Despite popular belief, marketing is not about trying to sell. In fact, the best marketing is not gimmicky or sales-y at all. Since we are surrounded by marketing that is trying to sell, we often revert to this kind of marketing. But the truth is, it’s not effective.
You can get better at marketing by understanding it better. When you begin to understand that marketing is how you find your people and build relationships with them, you will feel much more authentic doing it.
In this episode, I talk about what marketing really is and how it works. You can expect to learn the three guiding principles that will help you get better at marketing your business, learn about the Marketing Lifecycle Framework, and you will be on your way to more effective marketing.
In this episode of the Business (R)Evolution Podcast:
- How to effectively market your business
- What marketing really is and how it works
- Three guiding principles to help you get better at marketing your business
- The Marketing Lifecycle Framework
- Attracting the right people for your business
- The difference between marketing tactics & marketing strategy
- The importance of capturing & nurturing leads
- And more!
Resources and links Joanna mentions in this episode:
- Free Download: The Marketing Lifecycle Framework
- The Business (R)evolution Podcast | Episode 005: How to Get More Clients Without More Marketing
- The Business (R)evolution Podcast | Episode 001: How to Get Great Testimonials
- The Business (R)evolution Academy
- Join the next Practitioner’s Business Roundtable event
- Book a discovery call with Joanna
Get the FREE download:
The Business Strategy Scorecard
…which of these nine ingredients do you need to get high quality
long-term clients & steady, predictable income?
Full episode transcript
You already know that you need to do some kind of marketing for your business….
But HOW to effectively market your business is where most of us get stuck.
Most practitioners are doing marketing activities that they think they’re ‘supposed’ to be doing…
But that isn’t necessarily effective.
I regularly talk to practitioners that say they’re doing things like:
- promoting their services on social media
- posting flyers promoting their services, in real life or in online forums
- joining networking groups or attending networking events
And even when practitioners know that these marketing activities they’re doing aren’t really effective…
They don’t know what else they could or should be doing to market their services in a way that is actually effective and will bring new leads and prospects into their business.
And so they might even end up paying some random marketer or some agency, to do their marketing for them and bring them leads…
And that doesn’t usually work out well either because you just get random leads that are unlikely to be high-quality clients.
So most of us feel like we suck at marketing…
And frankly, maybe you do…
And that’s ok! It’s just because you don’t understand it! And you haven’t learned it.
So it’s time to start learning…
You can get better at marketing by understanding it better.
And you’re in the right place for that.
In this episode I’m going to:
- Explain what marketing really is and how it works (we usually think marketing is selling, and it’s not)
- Teach you 3 guiding principles to help you get better at marketing your business
- Share the Marketing Lifecycle framework with you, which is a tool you can use to identify what marketing efforts will provide the quickest results for you
And by results, I mean more leads and prospects entering your sales pipeline.
I do want to note, I’m not giving you a step by step action plan for how to market your business; this is an episode where I’m going to teach you some important principles about marketing so that you can understand it better – to make your marketing more effective.
In the last episode I talked about how marketing is basically useless if you don’t have a process to convert your leads into clients.
That’s your sales process or sales system: it’s how someone becomes a paying client…
And if you haven’t listened to that episode yet – it’s Ep 5, called “Get More Clients Without More Marketing” then cue it up so you do,
And it’s important that I reiterate the point here that more marketing does not mean you’ll get more clients.
You get clients by having a sales process.
But that doesn’t mean that you never need to do marketing.
Even if you have a great sales system, you still need prospects to enter your sales system – from somewhere.
The question is where.
That’s where most practitioners – or any business owners really, who don’t have an effective marketing strategy – get lost.
Marketing feels like this big mystery to most of us.
And because our marketing activities are so haphazard…or we may even be really regular with our marketing activities, we might even be doing exactly the things we think we’re supposed to be doing, on a regular basis – but those marketing activities are just not creating any clear results…
So we think that we’re bad at marketing.
Or we think that marketing is supposed to be salesy and loud and exciting…and because that feels uncomfortable, we think we’re bad at marketing.
If you think you’re bad at marketing, I get it.
When I started my first business (which was a long time ago now) I had been a public school teacher for the previous ten years. I knew nothing about marketing.
So I had to learn how to market my business…and guess what?
