Jennifer Roach—NextGen LLC CEO—discusses how to handle ups & downs in business through innovation.
Episode 144: How to Handle Ups & Downs in Business with Jennifer Roach
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Episode 146: 7 Ways to Serve Your Team Well Outside of Benefit Packages
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May 21, 2024

Episode 145: A Marketing Strategy that Increases Sales: The Exact Strategy I Used to Meet My Small Business’s Booking Goals


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Ever wonder how some small businesses seem to effortlessly meet their booking goals while others struggle? 

During her eight years as a wedding photographer, Victoria never had trouble getting her version of “enough” business. In fact, she was actually having to regularly turn couples away.

And, she didn’t think much about that until she realized that this wasn’t the case for many—if not most—photographers and other small business owners. 

After talking with several small business owners, it was obvious to Victoria that marketing was the issue. These small businesses weren’t failing to reach their goals because they were offering a poor product or service or because they weren’t serving their customers well—their marketing simply wasn’t helping them generate the business that they needed. 

That’s why on this episode of Priority Pursuit, Victoria is sharing how she was able to become entirely self-employed and have a career she truly enjoyed thanks to a marketing strategy that increases sales and actually works—the flywheel marketing method.

What is the flywheel marketing method, and why is it effective for small businesses?

We’ve talked about the flywheel marketing method on several episodes of Priority Pursuit. But, if this is the first time you’ve heard of it or you need a reminder, the flywheel marketing method is a marketing strategy where your website and online marketing efforts are in sync and function as a flywheel to continually produce results.

In case you aren’t mechanically inclined, a flywheel is a mechanical device used to store rotational energy. A flywheel includes a heavy wheel or disc that’s mounted on an axle that can rotate. 

To understand this analogy, it’s important to know that flywheels are different from regular wheels in that flywheels store energy—allowing them to rotate and function from their built-up energy reserve even when new energy isn’t being applied. 

For example, think about a hand-crank flashlight. When you rotate the crank, you give the flywheel energy, which it stores. As a result, when you need to use the flashlight, you don’t have to crank the wheel to keep the light on. Instead, the flashlight uses its stored energy from its flywheel to power the flashlight’s bulb. 

With a hand-crank flashlight, if you apply energy upfront, you’ll have light for a long time. And, in the same way, when you use the flywheel marketing method, you or your marketing team will need to put in quite a bit of work upfront. 

Then, once you’ve built a strong marketing foundation, your marketing will more or less continue to work on its own—requiring only minimal maintenance—which is ideal for busy small businesses who want to see big, consistent results. 

Why do you need a marketing strategy?

At this point, you may be thinking something like, “I don’t need a marketing strategy. I’ll just use social media, eventually go viral like so and so did, and all will be well.” But, we have to tell you that that’s like building a house out of straw. Sure, it might look nice at first, and it might even be fun to build—but it won’t set you up for long-term success.

A marketing strategy, on the other hand, is like building a brick house. It gives you a firm marketing foundation that delivers consistent results. Basically, when you utilize the flywheel marketing strategy, you can feel confident in your marketing—as opposed to trying one marketing tactic after another without seeing results.

How do you implement the flywheel marketing method?

In this episode, Victoria briefly walks through the four phases of the flywheel method and the specifics of how she used each of these steps. 

However, if you want a full breakdown of the flywheel marketing strategy, we highly recommend downloading our guide “The Most Effective Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: The Flywheel Marketing Method.” This guide walks you through this entire strategy step-by-step and even includes examples and checklists you can use to implement this strategy on your own. 

The flywheel marketing system includes four phases:

  1. Understanding your audience and creating clear messaging
  2. Building a strong foundation with a strategically built, SEO-optimized website
  3. Creating content and a sales funnel that serve your ideal client well
  4. Promoting your products, services, and content

It’s important to note that these phases are meant to be completed in order. And, with every step you complete, you'll increase the effectiveness of your marketing.  

