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Brick by brick a house is built. First the foundation, then the core systems, and finally the finishing touches. Similarly, a sales funnel is a stack of brand assets that build upon and support one another.
While no 2 businesses are the same, every entrepreneur uses similar tools to manage their customers, communications, and operations. Of course, depending on the industry, product, and the target audience, these same tools will be utilized in different fashions. Even with the same blueprint and materials, two people will build very different houses. This is why the art of meaningful marketing is so important in the modern marketplace.
In this blog, The Odegard & Company 15 Point Sales Funnel Checklist, we’ll be breaking down the core components of a full sales funnel and providing brief insight into what each element is, what it does, and why it matters for your business.
The moment we are born, we’re given a name. That name, whether we like it or not, becomes the cornerstone of our personal identity. A good name is symbolic, at least alludes to the someone/something of importance to the new being’s parents. The same can be said for a business.
Without a name, you cannot register a business with the Secretary of State, open a bank account, or be relied on by anyone who doesn’t know you personally. Before you commit to a business name with the S.O.S., take the time to check domain availability. Your domain or URL is your name on the internet, it must be the same or an extension of your business’s name on the books otherwise it will cause serious confusion for customers trying to find you online.
Using an alternative ending (.io, .media, etc) is often the only way to secure a solid domain name without breaking the bank right out the gate, but if you’re married to the brand name and the domain is taken, don’t be afraid to bargain with a broker and see if it’s for sale. Many modern technology companies base their brand strategy around their domain name because it’s the most important thing for their customers to remember.
The perfect logo sums up your business without saying a word. It is the crux of your brand identity, the image that comes to mind when your company enters the conversation. Like any brand asset, a bad logo says “my business isn’t worth investing in.” If you aren’t willing to invest in it, then why should anyone else?
Every good graphic designer will tell you that less is more with logos. Simplicity sells. It inherently won’t be memorable if it’s overly complicated. At the same time, it must be unique – a generic logo is lost in the vast informational ocean that is the modern marketplace. Strive to capture something meaningful about your brand, but don’t feel as if you have to tell the whole story in a single breath.
Brand design is an opportunity to express what’s most important about your business. If done well, your brand will be an extension of your individuality while simultaneously securing your association with the industry. It may seem silly to spend your valuable resources on a logo, but the intentional usage of imagery, color, and texture has a profound impact on how your audience will perceive your brand. As Al Ries and Jack Trout state in their foundational marketing text The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing, “There are no best products. All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer and prospects. The perception is the reality. Everything else is an illusion.”
Without a website, your business is invisible. If you exclusively do handshake deals and word-of-mouth marketing, then you might get by…but a website is essential for any businesses that wants to be a credible operation with an online presence.
While an engaging web experience should be the objective, with just a single web page (often called a landing page) you establish your digital footprint and provide an access point for customers. A C.M.S., or “content management system”, is what you use to make and manage digital content, i.e. web pages, and serves as a directory for information. This allows the internet (specifically search engines, like google, safari, bing, etc) to recognize your business’s online existence.
Web functionality is a fascinating field that seems to evolve everyday. You can do so much through your site, from selling your product without ever having to speak with a customer to creating a client portal that allows the user to log in and access their individualized information. However, if you do nothing else, be sure to answer a prospect’s initial questions: Who are you? What do you do? And why do you do it?
What better way to solidify the memory of a great interaction than to give the other person something to hold onto. Life moves fast, information is easily forgotten if not followed up on. Business cards are an entrepreneur’s best friend on the fly because they are the best way to make sure the conversation is memorable and they can be kept on hand at all times.
Many businesses are so focused on their digital marketing that they practically forget all of their customers live in the real world. The modern emphasis on online experiences is indicative of the technological era, however, we still exist in a physical plane and the way we exchange energy is of the utmost importance. Giving someone a gift is an exchange of energy, even if the gift is as simple as a piece of paper with your contact information.
