Your high-tier offers aren’t always the biggest profit drivers in your business.
You’d be surprised to find that sometimes, your low-ticket or mid-ticket offers might be your biggest source of revenue. The thing is—not every business owner knows what their profit drivers are. Since revenue is only one part of the equation, profit drivers can be hidden in plain sight.
Let’s shine some light on the profit drivers you didn’t know existed. As an ELITE Coach and founder of Jeronamo Solutions, Monique Morrison has figured out exactly how to know what products and services are bringing in the cash—and which are burning through it. In her Lab workshop, she went over how to look at your revenue vs. resources to build an evergreen growth machine.
We’re going to take a look at part of that training today, with a point-based system that Monique’s nailed down to show us what the real profit drivers of our business are.
How To Calculate Your Profit Drivers
Step One: Make a list of your products and services
Consulting? Done-for-you services? eCommerce products? Write down everything you sell so you can figure out which of these services/products is a profit driver. If you’re selling a lot of different eCommerce products, you can categorize them if that makes more sense for you.
Step Two: Average how long each of these products/services takes to complete
Monique does this with a points system. For every 1 hour spent on a task, she gives it 1 point. This points system is going to help us figure out your average revenue per point to figure out your profit drivers.
For Jeronamo Solutions, their website building service requires about 30-45 hours of the team’s time. This means it requires about 30-45 points. Their marketing services average 12 hours or 12 points.
You don’t have to break your points up by hour if you find that some products/services take less than that time. You can allocate 15 minutes per one point if that works better for you. If you don’t know exactly how long a service/product takes, estimate the time (and then points) so you can get an idea for your profit drivers. Then, start time tracking so you can get an official average of how long each task takes you and update your calculations.
Step Three: Figure out the average number of units sold
How many units do you sell on average of a product or service in a set amount of time? You can do this monthly, quarterly, or annually if you’re reflecting on the past year.
Step Four: Write down the price per unit
How much does each of these services/products cost individually? Write down the price per unit for every product/service on your list.
Step Five: Calculate the Average Revenue Per Sale
It’s time to grab your calculator. The next few steps are going to be calculations that are going to show you what products and services are the real profit drivers of your business. To figure out the average revenue per sale:
Multiply the average units sold by the price per unit to get the average revenue per sale. Do this for each of your products/services. Bring that number with you to the next step.
Step Six: Calculate the Average Revenue Per Point
This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. You’re going to see what the true profit drivers of your business are—and not fall into the trap of thinking your high-ticket offer is your highest revenue source.
To calculate the average revenue per point:
Now you know how much you’re making on a per point basis. If your points are equal to 1 hour, you’ll know what you’re making hourly on each of your services/products.
You officially know what services are providing you the highest revenue per point. Now have your profit drivers! Finding your Average Revenue Per Point will give you those “Ah-ha!” moments of figuring out where your revenue lies in terms of optimizing time spent.
Knowing your profit drivers might mean your business is taking a big shift. Maybe your low-tier offers are your profit drivers, or maybe you were spot on in thinking your high-ticket offers were your profit drivers. Either way, it’s time to take some action. Now you can shift your business towards these profit drivers, and away from the services/products eating away at your resources.
How To Capitalize On Your Profit Drivers
Isn’t data amazing? It takes us from saying, “I think this is the best direction for my business,” to “I know this is the right direction.” Knowing your profit drivers, we can now figure out how you can shift your business to allocate more time towards them.
Let’s look at what *wasn’t* a profit driver. We don’t have to throw those offers right out the window, but we do want to figure out how we can make them either take less time or cost more so they have a higher Average Revenue Per Point.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you try to create profit drivers out of not-so-profit-friendly offers:
Do we need to keep this service/product?
How can we make this service/product take less time and resources?
What can we add to make this service/product more expensive?
When will we make these changes?
When will we run through these calculations again to see if this offer has turned into a profit driver?
Notice the last question. It is so important that you not only make changes to your offers that are holding your team back, but that you’re putting them to the test. These offers need to be upgraded, and then they need to prove their still worthy of sticking around.
Running these calculations regularly will keep your business running smoothly. As Monique puts it, this is how you create your evergreen growth engine. When your offers are all profit drivers—your business is the one everybody else is jealous of. It’s the business that’s built on profit-driving data that ensures you’re spending your time and resources on the right thing.
And, it’s the business that can withstand more storms. Ryan Deiss talked about anti-fragile marketing at the 2020 T&C 360i event, and Monique’s revenue vs. resources approach fits perfectly into his perspective.
Building a business on a foundation of profit-drivers, and recalculating regularly so you know when one of those profit drivers has gone astray, will help your business be anti-fragile.
Use Monique’s Point System to be confident in what services/products you should be spending time on, and which you need to seriously contemplate breaking up with. And also, feel free to throw these calculations in a spreadsheet so you can have the computer do the calculations for you. (You know we had to add a way to make this even more efficient).
As the pandemic subsides, shoppers, diners, tourists and consumers of all kinds are going to go OUT. And when they go, they are going big. Marketers will need to know where their ideal customers go, how often they visit, competitors they’re shopping at — as much as they can know about the offline consumer journey. Reaching those audiences will be critical to business growth and will separate the 2021 winners from the laggards.
We saw a massive shift to online in 2020 because no one had a choice, NOW in 2021 those that shifted have choices. The first is to wing it, and carry on thinking they know what they are doing, the second is to get trained or outsource what they are doing to make sure they are benefitting from the new normal. Without doing one or the other, businesses will eventually fail, which just makes me sad.
The massive and sweeping emphasis on privacy is going to alter (and significantly inhibit) the way advertisers are able to target and track prospects. This might be the first time in the history of online advertising that we have actually gone backwards in terms of our ability to capture and utilize data. I believe this is going to place a heavy emphasis on the quality of the creative being used in online ads as well as the need to monitor and optimize the entire user journey (not just the conversion event). Advertisers are going to need to work to qualify prospects through intrinsic values (like user behavior and action) instead of relying as heavily on extrinsic values (like demographic information). The Customer Value Journey just became that much more important!
We will begin to see a crack in the Facebook/Google ad duopoly as Amazon continues to steal share from Google search ads and networks like Spotify, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, become more proficient at serving ads. These smaller networks are gaining ground in the areas of audience targeting, self-serve ad platforms, and cost-per-acquisition (CPA and CPL) objectives rather than just CPM models. 2021 is a good year to dip your toes in the waters of some of these smaller ad platforms and start testing.
Rachel Pedersen, Consultant and Strategist at The Viral Touch & Social Media United
2021 is an entirely new look at social media and marketing. After a long year of growth, hardship, and survival (for many), people are ready to experience authenticity on a new level. Here’s how to implement it: everything stems from intention.
It sounds fluffy, but it’s actually incredibly foundational.
What is your intention with that Instagram post? Sales or service? What is the intention behind your YouTube video? Vanity metrics or value? What is your intention for replying to comments? Engagement or connection?
By starting with your intention before creating a single piece of content, your fans/followers will feel the authentic care you and your brand have for them. Instead of resisting new platforms such as Clubhouse and TikTok, lean into the intention of showing up where your customers are.
Here are some starting points and ideas for intentions:
To serve our fans and followers deeply.
To help our customers get out of pain/frustration by offering solutions that actually help them.
To understand our fanbase more deeply and meet them in their need. To bring light to the issues that matter to our people.
Apply this prediction to your marketing, and watch your fans/followers soar as your intention is felt.
In 2020, at AccessAlly we saw a huge wave of face-to-face trainers, associations, and business owners creating online courses and membership sites because of COVID-19 lockdowns across the world.
In 2021, these newly minted online businesses will get more sophisticated, and find ways to differentiate themselves by:
Selling “bulk course licensing”, where a course creator can sell multiple seats in a program to a company and earn more for their intellectual property than they could have selling courses to individuals.
Fighting Zoom fatigue with short actionable self-paced learning videos, and asynchronous communication through forums and Slack groups.
I believe that 2021 will be the year of channel diversification for paid social spend. Historically, the majority of the ad budget for eCommerce brands has gone towards Facebook and Instagram advertising. However, with all of the changes coming next year with iOS 14, Facebook’s tracking, targeting, and reporting may not be as effective as previous years. I believe that this will have brands looking at channels like Snapchat, TikTok, and Pinterest more seriously. The ad tech, especially on Snapchat, is getting more advanced and many brands are seeing similar returns on Snapchat as they do on Facebook, so I believe there will be much more marketing spend dedicated to Snapchat next year.