1. Understand your audience & create clear messaging. 

If you’ve listened to any episode of Priority Pursuit, you likely already know the importance of understanding your audience and creating clear messaging. This is absolutely the most important step in marketing and something small businesses often fail to do. 

After all, if you want to convert prospects into paying customers, you have to know who you’re talking to and what to say to make them want to do business with you.

With this in mind, to complete the first step of the flywheel method, you need to identify who your ideal customers are, work to truly understand them, and write your Marketing Guiding Statements accordingly. This is the first step of this strategy because your marketing is only going to work if every facet of your flywheel is built with your ideal customer in mind.

Now, to keep this episode as concise as possible, we aren’t going to go over how to identify your target audience. But, we have a guide that walks you through every step of the flywheel marketing strategy, including a six-step process that will help you identify and thoroughly understand your ideal client. 

But, once you know who you’re talking to, you’ll be ready to create clear messaging for them—which is simply communication that your ideal customers can understand quickly and easily. 

To ensure your message is clear and customer-focused, you simply need to create what we like to call your five Marketing Guiding Statements, which include your:

  1. Talking points
  2. One liner
  3. Story pitch
  4. Why
  5. Sales script

Your Marketing Guiding Statements are part of the first phase of the flywheel marketing method because they are the GPS of your marketing efforts. Meaning, once you have these statements written, you’ll know exactly what to say on your website, in your content, in social media posts, and directly to prospects to convert prospective clients into paying customers. 

 

Clear messaging gave Victoria the edge she needed to stand out.

As Victoria experienced, having a clear message is a very critical step in your marketing strategy. Her marketing worked because she knew exactly who she was talking to and what they needed to hear. As a result, her business stood out as couples searched for wedding photographers.

To give you a little more insight, Victoria specifically targeted type-A brides in the Indianapolis area. And, because she knew her ideal client was highly detail-oriented, her messaging very much revolved around the fact that she and her team would provide thorough communication and pay attention to the little details so that our detail-oriented brides could enjoy their big days while being confident that they would love their wedding photos. 

This messaging made her the obvious choice for her ideal clients because she was able to speak directly to their problem, which was the fact that they were worried that they weren’t going to love their wedding photos as they were afraid that their photographer wouldn’t be as detail-oriented as they were.

This messaging also helped differentiate Victoria from her competitors. For example, if you’re a couple looking for a wedding photographer, who are you more likely to remember: a wedding photographer who simply offers wedding photography services or a wedding photographer who empathizes and helps solve a problem for type-A brides? 

When you understand who your ideal client is, it’s a lot easier to attract them.

Truly knowing her ideal client and having clear messaging didn’t just help with her marketing. It also allowed Vicotira to thoroughly enjoy her job. 

As a highly detail-oriented person herself, she wasn’t going to enjoy working with couples who didn’t care about timelines or the many little details that go into a wedding. By taking the time to understand her ideal clients and creating messaging specifically for them, she was able to attract more of the people she actually wanted to work with—on top of improving her revenue. And, who doesn’t want that?

Again, this first step is the most critical step in building your flywheel because your marketing is only going to work if you know who you’re talking to and what to say to make them want to work with you. And, in all honesty, every marketing tactic is a waste of time and money until you take the time to complete this step. 

2. Build a strong foundation with a strategically built, SEO-optimized website.

Let’s move on to step two: building a strong foundation with a strategically built, SEO-optimized website. 

Your website is the foundation of all of your marketing and communication efforts and is your small business’s most powerful marketing tool. That said, it isn’t enough to just have a website. 

Your website needs to serve your ideal clients well by helping them quickly and easily understand what you offer, how you can help solve their problems, and how they can work with you. And, your website needs to be easily found where prospects are actively looking for your products or services.

Make sure your website has the “right” information.

To grab your audience’s attention and serve them well, you need to make sure your website includes the “right” information. In other words, your website needs to include the information that your ideal clients need to make a decision. 

