The #1 Most Powerful Marketing Secret (That No Guru Will Teach You)

I’m about to give you what is beyond doubt the single most powerful secret to marketing success.

I don’t know why it’s so secret, but people sure seem to avoid talking about it. Ready? Here it comes…

be . . . useful

That’s it. I didn’t say it would be mind-bogglingly amazing or obscure or complex. It’s very simple, because marketing is simple, it’s just about doing simple things right. And this is the most important simple thing to get right.

Just be useful, incredibly, beautifully useful if you can. Go the extra mile to design your entire offering or business strategy to delight your target market.

Let’s unpick it now, because there is a little more to this secret than meets the eye.

Sell What They Need

Being useful means that you’re directly solving a problem. Of course, solving problems is what marketing’s all about. If you have a problem, and I can show you my thing can solve it, you’ll likely buy the thing. If I fail to prove that to you, you won’t.

One of the most common mistakes in marketing strategy is trying to sell something that isn’t very good. And that’s really hard to do.

The antidote to that is to be useful. Be good, be great! Be single-minded about your intent to deliver exactly what your prospects need.

The trick to making selling easier is to make sure you’re selling something people actually want or need. If you’re selling crap they don’t want or need, I think you’re making life difficult for yourself.

You know the correct term for persuading people to buy something they don’t really want or need? It’s “scamming”. Check out the snippet at 3m 27s into the Scamworld documentary where Frank Kern appears to be teaching from the stage that, when you have the right marketing tricks, “The product is really irrelevant.”

Of course Frank also acknowledges that a kick-ass product is better than a crappy one, but this highlights a worrying dogma in Internet marketing circles that marketing is more about persuasion, more about executing trickery than delivering true value.

Why Does Nobody Teach This?

No marketing “guru” will teach you to provide the most useful service you can, because service isn’t sexy. It takes courage, heart, love, willpower, and hard bloody work. And that doesn’t sell courses.

The gurus are in the business of selling you hacks, mind tricks, shortcuts. It’s like magic diet pills that promise to shed inches off your belly while you carry on eating pizza.

The thrill of their outrageous promises (and the sheer weight of bonuses) persuade you to pull out your credit card, and when the results don’t magically appear, you get an emotional dip, just ready for the next launch to come along offering you the next magic pill shortcut, keeping you as a marketing shortcut junkie.

The truth is, just like losing weight and getting into shape, marketing isn’t an obscure, arcane dark art. It’s about doing simple things right, and then doing those simple things better. There are really no secrets and no shortcuts.

So let’s go deeper into the hidden power of the simple things…

Hack The Circuit

You have WAY more control
over what and how you sell
than you believe you do.

It is often said that there are two ways to be a marketer or entrepreneur:

  • Get a product or service and then find a market, or…
  • Spot an unserved need in the market and then develop a product or service offering to meet that need.

Both approaches are valid, and yet they don’t tell the whole story. To understand it better, we need only look at The Circuit, the model we use in Open Source Marketing to map out any offer or campaign.

The Circuit has five basic elements:

  1. The brand. Who’s making the offer?
  2. The product or service. What actually gets delivered?
  3. The offer. How are you promising to solve a problem?
  4. The problem you’re solving.
  5. The market, i.e. the community that shares the problem.

If you think about it, you can actually change any of these elements. Too often, we get stuck in default thinking, assuming that the pieces of the Circuit are set in stone. In reality, I think that is rarely the case. You can hack it all.

Working in reverse order…

  • You can research and target different markets (i.e. problem groups).
  • You can choose the problem(s) that your solution addresses, or change its focus.
  • Your offer is clearly very flexible. (This is where scammers focus most of their attention.)
  • Of course what you deliver can vary tremendously.
  • And finally, you can also change who you are.

I appreciate that last point could be challenging. It may seem odd to say you can change yourself. But when you think it through, you’ll see there is a lot of flexibility, it just comes down to how flexibly you allow yourself to think.

Let’s say you’ve always designed websites for a living. You’re a web designer, right? Well, yes, but also not necessarily… Let’s look at how you can spin the combination lock of The Circuit to come up with a range of options

  • You don’t have to serve a general market. You could choose to specialise in a particular niche, which I would argue is a very good idea. For example, you may become THE web designer for small businesses in your home town. Or you could specialise in e-commerce sites for florists, or church websites, or independent financial advisers. The options are almost endless.
  • What is the problem that unites your market? Is it finding new clients, running more efficiently, presenting a smarter image? “I need a website” is not a hugely motivating problem, as most businesses already have one, or can make one for practically no cost. So what problem are you really addressing? You get to select one, or more than one, and focus your offering around that.
  • What are you offering, then? Don’t assume your clients are just buying a website. They could be buying an ongoing monthly marketing service, a branding overhaul, a new sales channel, a multi-lingual customer service portal. A website is a tool. What does that tool do for people? That’s what they’re buying, the ultimate benefit, a genuinely useful solution to their problem, and you get to choose what that is.
  • What product or service will you actually deliver? Years ago, people would quote prices for a “ten-page website” but today you could offer a package that includes any of website publishing, copywriting, email marketing, SEO, PPC, social media. You could sell blocks of time each month that you devote to developing your client’s campaign.
  • And you can see how the combination of the options above could mean that your brand can take a variety of forms. You don’t have to be “web designer”. You can be the marketing specialist for auto bodyshops, the copywriter for alternative health practitioners, pretty well anything you like!

Ultimately, you get to choose. Whatever you choose must be useful, of course. If you have chosen your market, problem, offer, solution and brand wisely, I’m sure it will be.

Level Up

Spinal Tap: But it goes to eleven

Even after you have chosen an elegant and integrated Circuit, I always like to ask, “How can we turn this up to eleven?

  • Can you reach out to a bigger, more challenging market?
  • Can you tackle a deeper, more motivating problem?
  • Can you present a more powerful, bolder promise?
  • Can you deliver something that will fulfil your customers’ dreams?
  • And, finally, can you be a bigger, better, badder version of YOU?

Of course, we all work within the constraints of our skills, strengths, weaknesses, experience, education, aptitudes, and preferences. All those things can focus our range of choices. But even within those constraints, we have a degree of choice that is ultimately limited only by our self-image and our imagination.

Designing YOU

The incredible choice that’s before us really is the challenge of the #1 most powerful marketing secret. It’s exciting, and it can also be quite terrifying.

You don’t have to be who and what you are now!

You can choose to be whatever you want… with one provision.

Who you choose to be should be integral to who you really are.

What I mean by that is, can you get into a place where you can believe and declare, “I am…” with authority, power, and integrity? Can you mean it? Does it excite and inspire you?

Is it a true reflection of YOU — not just the YOU that you have been, but the you that you aspire to be today, tomorrow, in ten years’ time?

What is the vision of the world that this YOU offers and is working to make reality?

What is the stand that this YOU is taking? What tribe do you wish to attract with your message? Whom do you wish to repel?

Why will you love this YOU? Why will other people?

How will your market, your people, instantly know and trust YOU? What aspects of the true YOU will come through in every element of your business that triggers that trust?

Are YOU an individual, or a company, a team, a group, a tribe, a movement? Why would people want to join YOU or identify with YOU?