If your card looks / feels disposable, then it will be disposed of. Duh. Instead, making your card something worth holding onto will help your brand be memorable even after everyone has moved on with the business of life. I think of business cards as brand keys – when kept by the customer, it provides an access point to you personally and your business. The utility of your card doesn’t have to stop at contact information, in fact, the best business cards are solely the starting point of your whole brand experience.
As social creatures, humans inherit an innate desire to stay connected. Social profiles, both professional and personal, keep you relevant with existing customers and make you approachable for new prospects. Having a profile means having a presence. These channels open up all sorts of communications and are essential if you intend to drive new traffic to your business through any of the digital marketing techniques we’ll discuss later.
Every business is unique and has unique needs, however, every brand needs to be on google and facebook for the sake of professionalism if nothing else. LinkedIn is important for B2B brands in particular. Instagram if you’re selling a product. Twitter if you intend to be a public figure of any kind. Knowing the nuances of each channel, and how to best communicate through it, is what separates those who understand social media from those who throw spaghetti at the wall.
With more pages on your website, you provide more information to your human audience and the algorithmic overlords. Both are important to satisfy.
It’s nearly impossible to condense everything about your business into a single landing page, and even if you did, it would be bogged down and not work well to convert customers. So, we use more web pages. Easy.
A classic configuration of pages, (like HOME, ABOUT, SERVICES, RESOURCES, & CONTACT) works well to display the typical amount of information a prospect would want to know in order to move forward in the sales process, regardless of your product. Of course, certain industries and companies will want to dedicate pages to more pointed topics, but as we’ll discuss later, your blog is an excellent opportunity for getting into the weeds without distracting from the general information that everybody wants.
Social Proof is crucial in any consideration. People always wonder what’s popular and what others are doing, it weighs heavily on how they choose to act. The less a prospect thinks they’re taking a risk, the easier it is for them to follow through.
So, seeing a slew of happy customers in reviews or even just a few quality testimonials about you and your service helps them relax and say yes to the sale with certainty. In order to get reviews, you need to be established on platforms like google.
Ask and you shall receive. People often complain about a lack of reviews, but they aren’t asking for them or making it easy for anyone to leave them. You should keep a link to your review page handy and sling it readily when the opportunity arises. If you can set up a request for a review to automatically get distributed to customers upon completion of their project, then you won’t have to worry about it.
“I’ll believe it when I see it.” An attitude we all too often fall back on. Not like we can blame ourselves, human’s strongest sense is sight and we have depended upon it for our survival for our entire existence as a species.
As visual creatures, graphic (or better yet, photographic) representations create clarity around concepts. Having photos of yourself and your product shows transparency and legitimacy. From a design perspective, using icons and animations on your website work to draw attention to where you want people to look.
Be warned: without intention, visuals can easily become nothing more than distractions.
The importance of quality content for any company cannot be stressed enough. The term content applies to visual elements like photos and videos as well, but for our purposes I’m addressing written verbiage in particular.
A well worded document can be used to elaborate on an essential aspect of your business, to outline an offer, to pin down a pain point, or to answer a frequently asked question that you’ve spent too much time answering over and over again. While blogs are usually discussed simply as a SEO strategy, I always highlight their practical use as a sales touchpoint. Your blogs should be meaningfully made as opportunities to elaborate on a concept that will come up in conversation. In this way, you know you’re prepared.
“Great question, let me send you an article I wrote about this exact subject” is the best way to save breath while simultaneously demonstrating your knowledge.
To be honest, you probably won’t go viral… and that’s OK! Becoming a social media sensation should not be the focus of your marketing strategy (with rare exception).
However, social media is extremely useful for staying top of mind with existing clients as well as shows new prospects a brand presence. As with all communications, be strategic. But, social media is meant to be fun – explore your brand voice, try things and see what sticks. This is a rare communication channel where being overly personal is better than being basic or boring.
