If you are a consultant looking for a structured process to explain (market) your offer and deliver the consulting service, this article is for you. This is a complete content marketing funnel example for how to sell productized services. You don't need fancy sales pitches or expensive technical tools to create a simple funnel that attracts, vets, and serves your BEST client. What you need is a system for weaving high quality content into your marketing funnel.
Oh, you are going to love this one! See below.
Why Do We Create Content At All?
So let's begin at the beginning. Why is quality content important for you to stand out as a consultant selling productized services?
Your best client expects to see content. The reality is that clients expect to be able to go online and search your company...no matter what you sell. Your BEST client expects to go to a search engine, type in your niche (or website name), and find something about your business. Years ago, having an ad in the Yellow Pages made you "real". In today's environment having a clear web presence makes you "real".
It's the content that differentiates. So when your prospective clients searches for your company what content do they find? Will they find powerful, sharp content that sparks their interest to learn more about your company? Or will they find random, disconnected articles you wrote 3 years ago and forgot all about? Your BEST client is going to use what they find to decide if they want to engage with your business...and this happens way before a phone call or other inquiry is ever placed.
You want the prospective client prepared before you talk. Your free consultation shouldn't be a 45 minute call where you explain your entire menu of services to a half-interested, half-overwhelmed prospective client. It should be more like a 15 minute call where they acknowledge that they "like what they've seen" and want to discuss a relationship going forward. Best case scenario, you don't want to bid or compete for a client. It should be abundantly clear that you are the BEST solution to their problem.
Here are the 3 simple ingredients to your funnel
A - Lead Source
You might already have an existing audience (owned). Perhaps you can partner with someone to drive prospects to your offer (earned). If you have an advertising budget you have greater control over how fast you grow (paid). In any case, every good marketing funnel begins with a healthy lead source. This article doesn't focus on the lead generation, but you can use this case study for paid traffic funnel for consultants and this article for a content marketing approach for inbound leads.
Let's cover the follow-up series.
B - Follow Up Series: Nurture to A Sale
For this article I am assuming you are delivering follow-up messages via an autoresponder service or CRM system (like Aweber or Infusionsoft).
The prospective client is now on your list and you have their permission to send follow-up messages to them. Where do you begin? How do you make it obvious that you are the best solution for them?
Here is the short answer: Promise a transformational result and explain the process of that transformation one benefit at a time.
Basically, your follow-up series should cover one major benefit per message. To make this a bit easier to grasp, Let's assume that you are a scholarship consultant and you help high school seniors find scholarships to top colleges.
Take a look at what a 5 part follow-up series might look like. Notice the difference when I state each step in a benefit driven way (YES) and when I state each step in "consulting language" (NO).
It's really important to remember to speak the language of your client in your follow-up messaging. For example, picture sitting in front of an eager high school senior, her mother, and her father. Now picture saying each phrase: (in fact, trying saying each out loud)
"The first thing we want to do is select the best schools that fit your high school senior..."
(Can you see the entire family's heads nodding in approval?)
Now say this phrase:
"The first thing we want to do is a grade audit to eliminate the impossible schools..."
(Can you see the entire family's confused face?)
To be clear...
Are you going to review their grades, assess their eligibility, and eliminate the schools that are out of bounds? Absolutely. But remember, your BEST client wants to find the schools that work for her. She is less concerned about eliminating the schools that don't. Your follow-up sequence should speak her language.
C - Delivering the Productized Service: Keeping Your Client Engaged
The whole idea of your marketing funnel is to get your BEST prospect clear on (and excited about) the most impactful service you offer. It's to your advantage to identify what that service is and break it down into easy-to-understand steps. Major tip: the longer your have to explain your service before you client "gets it" the less value it has to them. It is to your advantage to be as specific as possible about what your BEST client can expect from buying your service.
Now let's assume that after experiencing your follow-up sequence your prospective client is interested in beginning work with you. The purpose of your content has now shifted from a marketing/attraction/conversion focus to an execution/comprehension/retention focus. It's very easy to go "full-on" consultant here and inundate your client with jargon and details way beyond their interest or understanding.
Don't do it.
Remember, the whole idea of a productized service is to deliver one solution to one problem. If you lose focus and begin conversations on topics over and above the "product" they purchased...your client is definitely going to lose focus. Instead, keep each step benefit driven so that your clients understands and stays excited to bring about the focused result you discussed.
Take a look below to see how you might message each step now that you have shifted into product delivery mode.
Notice the difference between what "the client needs to hear" and "the work you need do". At each step, your job is NOT to explain every bitter detail of the work that goes in. Your job IS to make sure your client stays interested and engaged in the work being done.
To be clear...
Yes, you will explain the details of each step with your client. But there are two major points to remember:
A) Do NOT begin each step by listing about all of the work that needs to be done. Instead, begin with a summary highlighting the benefits of the required work.
B) Do NOT get so enamored with the details that you overwhelm (and psyche out) your client. Keep them focused on the reason why so much effort and focus is required.
Marketing your services in this way makes it very clear what your client is buying before they buy it.
Delivering services in this way keeps the client engaged (and satisfied) throughout the consulting process.
Conclusion: Your Strategic Advantage
You now have a structured process for how to explain (market) your offer and deliver the consulting service. The "secret" is all about the quality and clarity of the content you create. Big idea: It's your content that moves prospects down the funnel. Your commitment to creating purposeful content will accelerate your conversions in a way a "charismatic sales call" never will.
Here are a few take home points:
Your best client wants to know what they are getting into and expects to see content early. They need to understand what the engagement will look like before they interact with you. The quality and clarity of your content goes a long way to helping them understand the value of your services.
Your content does the qualifying and vetting. Be courageous. Show your clients what is possible and show them what it takes to get there. Your client will either be excited by that process or scared away by it. Either way, you want them making that choice as quickly and definitively as possible.
Your BEST client is very interested in their "result". They are less interested in your "work". By focusing on the results it becomes very clear that you are interested in what your client is interested in. In other words, you "get" them. It's so much easier to make a sale when your client already believes that the two of you are on the same team.
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