Dov, it’s great to have you on the show.
It’s great to be here, Stephan. Thank you.
We had a great conversation when we met in person in your town of Beit Shemesh in Israel. I appreciate all your wisdom and insights. You even drew some frameworks on the back of a napkin or a scrap of paper or something and I thought, “This is so cool. We’ve got to share this with my audience.” I know it relates to getting a consistent flow of clients because a lot of times there’s less than consistent results, less than consistent pipelines for many of us. If we can build that consistency and predictability, that can take a lot of stress out of running a business or a marketing team. What was that thing that you drew and how does it relate to developing a consistent flow of clients?
I’m not a natural marketer. I am not a natural salesperson. I’m just a guy who’s good at what I do. I care about my clients and it was a real struggle to get clients consistently. Over the years, I came to see that there are lots of people like me. A lot of people out there are good at what we do. We know that if these clients would see what we’re doing, who we are, what we’re all about, if they would notice us and have a conversation, then they’d walk away feeling, “This is good. I want to work with you. How can we get you to help us?” It took me probably a good seven years or so of hitting my head against the wall, struggling, and trying to figure out how to make it work.
What I eventually came to understand is that there are two paths to thrive and succeed as an expert consultant, a boutique consulting agency, a consulting firm and so on. There’s the path of the charismatic guru or the path of celebrity, and then the path of mastery and they’re both legitimate good paths. They both could work. The problem is that too many of us get up and say, “How do I get clients? I’m good at what I do? Where do I get clients?” We look around and the models that we see are the celebrity types, the charismatic guru types, and we think, “I have to be like that,” but it’s not what we want. It’s not who we are.
Tens of millions of people, or maybe more around the world, are good at what they do. At some point, we’re following the most visible model, the path of the charismatic guru, but we’re stuck. It’s like we’re trying to move forward but there’s a strong bungee cord pulling us back and we get stuck. We don’t know what to do. Eventually, I came to recognize that there is the path of mastery. Ever since then, I’ve been doing my best to follow it, to get better at it all the time and helping many other consultants, coaches, experts, boutique consulting firms to follow the same path as well. That’s setting the groundwork.
What I came to realize is that everybody has a different idea as to how you get clients. You’re an expert at search engine optimization. You’re not one of those who says, “Everybody needs to do what I’m good at.” There are those who wake up, get up and say, “How do I get clients?” There are Facebook experts who say, “You’ve got to do Facebook ads or Facebook groups, LinkedIn, podcasting, joint ventures, webinars, public speaking,” and there’s no end to the tactics. There are a lot of people who get stuck trying to figure out, “How do I do this?”
After putting in too much time, effort, going in many different directions and still being overwhelmed, I realized one day that every tactic could work. I could see that from my own experience and from others. Every tactic could fail as well. I needed to understand when it worked, why does it work? When it failed, why does it fail? I figured that I didn’t need to have three, four, five, ten different tactics working for me. I needed one and then maybe a second one over time in order to hit my business goals. If I can have one thing that works predictably, then everything would be great.
Over time, reflecting, observing and thinking about it, I realized that in a simple marketing funnel, a simple marketing and selling system, all you’re doing is leading your ideal client go from being a stranger to one who is happily giving you money. All you need to do is lead them through three questions. You need to help them answer yes to three questions in order. The first question is when they come across you. It doesn’t matter how they came across you, whether they passed your booth at a conference, you were speaking, your website showed up in a search result or Facebook posts. The first time they come across your message, their brain goes, “Should I pay attention? Is it interesting?” If what you’re doing, if your marketing leads them to conclude that yes, that is interesting, then instantly, they have a second question that is, “You’ve got me interested but can I trust you? Are you for real? Do you know what you’re talking about? Do you care about me or do you just want to sell me something?”