Is this YOU something that will get you jumping out of bed every Monday, eager to carry on, something that makes work appear as not-work?

What do YOU love to do? What do YOU do well?

What don’t YOU love to do? (Why waste time on that? Either design your life so you don’t need to do those things, or partner with others who love to do them.)

That’s why the secret is “be useful”, not simply “sell something useful”. You can choose to be whatever you choose and declare yourself to be. Why choose to be not you? Why choose to try to be like anyone else? Why choose to be anything less than your truest and highest expression of YOU?

I believe that, for each of us, our truest expression will naturally inspire not only us, but people around us. Our life’s mission, when we choose it (or it chooses us), will reach out to address a real need.

So I guess I’m saying that to be useful, you just need to be YOU. No pretence, persuasion, or trickery needed. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

(For an easy free course in finding more about YOU, check out my Path Program.)

Marketing Strategy for Skin of Gold

28th March 2016

I would like to share an early-stage project with you, to give you a feel for the approach I’m designing to creating new marketing strategies.

So in this post I would like to share my thought process (so far) and to start to explore the reasons why a particular marketing strategy makes sense.

My ultimate goal is to break down the logic of “when this, do that” for all small-business marketing strategy decisions, so that the process of deciding what to do becomes simpler for all of us.

The product in question here is called “Skin of Gold” and it is a small-volume, artisan-made face cream produced in the United States. (See the current website: http://skinofgold.com)

skin-of-gold-skin-cream

The product itself is distinctive. Here are just a few key points…

  • The product contains pure 24ct gold (which has powerful antibacterial properties) as well as silver and a range of other organic natural ingredients.
  • It is made about once per month in small quantities (production literally happens in a dedicated room in the maker’s home).
  • The makers, Botanical Joy, claim it can positively help to reawaken the skin’s own natural healing abilities, and they have told me a number of stories of the cream’s effectiveness against blotches and other skin conditions.
  • The majority of sales are to repeat buyers.

Short Circuit

Let’s do a brief Circuit analysis, as a sanity-check…

  1. Brand: There is very little about the Botanical Joy brand, which is okay, as when you sell a single product, the product pretty much is the brand. The website does mention that they donate 15% of profits to environmental causes.
  2. Product: From what I can see, the product is excellent and unique, with a reasonable number of positive testimonials. The product is free from a range of ingredients found in even well-known brands (e.g. Lancôme) that the makers say are toxic.
  3. Proposition: The overall (global) proposition is that the cream can replace your moisturizer, toner, and serum. (Works with all skin types, including combination dry/oily skin.) That means you can simplify your skincare routine, saving time and possibly money.
  4. Problem: Can address a range of skin problems, possibly including aging. There is an issue that the sellers are prohibited by law to claim certain benefits (even if they’re true).
  5. Market: Primarily women over the age of 30, in the USA, Canada, the UK, and also Australia (where skin health is a much bigger issue and the benefits of gold are better known). Customers are likely to treat their skin with great care, and will be sensitive to issues around holistic health.

Initial Notes

It’s Far Too Cheap!

One of the first things that occurred to me is that the product is too cheap! A one-month supply (50ml bottle) currently sells for $47, however I believe many women will happily pay much more than that — particularly considering the exclusivity (low volume), cost of ingredients, and the fact that this one cream could negate the need for a range of other treatments.

Why?

I would advise putting the price up from $47 to $99 (if not more), which will have a dramatic effect on profits. (If the product costs say $15 to produce, $47 means a gross margin of $32, whereas a $99 price point would deliver $84 — 162% MORE profit for a price increase of 110%.)

Additionally, I would argue that an affordable price might set inappropriate expectations for the target customer. You expect a $47 product to be as good as other products in that general price range. But you expect an exclusive $99 product to be at least twice as good.

Play on Exclusivity

I love to flip potential perceived negatives into positives. In this case, the product is produced in very small batches, which might be viewed as “unsuccessful”, however it could be flipped into “artisan” and “exclusive.”

Why?

Exclusivity can create urgency, which would also lend itself to price elasticity (i.e. prospects and customers might tolerate a higher ticket price).

Add into the mix the fact that the majority of production goes to repeat customers and demand could be heightened further.

Packaging

I have also suggested to Botanical Joy that the bottles themselves could be reviewed, to suit a more up-market angle.

Why?

I think the product design itself should more closely match the specific features of the brand and the product.

Compare the current packaging to one alternative that I found in minutes on Alibaba.com.

skin-of-gold-bottlegold-bottles

So I would recommend making more extensive use of the colour gold, and I also like how the alternative bottles connote other high-end healthy products (specifically royal jelly), which can only be a positive association.

My Proposed Strategy

After consideration, and taking into account the fact that it would not be feasible to increase production too fast, the crux of the strategy I would propose is a challenge.

You know the kind of thing…

Try Skin of Gold for One Month, and IF You're Not Convinced It's THE BEST Skin Product You Have Ever Used, Return Your Empty Bottle to us for a 100% Refund!

Remember the Pepsi Challenge?

Remember the Pepsi Challenge?

The problem I now face is to decode WHY a challenge backed by a money-back guarantee could be the right approach!

The idea here is that, if I can figure out the factors that make this a good strategy, then next time I come across a business with a scenario that matches the same combination of relevant factors, we could assume that the same strategy should be considered.

That process is the crux of Open Source Marketing.

After deconstructing the relevant factors, the next step of the process is to revisit the Circuit to ensure that each factor is represented by questions. (In future, my ultimate goal will be to automate the strategy process into some kind of wizard!)

(That’s why I have added a few more questions to the Circuit today. It keeps getting better — and longer! But the good news is that, by constantly testing this process with new case studies, we’re building a comprehensive and truthful model that can in theory be applied to any marketing challenge!)

Break it Down

So now comes the hard part… Why is “challenge” a good strategy??

Here are my ideas so far.

  1. Great product, with tangible, demonstrable benefits (*). This may seem obvious, but we need to be confident that our product will actually deliver on its promises if we’re going to make a powerful claim for ditching your existing product/s. In this case, we can!
  2. Emotive topic (*). Women who care about their skin (and aging) can really care! Clearly, there is some inertia we have to overcome with our call to “take the challenge” so we’ll need to be confident that the benefits we’re promising are not just realistic but emotionally engaging too.
  3. “Switch” proposition (*). We’re taking the position of a challenger brand/product, and asking customers to ditch their existing (incumbent) products and to try our product instead for a fixed period of time.
  4. High margin (*). This is a requirement for a money-back guarantee. You have to be able to honour every request for a refund without hesitation. Of course, this is much easier for digital products (which have a near-100% profit margin) and trickier for services (which have a hard cost), so where there are real costs (i.e. services and physical products) there must be sufficient margin for a MBG to be viable.
  5. High customer loyalty (+). This may not be a critical factor, rather a positive factor. Basically, a regular repeat purchase pattern reinforces the high margin, effectively creating higher LCV (lifetime customer value), thereby further off-setting the risk.
  6. Minimal cost/risk of switching (+). We’re not asking someone to switch car brands or move house here. And we’re not asking them to commit to spending $100s per month. In fact, it may be that (even at a higher $99 price point) they could end up paying no more than they spend now on their beauty régime. Also, if they don’t prefer our product, there’s very little risk, as they can just go right back to what they were using before. I’m also listing this as a positive factor (+) rather than a key factor (*), because of course we are often persuaded to spend significant amounts when we are convinced of the benefits and value.

