most drawn to? Feel free to pass them along to a friend or even your audience to get their feedback.
Question 4: How do you help people?
Now is where your features matter. You want to get clarity on exactly how people can get the outcome from your brand that you want them to. This is your offering. Many people find themselves in a situation where the product they were offering beforehand, can't be offered in today’s environment anymore or it is just simply not selling well enough. The vital shift that businesses had to make meant that new business plans were being created. New products. New strategies. New problems. New Solutions.
🔥 Tip: the business owners that survive uncertain times are the ones that are willing to make pivots or a big shift. The way you've always made money and provided value may not be what you do the next 6-12 months.
Thats the run down! Greater detail is covered in our brand foundation guide. Have a thorough planning session and document these answers as they are important to keep referring to.
Step 2: Product or service offering
You may find yourself in a position where you have many multi-passionate creative business owners and there may be a natural bridge between them. If a lot of your revenue was coming from in-person events then, in these times, you may have to make an important business pivot. Making pivotal decisions doesn't happen overnight. Nonetheless, in the mean time you could create a phased approach to re-focus you offerings. For example, a two-phased approach could be you having an initial 3-6 month plan and then a secondary 6+ month plan. Segmenting your offerings in different packages allows you to begin altering your business strategy while not making a huge change at once.
🔥 Tip: as multi-passionate people, we often create new websites and landing pages and ignore that this experience can feel disjointed to a customer. If you have offerings across multiple sites, bring them all together in one easy to navigate place.
Think about the customer's journey through your multiple product offerings and create an on-ramp product.
It's a good idea to have a no-brainer on-ramp product for your target audience. For example, you may have three separate courses you want to sell. You can use one of those courses as an extremely low-priced offering that can get someone into your course (someone who is willing to pay even $1). Having this one low-price point product is going to help you FOCUS on promoting and marketing one compelling offer that can lead to your individual courses. Instead of your email subscribers only hearing about your courses when you launch, you now have a system in place that sells your course automatically.
"Well if you're only going to charge $1, why not have it for free?"
Great question! If a customer is willing to pay any amount of money, they are WAY more likely to purchase additional products from you in the future. People who only sign up for free offerings are much harder to convert to a paying customer later on. Not all your packages should be at this value! You may change your cheapest product to a no-brainer price and include a natural up-sell within that package for your higher priced packages.
🔥 Tip: do you currently have a lower priced product that isn't selling well? Consider changing it to a no-brainer price like $1 to get someone into an email sequence (marketing bridge) to buy your next higher priced product.
But converting consumers into a paying customer isn't as simple as having a no-brainer price tag. It's also about moving from multiple disjointed offerings to a more seamless “passive income” sales funnel. If you have your offerings strewn about on different platforms and throughout your website, it can be challenging to find all your offerings in one place.
Be sure to revise the journey you're taking your customer on from the moment they're aware of your brand to the moment they become a paying customer by going through the journey from start to finish yourself. This will better allow you to create a more seamless customer journey because you would've experienced friction points yourself.
🔥 Tip: create a roadmap between your products so you don't feel like you're always scattering your promotion efforts. What is the journey you hope to create for your customers? Optimising this journey allows for greater opportunity to get paying customers.
There is a lot of trial and error that goes into creating a passive “sales funnel” like this for digital products. It’s incredibly easy to summarise the journey in bullet points but it will take experimentation and tweaking to see how her customers respond. It is crucial that you don't make it difficult for your customers to buy from you. The worst thing you can do is have a highly-engaged customer get frustrated and abandon the buying process because it's convoluted.
To recap: Streamline your offering(s) as much as you possibly can. Consider creating a no-brainer priced product that becomes an on-ramp product to your other offerings. Think about creating a seamless journey from one offering to the next but make sure getting started on that journey is easy for your customers. Don't forget to focus on the specific needs of your ideal customer and the outcomes your offerings deliver to them. It's not compelling to say “buy my course”. You have to remember to speak to problems your offering solves at every step along the way.
Action step for you: take a look at your current product offering page/pages. Do you currently have too many options or a disjointed offering experience that's confusing? Simplify your offerings into one page and one seamless customer journey. Make sure you’re speaking to your ideal customers' problems the entire time.
Step 3: Marketing Bridges & Customer Acquisition
What is the marketing bridge that gets someone to buy your product or service? Creative business owners usually all have the same problem: 95% of their time is attributed to creating their offering and 5% on promoting it. This is why so many creative biz owners struggle to make money from their art and skill.
To get more paying customers, you need to build your marketing bridges (for more on marketing bridges, have a read of our Brand Foundation guide). When you have multiple products to sell, try find ONE entry point into buying all of them. While you may have a current email newsletter marketing bridge, you are't doing yourself any favours with that alone. If the only way that people hear about your new products is through the launch via email, then you aren't doing enough to market your products.
As we talked about in step 2, there's a natural fit to have another marketing bridge between your smaller and larger courses. In an ideal world, you would put together a nice, long, helpful, email sequence that leads people from the on-ramp courses all the way through to your higher-priced courses.
Final lesson from course A calls out to course B → Gets newsletter → Receives launch emails for course B
To recap: Marketing bridges are a must have for any online business owner but especially us creative-types who get stuck focusing only on our art. Want marketing bridge examples? Find the one that feels the best for you here.
Action step for you: if you don't have a marketing bridge in place at all right now, you need one. If you currently have a marketing bridge but it isn't helping you get you more customers, consider trying a new marketing bridge.