In our experience, there are eight things that every business’s website needs to include to convert site visitors into paying customers. If you’d like to learn what those eight elements are, access our free guide: “8 Things Every Small Business’s Website MUST Include to Convert Visitors into Paying Customers.” 

Victoria’s website certainly included these eight elements, as well as other information that was pertinent to her ideal clients. And, by including this information on her website, she experienced a result that many of her peers didn’t: an inquiry booking rate of approximately 95%. 

Because her website included the information that her ideal clients needed and answered their questions, it repelled those who weren’t her ideal clients. And, when couples inquired and scheduled a meeting, most were already sure they wanted to book with her. 

Basically, because her website served her customers well, it both generated business and helped her save time by filtering out unqualified leads so she wasn’t wasting her time meeting with couples who just weren’t the right fit. And, when your website includes the right information, your site can help you do the same. 

Get your website in front of the right people.

In addition to including the right information, your website also needs to be found where your ideal clients are already looking for your products or services: among the top Google search results. 

97% of people use Google when they’re in need of a product or service. As a result, if you can get your website and business to rank on the first page of Google, you can get your information in front of prospects who are actively searching for—and likely ready to purchase—exactly what you have to offer. 

Basically, when your website ranks at the top of Google search results, you don’t have to spend so much of your time going after new leads. Instead, many of your strongest leads will start coming to you through Google. 

With this in mind, in phase two of the flywheel marketing method, you want to take the time to optimize your website and business for search engines. 


Optimize your website for search engines.

SEO (which stands for search engine optimization) is a free process that helps your website rank well on Google (or other search engines) when users conduct searches related to your products, services, or content. 

There are a lot of moving parts to a successful SEO strategy, but SEO has the power to do big things for your small business. After all, when people intentionally look for a service or product, most go to Google and many are ready to make a purchase. So, when your website is one of the first solutions they see in a search, they will be more likely to buy from you.

For Victoria, SEO played a huge part in her marketing strategy. In fact, every year, 40% of her clients found her through Google. In other words, SEO was responsible for nearly half of her income, and because her website ranked well on Google, her ideal clients were able to easily find her website and information. 

As a side note, SEO only works well if your website serves your customers well. If your site isn’t built well and doesn’t include the right information, it isn’t going to convert website visitors into paying customers. SEO can get people to your website but it can’t convert them. So, don’t waste your time doing SEO work if you don’t have a site that serves your ideal customers well. 

 

3. Create content & a sales funnel that serve your ideal client well.

After you’ve built a strong foundation with a customer-focused, SEO-optimized website, the next step in the flywheel method is to implement a content marketing strategy and sales funnel that serve your ideal customers well and make them want to further engage with your business. 

Getting a prospective customer into your buyer’s journey starts with content marketing. In case you aren’t familiar with this, content marketing is a marketing strategy where businesses create and distribute valuable, relevant, and engaging content to attract their ideal clients. 

By “content,” we are referring to blog posts, videos, podcast episodes, infographics, organic social media posts, and any other medium that allows you to share a message and engage with your audience.

A sales funnel is simply a content marketing framework that converts potential customers into paying customers. Essentially, a sales funnel allows you to serve your prospects, build trust with them, and help them see that your product or service is the answer to the problem they’re facing.

To complete this phase of the flywheel marketing strategy, you need to develop five marketing pieces:

  1. Awareness content 
  2. A consideration landing page (also called an opt-in page)
  3. A lead-generating offer
  4. An automated, follow-up email campaign
  5. A decision landing page

Victoria was able to use content marketing to get ideal clients into her sales funnel.

Victoria strategically utilized content marketing to attract her ideal clients and guide them through her sales funnel, employing various tactics to engage and nurture prospects effectively.

First, for awareness content, she used blogs. This was simply what was easiest for her. She blogged educational content that her ideal client would find helpful as well as the weddings and engagement sessions that she photographed to highlight her work. And, in all of her awareness content, she included CTAs that lead prospects to her lead generator. 