Test the Assumptions

Next, we can do an intellectual exercise where we ask the question…

Should we assume that the “Challenge” strategy could apply in every case where these same factors are evident?

I don’t think we can ever say that with 100% certainty, because we could find counter-indications in future case studies that override or negate these factors. However, I would say that, in principle at least, we can be confident that the answer to the question will be affirmative.

Later Phases

Note: My marketing strategy includes more steps and phases, including rolling out a continuity program (“get the product for a significant discount if you subscribe to receive one bottle every month”) plus expanding the market through carefully-selected affiliate partners. However, taking a lean approach, none of those will apply until we have first tested and proven the immediate assumptions.

Please Comment!

I’d love to get your perspective. Is there something I’ve missed? Or do you disagree with my conclusions?

Please share your thoughts. This is an open-source process, so everyone’s view counts. Thanks 🙂

Web Pro v2 Walk-Through

Here is my best step-by-step guide to how to run a "Web Pro v2" project, as I understand it today.

Because this is open-source, I would encourage you to try this out for yourself, and then to let me know about your experience.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to have me work with you, feel free to discuss writing me into your plans (on the same kind of fee/profit-share basis as you would agree with ​a client).

Step-by-Step Guide​

1. The Idea


Someone thinks that a particular marketing campaign is "worth doing" (there's a definition of "worth doing" below, but for now all we need to know is that someone thinks it's a good idea).

This might be a totally new venture, a new website​ for an existing venture, a new product line or proposition... practically anything!

Normally, the client will approach the marketing professional ("pro") to propose the idea.​

Great idea!

Let's look into it...

2. Initial Sanity-Check


The first thing we need to establish is: Is the idea worth pursuing?

​This is very important. Under "Web Pro v1", it didn't matter so much to service providers, because we would get paid anyway, whether a project were a success or a failure. That, of course, meant more risk for clients, because they couldn't trust a provider who had no skin in the game.

In "Web Pro v2"​ it becomes very important to establish whether a campaign deserves to be carried out, because everyone stands to win if it works, and everyone stands to lose if it doesn't. This is a good thing.

How do we arrive at that conclusion? Well, it has to come from experience and common sense, but here are some ​tips:

  • ​First, always do at least a Short Circuit exercise, to get an idea of the marketing fundamentals.
  • If you're looking at an existing campaign, are there existing opportunities to optimize it (usually by getting more traffic, better-targeted traffic, or by improving the conversion rate)?
  • For example, keyword research may show that a website is not optimized for the right kind of traffic. You can normally figure this out in under an hour.

Bottom line: I won't even consider taking on a project that is trying to sell a commodity into a crowded market, unless there's something unique and distinctive about the way this offering solves a real problem for people.

(I also won't take on a project that I don't strongly believe in, because experience tells me that I won't be able to give it my best.)

We believe that a project is worth doing. This definition of worth doing is the Golden Rule of Web Pro v2...


We believe there is scope to realize sufficient additional profits that are presently unrealized to reward both the client's and the professional's investment.

* Note: We use the term "profit" to represent any added value to the business or organization. It does not necessarily represent monetary profit, but could include any other measurable benefit such as a new lead, follower, or convert.

Let's unpick this definition. Notice that it's relative. We're balancing potential gain against everyone's investment.

The client will probably be investing their time, money, and assets into the project. The pro will also be investing their skills, time, and possibly other assets.

The question we're asking is, do we have good reason to believe that we'll ALL get a good return on that investment?

Now, bear in mind that the subjective assessment of ​"good return" depends on how much we've invested up to that point. Everyone's assessment of "good return" will be different.

An important note here is that we don't have to consider a full-scale deployment at this point. To use old "Web Pro v1" thinking, such as, "I would normally charge $10,000 for the kind of website ​I think she needs, so how long would it take me to make $10,000 from this project?" would be a mistake, because we don't necessarily have to invest that amount of work... at this point.

Consider t​hat there are cheap, fast ways to test a market opportunity. Here are a few suggestions:

  • ​Are people willing to pay for "X"? Consider doing a lean-startup style "Smoke Test"
  • Another way to test a market is simply to publish a range of AdWords or Facebook ads, which can test the market's reaction to a number of propositions.
  • Are there simple split-tests that could be done on the client's website to test ideas? These do not have to use polished design or copywriting, but could give you an idea (using real customer behaviour data) about the project's potential with very little time investment.

Also bear in mind that scale has a big part to play here. If a client's existing business is generating $100,000 per month right now, that's a very different prospect to if it's generating $1000 per month. The bigger the game right now, the lower the impact you have to make in order to generate "worthwhile" additional profits. That's just a fact of life.

You will never be able to remove all risk from this assessment. Certainty is an illusion. In "Web Pro v2" we become investors in clients' businesses, risking our talents and our time in return for greater potential profits. (If you want guaranteed revenues, stick with the old "Web Pro v1" model... for as long as it lasts!)

Happy?

Great, let's proceed...

3. Basis of Agreement


So we have good reason to believe that we'll be able to have a big enough positive impact, in a reasonable time frame, to reward both parties' investment. Great!

The next step is to draw up the basis of an agreement.

In "Web Pro v2" we don't really need contracts, because we're constantly working on this principle, derived from the Golden Rule...​


If any piece of work is worth doing, it will generate sufficient additional profits to compensate everyone's investment.

I find the implications of this statement quite fascinating...

  • ​If a project or campaign will take too much work for the probable reward, it shouldn't be done.
  • The client-pro relationship should naturally continue, as long as there is continuing scope for growth.
  • If there isn't enough reward for the professional, the pro should either walk away or renegotiate the deal.
  • If there isn't enough reward for the client, they should either end the relationship or renegotiate.
  • i.e. Either party should be free to end or seek to change the terms of the relationship, such that it continue to be "worth doing."
  • What's more, because the terms should always be open for reconsideration, a fixed contract becomes unnecessary. All we need is a record of what we currently agree on.

Here is an example structure for an Agreement

  1. Strategy Phase: The Pro works out their recommended Campaign Strategy, usually partly with the client and partly independently. The outcome will be the Campaign Strategy. Price: $_____

    Notes...
    • The Strategy Phase should be paid for using a fixed up-front fee. That's because the Pro has invested significant time/skill and there is a clear deliverable (the Strategy Document), which the client should be free to take away and use independently (based on the idea that they can walk away at any time).
    • A small scope deserves a short strategy phase. If a client is turning over $1000 per month now, it would be dumb to quote them $2000 for some strategy work. Instead, the pro should spend at most a couple of hours and come up with their best initial recommendations that can be tested quickly and cheaply.
    • The bigger the opportunity, the more sensible it is to invest significant time in strategy (which may include in-depth keyword research, competitive analysis, plus a comprehensive Circuit Interview and Review).
  2. Campaign Implementation: Set out what the pro will do, what the client will do, and how the pro shall be compensated.