I discovered – over the last 13 years – that marketing does not have to be gimmicky, salesy, or pushy.
In fact, the best marketing isn’t.
So, what IS the best marketing? How DO you market your business and your services effectively?
Well that’s a huge question, and anyone who tells you that they have THE answer to that is pulling your leg.
Finding the right marketing strategy for your business IS big business itself. There are literally hundreds of thousands, millions! – of people, companies, agencies, selling marketing services and strategies – because so many business owners don’t know how to do it themselves.
If there were just a single, simple answer to the question, how do I market my business effectively? Then everyone would know the answer
On the one hand: There’s not some big secret marketing method that you don’t know.
And on the other hand: there are definitely some guiding principles in marketing that most practitioners don’t understand…
That’s what I want to share with you today: 3 guiding principles for your marketing.
This episode is not going to provide you with step by step action plans for your marketing…
But I am hoping that it’s going to provide you some mind-blowing shifts in your understanding of what marketing is and how it works.
So that you can create your own step by step action plans.
Even if you just take what you’re doing now, and tweak it based on what you learn in this episode – that’s progress.
And I do have a free handout for you to download that is very action-oriented and will show you where in your business, your lowest-hanging fruit are….
Meaning, where you can focus your marketing efforts to get the easiest and quickest results…and by results, I mean prospects that inquire about your services and enter your sales pipeline.
The link to get that free download is in the show notes on my website or you can go directly to: https://joannasapir.com/marketing-lifecycle/
So, let’s get into the 3 guiding principles to market your services more effectively:
Guiding Principle #1 is: Marketing is not selling
Marketing is not selling.
Many business owners plaster their town with rack cards and flyers or post to social media regularly, or buy ads, trying to sell their services.
What’s the problem?
Trying to sell to strangers.
In marketing-speak, strangers are a “cold audience” – people that you haven’t built a relationship with yet.
They’ve never heard of you. They don’t know you. There’s no relationship.
And when you try to sell something to people with whom you have no relationship, it’s like walking up to a complete stranger and asking them on a date – or worse, to marry you.
That’s what you’re doing when you try to sell your services with posts or flyers.
So why do we think we’re supposed to be selling in our marketing?
It’s because we are surrounded by marketing that does that…
We drive down the street and see billboards trying to sell us stuff. Every day in our mail are flyers and ads trying to sell us stuff.
It’s standard practice for corporations and stores to blast us with sales and specials and discounted offers – trying to get us to buy things.
Seth Godin calls it “old fashioned industrial marketing”. (If you don’t know Seth Godin, I think you’d like him a lot, and I recommend getting his book, “This is Marketing”)
I know it as spray-and-pray advertising.
You throw that stuff out there and hope that someone bites.
For small service-based businesses like yours, trying to sell to strangers is definitely not an effective tactic for growing your business with high-quality clients.
It’s also pretty obnoxious, right? Please please buy from me! Is basically what these posts or ads say.
So it’s no wonder it doesn’t feel intuitive, and doesn’t work well. It’s the wrong model for you.
You’re not offering trinkets, you’re offering transformation.
You offer a specialized, innovative service, right? You’re passionate about what you do, and your service is powerful for the right people.
And even within your field, what you’re doing is different.
So you need to learn how to market your business and services differently from traditional product-based marketing.
So this first principle is, don’t try to sell your services in your marketing. Marketing is not where you sell.
Marketing is where you call in your people and build relationships with them.
So HOW do you call in your people and build relationships with them through your marketing?
That leads us right into
Principle #2: Your Marketing should not be about YOU.
It should be about your ideal client.
You may have just breathed a sigh of relief when you heard that…
Because many of us are uncomfortable with marketing because we think we’re supposed to talk about how great we are, how great our services are. Look at me, and look at what I have to offer you! And you need this! And you’re missing out! Look at how great my thing is!
But effective marketing doesn’t say, “Here I am!”
It says, “I see you….”
In your marketing, speak to your ideal, best-fit people, the bullseye of your target market.
Talk about them, not you. Their pains and problems, goals and desires….
Tell stories. Stories about clients. Stories from everyday life. Stories from the news. Stories that speak to your people about what they’re dealing with in their lives, and what you know that they may not see on their own.
Educate. Inspire. Provide hope for the possibility of change.
“I see you….” That’s what you want your marketing to convey to your ideal client.
