Having trouble understanding why your sales funnel isn't converting? I’m not surprised.
As marketers we’re told that using a funnel will walk our prospects through an exceptional selling experience; one that’s good for our prospects and good for our business. A win-win if you will…
… but that’s a bold faced lie.
A sales funnel is an amazing system that provides a path for your prospect to follow - that much is true, but it’s not what’s actually responsible for setting the pace, navigating the path, and eventually moving your prospect to buy.
Think of it as the difference between the train tracks and the actual train. The tracks are a system that connects the train stations - like a path that connects your funnel pages. When it comes right down to it as long as the tracks are laid properly and work, it’s the train that actually moves your prospects from one station… one funnel page to the next.
And I have some terrible news…
While a funnel is essential to the success of every business, each day that you chase the next ‘funnel strategy’ as the silver bullet to launch or improve your business, that’s another day you’re further away from breaking free of the grind that you’re most likely experiencing right now.
Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in the health, wealth or relationship markets; there are two reasons we all go into business…
The first is to help others solve a problem, and second, to create a lifestyle for ourselves and our loved ones.
The only way to do both of those things is to actually sell your offer; your product or service. Without the sale taking place you won’t be able to achieve either of those goals….
Sure, you can help others for a while, but unless you find a way to pay the bills you’ll need to go back to the bleak reality that is working for someone else. Or worse yet, you clamp down on your dream to make your business work and end up homeless, penniless, and relying on the charity of others to survive.
So, what’s your alternative? Start looking for the real game changer… the conductor who controls your train.
The conductor is hardly noticed, barely talked about ‘invisible hand’ that ultimately determines the pace, direction, and movement of your prospects through your funnel.
So you can see how they control the fate of your funnel because without them all you’ve got is a set of tracks.
You might be asking yourself “Who is the conductor of my funnel and where do I look for one?”
Well it might be you or someone you hire, but your conductor is always the person crafting your sales message. In other words, it’s your copywriter.
If you’ve ever worked with the top funnel builders then you’ve probably seen this first hand as most of them won’t even start to build a funnel, create an offer, or consider a strategy until they know what the sales message is.
In short, what do your prospects want and what’s the benefit they’ll get by solving that problem? Once you know that, you can unlock the hidden power of your sales message.
Not only can you craft a powerful sales message that communicates the value of your offer, but your sales message also unlocks the ability to discover the best possible offer for your audience.
Which means that knowing your audience and having the right conductor for your funnel will reveal the path to success for both you and your prospect - which is when the real win-win happens!
Now that you know that communicating effectively with your prospects through your copy is the only way to move your prospects through your funnel and ultimately determines whether or not they will become a customer, now it’s time to look at what kind of copy you need to write…
The kind of copy you need in your sales funnel is determined, once again, by your market and in this specifically the maturity of your market.
Clayton Makepeace taught me that there are 5 stages of market maturity, and each of them takes a different skill level to write for.
Stage 1: The Promise
This is where the idea of what you’re offering is new, and by delivering a promise of a solution your market is likely to respond - as long as they want the promise you’re making.
They key here is that the solution you’re offering, and the promise that goes with it, must be new.
Take a look at the weight loss industry; once upon a time, there was no such thing as a diet pill. When the very first diet pill was introduced all they had to say was “Want to lose weight? Just take this little pill and lose 10 pounds.”The sales message for this product at that time was entirely based on a new solution (a little pill) that made a promise (lose 10 pounds) that their prospects wanted.
Eventually, the market will stop responding to these messages, which is when it’s time to move on to stage 2.
Stage 2: The Expanded Promise
This stage also focuses on the promise, in this case, ‘lose 10 pounds’ but then expands on the promise in some way such as “lose 10 pounds in 30 days.”
The purpose of an expanded promise is to quantify those results in some way. Some common ways to expand the promise is to get specific on…
- Any other external factor that answers a dominant question your prospect has.
An expanded promise provides context that helps your prospect address a specific question or objection in their mind. In the case of the ‘lose 10 pounds in 30 days’ example the expanded promise not only promises the result (weight loss) but also addresses the question/concern of ‘how long will it take to achieve this promised result?’
