By Jesse Erickson
If you’re anything like most businesses, you have become comfortable in your processes. While new technologies are driving operational changes of all kinds, many business owners continue to rely on a limited array of sales and marketing funnels. Perhaps you have a retail business that has always attracted drive-by and foot traffic. Perhaps your service business has historically relied on referrals. Or maybe you’ve found success using social media for the past few years. Whatever your methods, why would you change them if they have always worked?
I would suggest that no matter what you’ve done in the past, most businesses are seeing dramatic shifts in their sales funnels right now. While many are holding on to the hope of normalcy, I propose that nothing will ever be “normal” again. Yes, we will return to eating at restaurants, and yes, we will all go back to the normal needs of life. But, as in the case of the beginning of the internet, the first social media sites finding rapid growth and further back to the dawn of franchises, there will always be new disruptions that change how markets operate and how our business can grow. (We will actually discuss this more fully in Part 4 of this series.)
But, what does this current sea change mean for you and your marketing strategy? For one, more people than ever before are using online platforms. Were you ready for that? Do you have a robust online ordering system? Are you able to sell online? How can you market your services when no one seems to be buying? And, if you have always sold through social channels, you may have noticed a decrease in your reach. That’s because while there are more people on social media throughout the day, they are being bombarded by far more posts. Yours may be just one in the crowd.
Right now, while you likely have the time, focus on assessing your funnels and bolstering them as our market resets to a “new normal.” Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Just start. If you’ve never developed a real funnel, just start. Don’t let fear of inadequacy or overthinking the long term freeze you into complacency. Do SOMETHING.
- Build your email list. People are bored or working from home. They are looking for resources. Give them ideas or information for the low cost of their email address in your email marketing funnel.
- Develop a social media calendar. Yes, some things are time sensitive, but use your evergreen content to your advantage. Plan out a few weeks of content so that when the rush of the open economy hits you, social media isn’t at the bottom of the list again.
- Consider writing blogs or making videos. Let’s be honest: Everyone is stumbling through new ways of working. If you’ve always been afraid to write or post a video of yourself, just remember that everyone is learning to communicate better and everyone is at home in their sweatpants. There is never a better time to go on video, when no one can judge you for trying.
- Build a REAL funnel. If you’ve never developed a marketing or sales funnel – like written on paper for all to see – now is the time. Prepare your sales people. Prepare YOURSELF. Wrestle with what has worked, what hasn’t, and what might and might not work in the near future. How can you get peoples’ attention by being different? How can you create unique value for your target customer? What is your target customer’s biggest struggle right now, and how can you help them solve it?
- Invest in your business. It’s the old adage: “Work on your business, not in it.” We all know it’s easier said than done. But, right now is that time to force yourself to do so. Yes, money is tight, but spend a little for big returns later. Yes, you’re anxious and stressed out, but put that energy into something positive. You aren’t too busy for this. It’s the most important thing there is.
We’ve already talked about the need for a strategy in Part 2. Now is the time to apply strategy to your marketing and sales funnels in a way that you never have. Win your customers’ attention right now, and prepare plans, content and materials for the not-too-distant future when you’ll likely be too busy to focus on them.
Business owners who put in the work today will be ahead of the competition tomorrow. If you want to be ahead, reach out and let us help. Join the ongoing conversation at Catalyst’s Facebook page.
JESSE ERICKSON is president and CEO of Catalyst, a Kankakee, Illinois-based business and organizational consultancy. Catalyst leads clients through business and strategic planning, development of new revenue streams and cost-cutting tactics, the implementation of better financial management processes, and the integration of strategic initiatives to improve organizational visibility, data analysis and overall growth. Jesse is a Quickbooks Certified ProAdvisor, an Asana Certified Pro and a Certified Business Incubation Manager. He holds a Doctorate in Business Administration (Strategy & Innovation concentration), Master of Engineering Management (Technical Entrepreneurship concentration) and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.