As often happens when markets get more crowded and more sophisticated, some people win and some people lose. Because with more opportunity, comes more competition. And competition has never been fiercer on all the major online platforms — especially Google, Facebook and Instagram. Ask anyone who runs a Facebook ad agency and they’ll tell you that it’s getting harder and harder to get a significant return on ad spend (ROAS). I often tell my students that they need to be prepared to blow at least $10K on Facebook ads (if not a whole lot more) before they see any real return. The same goes for getting listed on the first page of Google or getting views, clicks and comments on social media… While it IS still possible, it’s harder and harder to “get lucky” on talent and charisma alone. You have to develop a highly specialized skill set and give each platform what its specific algorithm wants. Which means that, with some notable exceptions, the businesses and individuals with deeper pockets, deeper connections or deeper marketing chops are winning the internet… and the middle is dropping out. The big players are either getting bigger or stepping off the field as savvy new competitors leap onto the bench to take their place. So don’t despair — if you’re reading this article — you still have the opportunity to get on the bench if you’re willing to learn the skills you need to succeed online — not just through talent and charisma, but through smarts and savvy.
The Death of the Dabbler
With more opportunity and more competition, it’s not enough just to play the game. You have to play the game to win. With so much competition and the challenge in finding your audience online, you have to double down and go all in if you’re going to succeed and take a spot on the bench as a real player. Because the middle is dropping out, it’s easy to stay stuck at the starting gate, especially if you’re not 100% in. If you’re not fully aligned and on your mark, you won’t make it on the bench. So on the one hand the old guard is stepping down and new spots are opening up, and on the other hand it’s becoming harder to grab those spots unless you specialize (Trend #2) and develop real internet marketing savvy (Trend #4). The internet used to be the place where a “newbie” could become “internet famous” literally overnight. And while that’s DEFINITELY still possible… it now takes real commitment and chops to build an audience and grow your business online. There is no silver bullet. You have to put in the time, learn proven strategies to succeed (or as I like to say, be the scientist in the experiment lab of your business) and go all in.
The Apple vs. Facebook war is going to have seismic changes to Facebook advertisers. We are headed “back to the future” where advertisers will need to use Facebook as a traffic source but completely unable to trust, verify, or count on the reporting accuracy.
There is a massive opportunity around incorporating Personalization in your marketing in 2021. But not just any type of Personalization. There has been a massive backlash toward what’s known as “Algorithmic Personalization.” This is when the major advertising networks – like Facebook & Google – use the massive amount of data they have around our behavior online to show us content, ads, and products that their algorithm “thinks” we might like.
This has come to a head in Q4 2020, when Apple announced that IOS 14.3 would come with standard privacy features preventing Facebook from tracking your “off platform” behavior to feed their Big Data algorithm.
Why did Apple do this? In response to user demand, naturally. To cater to the fact that we as users of the internet, don’t want the “robot overlords” telling us what to like, what to think, and what to buy. At the same time, with the vast amount of data, information, and options to sort through online, as users we STILL rely on heuristics to help us decide “which one is right for me” when it comes to making purchasing decisions online. This is where the BIG personalization opportunity comes in. While people don’t want “Algorithmic Personalization” to tell us what to do, we DO want to be actively involved (and aware) of the personalization experience online. To make choices around what CONTENT we want to see and what PRODUCTS we want to buy. This is what’s known as “Interactive Personalization”. Where the user is given a CHOICE, and AGENCY over expressing their preferences online. In other words, instead of choices being made algorithmically, without us being aware of it happening behind the scenes… The big opportunity is to INVITE your visitors to PARTICIPATE in the choice. Tactically what that means is this: Invite them to answer questions when they land on your website so you can show them the right content or the right product based on how they ANSWER those questions. In other words, to use what’s known as a “QUIZ Funnel”. We recently USED this strategy ourselves to generate over $8.59M in less than 55 days.
And there are thousands of entrepreneurs having success with this very strategy, anywhere from launching from ground zero – to generating hundreds of leads and customers every single day.
This is a strategy we’re going ALL IN on in 2021, and it’s a powerful HEDGE against the battles BIG TECH will be fighting – between companies like Apple, Facebook, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, and Microsoft. It’s a way to TAKE BACK CONTROL of your business, and deliver a powerful, personalization experience for your users so that you can ultimately better SELL and better SERVE in 2021 and beyond.
In 2021, we’ll see the biggest increase in businesses using chatbot marketing to date (AKA marketing with mobile messaging apps.)
Why? Because businesses can now market on 3 of the biggest messaging apps in the world: Facebook Messenger, Instagram DM, WhatsApp.
As a marketer, you can grow lists on Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram DM, and automate conversationsfor hundreds of use cases.
In 2016, we saw Facebook enable marketers with Messenger bots. Messenger has been an incredible guinea pig for marketers to understand conversational psychology and what leads/customers want to be able to do in a conversation.
Now, we get to level up to the next phase of marketing with messaging apps: Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram – collectively and individually.
If you’re wondering what you can do right now… As of January 2021, Messenger bots are already available for you to utilize at full force; Instagram DM bots are in private beta (we’re currently testing use cases with Facebook); and WhatsApp bots are in private beta (we’re currently testing use cases with Facebook.)
2020 exponentially grew the number of mobile messaging app users and the amount of time they spend on the apps everyday. More businesses than ever had to open up communication channels via messaging apps that they didn’t have before, or they would’ve gone out of business.
Even if you don’t personally plan to learn this new skill of conversational marketing, you need to at least understand how it works and plays a role in a company’s marketing system.
When I think about success in 2021, I believe it’s going to be more important than ever to go back to the foundations and basics of marketing as the online space gets more and more saturated. I have 8 predictions that I believe will be critical for your marketing success in 2021:
1. There will be a greater importance of knowing your customer value and your customer’s average life cycle (how long it takes from the time that they first join your list to be coming a paying customer). In 2020, my team and I have seen that the average customer lifestyle is increasing. This data is key as this should drive your strategy. If you know that it takes, on average, three months for one of your leads to go from initially joining your list to becoming a paying customer, then you can plan your marketing strategy and projections around that. It will also be vital to know your average customer value as ad costs continue to increase. You’ll need to know exactly how much you can pay for a lead and still be profitable – and if you realize you’re not going to be profitable after pulling this data, this will allow you to strategize ways to increase your customer value.
2. Videos and Instagram Reels are going to continue to take precedent and convert better than ads that use images. Over the last several months, I’ve seen that ads that are using short videos or Instagram Reel are cutting CPM’s (cost per thousand impressions) in half. I believe that this will continue to be the case as Facebook tries to compete with Tik Tok.
3. Facebook groups will start dying in 2021 (if they aren’t already dead). I’ve seen that as an admin of a Facebook group, your posts only receive a fraction of the reach and engagement as your group’s members’ posts and it’s become increasingly more difficult to get your Facebook group members to convert into customers. If you’ve already established a highly engaged community on Facebook, I think you’ll be okay, but I wouldn’t go into 2021 trying to build a new group from scratch. I think you should instead put more effort into direct methods of nurturing and connecting with people like podcasts, engagement videos, reaching out via Instagram DM’s, etc.
4. Innovating your webinar experience will be critical. The digital marketing space is heavily saturated with webinars, many of which follow the same templates, formulas, and pitching techniques that your audience has probably seen hundreds of times before. If you want to have success with your webinars in 2021 and prevent your audience from tuning you out, you MUST innovate the experience you take your customer on so that you stand out rather than get drowned out. You’ll need to consider how you can connect with your audience more, how you can get them to engage, how you can provide them valuable content they can’t find anywhere else. That may mean making it shorter, longer, turning it in to a workshop, turning it in to a pop-up podcast series, refreshing the title and the content regularly, etc.
5. Nurturing your audience will become increasingly important as the online space gets more and more crowded. There’s so much more noise in webinars, funnels, and online businesses than there was a few years ago. This doesn’t mean it will be impossible to find success, it just means you have to stand out and connect with your audience. To do that, you must prioritize consistently showing up for your audience to deliver extremely valuable content that makes an impact in their lives. You must also a solid nurturing strategy for people who don’t even know about you/your brand yet through brand awareness and visibility content, in addition to nurturing the people who DO already know about you, but haven’t bought from you yet. Why? Because there’s a huge percentage of people out there who are going to join your list, watch your video, listen to your podcast, whatever it may be, but not be a customer yet. You have to strategically nurture those people and bring them back to your offer if you want them to convert. If you don’t care about showing up for your audience and how you can positively impact them, you will not have lasting success.
