One of the biggest questions catering and events professionals ask industry marketers is, “How do I get clients?” Often, it seems they are searching for a silver bullet, a hidden money-making secret, or the missing link to client attraction that no one has ever thought of before. While we all wish there were a supernatural client generation tool, that is not how the process works. As Christie Osborne from Mountainside Media is fond of saying, “It’s marketing, not magic.” Rather than focusing on a panacea, turn your attention to building a coordinated system of marketing activities that will grow your brand, earn new clients, and generate revenue. That system is called a marketing funnel.
A marketing funnel is a framework sharp businesses use to turn strangers into customers. It helps you attract, convert, and close more clients. Without a marketing funnel, you would be rushing into the sale too quickly and possibly costing yourself money. Build a marketing funnel that will incorporate stability into your profit-generation. Creating a system where each activity flows into another and not just using ad hoc strategies will help you automate your lead generation efforts. Instead of relying on one tactic, like posting on social media or writing blogs, to generate your leads, a marketing funnel allows you to adopt a strategic and multi-faceted approach.
Just as you wouldn’t use a serrated knife to debone salmon, you want to use the right tools at the appropriate places in your marketing funnel. The top of your marketing funnel is where you captivate the attention of your ideal customer. They aren’t aware of you yet, so it would be a mistake to think that you could grab their attention by posting on your own social media feeds. You need to proactively reach out to an audience who doesn’t know you by using tactics like social media ads and public relations. Once your ideal customer learns of your business, it is time to add them to your audience and nurture the connection through email marketing, social media posts, and weekly content. Only after you develop the foundation of a mutually-beneficial relationship should you sell via consultation calls and sales emails.
Connecting the moving parts of a marketing funnel can feel overwhelming. Start simply by choosing one tactic in each stage. The most straightforward approach is to run social media ads to a lead magnet, nurture relationships with consistent social media posting and email marketing, and close sales on consultation calls.
As you dive into building your marketing funnel, you may find that the flow gets stuck. You may not experience the number of leads you were expecting, or you could attract a large number of email list sign ups, but they are not your ideal customer. Marketing funnels are dynamic tools and require regular assessment and adjustment. If your marketing funnel isn’t working, there are three common yet avoidable mistakes you could be making.
You Have Targeted the Wrong Audience
If your brand gets lost in translation between the vision in your head and the words and images you create in the world, you are not alone. It can be difficult to articulate clearly the problem you solve and who you serve in a way that entices new customers to check out your offerings. When there is a disconnect between who you want to work with and the words you are writing on your website and social media ads, you will find that you shuffle more leads to the “not a good fit” file than you should.
The first thing you need to do is define your ideal customer. This is the archetype of the client you would find joy in working with daily. Create a profile of their demographic and psychographic traits. Then, dive into what their top problems are related to your offerings. For example, if you specialize in avant-garde culinary experiences, your ideal customer may be a soonlywed who wants to have an elevated wedding meal but can’t find a caterer to match their unique foodie style. After you define your ideal customer, make sure to use the words in your marketing messages that fit their needs and goals.
You Aren’t Timing Your Sales Efforts Correctly
It is easy to get stuck in “nurture mode.” The middle of the marketing funnel is where you can let your creativity flow through your quippy social media captions and cleverly constructed weekly emails. You can end up providing great value and educational content and forget to sell. Remember, a marketing funnel aims to nudge towards the sale. Review the past three months of your social media posts, weekly content, and emails. You should be including a call-to-action at least 50% of the time. If you don’t ask for the sale, your potential customer will not book you.
Conversely, if you begin selling too early in your marketing funnel, you could be turning away leads who feel you are too pushy. When your ideal customer first joins your email list, send them at least 3-5 emails that offer additional value, deal with objections, and encourage micro-conversions before you ask for the sale. In your sales letter, promote services related to the lead magnet and the story you built throughout the email sequence. Before you jump on a consultation call, check out which emails they have interacted with to provide a background to the conversation.
You Aren’t Differentiating Yourself in the Marketplace
We are in a climate where community support and collaboration will be paramount to our survival as an industry. However, we cannot ignore that our ideal customer has multiple options for service providers. If you aren’t constantly striving to stand out from the pack, you will fade into the background. Even if you execute the motions of the marketing funnel correctly, you will only see breakout success when you lean into communicating your unique strengths to the marketplace.
Your strengths are internal factors where you excel. If you are unsure of what they are, look for themes within client testimonials. You could also examine QuickBooks to see where you are most profitable and draw conclusions from there. When you communicate your strengths, frame them with humility by articulating how they can help your ideal customer solve their problems.
As you assess your marketing funnel, be sure not to make changes hastily. Remember, no marketing magic will give you overnight success. Watch trends over time and shift your approach based on data you glean from client feedback, social media metrics, Google Analytics, and sales figures. Make a note of changes to evaluate their effectiveness objectively in 2-3 months. Above all, be patient. Becoming an expert practitioner of your craft took time, and so will your journey towards developing into a marketing-savvy entrepreneur.
Leaad photo courtesy of Flourish Markeeting