Remember that when you focus on the bullseye, you’re leaving other people out. That’s what you should be doing in your marketing, to hone in on the very specific people you want to call in…
When I say this, it may feel obvious. But I guarantee that when you decide to write or record some kind of content for your marketing, what you automatically do- without thinking much about, is try to appeal to as many people as you can.
You try to be broad.
And in good, effective marketing – you’re not trying to speak to everyone. You’re not trying to attract everyone! This is not about being liked, so if you’re a people pleaser, pay attention to this point.
One trick to do this is to think of one or two actual clients you love, or even better is a person you actually know or talked to that would be a great client, but who hasn’t yet taken action to address their problems…
And speak or write to them.
Use language and feelings specific to them, that they understand. Speak or write directly to them in a way that makes them say, “It feels like you’re talking to me!”
(You know you’re doing this well when people actually say that to you. “If it felt like you wrote that just to me!”)
And then there are going to be people who totally don’t relate to or resonate with what you’re saying.
And they will stop reading or listening, or ignore your post or video, or unsubscribe from your list…
And that’s a good thing. That’s what you want!
To attract your people only, and repel the others.
Remember, this is not about being liked. This is not a popularity contest. This is not about getting as many people in the door as you can.
You want your marketing to attract just the right people for you and your business.
You want to call in those right people and start building relationships with them.
And the more transformative and specialized your service, the more specific your market is. Hone in on who those people are.
And show them that you see them, that you understand their pains and problems, and their goals and desires…
And educate them about what is getting in the way of their reaching those goals.
What do they need to get what they want?
And, since you just learned in Principle #1 that marketing is not selling….you don’t offer your services.
So what do you offer? You offer an invitation of some sort…
And easy next step for them to take.
Your invitation might be to get a free resource that you offer…
Your invitation might be to a free event you’ve planned that’s part of your marketing….
Or your invitation might be to talk with you in a consultation….
And that consultation is where a sale happens. That’s the mechanism to convert your leads into clients.
Ok, so Principle #1 was Marketing is not selling. Marketing is calling in your people and building relationships with them.
Principle #2 was: Your marketing should not be about YOU. It should be about THEM.
Principle #3 is: Your marketing actions need to be part of a strategic plan.
So let me explain what I mean…
There are things you do or “things” you create that you think of as “doing marketing”:
Writing blog posts
Making Instagram reels
Making facebook stories
Producing a podcast
Guesting on other people’s podcast
Networking with other practitioners
Writing a book
Posting a flier
Emailing your list
Running a 5-day challenge or a 30 day challenge
Offering a bring-a-friend class
Hosting a facebook group
Doing facebook lives
All of these things – yes, have to do with marketing – but on their own, they’re just tactics.
They’re like the ingredients you might need to make a meal, but they’re not the meal.
They’re JUST the ingredients.
Can you imagine sitting down to a meal and being served a teaspoon of turmeric. And then your next meal, you get a head of broccoli. And then later maybe you have a cooked, juicy steak but no salt, and nothing to drink…the ingredients by themselves don’t make the experience of sitting down to a great meal.
That’s what doing marketing activities – using the tactics – is like when there’s no actual marketing plan that you’re following, there’s no particular strategy.
And that’s how I hear most practitioners are doing marketing: they send an email here and there, and it’s usually an announcement about something that’s happening in the business.
They post a how-to video on socials…
They attend a networking event.
It’s all kind of random and haphazard.
Your marketing activities are not going to be effective and predictable drivers of new business for you, unless they’re part of a plan – a strategy – that is specifically designed to move people in your audience through the marketing lifecycle and get people into your sales pipeline.
The Marketing Lifecycle is the free handout I have for you…
You can go download it right and look at it as I talk about it, or if you’re driving or walking or something, you can get it later and just listen as I describe it.
The Marketing Lifecycle is like a pathway – so think of a vertical line, top to bottom. That’s how this looks visually, and there are stations along the vertical line.
So I’m going to go over each of these stations from top to bottom – and what I want you to notice, when you look at the marketing lifecycle – is how many different business activities that you didn’t think of as marketing – ARE marketing, as long as you have a plan behind them.
As I explain each station, I want you to ask yourself: where is my lowest hanging fruit here?
Where can I start putting some effort that’s going to be the easiest way to get people into my sales pipeline?