Share-ability is an essential consideration. Also, aspire to illicit engagement from your audience. Be available in DMs. Direct traffic to your site. A well managed social platform shows a serious commitment to your brand and your community.
The most direct way to generate new traffic is through advertisements. While many of us have a bad taste in our mouths because of the unending bombardment of unsolicited information via ads, a good one still moves us. Think: Super Bowl.
Seek to authentically add value with your ads and you will separate yourself from 99% of the competition. Remember, if you’re going to interrupt someone in the middle of whatever they’re doing, it better be worth their time. The technology behind modern ad platforms is genuinely mind boggling and even a bit scary. Get specific about who you’re looking for and you will find them.
The importance of producing authentically engaging content cannot be emphasized enough. For brands looking to significantly scale their reach, an investment in professional videography enables them to flood their channels with authentically engaging information. This shows a growing audience that the company is committed to keeping their community in the know and to their own business growth goals.
Video content has a powerful SEO impact and satisfies social media algorithms in a way that neither photography nor copywriting just can’t compete with. Video’s are the amalgamation of visuals and verbiage and should be seen as the pinnacle of your company’s content.
How do you collect from customers? This question is one that every business owner must answer – otherwise, they won’t be able to make money, which is a sure way to fail.
The proper style of point of sale (P.O.S.) system will vary based on the business. For example, restaurants & retail have a significantly higher quantity of transactions than say a service provider like myself. So, where I prefer the ability to create personalized invoices for my clients, a brick and mortar furniture store would have no real use for that feature. However, seamless integrations with their E-Commerce platform would be integral for their operation and entirely useless in mine.
There is an immense amount of publicly available information that identifies the best P.O.S.’s by industry, and I’ve often leaned on these lists when helping clients build their business infrastructure.
How do you keep track of customers? Fresh prospects and return customers alike must be easily accessible in order to maintain communications and move forward with projects.
As they say, data is the new oil. All of the information you can get is valuable to your company, even if the deal doesn’t close and the customer goes cold. While keeping contacts organized is of the utmost importance, finding opportunities to automate communications is what’s truly awesome.
Automation unlocks a new echelon of your operations – just imagine having all your leads line up in an orderly fashion as they await your next action instead of feeling like you have to cater to their every whim. That’s what implementing automation feels like.
Staying organized throughout project fulfillment becomes increasingly difficult as your organization expands. More products to provide and people to oversee means more moving parts and added complexity.
P/T.M (project/task management) systems are software tools that help you uphold S.O.P.s with ease, thus freeing up your attention to add value rather than trying to just avoid dropping a ball. These tools are designed to facilitate your workflow and eliminate excess administrative tasks.
Like with POS systems and CRMs, there are an array of P/T.Ms out there for every industry. The good ones are well tailored to fit most business models within the industry, but the best ones are customizable to your unique workflow. Integrating these tools with your full stack of digital assets can open up incredible amounts of bandwidth for you and your entire operation.
As I said earlier, given the same tools and materials, two people will build different houses. Though this checklist outlines the list of technologies, assets, and tactics to use in your marketing, the true art of it all lies in the way your sales funnel is architected.
Not sure how to apply any of this information? Keep your eyes peeled for a coming blog which paints a picture of my “dream funnel”, aka the funnel that I’m actively building for my brand. The blog will show how these different components work together to create a seamless brand experience for anyone who I’m eager to offer my services to. You’ll be able to find that blog right here when it’s published, so stay tuned.
While this checklist should serve you well as a guide while you begin building your brand identity, messaging campaign, and business infrastructure, it is by no means exhaustive. Each of the 15 items on this list deserves a full blog, a full course even – and in time, you may be able to find those resources right here. However, in the meantime, the best way to get more information about any of these concepts is to connect with me, Nate O, the founder and principal agent here at O&Co.
The Emergence of Artificially Intelligent Writing Tools Small Talk With Artificial Intelligence Chat GPT has caused some real uproar lately. The emergence