6. You must refresh and innovate your ad creative in order to stand out and stop the scroll. You can’t just put up templated images and ad copy – that won’t cut it. You’ll need focus on connection, emotion, community, and trust in your ads and go even deeper if you want to stand out from your competition and attract your ideal clients and customers.
7. Online businesses will continue to boom. I think course sales and coaching services are going to go way up next year as more people are moving online. More people are catching up to where those of us who are established in the digital marketing space have been for years now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. More people are getting on Zoom, exploring remote learning, bringing their businesses online, utilizing Facebook ads, etc. I think a lot of people are going to be investing in courses that are going to help them figure out what they need to do to have success online and create a new reality for themselves. So if you’re able to serve your audience in that way in 2021, I see immense success for your business.
8. The life cycle of how long content is good for will shorten. I think at least once a quarter next year you’re going to have to seriously look at your marketing, your strategy and your messaging, and make pivots and changes where needed, based on what your data is telling you. Maybe four years ago you could get away with not updating your content for six months to a year, but not so much anymore. The people who step up with value, innovation, updated content and creative, and show up for their audience in that proactive and consistent way will be the ones who do the best next year.
2020 forced a lot of business owners online. And of all the many free tools available to grow a business online today, social media has proven to be at the top in terms of its effectiveness.
When it comes to using Instagram to grow a business (arguably the world’s #1 social app and the darling child of its parent company Facebook), here’s what I predict for 2021: photo-only feeds will continue to kill your account’s engagement.
What worked in 2016 is no longer effective for 2021. Gone are the days of perfectly posed or edited images. Instagram is no longer a place for photographers to show their snaps, but is a content hub of videos, memes, lives and reality TV-like stories.
Businesses need to get on video. Even if it’s a 15-second story just to get comfortable on camera. But the key is to start today. Because customers buy from brands they feel a connection to and video is the fastest way to create that connection.
Find and use the tools that make content creation fun and fast. Here are a few of my faves:
Canva for quote cards and memes
Kapwing for videos like IGTV
InShot for making Reels outside of the Instagram app
With that said, if turning your account into a video hub sounds intimidating, start small: film yourself on Instagram Stories and then move onto Instagram Reels. I’ll bet you’ll see faster growth in 2021 just by using these two free tools of Instagram.
What a decade this year has been. Covid has accelerated many trends, not least consumer behaviour & with it, digital marketing. But where will that take us in ‘21 & what will you need to focus on to best serve your clients?
I believe you have three main options ahead of you as a Digital Marketer:
Data: dive deep into the data side, understand automation & where AI (& ML) can help.
Creativity: get really good at persuasive copy, crafting offers & understanding human behaviour.
Strategy: or sit above both disciplines. Be able to synthesis information from a wide variety of sources & weave them into your decision making.
For this short prediction post, I’ll focus on data and drill down into Google Ads.
Under the guise of ‘privacy’ expect the ad platforms to continue to pass on less & less data to you in the future. For example, Google no longer tells you the video what your Youtube ad showed on, just the channel. And, as of Sep 2020, they dramatically reduced the Search Query data you can access.
Of course we’ve all known for a while that ITP & no third-party cookies will affect our tracking & reduce the reliance on remarketing (would you buy shares in criteo?). 2021 will likely see a rise in other tracking methods (think digital coupon codes) as well as marketers focusing on longer-term, more valuable metrics, like lifetime value (LTV).
If you’re not already focusing on how to get more/better first-party data, start soon.
We need to use the data we do have to make better predictions (& decisions) about the near future. According to BCG only 9% of CMOs can accurately predict the result of a 10% shift in marketing investment.
We’ve certainly seen a shift in this direction at my agency, WebSavvy.com.au with clients delighted by dashboards & spreadsheets that model various scenarios and forecast changes in ROAS, ROI & LTV.
How certain are you about the return you’ll get from your next $20,000 in a particular channel?
Don’t expect the ad platforms to try & optimise your profit any time soon. Spending more to get additional leads & sales isn’t always the best approach.
Google’s little used ‘Performance Planner’ is a case in point. They’ll show you cumulative charts (that always go up & right) for cost & conversions, but if you want to maximise profit you MUST understand the incremental cost & revenue. Sure your average CPA might only go from $50 to $52 but if that means the next lead actually costs you $250, was that a sensible investment?
Google recently improved this tool to work with Shopping campaigns as well as Search, but unfortunately don’t have plans to release Performance Planner data via their Ads API, so we built a tool to help you use it. Head to www.AgencySavvy.com/blog to find out more.
Google continues to push brands & agencies alike to use it’s range of ‘smart’ tools in Google Ads. It’s smart bidding is excellent & much stronger than it was 2 years ago, but be wary of using tools like ‘smart campaigns’ until you’ve mastered the fundamentals
(readers of this blog can get my $299 Google Ad Fundamentals course for free here).
We all know that Google is an AI-first company & possibly the biggest user of AI, at least outside of China. So expect them to continue to force more automation & AI on us.
Not all AI is bad of course. Models like GPT-3 (at least, cherry-picked examples) showed mind-boggling creativity. It can do wonderful things (write code, poetry, even do math), but it can’t be relied on 100% & when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong. So use tools like UseBroca.com, Copy.ai & UseTopic.com as idea generators, not something to replace your team.
And if SEO is your thing, keep an eye on this, as natural language answers, like those GPT-3 is able to give, will likely change the entire world of Search sooner than we think.
2021 no doubt has many surprises in store for us.
Use your time to rebuild & prepare—whatever you thought wouldn’t happen until 2030, get ready for that now. The future is here.
There’s one thing that every business owner has in common: they want their business to succeed.
It doesn’t matter what industry they’re in, what product they sell, or what problem they solve. Every business owner wants to rise to the top…
Most people know what success feels like… but what does success look like?
Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to be super complicated to figure out. Because, although success could look slightly different depending on what you do, almost every business can track success with one thing: the right metrics.
It’s a methodology for tracking growth that Monique Morrison, Co-Founder of Jeronamo Digital Solutions and a DigitalMarketer ELITE Coach, uses for her clients every day. She spoke at her recent DigitalMarketer workshop about the power of metrics, and how to use them to project and achieve growth for your business.
Why High-Level Success Metrics Are Important
Using the right metrics to track how your business is doing is a surefire way to tell if you’re growing your business. They’re trackable, concrete, easy to understand, and they take the guess work out of the process.
You can track where you are right now and how that compares to this time last month or last year. And, most importantly, you can use those numbers to project what success will look like a year later.
When we map out what went right and what went wrong with our business, looking to the past is great. But none of it matters unless we figure out how to take what we learned from the past and apply it to the future. Tracking the right metrics gives you the milestones and checkpoints your need to hit by helping you evaluate exactly what you were able to do in the past.
Reliable ways to quantify success can’t be undervalued. In an evolving business world where you are always looking for an edge on your competition, it can often be better to look inside instead of outside. Tracking your success metrics allows you to bring something concrete to the table when you are figuring out what worked really well and what didn’t work so well at all.
And the best part is you don’t have to spend a dime to track your own metrics. It only takes time and a little bit of effort.
What Metrics Matter
Truthfully, there are lots of metrics that could matter for your business.
But there are some general metrics that are helpful for every business to keep track of. But that also largely depends on if you’re a project/service-based business or an ecommerce/retail business.
Project and Service-Based business will need to track:
Sales count month-by-month
Lead conversion rate
Landing page conversion rate
Average cost per click and click-through rate
Ecommerce and retail businesses will need to track:
Sales count month-by-month
Unique visitors by month
Average ad cost per click and click-through rate
These are the stats that matter the most for your business, because they are the ones that will give you the bird’s-eye view of when things are going right. These metrics are very broad, and account for a culmination of all of the work that you’re doing. Which means they all translate to whether there is money trickling into your business’s bank account.
Let’s do a deep dive as to why these stats are important.
Revenue month-by-month is the metric that every business should be tracking, regardless of industry or niche, to measure and project growth. It’s literally the number that tells you how much money is flowing into your business, and one that you definitely already have your eye on. Without tacking it, you’re going to be underprepared to do even basic business analysis.
There is only one part of this metric that could use explanation: the timespan. Although some companies may elect to do a formal evaluation of their revenue on a yearly basis, monthly evaluation is more effective. That way you can see the way your revenue fluctuates with different promotions or marketing strategies, and then you can learn how to analyze and adapt those strategies in a timely manner.