What'll your golden gate look like? What data drives the way you have designed it? The bridge between your product/service and your potential customers is paramount - you can never put too much thought into it!
Step 4: Content Strategy & Audience Building
When it comes to building an audience and getting paying customers, you can't just write one article, send one email, and start an instagram account. Build the right audience through foundation articles, a consistent email newsletter and social media content
There are three things you should keep in mind for your articles:
- Connect your blog/articles to your main site and make sure on every article it's easy to opt-in to the on-ramp course;
- Content audit and retitle your blog articles to make sure they’re more researchable, and
- Make sure your blog is easy to navigate.
Doing a content audit of older articles is a great way to improve organic traffic and make sure your existing content is optimised and working on your behalf. You might consider moving website platforms - while that is no small feat, it is one worth doing every couple of years because technology improves so much.
While it's great to send out consistent emails that inspire your target audience, you need to ensure that your CTA’s are narrow and clear. There is a great tennis ball analogy used in IBM marketing which pretty much goes like this:
If you hit one tennis ball to the opposition they can hit the ball back and play the game. If you hit many tennis balls over to the opposition, they will be unable to keep up and won't be able to play the game. That means the efficacy and intent of the game is not met. For you, it would mean that presenting too many CTA’s at once can actually just disconnect you from your user.
When it comes to social media, give value where people are and create a cohesive branded experience. Having a vibrant instagram with visually cohesive photos but nothing that feels overly posed or curated, is great! Your posts and stories offer value and tips instead of just pointing your audience to your website. You should also ensure you do a great job at creating a sense of community that engages with your audience!
🔥 Tip: when it comes to social media, don't be afraid to pick one platform and go all in on it. The days of wondering which platform is best are long gone. The platform you can deliver consistent value and enjoy using is the perfect platform to choose.
To recap: think of building an audience like building a (scrumptious, crouton-filled) salad. The key to constructing a salad you actually want to eat and an audience that actually grows is assembling things in the right order:
- You start with the lettuce (foundation articles)
- You add your fixins (email newsletter)
- Then you pour on your dressing (social media)
Constantly updating your content so that it's relevant and engaging is crucial. Validate it with research! Ask your audience whether they enjoy it and what they'd like to see. You should never make assumptions about what is good and what isn't on behalf of your customers - thats their answer to give and your question to ask. Also, control the number of CTA's you issue. The tennis ball analogy can go so far and is very effective so use it.
Action step for you: your audience is not going to build itself. Focus less on perfection and more on consistency. Make sure you have 8-10 foundational articles (or do a content audit if you have a large archive). Send out a helpful weekly email newsletter. THEN, create a consistent promotion schedule on social media platform that makes the most sense for you and your ideal customer
Step 5: Website evaluation (with homepage & services page redesigns)
Often, one of the biggest improvements you can make on your website is consolidation. Having different sites using different URLS to try accomplish your goals doesn't necessarily help progress you further. Leverage the following tests when evaluating your website:
Home Page Exercise #1: The 4 Q’s clarity test
Right off the bat, within 30 seconds or less, your website's homepage needs to answer four simple questions your ideal customer is thinking (yes, we’re going to help you read minds). The four questions your homepage needs to answer right away:
- What do you do?
- Are you for me?
- How can you help me?
- What’s my next step?
Home Page Exercise #2: APSOSA Framework
- Audience (who are they?)
- Problem (what is the problem they have?)
- Solution (how does your offering solve the problem?)
- Outcome: (what is the outcome they’ll have)
- Sauce (what is your differentiator?)
- Action (what should they do next?)
Heads up: we realise not everyone is a designer or has a solid grasp of web design. If that's you and you know your website needs work, it's absolutely worth the investment to pay a designer. Especially if you run an online business, your site needs to be a reflection of the amazing work you do.
Remember that using different colours on your website doesn't necessarily mean you’ve added much oomph. Also, the template you use can have a big influence here. You need something that pulls you in, keeps your visual interest, and lets you know you’re in the right place if you’re looking to boost your creativity through art
Icons, photos, and design flourishes are great but don't forget that your website visitor is going to read your copy to make informed decisions. Most blog pages (maybe yours?) just lists a bunch of posts and forgets to have a call to action for your biz goal. Add a lead magnet which you could experiment (try your $1 on-ramp product) with to try and achieve your biz goal.
🔥 Tip: one of the biggest opportunities for audience growth on your website right now is your blog page and your individual article page template. If you do not currently have a marketing bridge on these pages, add one today.
- Bring any independent pages to one site. Not only is this going to save you from future headaches but your website visitors are going to have a much more cohesive and friendly experience;
- Just having a beautiful website design isn't enough though (if only) and,
- Your website needs to be working towards your goals and delivering the value your ideal audience are looking for
Action step for you: Go through the 4 Qs clarity test and APSOSA framework for your home page right now. Do you pass the 4 Qs test? Does your home page hit on all aspects of APSOSA
If you take away one key thing from this guide, it should be that through experimentation you will find the best strategies for your brand and your niche. In consequence, a clearer direction will arise for your brand's future. While all of these steps can help you achieve your sales goals, without experimentation you limit your opportunities towards maximising your sales goals.
We did it! We made it to the end of this case study. Every step along the way we focused on helping a creative biz owner sell more online courses. If you're in a similar position to Lauren, especially if you're having to pivot your business offerings right now, we hope this case study gave you a ton of food for thought.
Running your own creative business is incredibly fulfilling and can provide the life you want but its not going to happen just because you dream about it happening