Have you ever felt “stuck” in the process of marketing your business?
If so, you’re not alone.
You see, most small business owners feel stuck because they don’t have a clear vision of how their marketing fits into where they are trying to go.
With that in mind, I've created a simple guide that you can use to gain clear focus on what part of your marketing process isn’t working too well so that you can make necessary adjustments or even complete overhauls.
This isn't a fluffy “tactics-based” post. Instead, it’s a detailed guide to the fundamentals of a brilliant marketing system.
If you've ever felt stuck, I promise you’ll find this guide to be insanely valuable.
Let’s get into it.
At a fundamental level, most businesses from Fortune 500 companies to small but incredibly profitable consultancies use a simple seven-step sales and marketing funnel to drive all of their businesses.
This is good news for you because it means that you don't have to "reinvent the wheel." Instead, you just need to figure out how to implement this system into your business.
And, if you ever find yourself stuck, you will only need to identify what part of your current system isn't working.
Here are the seven steps:
Chances are that you have most of these steps figured out already but, by understanding this common process flow, you can make better decisions about which areas within the system you might be able to improve on to get better results.
Below, I’ve broken each of the seven steps down into manageable bite-sized chunks which come with actionable information, research, and tips.
Context is the single most important element required to make a positive first impression. People need to instantly understand who you are, who you serve, and why it matters.
Questions to answer:
When creating context, start with the driving force of why your business does what it does.
Tip: Your biggest opportunity to create context is on your company's home page and About page. I recommend using a persuasive story to communicate this quickly and effectively. You can also use the "So, What Do You Do?" formula online.
Before (smart) people will take advice from you, they will first have to believe two key elements:
This is why you should go above and beyond with credibility, especially online.
You see, there is a real “credibility crisis” on the web right now. So, if you have real experience and a unique perspective, make sure to highlight it.
For example, I've spent the last seven years promoting other people’s products and services as an affiliate. During this time, I have promoted over 400 different campaigns, giving me a unique perspective to help people use marketing to grow their business and I make sure to communicate this on my about page.
If you have relevant expertise, make sure people know it.
As one of my mentors used to say, “If you don’t blow your own horn, there won’t be any music.”
Even if you don't do it anywhere else, make sure your website is playing up your relevant successes.
If you want an uncommonly successful business, spend more time than your competitors do in establishing your expertise and trustworthiness.
Tip: If you have testimonials, outstanding content, awards, and media mentions then make sure to display them prominently and even think about making a "praise" page.
This is it! You've done it. You've established enough credibility and context that a potential client is requesting more information. This could be in the form of a phone call to your business or even a simple name and email submission via your website.
Whatever the first step is, remember that every business relationship begins with a promise.
This promise can be as simple as “request for more information” or as complex as an ethical bribe, a webinar, or some other kind of freebie. Whatever you do, make sure to deliver on your promise because this will be the foundation for your relationship.
If your business has a strong online presence, I suggest using an autoresponder sequence to deliver the promise and advance the relationship into the next stage — qualification.
Research: There is interesting research which shows that, the more someone comes in contact with a person, idea, or item, the more they begin to reinforce their initial opinion. Use this concept as an opportunity for you to further establish your credibility, usefulness, and likability. 
Tip: Make sure that whatever you are promising is something that people actually want. If you’re offering them free content about something that they don’t find useful then they’re not going to want to start a relationship with you.
This is your chance to showcase that you truly understand the customer’s situation and that you are just the expert that they need to help them solve their problem. Most people don’t spend much time on this phase which is why I believe this is the most critical phase of all because it gives you the perfect chance to stand out from the crowd.
An effective lead nurturing campaign is basically about education and being able to further educate people about you and your business. This can be done through more free content which can be delivered via an autoresponder, a 30-minute phone call, or a similar consultation option — depending on your business.
In this stage, you should focus on the needs of the customer and the benefits of your product.
Depending on the customer’s awareness of their problem, this is a perfect time to give them more information about their problem along with all of the possible implications of that problem if it is left unsolved.
Make sure to read this brief guide to the stages of market awareness so you understand how to approach all of your marketing.
Tip: The better you understand your clients, the easier it is to educate them. Take time during this phase to ask them questions about what obstacles or barriers are holding them back from achieving their goals.
In business, we want the customers we work with to be as good of a fit for us as we are for them.
Rockstar clients are always better than dead weight ones that tend to make us miserable. This fifth stage of the marketing process is our opportunity to choose who we end up working with.
During the qualification phase, spend your time making sure that you and the potential client are a good fit.
Address client concerns and make sure to take note of common concerns so that you can address them early and address them on your website as well.
If you are selling a product, this is where you explain who the product is for and who the product isn’t for.
If you are focusing on online sales, make sure you properly qualify the buyer before they even see the sales page.
I suggest doing this through autoresponders or carefully planned out content.
Tip: I've found that there is a direct correlation between how qualified the customers are and how satisfied they become.
This is the phase where money changes hands. If you’ve gone through all of the other steps correctly, asking for the sale should be painless.
However, depending on your business, the transaction process will tend to vary.
If you have an “in-person” sales process, you’re going to want to transition from qualification to your sales process only when you feel that there is a mutual fit. If you’re just starting out, you need to be especially conscious of taking on “dead weight.” Sure, these people pay but, over the long term, they will cost you your happiness and they will end up filling a slot which could be better filled in by much more fitting clients.
If you are selling online, see to it that your sales process is seamless from your qualification phase. Make sure to address all of the common concerns and objections before asking for the sale.
Tip: If you are struggling with generating enough sales in your business, focus on all the preceeding steps. Remember that you've to got sow the seeds properly before you can reap the harvest.
Phew! The hard work is done. From here, you should have already established credibility and context, and money has (ideally) already changed hands. To most business owners, this is where the marketing process stops. But, what top performers understand is that, the people who already have a relationship with you are far more valuable than the people who you have yet to build a relationship with.
Continue to go above and beyond for the clients and customers that you already have. Continue the relationship in subtle ways and keep them in the loop about other products and/or services that you offer.
If you are an established business, this can often be the easiest way to increase revenue.
Tip: One of my favorite ways to "continue the relationship" with clients is to create a community. There is quite a bit of research which shows that our self-concept is made up of the groups we take part in. That is why this is so effective.
Always remember that “people like to know that they aren’t alone.” If you can create a community under the context of your business then you are well on your way to making an extraordinarily good impact in the world.
This seven-step marketing process is very important because it gives you a simple framework which you can use to gain clarity on the areas in which your business can improve.
Too often, it’s easy to focus on “the sexy” new tool or tactic to get more clients while forgetting about the fundamentals.
In my experience, the easiest way to stop being “stuck” and to gain clarity is to get back to what's always worked.
With that in mind, let’s stop focusing on the new and shiny and take a look at what has been working for ages.
Question 1: What is the one area of your business that you are really good at?
Question 2: Which step/s within your marketing process are you committed to improving?