For her lead-generator, Victoria created a PDF of wedding day timeline templates that helped prospects ensure that they had plenty of time set aside for photos. And, this proved to be highly effective for her type-A audience who was very concerned about timelines. 

After downloading this timeline template, prospects received six emails from her that offered them more value, spoke to their concerns, and led them deeper into her sales funnel and ultimately to her decision landing page—which was simply her service page—where they could learn more about wedding photography packages and schedule a meeting. 

4. Promote your products, services, & content.

The fourth and final step of the flywheel marketing method is promotion. Basically, once you have a customer-focused website, content, and sales funnel, you need to promote these items. 

Now, you might be thinking, “Got it. I’ll just share about these things on social media, and my flywheel method will be complete.” And, while you should certainly post about these items on social media, organic social media alone isn’t enough for most small businesses anymore. 

Now, full disclosure, organic social media did work well when Victoria started her photography business, so she didn’t utilize paid advertising regularly. However, if she were to start a photography business or another kind of small business today, she’d certainly make it part of her marketing strategy. 

Because, in order to reach and connect with your ideal clients, you have to get your content in front of your audience. Since organic social media is no longer a dependable resource, this phase of the flywheel method includes helping your audience find your website and content through social media ads, Google ads, nurture email campaigns, and targeted email campaigns. 

If you’d like to learn more about running social media ads and Google ads, go back and listen to “Episode 126: Why Small Businesses Should Invest in Social Media Ads” and “Episode 115: How to Use Google Ads as a Small Business.” 

Can a single person realistically implement the flywheel marketing method?

Again, the flywheel marketing method was so much of why Victoria was able to reach her booking and income goals year after year. 

That said, we completely understand if you’re thinking, “How the heck am I possibly going to find the time to implement this strategy?” or, “Is it even possible for a single person to implement the flywheel marketing method on their own?”

First of all, can you implement this strategy by yourself? If you have the time, yes. Between drag-and-drop web builders like Showit, YouTube how-to videos, the resources we’re committed to sharing with you via Priority Pursuit and our free resource page, and all the information available on the Internet, you can implement this strategy on your own, especially if you use our flywheel marketing guide.

However, as a small business owner or leader, handling every aspect of this strategy on your own likely isn’t the best use of your time. After all, several skill sets and knowledge you may not currently have will be required. 

And, chances are, learning these new skills and information will take a lot of time—which will inhibit business growth and prevent you from focusing on other aspects of your small business and life outside the office. 

When Victoria implemented this strategy, she wrote all of her content and did her own SEO work; however, to make this strategy feasible, she outsourced a few things including website design and the design of her lead generator. And, she utilized a VA to get all of her content online. That way, she could still market her business well but spend her time focusing on other important aspects of her business. 

Implementing the flywheel method is a lot for a single person or even a small team to handle. That said, as Victoria did with web and graphic design, you can outsource some of or even all of this strategy. 

In fact, at Treefrog, we build and maintain flywheel marketing systems in full for our clients so that they can focus on other important aspects of their businesses, as well as their lives outside the office. If you’re interested in working with us at Treefrog to develop a marketing strategy that increases sales, we would love to jump on a discovery call with you!

 

Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

 

Learn the EXACT marketing strategy we use to help small businesses grow: The Flywheel Marketing Method.


 

The Priority Pursuit Podcast is a podcast dedicated to helping small business owners define, maintain, and pursue both their personal and business priorities so they can build lives and businesses they love.

You can find The Priority Pursuit Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Stitcher, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

 


 

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On “Priority Pursuit,” Victoria shares how she became entirely self-employed thanks to a marketing strategy that increases sales—the flywheel marketing method.

 

 

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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Who needs a fractional CMO?

What are the benefits of hiring a part-time marketing director??

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How do I find a qualified fractional CMO?

How much does it cost to partner with a fractional CMO?

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