So the my favorite part of this tool is that really just we, for whatever reason, our understanding of marketing and what we think marketing is, most of us, when we think I need to do marketing, think of doing the hardest things, which is going out and getting in front of people who have never heard of us.
So we think of doing things like advertising and flyers and networking events, all this stuff that I’ve been talking about, when really your lowest hanging fruit is looking at, where already do you have assets?
So one of the stations, I guess I’m not going to start at the top here. One of the stations on here is to nurture your leads. So do you have an email list? Now, you might have a formal email list that I think most people who don’t regularly use their email list that I talk to have it in MailChimp. That’s usually where people keep an email list I think because it’s free or they have a free version, but you might simply have a database of people. It might be in a Google Sheet or an Excel Sheet. You might use client management software, like Simple Practice or something. You have some list of people, of all the people who have ever worked with you. Usually it’s that. Or sometimes it even includes people who have inquired with you.
Well, guess what? We’re going to call that your list from now on. And those people are all leads. Whether they’ve worked with you in the past or not, those people are all leads. So nurturing your leads is often, if you have 300, 500, a thousand people on a list like that, that’s probably your lowest hanging fruit. That’s 300 or 500 or a thousand people that if you started nurturing them. And what I mean by that is everything I’ve talked about in this episode in your marketing is content that speaks to them, right? Calls out to them. Shows them that you understand their pains and problems and goals and desires and offers them an invitation of some sort, not to buy your services, but for some easy next step, which might be a consultation, that’s going to get people into your sales pipeline.
So under nurture your leads on the Marketing Life Cycle, it says deliver consistent and valuable content to your leads using automated technology. Ultimately, you want to have this done in an automated way so that you’re not having to actually spend your time doing it on a regular basis. You want to be authentic and you want to continue to share your message with them. So you don’t blast people with service offers like trying to sell your services to your own email list.
Sometimes if there’s a special event coming up or there’s a deadline on a group you’re forming or something, of course, that makes sense then, but on a regular basis, what you want to be doing is nurturing them. You want to provide value and build trust and authority. Provide content that helps them see their pains and problems in a new way, and gives them hope for reaching their goals and desires.
That’s the lowest hanging fruit. So I skipped right to the middle. The station after nurturing your leads is converting them to clients. And so if you happen to have this marketing life cycle in front of me, you want to know that’s your sales system. So here and in the marketing life cycle, even though it’s the sales process, the convert to client’s part is where you have people enter your sales system. It says at regular intervals, offer an invitation to a complimentary consultation and use the predictable sales system to enroll new clients in your services. You need to have a clear and effective sales strategy to convert them into long term clients. So that’s the sales part, but check it out. See, I guess I’m going to go middle down and then we’ll come back to the top later.
Even after someone is a client, there’s still marketing that’s happening. So the next station on here after they’re a client is onboarding, onboard and fulfill is what it says here. Having an onboarding process that helps your clients start strong, like when they first start with you, that’s some of the best marketing you could do. Somebody has just decided to invest in themselves and join you, sign up with you to be their guide in reaching their goals. They’re excited, right? They’re excited. And they’re probably pretty darn nervous. And if you have a great onboarding process, right from the beginning, that helps them be successful, they’re going to be even more excited. And that’s actually a time that people tell their friends and family and colleagues about what they’re doing when they’re most excited about it, right? So you want to build systems and processes to help your clients succeed, right from the time they sign up with you so that they’re more likely to meet their goals, most likely to meet their goals.
And throughout the process with them, you want to have feedback loops as well to ensure that you are meeting client needs. So that is marketing as well. Delivering the best service that you can is marketing as well. The next station here is to celebrate and share. You want to highlight and celebrate client wins and milestones that they meet. You want to celebrate those both internally in the business with them. And if there’s a group aspect to your services, which there may not be, but you can share that internally within the group and externally in your business. So episode one was all about getting great client stories. And so if you haven’t listened to that one, go back and listen to that. You want to invite clients to share their access stories publicly, and you want to use this wonderful social proof you have in all parts of your marketing.