If you try to track it on a weekly basis, you’re going to risk overreacting to inconsequential shifts. And the last thing you want to do is drive yourself insane.
Monthly tracking is the way to go. As for finding those numbers, you need to look no further than your books or your bank statements. If you have a designated accountant, ask them. It’s that simple, but it really is important.
Sales Count Month-by-Month
Similar to revenue, this is important for every business to track. Your sales count lets you see the how many sales you’re making and the money you’re bringing in, but it also adds important context to your revenue number.
That’s because this metric is analyzing the number of sales, not the amount of money. It’ll allow you to look at your revenue and understand if you’re converting a bunch of small sales, or a few really high-dollar sales. That will let you analyze the kind of audience you need to be targeting, letting you optimize your marketing plan.
You can also use it to find the customers giving you those high-dollar sales, so you can send them an exclusive deal as a little thank you.
To find this number, you can look in your ecommerce platforms or keep a manual count if you’re a brick and mortar business.
Average Ad Cost per Click And Click-Through Rate
Both of these metrics will let you gauge the effectiveness of your online advertisements. It tracks not only the amount of money you’re paying to have them seen, but also how often people actually click and interact with them. It’s important because digital advertising is one of the cornerstones of any great marketing strategy and knowing how to optimize your ads is essential to achieving growth.
To find these numbers, look no further than the platforms that you’re advertising on. Facebook and Google, as well as any other platform that you may be on, will provide these statistics for you. All you have to know is what they mean.
Unique Visitors by Month
Tracking unique visitors is an important task for ecommerce businesses because their business is entirely online. It’s the same reason brick-and-mortar businesses like to keep track of how many people are coming in and out of the store. If you can’t get people through the (virtual) door, you’re never going to have a chance to sell anything.
Knowing your unique visitor count can also help you gauge the effectiveness of your advertising and SEO, as well as the persuasiveness of your landing and product pages. If people aren’t visiting your website, then you know there’s probably changes that you can make to help generate more traffic and, in turn, more sales. If your number of visitors is high but your sales are low, then you’ll know that your advertising and outreach aren’t the problem.
You can find this statistic on the dashboard of your website, as well as through Google Analytics and even some of your advertising platforms.
Lead Conversion Rate and No-Show/Cancellation Rate
Although these stats are different, they’re also one in the same—mainly because it’s easy to track them both at the same time.
For project and service-based industries, a large portion of your job is lead generation. Your goal is to create leads and then convert them into customers, and these statistics will help you determine exactly that. Are you turning leads into customers?
Of course, you want your lead conversion rate to be high and your cancellation rate to be low. But it’s important to keep track of both because it will paint the most complete picture.
By comparing them side by side, you’re going to be able to see the rate in which you convert. Then you can use that to project roughly how many new clients you can expect to get over any given period of time doing what you’re doing. Then you can have a baseline when you try new things to raise that lead conversion rate.
As for finding this data, you can find it in your Google Analytics or turn to your CRM software. Anywhere you track or organize potential clients, you can track how effective your lead generation (and closure) is.
Remember that these stats are important because they not only show what all you’ve been able to accomplish, but they also let you project what you’ll be able to accomplish in the future.
And having a good idea of where your business is going is one of the most powerful tools you can have.
Numbers don’t lie—that’s why metrics are your business’s best friend. They take all of the guessing out of growth and tell you exactly how well your business is doing. And as you can see from the metrics above, there are all sorts of numbers that tell you helpful things about your business.
Then you can use all those numbers to paint a completely honest picture of your business.
And once you have that, you can start to make changes that you need to achieve growth. Then, you can see if you were able to do it by simply comparing your current numbers to your previous numbers.
It really is that simple, but it’s also really that powerful. You can impact your business’s success in real time, all by taking the time to figure out what success actually looks like. And although that includes money in your bank account, metrics show you that success goes so much further than that.
Track metrics and take control of your business. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
If your morning cup of coffee wasn’t the kick in the butt you needed to get your day started, these women are sure to inspire you to get to work.
With millions of dollars in revenue and millions more generated for their clients through their marketing strategies, these women in marketing are inspiring to say the least. They’ve built massive businesses based on their entrepreneurial bug, and many have continued to create 7-figure and viral results for their clients while balancing being a mom.
Here’s who you should watch out for because you need to be listening to and learning from all of them.
As one of the world’s most requested motivational speakers, Lisa Nichols is known for transforming lives. It all started with changing her own life from being a single mother on paid assistance to the founder and CEO Of Motivating Masses. Through her platform, she’s been able to serve almost 80 million people by giving them the tools they need to live the life they want to achieve.
Lisa Nichols is a 6x best-selling author and has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, The Dr. Phil Show, The Steve Harvey Show, and Extra. She’s received the Humanitarian Award from South Africa, The Ambassador Award, and the LEGO Foundation‘s Heart of Learning Award. Lisa also has a non-profit foundation Motivating The Teen Spirit, where she’s helped 270,000 teens and directly stopped teen suicide, dropouts, and reunited families.
When she’s not flying as a pilot in the sky, Jackie Hermes is on the ground helping B2B SaaS businesses grow faster as the CEO of Accelity. While working in the marketing department of a SaaS company, she started a side hustle selling $5 bags of cookies at Farmer’s Markets. That side hustle helped her start Accelity, which has grown from a business of one to a team of more than fourteen SaaS and marketing passionates.
Jackie leveraged LinkedIn to grow Accelity and has grown her audience on the platform to over 30,000 followers. She now helps B2B SaaS businesses with everything from planning to execution until the founders exit the company or decide to grow their in-house team.
Danielle Canty and Natalie Ellis had a huge problem with the fact that only 18% of women can hit six figures in their business and that only 2% reach the 7-figure mark. Their brand BossBabe fixes that. With free and paid programs, BossBabe has worked with over 100,000+ women to help them make their professional and personal dreams a reality.
With a strong value for collaboration over competition, Danielle and Natalie have built their business on transparency. They’ve grown the BossBabe Instagram following to over 2.7 million followers and have leveraged that audience to create a 7-figure business in their first year. While Danielle focuses on growth strategy, operations, and memberships, Natalie markets the BossBabe brand through her marketing zone of genius.
If you ask Rachel Miller, organic traffic is not a myth. It’s an achievable marketing result if you’re implementing the right strategies. Rachel is the founder of Moolah Marketing, where she’s helped over 3,444 businesses grow on social and reach virality. She helps small businesses to celebrity companies to Fortune 500 companies get traction on social media.
Through her program Page Strategies, Rachel shows businesses how they can create an active, engaged audience on social and convert them into customers. As a contributing writer at DigitalMarketer, Rachel proves time and time again how well she understands the customer’s mind and how to position your brand to get the results you’re looking for.
Kristen Bryant is the Director of Content Marketing at Help Scout, a certified B-corp that helps businesses communicate with their customers. Kristen’s focus is on creating Help Scout’s content strategy, growing their audience and leads, and managing content creators and strategists.
Before her role at Help Scout, Kristen worked at Wistia, helping market the Wistia long-form video series and launching a new business line. She also cultivated strategic partnerships and the event strategy and represented Wistia as a speaker on various podcasts and shows.
With the goal of helping 1 million entrepreneurs create their business, Marisa Murgatroyd spends her days helping those entrepreneurs live their message. After realizing the world wasn’t going to change with a top-down approach, she built a business that approaches reality through a bottom-up perspective. By giving entrepreneurs the tools and strategies they need to share their message with the world, Marisa is able to make change one person at a time.
Live Your Message has helped clients like Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely, and Susan Peirce Thompson establish their online presence. With Marisa’s expertise, new entrepreneurs don’t have to wait for their chance to be featured in big publications. They can live the reality they’ve always wanted (and build the entire thing from the comfort of their living room).
Julie Stoain has brought in over $1 million in sales from a spreadsheet. That’s a pretty great lead magnet strategy if you ask us. As a digital marketing expert, coach, and co-founder of Create Your Laptop Life, Funnel Gorgeous, Digital Insiders, and more, she gives new business owners the skills and strategies they need to build and grow a profitable online business.
In less than three years, she grew her business to $3 million and has now been featured on Content Academy, Boss Moms, GoDaddy Garage Blog, and Funnelhacker Radio. Through her businesses, she teaches aspiring entrepreneurs the growth hacks and strategies that will help them succeed with their digital marketing strategy.