Those are all versions of, “Can I trust you?” or elements of it. As soon as your marketing and selling system leads them to conclude, yes, I can trust you, instantly they have a third and final question, which is, “Is what you recommend right for me?” Then if your selling system at that point leads them to conclude, “Yes, what you recommend is right for me,” then, congratulations, you have a new client. I realized that all we need to do is put in place the simplest possible plan, the simplest possible system to be able to repeatedly lead ideal clients to answer yes, yes and then yes. The way we go about it and help our clients build it is there are two pieces for each of those questions. We can walk through what those pieces are and explain how to build them so everybody in our audience can get started building it today.
The three questions are, “Is this interesting to me? Can I trust you? Is what you recommend right for me?” Then if we got yes to all three of those, soon after that, we’ve got a client. Let’s proceed then with those pieces that we need to put in place.
The first question, should I pay attention? Is it interesting? It’s important to recognize that there’s a difference between attention and interest. A lot of things will get your attention, a loud noise, a funny joke. If I send you a YouTube video of two dogs eating with a fork and a knife, if you haven’t seen that one yet then it’ll get your attention for three, four minutes and then you go back to what you were doing, go back to work. It doesn’t get you interested. When something gets you interested, it changes your plans. If you’re at a conference, you go to lots of events and walk through the sponsor booth. Maybe he’s got something flashy, so you turn and have a look at it. It gets your attention, but then you keep walking. It didn’t get you interested.
On the other hand, if it gets your attention and then you notice, “That is interesting,” you’re going to change your plans. Instead of walking straight through the hall, you’re going to turn to the right, head over to their booth, and start up a conversation. That’s the goal of everything that we’re doing and that’s what we want. Whether you think of yourself as a marketer or not, if you’ve got a product or service to sell, that’s what we need. We need to get attention and interest. The question is how do we do that? The answer is, fortunately, there are only two things that anybody is ever interested in. This has been a light bulb for maybe tens of thousands of people hearing this little line. It’s often quoted back to me because it’s like, “I’ve heard similar ideas but now I get it. You framed it in a simple, compelling way.”
There are only two things that anybody is interested in. That is if you talk about a problem they have and don’t want and/or if you talk about a result they want and don’t have, if you talk about an experience they want to and have, a change they want to and have, those are all examples of a result. Anything else gets their attention momentarily but then their brain goes, “Is it interesting?” They say, “Not really. I’m moving on. I’ve got things to do because I’ve got other problems to deal with. I’ve got these results I’m looking to pursue, to create and what you’re talking about doesn’t click for that.”People don't buy the products and services that are best for them. We buy the products and services that are best marketed and sold to us. Click To Tweet
This reminds me a bit of the AIDA funnel taught in marketing classes: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Are you familiar with that model?
I’ve heard of it years ago, so for all I know, it’s somewhere in my subconscious.
I resonate with the desire part because I’ve been studying Kabbalah. In Kabbalah, they teach that desire is the engine for everything that you create. Before you get fulfillment, you need desire. In Kabbalistic terms, you’re born with the fulfillment already. You’ve had it in a past lifetime or something, you’ve tasted the fulfillment before. That’s why you want it. That’s why the desire is awakened in you. Desire is super powerful. Where does that fit in to your model?
You’ve got to understand the hot buttons and so on. It’s built into what is the problem they have and don’t want, the result they want and don’t have. There’s some problem. There is something that I’ve got that I don’t want. There’s something I don’t have that I do want. It’s built right in there. Those are the only two things that get attention and interest. The AIDA formula is fine. It’s just a formula. I haven’t heard it in years or certainly not studied it in years. I know that it’s solid. Framing it like this makes it very easy to apply.
The attention has to come first and then the interest. If you get somebody’s attention, you’re remarkable. As Seth Godin would oftentimes explain, part of the secret to success is to be remarkable and stand out to get people’s attention but then to generate the interest, you have to be relevant to them. There has to be something that resonates. If it doesn’t then you had their attention, but you didn’t keep it, you didn’t take it to the next step. What’s the next piece after the attention and interest are generated? You have related something that is a problem they have and don’t want or a result they want and don’t have, and they want to take the next step with you. What do you do next?