So you want to use it. You can send client stories to that list of people, and you can even use it at the very top, which I’ll get to later. After celebrating and sharing, the station here will graduate and ascend. So what you can do is add services, or even have other partners that provide the next step, the next level, the kind of next step in the journey for your clients once they’ve completed their initial work with you. Many of my clients do this and I do as well. So for example, the Business Revolution Academy is what you hear me talk about most of all, and that’s where clients start with me and that’s one particular journey. And after that journey is done, there is a graduate level service offered. There’s a graduate level program. Many of my clients have the same type of model.
And so you can add what people need afterwards. So just as an example, I have multiple clients who have worked with me. And I think I may have mentioned these specific examples on other episodes where their clients come to them initially in a lot of pain and in this case specifically physical pain. So they’re coming to get out of pain. They’re not coming to join some year long service. They’re like, just get me out of pain. And so the practitioner has a program that is designed just to get them out of pain. And so maybe it’s three months long where that happens. Well, after that three months is done, the practitioners that work with me, what I ask them, this is always, always doing this is based on what you as a practitioner believe that your ideal clients truly need. This is not about making stuff up to sell and make money.
This is about what your clients truly need. So generally when I ask practitioners this, they believe that the clients then need some kind of ongoing maintenance is a word that sometimes is used and other people can’t stand the word, but some kind of ongoing program, some kind of ongoing work that makes sure that the root cause of that problem is truly eliminated and never comes back. And that there’s not other problems that are created, that are going to create pain in the future. So they create an ongoing service after that initial phase of helping the person get out of pain. I hope that makes sense. There’s all different ways. You can do this, and it completely depends on your business and what your service is, but you can create ongoing programs for your clients after their initial work with you is done, or you might have a partner, a strategic alliance of some sort that offers the perfect next step for them.
Okay. And then the final station on here is the one that actually loops it back to the top, loops everything back to the top and it says multiply through referrals. And what I say in here is that if you do all these other things pretty well, referrals will likely be one of your best sources of new leads and clients. I know that referrals are often the primary source of new leads in clients for practitioners I talk to who don’t even have any marketing in place. So what I want to say to you is if you’re getting referrals, if a large number of your clients are coming through referrals, first of all, kudos to you, that means you’re really doing something right. It means your clients are happy with what they’re getting, and that’s awesome that they’re referring to you.
So the question you can ask yourself is how can I make that more systematic? Right now, I assume it might happen every now and then, but how can I make sure that all my clients know how to refer me properly? Right? How can I thank them for that? And I’ll mention briefly here, I’ve been asked plenty of times by people, like do you think I should offer a referral reward program where people get some kind of amount of money or kickback or whatever. I’d say, that’s up to you. I’m not a fan of that at all. To me that feels like you’re buying the referral. I personally really prefer that they happen organically. But number one, I want to make sure that all my clients know how to refer me. And sometimes they reach out and ask and I give them very specific instructions for that.
But two, you want to really make sure that you’re thanking anybody who gives you a referral. I mean, really, and that’s a nice way to make a so-called reward without somebody even knowing that’s going to happen. So think about that, how you can really give a nice thank you to somebody anytime they refer somebody, even whether that person becomes a client or not. I think a thank you is really in order. Okay. So that brings us to the top. So now I’m going to talk about the top two stations, and then we’ve gone through all of this, but I’m glad that I didn’t intend necessarily to start in the middle of the marketing life cycle here, but I’m glad I did, because I want you to see all those places. All these things that I’ve talked about already are probably where your lowest hanging fruit is.
If you have an email list, or if you have a list of former clients in the hundreds, that’s your lowest hanging fruit. That’s like your personal pond of fish to fish from, right? So what you want to do in nurturing your leads is feed the fish. You don’t go fishing. You don’t try to sell to them immediately. You want to feed them. You want to nurture those leads. So that is probably your lowest hanging fruit referrals might be your lowest hanging fruit. Clients’ stories might be your lowest hanging fruit. If you have clients from the past who had wonderful success stories and wins, and you have never asked them to share their stories, that is definitely low-hanging fruit for a lot of people listening. And maybe you. So there are lots of places to go there.