A great time to use the expanded promise is when you see that your competition is still touting the benefits of their product without providing additional information on the time, quantity, duration or money required to get the promised result.
A word of caution… an expanded promise is not the same as adding a ‘without’ statement to your promise. Telling your prospect the pain they will avoid is not the same as expanding the promise you’re making to them.
The next stage is one of my favorites because this is often the true ‘gatekeeper’ to great copy, and even in the most challenging of markets it’s rare to have to move beyond stage 3… (even though I often do it anyway).
Stage 3: The Unique Mechanism
At this point, your prospect has heard it all… or so they think. They’ve heard all of the claims that somehow every single product is the best on the planet to help them, but they still haven't found a solution.
Frankly, they’re tired of hearing promises that fall short - even those wonderful expanded promises we see everywhere.
Now it’s time to PROVE that your offer, product or solution is really the best.
How? The Unique Mechanism.
There are two ways to determine your unique mechanism. The first is as easy as it sounds; what is the unique thing that your offer, product or service has that gives your prospect the result they want to achieve? Use that to showcase how your product or service is different.
The second method is to create a unique mechanism. There are many ways to do this but effectively you’re assigning a value to your product or service that was assigned previously. That might be through showcasing an unknown element of your offer, or it might come from creating your own brand or ‘method’ from something that is more commonly known.
A primary example of this is the term ‘tripwire.’ This concept is as old as marketing, but was previously known as a ‘self liquidating offer.’ The term ‘tripwire’ was a reframe on the same idea, and the marketing model was renamed into the ‘tripwire funnel.’
Did anything in the method change? No… but the marketing of it did. Suddenly Digital Marketer had a unique mechanism that made their funnels different….
Stage 4: The Expanded Unique Mechanism
This is a rarely used stage in marketing, but it follows the same principles as the ‘Expanded Promise’ stage. In stage 4 you expand on the unique mechanism using an external aspect of the promise using the same 5 listed expansion methods above.
And last but certainly not least, is my favorite way to market because it holds a special power that none of the other marketing stages do, and that’s the power of experience.
With any of the stages of market maturity you can always market “down” but never market “up,” meaning that someone who is in stage 2 when it comes to your offer can accept the ideas and marketing of a stage 3 sales message, but someone who is in stage 3 will never accept the marketing message that’s written in stage 2.
They’ve simply moved beyond that stage and are no longer moved by it.
Stage 5 is where it’s at, and is becoming more and more prominent in many markets (especially the primary 3) because it works for all stages of maturity.
Stage 5: The Experiential Journey
Last, but certainly not least, is the experiential journey. This is when your sales message transforms into a journey of discovery, opposition, heroics, and ultimately… victory! This is the only stage where your prospect can not only understand the benefits of the offer, but also live vicariously through you, or whomever your attractive character is.
This is the ultimate journey of trust because, for those people that align with your story, it creates an instant bond.
The challenging part of this stage is crafting an ethical story based on real events that are designed to move your prospect through your funnel. The most talented copywriters can craft a story at each funnel step that simply feels like the next chapter in the journey…
That is why the copy is the invisible hand that determined the fate of your funnel. It’s the only part of your funnel that connects with your prospect, and when done correctly there is no feeling of being pushed into buying or pulled into a sale.
It goes beyond that.
Your prospect becomes a willing participant who wants to follow the journey so they can complete their own journey and feel not only the success but also the fulfillment they’ve longed for.
As so I request of you, if your funnel is not performing as you’d like it to take a long hard look at your sales message and ask yourself these 3 questions:
- What is my message, at each stage of the funnel, really saying?
- Have I made it clear to my prospect what I can help them with, both as an achievement and in a way where they will find fulfillment?
- Based on what my message is, is the journey I’m asking my prospect to be on really about them, or have I made it about me?
Do that and provided that you’re sending qualified prospects to your funnel, I’m sure you’ll discover that at least 1 of those 3 will not be in alignment to motivate your prospect to continue their journey with you.
Kevin Tjia is the founder of Launch Guardian, and is an expert in story crafting. His ability to create story became a passion for copywriting when he learned how to use storytelling to change the lives of others for the better.