Promoting your business

How to develop your small business marketing funnel in 5 easy steps

If you are a small business owner you’re likely to be solely responsible for looking after all aspects of your business.

These responsibilities fall across areas as diverse as marketing, sales, financial management, systems and processes, client service and staff management.

Time poor, you probably struggle to manage every part of the business in a timely and robust way. And you marvel at larger businesses who can afford to have dedicated teams to work on the different parts of the business.

However, if you have a clearly articulated and documented marketing funnel, this will give you the ability to:

  • drive customers to your business

  • have a clearer picture of where your clients are coming from

  • work out who your best clients are.

Having worked with very large corporates, small businesses and solo operators, I have brought together the techniques used for larger businesses and applied the key principles of success to smaller businesses.

The marketing funnel

Before we get started, I will be referring to the marketing funnel in two parts:

1. The various marketing funnel channels and methods a business can use to market their business and tell the world about who they are. 

There are many ways a business can spread the word:

  • Offline using channels such as flyers, letterbox drop, newspapers, networking events, trade shows, door to door, cold calling, and referral partners.

  • Online or digitally, using websites, email marketing, social media and YouTube.

2. The marketing funnel stages how long a prospect or client takes to get to know you better or buy something small to start with.

The 5 actionable steps to improve your marketing funnel engagement

1. How are people finding your business now?

Determine where your current clients are coming from and make a list of these. If you haven’t done so yet, ask your customers how they found out about you. This is an incredibly powerful question and will allow you to be much more effective with your marketing funnel content.

Your actions:

  • write down your best clients
  • identify how they found you.

2. What other marketing options do you have?

Many businesses only focus on the digital marketing funnel and believe it’s a great opportunity to put themselves in front of prospect clients. However, there are also many businesses who achieve success through offline marketing, and have neither a website or social media presence. 

You have to work out what works best for your business for the marketing top of funnel. Blocking out a little time regularly to reassess your marketing options can work well to streamline your marketing efforts and save you lots of time and money. 

A fantastic way to work out some ideal marketing options is to look at what your competition is doing. How did you find out about your competition? What are they involved in and what do you like about what they are doing in terms of marketing?

Your actions:

  • look at offline and online marketing opportunities – keep an open mind

  • write down where your current clients are coming from.

3. Plan 2 to 3 customer journeys

A customer or client journey is a small map of the steps clients can take to become a client. For some businesses who have a shop front, the marketing top of funnel action may be walk-in traffic. For other businesses, they need to offer free things to gain new prospects and slowly encourage people to buy small things first, as they build their trust with that business.

Take some time to understand how a prospect hears about you and think about the ‘touch points’ you have with that prospect. It’s commonly recognised that a new client may take at least seven to 10 touch points before they’ll purchase from you. 

These marketing funnel engagement touch points form part of your customer journey map.

This can be a quick exercise. Just write down the key steps. Develop two or three key journey maps as customers and clients will likely hear about you in different ways. 

Add in some key ‘following up’ steps to stay in contact such as phone call follow-ups, coffee meetings, direct messages, email marketing, sending a postcard, and invitations to networking events – these are key touch points. 

Look for areas in your customer journey that may let the customer down and give them a reason not to buy from you.

Your actions:  

  • Develop two customer journey maps from two sources.

  • Are there any free products or services or value added things that you can add into your marketing funnel to attract new clients and strengthen relationships with existing prospects?

4. Track and record

A great tool of trade for every business to develop a relationship with their clients or customers is to invest in a CRM – Customer Relationship Management system.

A simple example of an offline CRM is the palm card – some real estates and businesses still use this today. You have the name and contact details of your client or contact on a card and you write down notes every time you have a conversation or send them something.

In the online space, there are many CRM tools available that help you track and record all the information you need, and will help you establish the best marketing funnel options.

You will feel a new level of confidence as a business owner when you can collect this information and be more connected with your prospects and customers – and it will likely lead to more sales.

Your actions: 

  • Choose a CRM tool. Take time to learn it and understand how powerful it is.

5. Review and repeat

Once you have established your marketing funnel and CRM, it is important to review this process at least once every year. There are constant changes in the way we market our businesses and there are new platforms and opportunities that are becoming available. 

Your actions:

  • Block out a time in your calendar at least once a year to review. Allow one to two hours as a minimum.

Being in business can be an incredible learning journey and it is important to recognise that every business owner is on a different journey and different experience. 

If you invest a little time to sharpen your marketing funnel, you will be in a better position to grow your business and ultimately free up your time. Always remember why you started your business and what you want to achieve.

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