    Notes...
    • Obviously, you don't know what the right strategy is going to be yet, do you? So you don't actually know exactly what work needs to be done. This piece does not need to be very prescriptive or detailed.
    • You will need to do what you need to do to test any assumptions you've made in the strategy phase. Aim to test quickly and cheaply, using real market behaviour insights.
    • Figure out an appropriate initial profit-share (or revenue-share) deal. This may depend on the scale of the client's business (the bigger the baseline turnover or profit, the bigger the real gain). Also bear in mind that this figure is flexible. Either side may renegotiate it at any time.
    • If you *know* that a significant amount of work will need to be done up-front (for example, totally redesign a client's site) then you should quote for that work at this point. However, consider building phased compensation, so that the client is not risking too much too soon, and they know that they will only have to pay when their campaign is working. (That will often require a formal agreement, of course, because walking away at any time may leave one party over-exposed.)

Simple, isn't it! That's the point! Simple is often beautiful and honest.

We can stop wasting time arguing over which bits of a contract are likely to protect or reward us the most and just get on with exploring the market opportunity.

Everyone happy?

Cool, let's carry on...

4. Campaign Strategy Phase


Pro gets paid.

The strategy phase aims to answer these core questions...

  1. Where do you believe new profits will be found?
    • What traffic channels does research suggest are profitable?
    • How will we effectively reach, nurture, and convert prospects?
  2. What needs to be done to realize those profits?
  3. Who will do what work?
  4. What assumptions are we making?
  5. How do we plan to test those assumptions?​

It is extremely important to acknowledge "assumptions" because any strategy we design is likely to be sub-optimal. It is actually more efficient to go to market with some unanswered assumptions and a plan to resolve them on the wing, adjusting and optimizing as you go, than it is to launch with a polished, finished "Big Bang" (i.e. "First Best Guess") campaign.

The important thing here is not that the Campaign Design be perfect! What you are really looking for is a plan for evolution, testing, growth, and optimization... in whatever order.​

So don't expect to spend too long on the Campaign Design. Do your best work, make your best guesses, identify them as assumptions, and move on!

Let's go to work!!

5. Campaign Implementation


This is where you all roll out the campaign, where you'll test your new ideas, set up experiments, learn lessons, and change your mind (hopefully a lot).

The roll-out may include a huge range of activities: any publishing, PR, PPC management, link-building, content marketing, on-going keyword or other research, conversion rate optimization testing, offline marketing activity...​

Consider that the Pro does not necessarily have to deliver all the work personally. If I ​need a smart video intro, or a voice-over, I don't do it myself.. I'll get a friend, colleague, or someone off Fiverr to do it (because they'll do a better job and do it more efficiently).

Also be aware that we are no longer working in a "Big Bang" ​universe! You do not have to deliver everything at once. In fact, that is almost certainly a bad use of everyone's resources (very Web Pro v1)!

One of the beautiful things about Web Pro v2 is the way the economics encourage the professional to make the right decisions at the right time.

In the old Web Pro v1, you got paid anyway, so it would make sense to encourage the client to invest as much money as possible as fast as possible, even if that was not in the client's best interests.

In Web Pro v2, we share in the profits, so we need to make decisions that will help us more rapidly deliver on those profits. That may require us to do low-level activities early on... run split-tests on a client's current site, carry out small-scale market research, interview the client's customers, etc.

If a client blows a big budget and doesn't see the return in a reasonable timeframe, why would they continue to trust the professional? (They shouldn't!)​

So the professional's job is to move carefully and tactically towards profitability, so that...​

Pro gets paid (repeatedly).

5b. Review & Renegotiate


Web Pro v2 depends on maintaining the conditions for the Golden Rule. In other words, we constantly want to keep the investment/risk and rewards in balance.

If the client thinks they would be better off without the partnership (e.g. because growth is too slow)​, they should renegotiate or end the agreement.

If the professional feels they are not getting a good deal, they should be free to do the same.​

Renegotiating the profit share is perfectly fine. If agreement cannot be reached, that probably means the golden rule no longer applies, and the agreement should be dissolved.

The ideal situation is that the pro continue to find new growth opportunities, so that the client can enjoy continual increase in value (profit), and is happy to share that with the pro, because the more they pay the pro, the better they are doing!​

Vision for “Web Pro 2”

The Open Source Marketing Client Service system aims to provide a new model for the commercial relationship between marketing professionals and their clients.

If you have read “Web Design is Dead” (available free on Ben’s website), you’ll be familiar with the Old Model of web design and marketing.

In this post, I’m going to reiterate just why that Old Model is bad, outline what we would need to have everything work better, and describe the “Web Pro 2” model (as far as it is developed right now).

1. What’s Wrong With the Old Model

The most glaring problem with the old model for delivering professional marketing services is simply that the Client takes all risk.

Client Takes All the Risk

The Provider says, “This is what I think you need, and this is what it will cost.” The Client must either accept or decline that offer. If they accept, they pay the fees as agreed.

Thereafter, if the campaign (website, etc.) is a success, the Client may see a benefit (usually profit). However if the campaign fails, the Client may lose more money, on top of the money they wasted by paying the Provider to carry out the work.

I am as guilty of this as anyone else. Several years ago, I was approached by a client who had an idea for a web app, which was like a new Web2.0 knowledge marketplace for professionals.

I quoted £55,000 for the work (US$83k today), and my developer and I created a complete working solution called “Kathink”, which duly went live. (There is no record of the project online now, except for a patent spec.)

The problem was, I had only delivered a product as agreed. We had made no provision in the budget to market the new concept, so it was only ever seen by a few people. Today I look back on that project with profound regret.

However you look at it, most clients have not gotten a good deal from most marketing professionals over the years. Whichever side we’re on, I’m sure we can all list multiple occasions where clients have paid significant sums for websites that bombed.

Who picks up the bill when that happens? It’s the Client. Sure, the Provider (often a web designer) would love to know their work had helped make the client successful, but they’re usually long gone by that time, because they’ve had to move on to the next sale and the next project.

Big Bang / First Best Guess

That brings us onto the second reason why the Old Model was so flawed. Most Providers have a commercially promiscuous relationship with their market. In other words, they are locked into a series of intense, short-term relationships.

The typical web design project can best be described as “Big Bang”… an intense flurry of “creative” work, after which the Provider usually moves on, and the Client is left to discover whether the result is worth the money they’ve paid.

The reality is that any design or redesign is really someone’s “first best guess” (FBG). And experience tells us that anyone’s FBG is almost guaranteed to be less than optimal. In fact, much of the time, a FBG redesign turns out to perform worse than the previous design.

Why is this? Simply because nobody really knows what’s going to work, how people are going to respond to a campaign.

You don’t know until you find out. And the worst way to find out is to bet all your budget on the first best guess.

Of course, this was all really risk-free from the Provider’s perspective. They would get paid whether their guesses were right or wrong. It was the Client who would be left counts the cost.

Cost to Providers

In reality, the promiscuous pattern did not really work out great for Providers either. It meant we were locked in to a “feast or famine” scenario.

When you closed a project, you had money in the bank and a lot of work to do. While you were delivering a project, it was challenging to maintain sales activities, which quite often meant that, when the project was complete, the money would be running out fast, and you had to go out hunting for a new client.

Speaking for myself, that was a stressful way to run a business, particularly for a sole trader or small agency.