This first part where we talked about the problem they have and don’t want, the result they want and don’t have, I think of that as a marketing helium. The reason is that every tactic could work, and every tactic could fail. What is it that determines whether the tactic is going to work or fail? We’ve got two balloons, a blue and red. If the red balloon flies off and the blue balloon falls to the floor, we don’t say that red balloons fly, and blue balloons fall. We’re going to say that the red balloon was filled with helium and the blue balloon was filled with hot air.
It’s the same thing with any tactic. Facebook ads could work and Facebook ads could fail. LinkedIn could work and LinkedIn could fail. It’s not the tactic. It’s not the tool that you used, it’s what you put in with or what you fill it with. What do you put inside? If you go to the typical LinkedIn group, it’s mostly hot air of people posting spammed stuff, people talking past each other, people trying to self-promote in an elegant way that comes across as very inelegant. If you’re part of any LinkedIn groups that are different from those please let me know because I have never found one. To the conscious, for some reason in the Facebook groups, they do sometimes have good conversations. I’m not sure what the differences are or maybe it’s just my experience.
The point is that everything could work and everything could fail. Joint ventures could work. Podcasts could work and podcasts could fail. What’s the difference? The difference is what you fill it with. What do you put inside? If the very first question that your ideal client is going to ask themselves is, should I pay attention? Is it interesting? You have to fill it with a marketing helium. That very first message that they’re coming across, regardless of the tactic, has to be something that gets their attention and interest. You do that by getting clear about what the problem is that my ideal client has and doesn’t want. What is the result they want and don’t have?
Is marketing helium a term that you came up with?
As far as I know, yes. Somebody did swipe those questions word for word but not the term yet as far as I know. Once you have that insight, now we want to craft the second piece. There are six pieces. Two pieces for each of the three questions. The second piece is the simple, compelling, and head-turning message. When you have a deep insight into the problem they have and don’t want, the result they want and don’t have, it’s easy to craft a simple, compelling message that doesn’t sound like everybody else. One of the biggest challenges that we experts, consultants, coaches and so on have is, “How do I stand out? How do I differentiate myself? I sound like everybody else. There are a lot of people doing what I do. There are a lot of people doing similar things, too, like what I do,” and it’s tricky.
Whenever possible we want to have the ability to articulate what we do in a way that makes us stand out. I’ll give some example of how we’ve turned this deep insight into a problem/result marketing helium into a simple, compelling message. I had somebody on a webinar a few years ago. On his website, it said, “We sell dashboards and reports that help executives deliver better business results.” You ask yourself, “What does that mean? What problem does he help solve? What result is he enabled?” The answer is it could be 100 different things. This is the level that most people are developing their messages at. It doesn’t instantly connect. I come across it and think, “There’s nothing remarkable about it.”
I asked him a couple of questions and it turned out that his ideal client would be, let’s say Joe, CEO. Joe CEO is running $100 million a year business. He’s spent a couple of million dollars in a new information system, new enterprise system to run the business. He wakes up in the morning frustrated. Why? It’s because he’s thinking, “How do I get the data that I need to make these difficult pricing decisions?” Imagine two scenarios. Joe, CEO walks out of his front door. In both scenarios, there’s a billboard right across the street, right opposite his front door and you could put on it anything you want.
Scenario number one, you put on the billboard and it says, “We sell dashboards and reports that help executives deliver better business results.” Joe, CEO leaves his door, goes to the car, drives to the office and doesn’t even notice your beautiful, wonderfully designed billboard. Scenario number two, the billboard says, “We help you get the data you need from your multimillion dollar information system, so you can make difficult pricing decisions.” In this situation, you’d all agree that Joe walks out of his front door, his jaw drops because suddenly on this billboard across the street, you’re describing the very problem he has and doesn’t want, the result he wants and doesn’t have. He will be on the phone with your company before his rear end to see the car. You can feel the difference.