If you’ve spent the last year wondering if you should be on TikTok—Rachel Pedersen has the answer for you. With 568,000 followers on the platform and the title of “Queen of Social Media,” she helps businesses create the growth they’ve been waiting for from social. She also teaches busy parents how to be Social Media Managers so they can get the career freedom they’ve been looking for.
As the Founder and CEO of 2 multimillion-dollar companies, Rachel’s proud of having accomplished her dreams and being able to help other entrepreneurs do the same. Her client wins include growing a skincare company by 6,725% (creating multi-million-dollar revenue), scaling a weight-loss company from $300,000 a year to $3 million a year in less than one year, and helping five clients go viral with over 10 million views.
Competitive analysis is one of the most important tasks a business owner can undertake.
There’s a reason why every successful company invests lots of time (and sometimes even money) into the process, and why most new businesses start their journey by sizing up their competitors. But it’s something you need to be doing no matter where you are in your business life cycle.
And that’s because competitive analysis is like a multi-tool for your business. It not only allows you to understand the competitors that you’re up against, but it also shows you all the ways your business could be doing more. By taking a look to the outside, you can better understand what you need to be doing on the inside. Examining your competitors’ success and failures lets you plan for the long road ahead.
And that’s truly what businessowners want: to understand how you can find an edge in your industry. How you can set yourself apart and become the biggest fish in the pond.
That’s why your business should be investing time and money into competitive analysis. Because it could very well be the difference maker that ends up skyrocketing your sales and success.
Why It’s Important to (Continue) to Gauge the Competition
If you’re just starting your business, then you know you’ll want to do everything to get your competitive analysis right. If you’ve already had a fair amount of success, then chances are you did a pretty good job at it the first time around.
But no matter if you’re just starting out or have been serving people for years, it never hurts to know what your competition is up to. And, chances are, your competitive analysis can always be better.
Do you think Starbucks got to the top of the coffee industry and completely forgot about their competitors? Do you think McDonald’s doesn’t keep up with what Burger King and Wendy’s are doing? Those businesses are at the top of their industries for a reason: they always look for the things that can make them better.
And it’s impossible to do that without investing in the resources to figure out what you’re up against.
What Makes for Good Competitive Analysis
A lot of people think that the question to gauge competitive analysis effectiveness is, “do I better understand my competitors?” The question they really need to be asking is, “Do I best understand my competitors?”
Because, if you’re going to put the time and effort, you might as well do the best job that you can.
Stephanie Nivinskus, the CEO of SizzleForce Marketing, shared her competitive analysis strategy during a DigitalMarketer Certified Partner Training Day. Stephanie has helped many clients do cutting-edge competitive analysis that’s allowed them to get an edge on their competitors.
Any of level of competitive analysis will be useful. But when the most successful companies do competitive analysis, they go all in. They examine their competition from every possible angle and try to put themselves in their competitors’ shoes.
So, if there was one general rule for good, effective competitive analysis, it would be this: be creative. Those who think outside the box won’t just be able to examine their competition effectively; they’ll also be able to come up with the solutions that will set them apart.
But, if you want a little more specificity, here’s a few best practices that can help you take your competitive analysis form good to great.
1. Do it over the course of a few days
Competitive analysis isn’t that difficult—all it takes is the ability to do research and identify differences between yourself and your competition.
But it is time consuming, and that part shouldn’t be discounted. In fact, it’s probably the most common mistake businessowners make when it comes to competitive analysis.
Truly effective competitive analysis can’t be done in the course of a day. There’s no way you (or your team) will be able to do the research necessary to paint a complete picture of your competition in less than 24 hours. To build that understanding, you need to take the time to do the process right.
Because, after you do the research, you’re still going to have to analyze and organize the results that you found. Then you have to compare and contrast that information to what you do.
It’s a multistep process, and one that really shouldn’t be rushed. So, when it is time to knuckle down with your team and examine the landscape of your industry, be prepared to spend the time it takes. If you devote an entire week to the process, you’ll likely be way happier with the results than if you try to rush it.
2. Identify differentiators, not expectations
This is a common problem, especially with smaller and newer businesses. When trying to identify the differences between them and their larger competitors, they say one thing that sets them apart is that “we really care” or “we’re more personable.”
And even though those things may be true, new and potential customers aren’t going to care.
Differentiators are noticeable or tangible. They’re things that make you unique, as well as things that your customer can tell almost immediately. Great service and personability is an expectation, not something that differentiates you from your competition.
Once you are well-known, then people will start to like and appreciate the personality-based traits of your business.
Just ask Chick-Fil-A—their employee politeness is a staple of the business.
Now that doesn’t mean there can’t be some differentiators that may not be immediately noticeable but could still be effective if marketed correctly. If you’re a coffee shop, maybe you offer a variety of organic options or your coffee is “responsibly sourced.” Those are potential differences that could actually set you apart from your competitors, it’s just on you to make that known.
Other than that, your differentiators should be relatively obvious. It will either be based in the product or services you offer, as well as your price.
Those expectations that you set for yourself and your business are great, and they can oftentimes be the things that end up getting your customers to be loyal. But they won’t be able to know that without walking in the door, so you can’t rely on them to set you apart.
3. Think beyond the price points
The key to effective competitive analysis is to think of every single way that you can get an edge on your competition. So what that really means is the key to effective competitive analysis is to ask yourself the right questions.
And yes, those questions often go far beyond the price.
The price may be most important thing to most consumers, but there are plenty of other things that can help you stand out and have people choose you.
That could be things like diversity. If your business is woman or minority-owned, that’s something that you should make very well known (and knowing this means you can find programs or grants that you may qualify for).
It could also be finding an edge in marketing strategy. Maybe by examining your competitors’ content marketing efforts, you’ll be able to figure out unique strategies that can set you apart. Or maybe it’s developing a good reward system that rewards loyal customers for shopping with you. Those are things that differentiate you from competitors, especially if they are bigger than you.
There are plenty of other things you’ll need to figure out. What niche do you fill? Does your customer avatar differ from that of your competitors? What’s the story of your business, and how can you use it? These are all valid questions that can help you find ways to stand out, and ones that people won’t often think of unless they put the time and effort in.
Every aspect of your business is important. Don’t neglect to advertise them if you think it will give you an advantage.
If you remember these practices when doing competitive analysis, you’re going to come away with an analysis that will really help you know how to position your business.
Then, once you figure out how to make those differentiators work for you, you’ll win over more customers than ever before.
When it comes to sales, using story is your best strategy.
Humans love stories— particularly when they’re interesting, engaging, and memorable. That’s why the people who sell with story have so much success: they take their sales pitch from an informational seminar to an immersive experience that their potential customers love.
Donald Miller, the Founder and CEO of StoryBrand, is not only an expert on selling with story, but also one of the trailblazers of the strategy. As he discussed in his recent DigitalMarketer workshop, the StoryBrand method works because it appeals to customers in so many ways, from entertainment, to understanding, and even to survival. And, in all of those different ways, the same result happens: your customer actually listens to what you have to say.
When you create a story about someone, especially one where they are the main character, they tend to listen. They tend to react. And, most importantly, they tend to buy.
There’s just one common problem that the storytellers have with this approach, and it can be summed up into one simple question…
“Where do I fit in to all of this?”
Your customer is undoubtedly the main character and hero of the story. You need to illustrate their narrative arc that sees them overcoming adversity and accomplishing their goals. But, if they’re the hero of the story, then how do you need to position yourself?
What Role You Play in The Story?
In your customer’s story, you are the guide.
The guide is the person that helps the main character overcome their challenges. They are characters like Yoda, Dumbledore, and Mr. Miyagi. They are the ones that are fondly remembered, but not the ones hoisting their hands in the air in victory at the end of the book or movie.
The guide’s role is critically important in almost every story because they are the ones that make the hero’s transformation possible. Without the guide, the hero wouldn’t be able to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. Just like Luke Skywalker wouldn’t be able to defeat the Sith without Yoda’s help, your customer won’t be able to achieve their goals without your products and expertise.
So, even though you play an integral part, you are not the hero in the story. And, when you are framing your customer’s story, it’s important to remember that for a couple of reasons…
You should never position yourself as the hero because it’s the hero who is ill-equipped to achieve their goals on their own. Only until the guide shows up and gives them the tools that they need can they truly achieve greatness. You don’t want to be the character that can’t manage to achieve their goals on their own, you want to be the one that helps the main character finally reach success.