We Didn’t Learn

A further downside of the short-termism of the Old Model is that nobody was concerned with really tracking what worked. Not focusing (or caring) about real results meant that our knowledge didn’t really increase very fast.

For marketing professionals, it seemed wasn’t our problem. Hey — clients kept signing our proposals and paying our invoices, even if we could provide no evidence that our services would make them money!

And if a smart client did happen to ask for evidence, we could just mumble something about it being very hard to track and prove results, knowing that they would get the same message from every web designer. I can’t remember it ever being a deal-breaker. Usually, having a sexy portfolio and being able to talk a good sales pitch won the day.

So, because of the short-term involvement, clients couldn’t even check if their designer had a track record of delivering profit, because the designers didn’t even know themselves!

Things did start to change gradually, as more forward-thinking professionals in the web design sector realised that web design was inseparable from marketing. The growth of SEO, and particularly pay-per-click, helped people wake up to the idea that the output of online marketing is in fact measurable.

Too Many Chefs

As the sector matured, clients gradually found themselves having to understand and manage a huge range of marketing channels, roles, and disciplines.

They might read an article saying that they absolutely MUST be doing (take your pick: SEO, PPC, conversion optimization, social media, content marketing, webinars, e-books, email automation etc.). Then they would be compelled to go out and find a consultant to help them do that particular thing.

But that produces a situation of “too many chefs”. Who’s in charge? Who decides what communications go out when? Who decides what content goes on what particular page?

The Client surely is not qualified to make these judgement calls about marketing strategy, and why should they? That creates more stress for the client sector, which only got worse over time as new channels popped up every week.

Of course, we professionals didn’t have to count the cost of the situation. We did our best, usually in good faith, and could always fall back behind the same old excuses…

  • “It’s just the way it is.”
  • “If you don’t invest $$$ up-front, you don’t have skin in the game.”
  • “You have to speculate to accumulate.”
  • All of which add up to,”Buyer beware!”

But, honestly, this situation is not OK. The web is over twenty years old now. It’s time for a better way.

2. What Do We Need?

Let’s consider what an ideal situation might look like. Then, we’ll look at the proposed open-source model for a new Client/Professional model.

Clearly, the Client should not take all risk. They should only pay full fees if and when campaign works, i.e. generates real business results (usually financial profits).

After all, you wouldn’t pay a motor dealer full price if they took your car and sold you a different one that didn’t work!

In order to do that, the marketing professional needs to be involved in the project until it breaks even and becomes profitable. That means we need much longer-term relationships.

There are a few key principles here

  1. Neither party should be over-exposed to risk. Every party’s investment should create a balanced situation, whether they’re investing time and skills, money, or other business assets (e.g. customer list).
  2. If a campaign is worth doing, it must naturally realize previously unrealized profits. (If it won’t be profitable, within a reasonable timeframe, it shouldn’t be done, and the client certainly shouldn’t pay for it.)
  3. If the campaign should be done, it is reasonable that the Provider should be paid in part out of those future profits, thereby sharing some of the risk with the Client, as well as the potential reward.

In order to do this, we need a different type of agreement, in which the Provider is compensated when certain targets are reached, meaning that the Client is not over-exposed to risk.

At the same time, it is worth noting that the Provider should not be expected work for free, either. If they were to invest their time and skills without any compensation, they would be over-exposed, which would also unbalance the situation.

The ideal solution would help avoid the feast/famine for Providers, delivering a slow release of revenues, and ideally generating more revenues for both Providers and Clients, because more is done to realize the potential unrealized future profits.

Instead of having the undesirable scenarios of multiple discipline specialists involved and fighting over a project, or expecting the Client to judge what should be done, there should be one expert in charge of the overall strategy — both creating it and ensuring it is executed efficiently over time.

3. The Proposed Solution: The “Web Pro 2” Model

In this scenario, it might be argued that we are no longer in a Client/Provider relationship. Rather, all parties are mutual investors. Everyone is investing (time, skill, money, intellectual property, etc.) and, as investors, we get to share in dividends from future profits.

Symbiosis

I am a big fan of biomimicry: looking to nature for healthy models. In this, we can look to the biological model of symbiosis, which is where two organisms cooperate in such a way that they both profit.

The key principle is: No one should be risking more than they can afford to lose.

As it is the Client who invests money in the first instance, they should only pay for what they actually receiveThis may relate to specific deliverables (like an SEO plan or strategy document), but should then be represented by agreed specific results.

The Provider is also investing (time and skills), and they should have their costs covered so they are not over-exposed, but the fundamental principle is that their profits should come when the Client profits.

Long-Term Campaigns

Marketing strategies should be planned over time, because it takes time to test how a market will actually respond. Of course, every campaign will have an element of “first best guess” but it also needs to…

  • Assess what assumptions are being made in the FBG.
  • Plan for how those assumptions will be tested and proven, as rapidly and as cost-effectively as possible.
  • Be responsive, incorporating frequent iterations to test, learn, measure results, and optimize performance over time (particularly in traffic acquisition and conversion).

A single role of Marketing Strategist will be responsible for designing and executing the marketing campaign, and for delivering results over time.

That means they have to make intelligent and well-informed decisions on what is likely to get results, and over what timeframe.

Open, Transparent Agreements

This model is built on the principle of win-win scenarios. If either party is not profiting, the relationship is unbalanced, and should not continue — at least in the same form.

For this reason, either party should be able to walk away from the deal at any time. This relationship should work without the need for a contract.

Additionally, either party should be able to renegotiate the deal at any time. The relationship should be in balance.

There are four scenarios that might cause either party not to profit from the relationship in its current form.

Scenario 1: Bad Campaign

If the campaign fails to realize the anticipated unrealized profits sufficiently to compensate the Provider and Client. This may be nobody’s fault.

If we discover that the profits are not accessible, the campaign (and possibly the relationship) should be wound up as promptly as is feasible.

Scenario 2: Provider is Over-Extended

If the Provider finds they are doing too much work for too little compensation, they should seek to renegotiate the deal.

If no agreement can be reached, it may be that we are in a “Bad Campaign” scenario, i.e. there is not enough profit to support both parties.

We should never be in the situation where either the Client or Provider is being greedy, expecting too great a share of compensation.

Scenario 3: Client is Over-Extended

It is possible to imagine the situation where the Client feels they are paying too much in profit-share fees to the Provider.

One scenario might be where a relatively high profit-share is used in the initial stages, in order to provide enough revenue to compensate the Provider for their time while a campaign gets off the ground. As the campaign grows and matures, it may be that the Provider does not have to do so much work, yet they may actually enjoy more revenues.

In this type of scenario, it would seem logical to reduce the Provider’s revenue share by some degree. Ideally, with forces in balance there should be enough incentive for the Provider to invest their skills and time in continually expanding the campaign.

This short video explains the principle of win-win in a continuously growing campaign.

It is reasonable to anticipate multiple renegotations in the lifetime of any campaign.

Scenario 4: Provider No Longer Required

A fourth scenario could simply represent the situation when a campaign is fully matured and running along nicely. In this case, if there is nothing more that the Provider can profitably add, it is right that they should walk away from the project.