That’s what we’re looking for when we talk about marketing helium. We’re looking for that level of insight of understanding and then we craft that into a simple, compelling message. When we do that, your ideal client comes across your message however you’re going to get there. The tactic comes later. Then their brain will ask, “Should I pay attention? Is it interesting?” “Yes, you just spoke aloud what’s been going through my head more clearly than I was thinking about it myself. You helped me understand or articulate my problem so well like you’re a mind reader.” That’s the experience that we’re looking to create for our ideal clients.
I had a client who wanted to be a leadership consultant, a management consultant. She had retired from the corporate world. We have quite a number of our clients who are corporate refugees. She had been the head of marketing for a billion-dollar construction firm with 50 people in her department. At some point, she figured, “It’s enough.” She got tired of their corporate world, tired of the restrictions that being part of the company placed on her, the limitations and the politics. She wanted to do her own thing. A lot of people feel that way. A very small number instantly take the idea of solo consulting. Many though discovered that the same skills that helped them thrive in the corporate world are not what’s needed to thrive as an independent consultant, coach, expert and so on. That was her case.
A year or so later, she was struggling and found herself building websites for small businesses in her area which was not at all what she wanted to be doing. If that’s what she’d want to be doing, that’s fine but that was not what she wanted. She wanted to be doing some leadership consulting, management consulting. She found me somehow, but I don’t remember how, and we started working together in one of our programs. At one of the exercises that we had as all of our clients do is make a list of the problems that you can help solve and the results that you can enable. I looked over her list and spotted it. I said, “That’s it. You can build a business on that.” What had she written? She had written something along the lines of, “I can help companies solve the problems they have from that employee who’s too valuable to fire.”Nobody's going to ever be truly a 100% completely original. We're all standing on the shoulders of giants. Click To Tweet
She asked, “How can I build a business on that?” That’s your marketing helium right there. You’ve got a very clear problem, result, and specific that could easily be turned into a simple, compelling message. Imagine this, you and a competitor at some event. Somebody introduces you to your ideal client. Joe, CEO, your ideal client running $1 billion a year business needs a leadership consulting somewhere in their company. Joe turns to the two of you and first asks her, “What does she do?” She says, “I’m a leadership consultant,” and Joe thinks to himself, “We’ve cycled through a number of you somewhere okay, somewhere disappointments.”
Then turns to my client and says, “What do you do?” She says, “I help companies solve the problems they have from that employee who’s too valuable to fire.” Let’s diagnose, analyze and break it down with why does it work? It works because we’re not talking about high-level stuff as like, “We will sell dashboards and reports that help you make better business results.” We’re speaking aloud a very specific problem, very specific results. A lot of us, experts and consultants hesitate to do that. If you’re on the path of the charismatic guru or path of celebrity which is a legitimate path, it’s fine. You could take a very broad messaging, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or Tony Robbins. You’ve learned a lot from him and so have I, although you’ve gotten much closer.
There are so many people who are visible. It’s easier for them if they’re comfortable taking that role and are good at it. They can have a broader message but there are tens of millions of us who are not looking to be celebrities. We just want a steady, consistent flow of great clients who are coming, reaching out to us because of who we are, and they recognize what we can do for them. The problem is that they don’t recognize it. People don’t buy the products and services that are best for them. We buy the products and services that are best marketed and sold to us. If we’re not on the path with charismatic rule, we have to master what it is that makes it work when it works, and how do I make that the foundation of everything that I’m doing so I can consistently bring in leads with a message that I am comfortable or that makes me feel good.
None of us want to be having this salesy, slimy messaging if that’s not who we are. You have to be comfortable being that bearer of the message. In that case, I’ve found that this approach is amazing. It’s perfect for so many people. It also works for the charismatic guru types. The struggle or big problem that people have is that the people who are more of the celebrity type often don’t always appreciate how much they’re relying on their strong personality for their success. Often, they’re out there trying to teach others what to do and how to have the success they have. Many will pick it up and run with it, but many won’t. Those who will get it are those who also have the ability to lean on a strong personality. There are different types of people, different personality types, and we need different things. It’s impossible for them to communicate that important asset they have. You can’t transfer that. That’s why this type of messaging, this type of insight can make such a big difference.