The other reason is this: you don’t want 2 heroes in a story because it weakens the story’s impact on your customer. By introducing 2 heroes, and thereby 2 narrative arcs, your story and your customer’s story become totally different (and muddled).
So as much as you want to succeed, you need your customer to succeed even more. Invite your customer into a story, one where they defy the odds and win the day. Talk to your customer about their goals and wishes, not your own. Put your customer first in everything you do.
Then, once your customer understands and begins on the path toward success, you will also succeed in the process. Don’t focus on your own wants and needs. Do nothing but be helpful, and then stand back and watch the pieces fall into place.
If you can manage to do that, then you won’t ever have to worry about your own personal success. It’ll just happen on its own.
How to Establish Yourself as the Guide
Now that you understand the role that you’re supposed to play, you now have to understand how to actually play it. We talked about it broadly, but let’s get more specific.
To truly position yourself as the guide, you have to show that you are the person who can help your customer accomplish their goals. To do that, you have to exhibit empathy and authority.
In the case of empathy, you have to show your customer that you actually care. You should make them understand that not only do you feel bad that they are going through a problem with their business, but that you think it’s borderline unfair that they are having to experience it in the first place. If you can show that you actually care about your customer’s problem (and helping them solve it), then they will be significantly more inclined to have you help them fix it.
In case of authority, you essentially need to demonstrate your competency. You need to prove that this isn’t the first time that you’ve helped a customer solve a problem and achieve their goals. By showing to your customer that you are equipped to help them solve their problems, and that you have a track-record of success, you are going to sell them on you being the solution to their problems. You’re going to establish trust, which is a necessary component of any business relationship.
Crafting your Brand Script
Empathy and authority are the two parts of the equation when it comes to your specific role as the guide in your brand “script.” It’s also important to note that they aren’t exclusive to each other. If you can only establish one of either empathy and authority, then your whole positioning plan will fall apart.
You need to establish both empathy and authority and, when talking to your customer, you ideally need to do it in one or two sentences. If you can quickly establish both of those things, then you’re going to have an enormous amount of success.
So, what that really means is you need to plan ahead. You need to attempt to anticipate what kind of problem your customer is going to have. That way you can integrate the skeleton of your statement of authority and empathy into your brand script, and then fill it in with the specifics when they become known to you.
Once you have that statement strong and clear, then you will have effectively set the framework to position yourself as the guide. Then you can focus on making sure the rest of the parts of your customer’s story fall into place. You can worry about filling out the rest of your brand script.
Just remember that, no matter how important it is, where you fit in your customer’s story is only one piece of a very large puzzle. If you want to learn more about the StoryBrand process, and learn how to finish your customer story, check out Donald Miller’s workshop.
By positioning yourself as the guide in your customer story, you play an integral part in their success without detracting from the fact that it’s their success, not yours. You want your customer to be able to turn to you in their time of need so you can help them solve their problems, and the best way to do that is by showing them that not only are you capable, but you also care.
Once your customer believes that, you can effectively help them achieve the success that they envision for themselves.
And, in the process, you’re going to get paid.
Then, once your customer is happy and their story is fulfilled, you can move on to the next one and repeat the process. What could be better than that?
From creative cinemographs to humorous movie memes, animated GIFs made a confident come-back to our lives a few years ago, and they remain powerful social media content these days.
You can certainly find great animated GIFs online (or even download from Twitter), but your best bet is—as always—to create your own original content. The good news, you don’t need to hire designers or buy expensive software for that.
Pixaloop, a creative app by Lightricks, is one of my latest (and favorite) discoveries. Pixaloop allows you to “bring your photos to life.” In essence, the app allows you to animate any part of your photo:
Use arrows to set the motion direction
Place anchors to hold parts of image in place
Freeze sections of photos to keep them still.
On top of that, you get a variety of video effects, overlay objects (stars, butterflies, candle flickers, coffee steam, etc.), camera effects, and movements. It is a powerful toolset for creating awesome updates that can fit just about any social media feed, regardless of the platform.
The app has a free option which I upgraded to an unlimited access for (I think) about $4 per month.
2. Take Advantage of ASCII Art
Text art (also referred to as ASCII art) is another older trend that made a comeback thanks to Twitter.
There are many people out there that don’t appreciate ASCII art; we call those people “idiots”.
Some brands are actually becoming famous due to the creative (and well-branded) ASCII art. @MoonPie is the perfect example of putting their products inside a hilarious and sharable context by using basic ASCII art:
If you are willing to explore this trick, here are a few resources and tools helping create social-media-friendly ASCII art:
If you are geeky enough, here’s a nice tutorial on using Node.js to create ASCII art from any picture.
3. Create Long-Form Content
Long-form content is an overall trend that impacts many marketing tactics. More and more brands are creating huge lists and tutorials that take hours to read. They have been found to rank better (longer content receives 77.2% more backlinks than short articles) and they appear to do well on social media.
But long-form content is not only good for your on-site content—it’s also great for social media updates. More and more thought leaders are putting long Twitter threads together that read like articles. For example, when talking about Quora on Twitter, Anita Campbell, founder of Small Biz Trends, includes personal stats, results, and tips to achieve more on Quora.
Obviously, Twitter is not the only social media platform to try long-form content. Other networks seem to be adopting longer content formats as well. Fohr has published a research study claiming that the average caption length on Instagram has more than doubled since 2016.
[There’s a good reason to believe, the caption length will grow even more in 2021]
Sharing stories on Instagram is quickly becoming a thing! Followers like to watch pictures, but it’s the text caption that makes them comment, answer questions and contribute their opinions.
When creating long-form content, don’t forget that it is still your official account and your brand. Make sure your voice is consistent and professional:
Before you ever schedule long-form posts for social media channels, proofread everything. It is a good idea to use a grammar checker tool.
To generate more ideas, use Text Optimizer. It will suggest more angles and help you create better optimized context for your long-form content:
Bonus: Keep an Eye on Your Results
No serious marketing strategy can exist without careful and consistent measuring of results. Social media is no exception. There’s no shortage of social media analytics tools that help you monitor your content performance and identify your best performing updates.
Agorapulse is one example. It gives you full control over your social media schedule and helps you track your cross-channel content performance.
It is always a good idea to adjust your analytics dashboard to instantly see how your social media traffic is interacting with your site. There are a few powerful solutions for that that also integrate with your site, but the easiest (yet the most in-depth) one is probably Finteza: a service that lets you slice and dice your data by traffic sources, demographics and on-site engagement:
Creating social media updates that stand out is art. There’s no single way to do that. It takes weeks and months of experimentation and measuring results. It involves lots of brainstorming and creativity. And this makes the process so exciting!
I hope the above ideas will help you come up with some original social media content that will bring new followers and brand advocates. Good luck!
In a profession like marketing, it’s your job to keep things fun, engaging, and interesting. It’s all about creating the new and great product, the flashy and irresistible sales pitch that makes people want to buy, and then converting more sales then you can count.
So then why does it feel like sales pitches can be so… mundane?
Every marketer will eventually fall into a rut with their customer where everything becomes the same old thing. The new product, the sales pitch, the sale. Over and over again. Until you become so disinterested in your sales pitch that your customer becomes disinterested too. Then sales start dwindling, and you’re stuck wondering “why aren’t my customers engaging with me anymore?”
We get so caught in our own routine, thinking about our single process and our own goals, that we completely forget about the person we’re supposed to be helping: the customer.
Depending on how big your business is, it’s easy to start thinking of customers as numbers on a page. But they’re real people, and just shoving a product in front of their face isn’t going to get them to buy. You need to understand who they are, and why they would be interested in your product in the first place.
You need a change in point-of-view to be truly successful…
You need to start thinking about your product through your customers eyes, because then you can create copy that will work every time. You need to move beyond just selling a product—you need to write a story.
Stories have real impacts on us—they’re engaging, emotional, interesting, and memorable. There’s a reason why old stories have been passed from generation to generation, and we remember our favorite books and movies so well they become fixtures in our minds. People connect with stories. But when’s the last time you remembered a cookie-cutter chunk of copy?
Using a narrative in your sales pitch goes further than just telling your customers what your product does. That’s because, when done right, narrative is centered around your customer. Instead of selling the customer on what the product can do for them, you should sell the customer on what they can accomplish with the product.
Remember that characters are the forces that move a story forward… and your customer is definitely the protagonist.
How to Create a Narrative
Teaching you how to creative an effective narrative would take an entire book series, not a blog post. It takes a well-thought-out process and a lot of creativity. Especially when you want to avoid a cliché narrative—you want to create something that is customizable.