Another similar scenario could be where the Provider has transferred sufficient knowledge and skills to the Client such that the Client can do what is required to continue to develop the project, which I think is something we should always try to achieve.

In this situation, the Provider would probably not find the work very interesting anyway, because it is not using their best skills. However, it may make sense for the Client to keep the Provider engaged in order to have access to their experience and skills at a higher level, for on-going strategic guidance.

The key is to note that, in each of these scenarios, renegotiating or ending the working relationship is the right thing to do. (If you’re very interested, I explore the balance of forces a bit further in this post.)

What’s Next?

I cannot justify presenting this as a better solution than the Old Model, until it is proven that win-wins are achievable.

That’s why I am currently working out the details of this model with a handful of real client projects. Please watch this space for updates.

These current campaigns are bound to be time-consuming, and it would be great to work this out on a few more projects in parallel.

However, I also don’t want to roll this out as a paid course or coaching program, for two reasons…

  • The first is, a course would not be appropriate, because of the Open Source Marketing position that states that, if something can be recorded, it should be made available to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.
  • A coached program would not come into that category, however because this model still isn’t proven, it would be unethical to charge for training.

Then I realized that I had the answer all along. In fact, you’ve just been reading about it!

Extending the Investor Model

If there are any marketing professionals who would like to investigate using this open-source model with your own clients, please feel free to reach out to me direct.

Here’s how it might work.

  • If you have a client who you think has a great long-term opportunity, which you think would make a good case study, let’s discuss it.
  • I could help coach you through the process of:
    • Assessing the opportunity.
    • Drafting and negotiating a balanced agreement that engages everyone.
    • Designing the campaign, and executing it.
  • In return for this, we would agree an initial percentage share for me, to cover my time, which would come out of the share you get from the Client.
  • Of course, that can be renegotiated or cancelled at any time in the future, as things change, which they inevitably will.

Please email me (ben@benhunt.com) if you would like to parter on a project in this way. Note that I do not have a lot of time available to do actual delivery work (design, site build, writing, etc.), so will need to keep my involvement to high-level guidance.

Also read:

OSM-CS: How Can Marketers Verify Partners’ Revenues?

Jeff posted this excellent question in response to the OSM-CS model.

Hello and thank you for your article. I am definitely interested in the concept and potential of profit sharing for my marketing services, but I have always been discouraged by my inability to answer one seemingly simple question:

How can a marketing company reliably verify their client’s profitability as a result of their services?

In the past, I have proposed my services for free with the profit sharing contingency and I never truly felt comfortable because I had to rely on the client to be transparent with their finances and the success of the marketing campaign.

For instance, if I offered to design marketing materials (website, brochures, social media, direct mail, videos, etc.) for a local law firm that previously had none of these resources, I would ask for a specific dollar amount or percentage of each new client they received as a result of my services.

Unfortunately, however, I cannot verify how many active clients the law firm is getting because I do not work there full time and would have to trust what they tell me. What if they claim they saw no increase in their number of new clients? I would have no way to verify that this was accurate or not and would have no reason to request payment.

This isn’t a hypothetical situation as I actually went through an experience like this and we decided to end the relationship. This was after I already gave them dozens of hours for work on consulting on their website, social media, and produced several marketing materials for them that they continue to use today. If these resources were not successful, I don’t think they would still be using them, but I have no way of proving that they worked. Ultimately I received no payment for any of my services with this client.

How does a marketing company position themselves in a way that they can verify each new client or an increase in profitability without having to rely solely on the word of their client?

Thank You,
Jeff

My Response

This is an excellent question, which goes to the core of why and how profit-sharing relationships work.

The short answer is, with profit-sharing, you shouldn’t have to verify a partner’s revenues strictly.

I know that might sound weird. But it’s true.

The principle of profit-sharing is that it should be a win-win. Both the service provider and the client should want the relationship to continue because they both get more benefit than cost.

If it is not a win-win, clearly the relationship should not continue anyway. That’s why we say that there is no need for a contract, simply an informal agreement or letter of understanding.

OSM-CS tries to construct these relationships such that the forces are in balance. Nobody should have invested more than they can risk. And, if there is abundant growth, everybody should be compensated in a way that they perceive as fair.

Agree on the Metric

The simplest answer to Jeff’s question is to advise partners to agree on the metric that both sides will use.

It makes sense to be clear about the agreement between the parties.

If the profit-share is based on gross profits or net profits, that would require insight into the client’s accounting, which is unlikely to be forthcoming.

If the campaign sells online, something that is often easier might be to work off e-commerce statistics in Google Analytics, which is pretty easy to set up and to share, and does not expose too much sensitive information.

In the case of a law firm, the conversion goal would not be monetary, but might be a new contact form submission. In this case, the partners (service provider and client) should agree on an arbitrary value for a new lead.

A Per-Lead Pricing Method

In a lead-gen situation, I will often use the following thought experiment…

If I had a list of one hundred hot leads in my hand, what is the maximum price that you would happily pay me per lead?

This is an example of the kind of mechanism we can use to balance the forces. If a client would gladly buy all 100 leads at $20 per lead, would they gladly pay $25, or $22?

If the agreed lead-value is high enough, the marketer will be confident that they can get a healthy return for their efforts, and the partners will proceed on the basis of that agreement.

If it is too low, the marketer may try to push the price higher.

Of course, if the price is too high, the client may not be confident in their own profitability, and there may be no agreement.

If the price is too low, the marketer may not see enough potential, and there may be no agreement.

Balancing Forces

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ftmeade/6947321108In any of these cases, the right result is reached. There is nothing wrong. And that is part of the beauty of the profit-sharing model. We only proceed to execute campaigns that should be executed. If we cannot see where we’ll find enough profit to compensate all parties, that is a risky situation.

Again, there is nothing wrong with a risky situation. But someone has to be prepared to take the risk. Traditionally, that has always been the client, who must pay the contracted marketing fees and hope that the campaign pays off.

It is also possible that the marketer might shoulder some of the risk. But if they do so, they should do it consciously.

Walking Away

As I have said, in the OSM-CS system, we don’t rely on contracts. Contracts would be required to (attempt to) compel either party to deliver on agreements that they don’t want to deliver.

In a win-win situation, why should this ever be the case?

If, at any point in the future, the revenue the marketer gets does not justify their continued work, they may walk away from the arrangement.

Likewise, if the revenue the client pays out is not justified by the growth they are seeing, they may sever the relationship.

Logically, it is likely that these two situations would coincide. And, in that case, if the profit-share is not delivering a win-win, again, walking away is the right thing to do.

Renegotiating

If it seems that the revenue-share agreement no longer balances forces, i.e. where input and reward are not in proportion, then either side of the relationship may also choose to renegotiate the terms. That would also be an appropriate measure, and a possible alternative to walking away.

Getting Stiffed

Obviously, we can all worry about partners lying about their revenue, as Jeff’s question illustrates.

But, again, with a balanced profit-share arrangement in place, where neither side is being too greedy, it is in everyone’s interests to pull together for growth, not to grab all they can.

If a client were to stiff the marketer and misrepresent earnings in order to pay out less in profit-share, that would be dumb, because it would claim there was less growth.

In that case, the marketer may feel inclined to walk away, or to invest less effort in that project, redirecting their skills into other partners.