If you don’t have that messaging, you end up in discussions about price and discussions like, “Can you quantify the ROI that you’re going to generate for me?” I sometimes get prospects asking for quantifiable ROI projections for the SEO work that I’m going to do for them. I don’t even know what SEO work I’m going to do yet until I do a full comprehensive SEO audit. I don’t know what’s under the hood yet. They’re already asking for the potential ROI from working with me, from hiring me when I don’t even know what the problems are yet. They’re saying, “Can you show that from previous client work? Can you project that through some other means?” My answer is, “I can’t. I’m not a good fortune teller. I’m great at SEO but not a fortune teller.” What would have preempted that whole conversation around projecting ROI, showing what value I would deliver and justify hiring me? I didn’t convey the value and that’s why they were asking that question.
Any answer I’ll give you maybe will be based on lots of assumption. First, it’s certainly reasonable for any business to want to have some expectation of ROI. Do you do this in stages? It’s just about the first stage, right?
Yes, even the first stage is inexpensive. I charge $35,000 for an audit but if they want to start with an ongoing engagement, my monthly retainer is $15,000 a month. They would need a six-month minimum for that or $35,000 outlay for the audit as a one-time project before we start the $15,000 monthly engagement. There’s a sizable investment.
The stage that we’re talking about is the later stage. There’s the first question, “Should I pay attention? Is it interesting?” If they’ll answer yes, then they want to know, “Who are you? Can I trust you?” If they’ll say, “I can trust you. Is what you recommend right for me?” There’s a pattern within a pattern which is a fractal. In a sense, that’s the overall arc but they’re constantly going through the cycle. The last two questions but probably all three because they continuously ask you, “Is it still relevant? Can I still trust you? Do you know what you’re talking about? Is what you recommend right for me?” It’s like the next small step. We’re looking at the second or probably the third stage, but something got them into your world. Something got their attention or interest. Maybe it was a referral or it was the podcast. I’m assuming that we’re at the last stage.
It is at that stage that I would have that conversation with them because they already decided that they can trust me enough, seriously considering me as a vendor, supplier and consultant.
How do people typically find you? Where are they coming from?
It could be from a speaking gig where I presented, let’s say at an Internet retailer IRCE or could be an article I wrote for somewhere like Search Engine Land. It could be that they were referred by a current or a past client. It could be from a podcast, from my book or books because I have three. Even meeting at a networking event. I’ve got a great new client from a current client referral. We started and she’s a joy to work with. I’ve been working directly with the CEO and her marketing team. They get stuff done. They’re so full of energy and excitement. It’s a joy to work with them and that was an existing client referral. We went through the first question and those two pieces. We haven’t started yet with the two pieces that relate to the second question.
Once you’ve got your marketing helium and your simple, compelling message, then, they come across your message. Their brain instantly goes, “Should I pay attention? Is it interesting?” You’re talking about my problem and result. The next question is, “You got me interested, but can I trust you? Are you for real?” At that point, there are two steps to lead them to conclude, “Yes, you can trust me.” We call the step number three, the hand raising free offer, and step number four is you’re getting at a sequence. Step number three, hand raising free offer, is a lead magnet or is anything that you’re putting out there in a way that is inexpensive or free for you but valuable for them.
There are three objectives that your lead magnet hand raising free offer has as I would like to think about it because they’d like to talk in terms of outcomes. Three things it has to achieve is number one, it has to get their attention and interest. In order to do that, it has to be an expansion of the simple and compelling message, which is based on the market of helium. It’s the same foundation. It’s at the core. The helium message and then expanding that into a lead magnet. It has to get their attention and interest, so they’ll want to request it. That’s also the promotion for it. It’s the title, the promise of what you can talk about. It has to be rooted in the marketing helium.