Not only to the different products/services you sell, but to the different customers you are selling to. Although there may be some similarities, every customer is different—the story of their success is something that needs to be uniquely captured (But don’t worry, we aren’t going to tell you to write a whole novel for each new customer).
But to get to the point that you’re a story seller instead of a storyteller, you have to begin with the basics.
1. Understand your Customer Avatar
Before you can create the narrative arc for your customer, you have to understand who they are in the first place. You need to understand what they want, what problems they may have, their pain points, their goals, and everything in between. If you don’t put in the time to really understand your customer, you’ll inevitably revert to the old, cookie-cutter writing that fell flat before.
Figuring out the specifics of your customers is something that can seem difficult, but luckily we’ve got resources available to help you fully understand your customer avatar—that includes a downloadable Customer Avatar Worksheet that makes identifying your customer avatar as simple as it can be. Filling out this worksheet will help you answer all the questions you have about your customers, from demographics to objections they may have in purchasing.
Then, once you understand your target audience and who you’re selling to, you can do a much better job at accomplishing step 2.
2. Frame Your Story
This is probably the most important part of the process and doing it effectively can be difficult when you’re first trying out using a narrative. But remember what we said earlier: characters are the forces that move the story forward, and your customer is the protagonist.
When you’re creating the narrative arc, it’s important to have you customer as the hero at the end. The person who wins the gold medal. The one who saves the galaxy. If you remember the ultimate goal is to make your customer the hero of the story, then the rest of the story should fall into place.
So, if your customer is the ultimate hero of the story, then what does that makes you? You’re the guiding figure and the mentor—the one that helps the main character transform into the hero that they are destined to be. You’re the Dumbledore to Harry Potter. The Yoda to Luke Skywalker. You are the one that equips the hero with what they need to be successful. And your product is the lightsaber.
You have to make sure you do this right though, because too much emphasis on what you can do will take the focus off of who is important: your customer. People like stories about them, especially when they are good. While you play an important role, you don’t want to overstate it in the context of the narrative.
3. Discuss the Obstacles in Their Way (and How Your Product Fixes Them)
Just like any good story, your narrative needs conflict, and, depending on your product, industry, or clientele, it may not be that hard to find. If you’ve already been able to talk to your prospective client or customer, there’s a decent chance they already told you what their problems are. But, if you did a deep dive into who your customer is in Step 1, then you were probably able to identify their pain points. Now you have to make those pain points painfully apparent.
Once you have laid out the obstacles, next comes the fun part.
It’s time to sell. You’ve done all of your framing and storytelling to get to this point: introducing your product. You should hit all the ways that your product will help your customer overcome his or her problems and provide solutions that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to accomplish without it. If you’ve done a good enough job at creating the narrative, then this part should be easy, efficient, and effective. By the end, your customer will understand what your product is capable of and how it can help them, and it will go much further than just laying it out on a bulleted list.
4. Paint the picture of success
Once they know what they can accomplish with your product, you then need to help them look toward the future. It’s a future where they are achieving their dreams, or saving more money, or doing better for the planet (basically the opposite of their pain points. Once they envision where they’ll be if they use their product, they aren’t just going to buy, they’re going to tell all of their friends about it too.
This is the process from a birds-eye view. There is a lot of work in between those steps to make the process truly effective and, again, it would take a book instead of a blog post to explain it.
But there is a resource available than can help you how to harness the power of a narrative and convert better than ever before.
Donald Miller, the CEO and author of StoryBrand, is a foundational thought-leader around selling with stories and has founded a successful business around that approach. He is offering a workshop for anyone looking to expand their sales game by mastering the art of the narrative, and all you need to do is sign up. Now that you know the basic process, he can fill in the gaps, answer any questions, and truly teach you how to use a narrative better than anyone else.
Once you combine the power of stories and sales, your business’s potential will be unlocked. All you have to do is learn how to do it.
If you’re an agency owner, you know that generating leads and keeping clients are the most important, and also most difficult, tasks you do. People stop responding to your cold emails, advertisements stop generating traffic, and your funnel starts to look emptier than ever before.
So, why do agencies have trouble finding and keeping clients?
It’s not for lack of prospects. Businesses, no matter the size, need good marketing. And there are plenty of new and growing businesses to go around.
Usually, the lack of leads is because agencies go about getting clients all wrong…
You don’t need a big advertising budget, or a massive internal marketing team.
You just need to ask one simple question.
“Need some help with that?”
All the budget in the world won’t get you further than simply offering the right help to potential customers at the right time. And when you can follow up that one question with stellar marketing services, you’ll find yourself with more good leads than you know what to do with.
Luckily, we’ve put together a checklist for you, so that you can make sure you not only get those leads, but get them to come back. And it all starts with a good plan.
Creating a plan for your agency
Creating a plan to convert prospects into clients isn’t obvious or easy. It’s hard work. Which is why our first piece of advice is: don’t get discouraged.
Developing a plan is a necessity, and knowing where to start is half the battle.
This process often takes a lot of trial and error. For some agencies, that process of trial and error can become too costly or too time consuming. For others, it doesn’t produce instantaneous results, and they get discouraged. In either case, they revert back to their old strategies that may produce results for a little bit but will inevitably run dry after a little while.
We’ve witnessed hundreds of agencies try, so we know a little bit about how the process works—which means we know a good place to start: The Agency Growth Flywheel
The Agency Growth Flywheel is a 4-step process that we’ve identified from examining what lots of successful agencies do. It’s the fool-proof formula that has the potential to work every time, all you have to do is execute it correctly. It goes beyond advertising budgets and lead magnets—it delivers predictable growth for agencies that are willing to commit to the plan.
It’s easy to implement, there is only one thing you have to make sure you are able to provide: value.
Remember that One Big Question? Your whole goal as an agency should be to help your customers the right way at the right time. And that means providing value. If you have an understanding of advertising, and you know your clients will be happy with the job that you do, then this formula is all you will ever need to make sure your funnel stays as full as your bank account.
Let’s break down this 4-step formula…
(NOTE: And if you want to learn even more about what goes into the Agency Growth Flywheel, we’re offering a free training webinar so you can learn the in-depth details about the process that can unlock your agency’s potential.)
Step 1: Acquire prospective clients through value in advance content
The best way to get prospective clients in the door isn’t through some slimy sales pitch. It’s offering your hand in help and then actually helping them. The best way to do that is through value-heavy content.
It’s important to note that this content needs to be low-cost or even free. Your end goal is to turn your readers into clients, and charging them to even get acquainted with you will directly inhibit that. You want to get as many people as you possibly can to view your content, so that way you can get your agency’s name out there. Not only will it build your reputation, but it will also help you bring in more leads.
This content can come in many different forms: blog posts, webinars, online videos, and everything in between. All that matters is that you produce content that people can actually get something out of. You should be able to teach them something new with your content, which will make a big enough impact for them to remember you and your agency. Once you do, you’ll be able to establish a bit of credibility with your prospective clients in your industry, it will be a lot easier to get them in the door for a meeting or get them to attend a discovery session.
By following through with your offer of help immediately and for little-no cost, you set the foundation for a better, long term client relationship, especially since your new clients will know for certain that you know what you are talking about.
Step 2: Invite them to a free “discovery session”
Once you’ve got them interested in what you have to offer, you can get them in the door to have them learn more about your products or services. But this isn’t some sales pitch in disguise—it’s a meeting to figure out what their needs actually are. You can do this organically (interview-style), or maybe you’ll want them to fill out a questionnaire. No matter the strategy, you just need to learn more about what their business does and where they want it to go.
This is when, instead of asking if they need help with anything, you say “let’s figure out how I can help you.” This isn’t really about what all you have to offer, it’s about what they need from you.
In reality, this meeting is actually more for you as opposed to your prospective client. This meeting can help you learn more about their business and what problems they’re facing. The goal is for you to work with clients that you actually like and enable you to do work that you actually enjoy doing. If you don’t think you and that client are a right fit, then you can move on to other leads.
When you have your prospective client in this meeting, it’s important to map out their Customer Value Journey—it will be the foundation of the strategic plan that you implement. Understanding what your client wants out of their customers, and what goals they want them to hit in each step of the journey, will go a long way in determining if that client will be a right fit. If you can effectively map out the CVJ with your client, and you both feel excited about the work that needs to be done, then you know that they’re going to be a good fit.
Step 3: Convert your prospect into a short-term paying client
The next step is simple: get your clients on the book. Once you know who they are and help them iron out a predictable system that could work for their business, you need to make the partnership official.