Fixed-Fee Element

In the interests of balancing the forces, it is often necessary to include some kind of combination of profit-share and fee-based compensation.

Specifically, if there is a significant amount of work that needs to be invested (say re-launching a whole website, or doing extensive keyword research), it would not be equitable for the marketer to invest all that work over a short period without a corresponding investment from the client. So, it makes perfect sense for there to be an initial fixed-fee engagement to cover that work, after which you would transition to a profit-share model.

That’s one reason why profit-sharing exclusively is not always the right model. Profit-sharing works where both parties gain:

  • The client sees supplementary growth in their business, which means their profits grow and they do not resent passing a share of those extra profits to the marketer (or team);
  • The marketer receives income from their share of profits that rewards their investment of work, ideally increasingly over time as the business grows.

So profit-sharing is ideal where there is reason for the service provider to be engaged with the campaign over an extended period of time. This would be appropriate for strategic guidance, on-going SEO, content production, conversion optimisation, etc.

To take Jeff’s example of producing marketing materials for a law firm, if there is significant work to be done up-front, I would imagine a combination of fixed-fee contract to cover the production of the materials, followed by an on-going profit-share for the rolling out of the longer-term marketing strategy.

Outreach Channel: Virtual Summits

Virtual Summits are growing like crazy, and for good reason. They are one of the easiest, and most powerful, list-building tactics you can use today.

Wendy Kier is an entrepreneur and expert in virtual events, based in the UK. Her website is http://getclientsonline.co.uk/.

Our 36-minute interview is packed with information on virtual summits, including…

  • Who should (and shouldn’t) be using virtual summits.
  • Why they’re so darned useful — and cost-effective.
  • How to set them up (the tech is simple).
  • How to choose the right niche, attract the perfect speakers, and pull in your target audience.
  • Plus the one thing you should always, always do to avoid wasting your time.
Download MP3 (12MB)

Pre-Sell (Lead Magnets / Ethical Bribes)

It generally makes a great deal of sense to capture each prospect’s contact information, because that means we own a channel that we can use to continue the conversation with them. This is usually email, but may also be social media, telephone, or even physical mail.

There are other good reasons why so many marketers try to give away free information in return for contact details (often called “lead magnets” or “ethical bribes”). In OSM, we refer to these giveaways as “pre-sell” material.

I believe that the main benefit is that the material you give out can actually do most of the tasks required to make a sale, but outside the context of selling.

Any giveaway, whether a free book, ebook, video series, webinar, or trial, can educate your prospect on what they need to know, i.e.

  1. The problem, its consequences and costs.
  2. Why it’s important to solve the problem, and how much better life could be once you do.
  3. Why alternative solutions to solving the problem are unsatisfactory or inappropriate.
  4. All the evidence why your solution is better.
  5. Proof that it’s working for other people and delivering the promised results.
  6. And reinforcing how achievable and accessible that solution is for them.

Think about it; your “pre-sell” can meet your prospect on their path and lead them along, gently and easily, to the point where they can be convinced and ready to buy, without their feeling sold to! That’s the power of pre-sell!

The best format for a pre-sell depends on the context. There is no one-size-fits-all.

  • For example, some things can be demonstrated visually, which would make video the ideal format, whereas others just can’t.
  • Sometimes you can achieve the next step with just a little information, which could be effectively communicated in a short video or email series. Other times there is a big shift of thinking that needs to happen, and you may need to deliver a whole book or a multi-day course.
  • How many questions or objections is your prospect likely to have? Perhaps a live webinar, teleseminar, or a one-to-one coaching call might be appropriate.

The ideal pre-sell is probably a demo or trial, because there’s no better way to prove how something works than to let the prospect experience it for themselves.

Check out these two powerful presentations, which came from my “Breakthrough” program in March-April 2015.

1) “A to B”: The Science of Lead Magnets (16 minutes)

This short presentation breaks down why “Pre-Sell” offers work so well.

“A to B” is a simple but powerful structure for helping you to think about the structure for your lead magnets (or “ethical bribes”).

It builds on the “Perfect Topic” headline structure, providing a series of components (“stepping stones”) to help your prospects know the value in your initial offer.

2) The Flow Chart and The Magic Pre-Sell (24 minutes)

As we’ve worked through the capture and nurture phases of a campaign, it has become apparent that the “pre-sell” (a.k.a. “lead magnet” or “ethical bribe”) can deliver a LOT more than simply getting a prospect’s contact info.

This 24-minute presentation explains the realisation of the magic of the pre-sell.

Snoreraser Pro: Campaign Design

In this article, I’ll write up the decision-making process that goes into an OSM Campaign Design for a real-world project.

Snoreraser is my latest campaign redesign project. It’s an existing business, set up several years ago by retired firefighter Brian McKenna in Pennsylvania, USA.

Brief History

Brian is one of literally millions of people who has found it difficult to sleep because their partner snores. Over a few years, Brian tried practically every product on the market, but realised that none of them really works. (There are many reasons, but snoring waveforms are not regular enough for noise cancelling technology to work, and it’s impossible to block out the sound with earplugs because a significant amount of the noise actually resonates through the recipient’s cranium, not through the ears.)

This set Brian on a journey of exploring masking the sound of snoring. His idea was that it might be possible to play a composite sound actually composed of real snoring, and somehow neutralise the snoring in the room enough to let the other person sleep.

To cut a very long story very short, it worked! It took Brian years of experimenting, sampling many people’s snoring, and he finally arrived at three different “grades” of his product, Snoreraser, which effectively cancel out over 95% of snoring sounds. Brian says really is the only product of its kind available today (a great position to start from).

The Snoreraser products are simply MP3 files, which the non-snorer plays, usually via earbuds. The tracks can also be played through speakers. There are variants of each of the three main products, which include binaural beat technology, proven to help some people slip into a state that makes sleep easier.

I started by reviewing Brian’s existing site at snoreraser.com (Note August 17th, 2015: Now relaunched!). I won’t do a complete break-down of the existing site, as we will be replacing it entirely, however the overall summary was…

  • It isn’t obvious enough what the product is,
  • or how to get it,
  • and there are too many ordering options.

Despite the shortcomings of the current site, Brian makes decent sales, with a website conversion rate of around 3% (which is surprisingly good), and monthly sales in four figures. We are aiming to get this into five figures.

Short Circuit

I’ll share a Short Circuit analysis of the overall marketing proposition. Basically, the Short Circuit will identify whether an offering has a good case to take to market.

Brand

  • Why will people feel part of this brand? What is the brand’s promise?
    • It is genuinely unique, and just wants to help people get their lives and relationships back to normal.

Product / Service

  • What uniquely makes this product/service the perfect solution for your target customer?
    • It is the ONLY way to block out snoring!

Proposition

  • What do you promise to do for customers that no competitor can? Why will people choose this solution?
    • Guaranteed to eliminates the sound of your partner’s snoring, or your money back.

Problem

  • Why will people be motivated to take action to address this problem?
    • Snoring can cause significant and serious problems, including tiredness, emotional friction, and putting pressure on relationships.
    • It is also a very widespread issue in society.
    • And while there are multiple products that can have partial benefit (proving that there’s a market), there is no other truly satisfactory solution.