The hardest place to get new leads that are going to enter your sales system immediately, or even in the long run is at the very top of this, which is attracting brand new audiences. Okay? So attracting a brand new audience is getting in front of people online and offline that don’t know you to attract new people with messaging that speaks to their pains and problems, goals, and desires. There are all kinds of ways to do this. There’s social media. There’s your website, public speaking gigs, networking opportunities, podcast guesting through professional organizations. There’s directories online, strategic alliances, paid traffic and ads, et cetera. So many different ways to do this. And the ways that you choose really need to be strategic and need to be based on who you are, what you like to do. So, for example, if you’re not a super… Well, I’m going to use myself as an example. I believe it or not, I’m really quite introverted and shy when it comes to being in person. I am not an extroverted person who easily goes around introducing myself to people.
So something like joining the chamber of commerce, where the marketing there is about being in their directory and, or showing up at these these events where you’re supposed to just go into this big crowd of people and just start introducing yourselves, that would not be an effective method for me to get in front of new people and meet strategic alliances. It just doesn’t play to my strengths. So part of this is who you are and where your strengths are. If you hate to write, then marketing methods that use writing is not what you should do. If you hate video, you shouldn’t do video. If you love talking, then audio or even video is probably good, right? And if you love writing, there’s all kinds of ways you can use writing. So number one is to pay attention to who you are and your strengths.
But then number two is where is your audience? You have to know who your people are, right? And we’ve talked about that a lot. Where are your people hanging out? Where are they in real life? And where are they online? That is going to also determine what are going to be your most effective ways to attract a brand new audience. So, for example, I’ve met a few different practitioners whose market is elders, people in the retirement age, so 65 and up, 65 through even 80s, late 80s. Now, I think this is kind of a funny story, but one of those people had taken a whole class on Instagram marketing, and you gotta ask yourself, is your market on Instagram? Well, elders are I think the least likely demographic to be on Instagram. So that’s not where you want to be to attract new audiences. If your market is older, think about where your market is. So your strengths, where your market is.
And then of course you need to know your messaging. There’s so much more to talk about here, but what I want to point out is that attracting a brand new audience is the hardest part of the entire marketing life cycle. And it’s where so many of us go straight to thinking, that’s what we need to do, when you might have all kinds of people in your midst, in all these other stations that are going to be much easier to reach out to. Those are people who already know you and may even really like you and trust you already. Those are going to be the easiest people to enter your sales pipeline. There is one more station on here that I don’t want to forget to get to, and that is capturing leads. So when you do, when we are talking about attracting brand new audience, you need some way to capture them as leads so that they can make it into those further stages, particularly into your email list, to be able to nurture your leads.
So when you do get in front of brand new audiences, I’ll just use myself as an example. You may have met me originally as if I was a guest on someone else’s podcast that you listen to. That’s how a lot of people meet me because it’s one of my primary ways of attracting an audience. So I guessed on other people’s podcasts. And what do I do? I offer an invitation, just like I talk about, right? I offer an invitation to sign up for some kind of free training with me. That’s what I do when I’m getting in front of… I’m getting in front of somebody else’s audience, that’s new to me. And I offer this invitation for free training. That free training requires that people opt in to my email list. And that very well may be how you got on my email list, if you are on it.
And then, I captured a lead. That’s the second station. You offer your audience the opportunity to receive some kind of great free content. People call them freebees, lead magnets, some kind of gift or tool or lessons or videos, something from you by providing their contact information. You do this online with opt in forms and you can do it offline as well. So if you’re a local business that does things like health fairs or something, you absolutely should be doing this. You absolutely at your table should be offering some kind of freebie that somebody can get not necessarily right there. They don’t necessarily get it right there, but it’s something that they’re signing up with their contact info for, because now you’ve captured that lead and you’ve completed this cycle here and you can start nurturing those folks and giving them invitations to take next steps, like schedule a consultation, right?
At this point, they are not strangers. You have attracted them in some way, and you have captured them as leads. You’ve nurtured them. And then you can invite them to schedule a consultation. Okay? So let’s wrap this up. What did we do in this episode?
I shared 3 Marketing Principles:
#1: Marketing is not selling. Marketing is calling in your people and building a relationship with them.
#2: Your Marketing should not be about YOU. It should be about your bullseye people.
#3: Your marketing actions need to be part of a strategic plan.
And I gave you a tool – the Marketing Lifecycle – that I hope helps you make a strategic plan, and shows YOU where your lowest hanging fruit are, and how to move your audience into your sales pipeline.
So to close, I have a little action step for you:
I invite you to share with me what action you can take in your business right now. Where’s your lowest hanging fruit?
Post that in our Facebook group here.