But you don’t want to make a critical mistake that lots of agencies make… Don’t just sign them to a long-term retainer deal right away and act like the deal is set and done.
Remember, this partnership is as much about you as it is them. So by starting out with a shorter term contract, they don’t feel as trapped in a new partnership. It also gives you a much better chance to shine.
You’ll help them figure out where to start, come to an agreement on what “success” looks like, and then figure out what metrics will illustrate that success.
Stay by their side and walk them through the process. Ideally, they will see more immediate success, and it will incentivize them to continue working with you. Especially if you complete the project and have another potential contract in mind. Prove your value in the short term, and then re-pose the simple question: “it looks like you’re also struggling over there. How can I help?”
Step 4: Ascend your clients into an ongoing retainer
Now that the hard part is done and there is a relationship built not only on trust, but also on results, you can ink a long-term deal. Your agency will provide the marketing help when they need it, and you’ll have yourself an extremely loyal and satisfied client.
All you had to do to get them was ask that one simply question. Then, once you’ve got your client up on their own, all you’ll have to do is keep asking it. You’d be surprised at the fact that, a lot of the time, the answer will probably be no.
If their plan is airtight and you’ve taught them how to execute it, asking “need some help with that?” will become more of a formality than an offering. They’ll be able to do it themselves (perhaps with some guidance), and it will be because you didn’t just fix a problem, you offered a wholistic solution that actually helps your client help themselves.
If they do encounter problems later on and need serious help, there is no one better qualified to help them than you. You understand their business, their pain points, and their customers. You’ll officially have a relationship where everyone wins, and both you and your client will be able to reap the benefits of it.
Then, once your success is documented, you’ll have businesses lining up to learn more about your agency.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s because this was the abbreviated version of the process.
There is a lot more that goes into the process of the Agency Growth Flywheel, so be sure to check out our free training webinar.
Once you’ve mastered the process, it’s almost impossible to stop. Many of the agencies we work with have seen 25–30% of their free discovery session meetings turn into paid clients. And yes, they actually want to work with those clients.
Even if you follow all the steps laid out in the post above, you still need to make sure that qualified candidates are walking through the door every time.
There are lots of qualified leads out there, and there are tons of creative ways to find them. You’d be surprised what just talking to people in line at the store will accomplish for you. But if you also want to learn about how to identify and contact those qualified leads, we can help you with that.
Click here to download our new guide on how to Refill Your Pipeline by Friday. It will walk you through all the different ways to find leads, as well as the messages that will get them interested in you.
Then, once you understand both sides of the agency equation, you’ll be able to accomplish the growth that you envision.
We talk a lot here about the editorial process for content marketing, specifically how to document your posts in an editorial calendar. But we wanted to break down what this looks like in practice. After all, we want to teach you tried-and-true tactics, emphasis on the tried part.
And since we have recently ironed out a spiffy new editorial process, I thought it was the perfect time to take you through it, show you some examples, and hopefully inspire you to take your editorial calendar to the next level.
But first, I want to talk about why this even important at all.
Why an Editorial Calendar
This is NOT the first time DM has covered the benefits of an editorial calendar. And personally, I am a major, major fan. And creating an editorial calendar does not need to be complicated or difficult. But it is important.
In fact, maintaining a well-organized editorial calendar can make or break your content process, especially if you are a larger team (or a one-person team), and even more if you are trying to integrate linking strategies like the Content Cluster Strategy.
See, the trick is tracking things. The entire purpose of an editorial calendar is keeping track of the things that are important to YOUR business. By documenting key information about your blog posts or content, you enable yourself to:
Spot and fill subject matter holes
Know what keywords you’ve targeted in the past
Easily navigate to older posts
Find old posts that are good to update
Track correlations between traffic changes and what you’ve published
Plan days, weeks, and even months in advance
Easily find posts for internal linking
But knowing something is important and actually doing that important thing are two entirely different ball games. This is why I’m giving you the inside scoop on how we, the DigitalMarketer content team, keep our editorial calendar in line and our process running smoothly. Well, as smoothly as it can .
What We’ve Tried
But before we get into the meat of it, I want to quickly break down a couple of the other things we’ve tried in the past and why they didn’t work. That way, you can learn from our mistakes instead of having to make them yourself.
Now I have nothing against Monday. It can be a really effective and streamlined project management system. But when we tried to integrate our editorial process into Monday, it just kind of fell flat.
Part of the problem was human (isn’t it always?). Our team was simply bad at moving things around, and since not everyone on the content team used the program regularly, we ran into a problem with keeping it up to date.
We also tried to get Monday to do something that it just wasn’t well suited for: long term documentation. Trying to scroll through hundreds of ideas, and then hundreds of already published posts was confusing and messy. It just didn’t jive with us the way we wanted it to.
So when you look for a software solution, make sure you are finding a program that your whole team is excited about and will use consistently.
2. Just Using the Google Sheet
Remember the Ed Calendar sheet I showed you before? Yeah, there was a while, a long time really, where that was all we had. And it was really, really great for the exact thing Monday was not great for: long term documentation.
But trying to organize the actual content creation process in a 1000-row Google Sheet was nearly impossible. And when we didn’t have any other solutions, we simply didn’t document the creation process.
Who was working on what and the status of any given post lived only in my head. And if you’ve ever been in my head, it can be a cluttered and chaotic place. So I would—more frequently than I would like to admit—lose track of posts or forget whether a post had been edited.
Clearly, this was not sustainable.
Then earlier this year, one of the content team members found this post, that talked about using Trello, a task management software, for an editorial calendar. Many of us had already been using Trello for our own personal to-do lists, but once we saw its workflow capabilities, we knew we had to try it.
And now we’re hooked.
What We Use Now
I knew, when we began our calendar in Trello, that I didn’t want to run into the problems we’d had with Monday, so I decided on a two pronged approach.
First, we have our content creation workflow in Trello.
Then, we have our documentation archive in our favorite Google Sheet.
And to show how this process works, we can follow the actual path this particular post took in its creation. It’s about to get very meta.
All of our posts start in the same place. Ideation. Someone has a thought, or brings a customer content request, or I notice a gap in our content, and we post it in the ideation list in the Trello board.
Once we decide that, yes, we are actually going to write and publish that post, it moves on to the outline (usually if it is an external writer) or the writing stage. The card for that post gets a little more information in this stage, like a description and a label (labels can be any categorization you want to track—for example we label content based on its end goal, like cluster or promotional or fun) and a creation checklist, so team members know when it is their turn to take the baton.
Once the post is written, it keeps moving down the line to editing, gets a publish date, and then goes to Package Creation. The package is what we send to the person in charge of uploading the post. It usually contains the SEO information, document file, and any images for the post.
Some of these use paid Power-Ups, like the due date (you’ll see this in action in a moment) and the custom fields. But I will show you how you can do similar things without paying any money later on in this post.
Then, the uploader puts it into WordPress and either schedules or immediately publishes the post, moving the Trello card down the line respectively.
Once the post is all published, we make sure to document all of the important information (URL, keyword, content cluster, author, date, CTA, etc.) in the Editorial Calendar Google Sheet. That way, we can easily do a command-F search to find the post in the future.
When it comes to scheduling out posts in the future, we use the Calendar Powerup in Trello, which lets me set the “due date” i.e. the publish date.
That is our editorial process! This is still a relatively new process for us, so odds are, we will run into kinks and find gaps as we continue to use it, but no process should be static.
And since some of our process included paid tools, I wanted to break down some free ways to get the same results.
Free vs Paid Organization
Content marketing is something every brand can and should do well. But I know that for many businesses, the idea of investing a bunch of money into something that is more of a long game when it comes to ROI can be hard to swallow.
So in order to keep the barrier to entry low, here are a few ways you can get the same results without spending a ton of money (or in this case, any money).
While we do use paid Power-Ups, like the Calendar, Custom Fields, and even Slack notifications, none of this is necessary for a functioning Trello editorial calendar.
Instead of using custom fields for marking keywords and author and such, simply put all of that information in the Description field for a post card.
And instead of using the calendar Power-Up, use a good-old-fashioned white board to write out when posts are publishing, or just add them into the archive Google Sheet in advance, if you prefer digital documentation.
Whatever your budget, and no matter what your business is, maintaining your editorial process and documenting your content’s information is going to help you create better content faster. So get out there and set up your own editorial process so you can fly even further in your content marketing efforts.