Market

  • Do we know exactly who our ideal customer is, and where we can find them?
    • Yes, they’re couples where at least one partner snores heavily, causing the other half to find it difficult to sleep.
    • Because this is a conscious problem, prospects are likely to be at Step Two on the Awareness Ladder (i.e. they’re aware of the problem, and aware that some solutions exist, but they do not have a satisfactory solution). This means they are likely to be using search engines to try to find the right solution.

So, for me, this is a clear case of five green lights — exactly what you want before diving into campaign design!

green-lightgreen-lightgreen-lightgreen-lightgreen-light

Campaign Design

I’ll explain my reasoning for choosing each of the various techniques (channels, tactics, tools) I have selected for each of the main Campaign Phases, based on the facts discovered earlier in the Strategy process. (It is not necessary to share all the Circuit responses.)

The Campaign Phases are:

  1. Reach
  2. Capture
  3. Nurture
  4. Close

1. Reach

Good news! The website already has significant organic search traffic, providing over 80% of visits, 1884 visits in the past 4 weeks according to Google Analytics.

Analytics overview

For that reason, I would start with optimising the conversions using the existing organic search traffic. After we know the new average earning per visitor (EPV) post-relaunch, that may make other channels feasible (particularly pay-per-click on AdWords or Facebook).

Right now, a massive 96.4% of all visits land on the home page!

Landing pages

 

However, there are obviously plenty of search terms people could be typing in. Here’s what Analytics tells me are our current top search terms. (Note how people are looking quite deep down the list of results in their search for a solution, because some terms are delivering good traffic despite being in the bottom half of the top ten.)

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 19.22.36

This tells me that we could use the power of multiplicity (see Convert! to learn more), and create multiple landing pages, which can be focused on these specific search terms. That could help us to rank higher (over time) for a wide range of terms, significantly boosting that organic traffic. And we have good stories to tell, such as, “Why noise-cancelling headphones don’t block snoring.”

We also have a compelling and true story to tell: “Retired Firefighter Discovered The Only Way To Block Out Snoring.” And that story will work well in video format (because it does not take too long to tell). So, combining those facts with the clear search traffic, that would also make YouTube videos a useful marketing tool, which we should implement from day one.

Specifically, I would suggest the following method:

  1. Carry out keyword research to assess the potential difficulty and traffic for each of these terms, and arrange them into a hit list.
  2. Brian could create short videos that explore the subject (e.g. “Noise cancelling headphones for sleeping”).
  3. We’ll title each page exactly after the topic title, and get Brian’s video transcribed (approximate cost $1 per minute), so that the page has unique, natural-English, keyword-rich content that’s also useful.
  4. After the transcription, we’ll also add a generic video, which leads the visitor along the next logical step of their journey, e.g “Why only one thing effectively blocks out snoring noise.”
  5. This would then be followed by the standard call to action (see below).

2. Capture

If you haven’t seen the two presentations on “Pre-Sells” watch them now (16 minutes and 24 minutes).

We know that the ideal pre-sell can be a demo or trial. In the case of Snoreraser, that’s exactly what we can do. Because it’s a digital audio file, we can deliver the trial version of the product for practically no cost.

Instead of expecting the prospect to be able to select which version of the product is right for them, I propose that we may not even need a direct “Buy Now” link on our landing pages, but instead invite every visitor to download their free trial version, so they can try it out for themselves.

Now, this is adding an additional step, and an additional trade, but I believe the benefits of delaying the sale offer could significantly boost conversions. We should get a lot more people opting in for “Try It Yourself! Free Home Demo” than the ~3% who buy today.

Briefly, we’ll display that call to action prominently, possibly using a 2-step opt-in mechanism (which may increase opt-in rates).

Upon opting in, the prospect will be added to an email list. The first email will deliver their trial product.

3. Nurture

Nurturing is the phase of the sales process in which you walk the prospect through the logical steps from wherever they started to the point you want them to get to (i.e. being convinced that they need to get your offer now).

It may include some or all of the following steps:

  1. The problem, its consequences and costs.
  2. Why it’s important to solve the problem, and how much better life could be once you do.
  3. Why alternative solutions to solving the problem are unsatisfactory or inappropriate.
  4. All the evidence why your solution is better.
  5. Proof that it’s working for other people and delivering the promised results.
  6. And reinforcing how achievable and accessible that solution is for them.

If you can use a pre-sell applying the “A to B” method, you can find that the nurture phase is easier, because you are educating your prospect without overtly selling to them (and thus activating their anti-sales defences).

Really, there’s no better way to accelerate the Nurture phase than with an real live experience. However, even if you can offer a taster or trial, you should still make sure you cover all the relevant steps. You can’t always rely on a prospect to convince themselves.

So, for Snoreraser, we’ll consider all the possible reasons why a prospect might not proceed to buy straight away, and follow up with a comprehensive series of timed emails that address those issues:

  • Did they try it? Did it work? Which of the three versions worked best?
  • If it worked, get the full product set here! (First sale CTA)
  • If they couldn’t use it, offer technical help (e.g. how to play the file via a smart phone or MP3 player, types of earbuds or speakers to use).
  • If they could use it, and didn’t get the results they expected, what information or advice can we offer them?
  • (If they haven’t bought) Ask for the sale again. Remind them about the 90-day 100% money-back guarantee.
  • (If they still haven’t bought) Remind them that they’ll get six different versions: the three different snoring levels, plus for each one a binaural beat variant, which some people find really helps them get to sleep. (And any other bonuses we can include.)
  • (Assuming they still haven’t bought) Continue with occasional emails with testimonials from satisfied customers.
  • Follow up with recommendations for any other products that might help, e.g. high-quality earbuds (using affiliate links).

4. Close

You have to invite the prospect to buy! If you don’t ask, they can’t say yes. So every Campaign Design should plan for bold, confident calls to action.

So our second email in the FUS (follow-up sequence) will ask for the sale — IF they tried the demo and it worked for them. (It’s core to the brand that we only want to take people’s money when we help them. We don’t want any customers who are less than 100% satisfied.)

As the email FUS above shows, we’ll track buyers and non-buyers (using an integrated marketing automation system), so that we can send further emails only to people who don’t buy, if needed.

5. Post-Sale

It is always worth considering what support people may need immediately after buying. Plus, it’s always a good idea to drop in on customers after a few weeks to gather testimonials (text or video) and maybe to invite them to spread the word (e.g. through social media).

Summary

If this Campaign Design seems straightforward to you, that’s great.

Marketing, when it’s done well, should seem obvious and simple. Our goal should not be to trick or to manipulate, but to help a prospect understand whether our offer is perfect for them.

That’s why I love to work with products like Snoreraser Pro, which offer the world something unique that the vendor believes in one hundred percent.

It’s also why Open Source Marketing is built on the comprehensive Circuit process, so that we only move into Campaign Design once we know we have an offering that’s ready to take to market.

Because when you have something like Snoreraser Pro, when you’re helping people solve a real need, marketing does become easy, and rewarding. If marketing is difficult or confusing, that’s a sign you need to go back to basics.

Want More?

If you’d like even more insight, please feel free to check out my online Campaign Design document, which includes a draft script for the intro video.

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