The second thing is it has to lead. It has to help them begin to solve their problem, begin to get the result. That doesn’t mean they have to give free consulting, free coaching, or free advice. That usually will often work against people, but that also often comes up in a sales conversation. It means that if it’s a webinar you do give a talk. The third thing it has to achieve is it has to lead them to realize, “If I want to fully solve my problem and fully get the result, I should talk to you about your paid options.”
That’s the purpose of some hand raising free offer. Running a podcast like this is an example of some hand raising free offer. It gives you a chance to be in front of an audience and that includes some of your potential clients on an ongoing basis. It gives them a sense of who you are and what you’re all about. I’m sure that’s part of why you do it in addition to some fascinating conversations. If someone happens to discover you on this one, I’ll tell them they should go back and listen to others because I’ve been listening to them. Usually I’ll delete an episode as soon as I listened to it. The last few episodes that I listened to from your podcast, I caught them before the end, so they don’t automatically get off my phone because I want to go through them again.
I listen to my own podcast. It’s embarrassing. I don’t know that I actively tell people this, but I love my guests and the knowledge bombs they drop. I don’t catch everything the first time when I’m in interview mode. I’m interviewing and I’m not focused so much on learning as much as keeping the flow and adding value for the audience. If I relisten to it as a listener, I get new distinctions, new insights and new action items. I’ve done some amazing implementation work on my own marketing just by listening to my own show.
Some hosts talk too much. They bring the guests down but they forget that there is a guest there almost. You lead and you draw some good stuff out. I enjoyed the episode with Kelly Fidel. People should look for that one. I love the big thinking. That’s what stood out for me.
To have the gumption to go after bigger and bigger deals as she was able to close a billion-dollar deal that didn’t intimidate her or turn her away. She was hungry for the next bigger deal.
Even the smaller ones are bigger than what most people are going after. What I liked about that episode was it makes you realize that we’re all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit. This is what I was thinking and that’s why I want to relisten to it. We have all these artificial limitations we put on ourselves. We have to ask better, bigger questions and go after what we want. These are things that I know, things I teach, but who amongst us can’t more deeply learn the things that we know and teach. It’s often not about the new and the new. It’s about more deeply understanding what we already know and I’m getting from that episode for sure.We need to strive for simplicity on the far side of complexity. Click To Tweet
It’s not just knowing it in a way that you can even repeat it back or teach it to others. That’s great you get a higher retention rate when you listen. You learn with the intention to teach it to others, but you haven’t truly learned it until you’ve implemented it. If you’re not implementing it, if you’re not living it, and you haven’t truly learned it.
You’re going to be scared to implement the things that are most worth learning. You will be fearful. That’s what separates the talkers from the doers.
That reminds me of a quote from Joseph Campbell who was an amazing guy. He talked about mythology, archetypes and The Power of Myth. He has this quote, “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life, where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for. The damn thing in the cave that was so dreaded has become the center. You find the jewel and it draws you off.” The very thing that terrifies you is where your treasure lies. The thing that is keeping you from getting up on stage and teaching seminars or that’s keeping you from writing that book or whatever the thing is that you’re terrified to do is the very thing you should do.
Raising your prices or going after a better class of clients.
Or quitting your corporate job.
It’s not about the doing, it’s about who do you need to be in order to do that naturally. The hardest part is the doing and that scares you. I find myself asking this question, “How do I need to be as a person? Who do I need to be as a person so that I do this with clarity, calmness, confidence, and certainty that it’ll all work out?” Then, you start to picture yourself. That’s the whole purpose and real purpose of it. It’s not just bigger deals for the sake of bigger deals, although I suppose that’s what it is for some because it’s the game and that’s fine. The same game on a deeper level is, “Who can I become?”
You become someone bigger, better, more conscious, more aware, more awake, and a better version of yourself because you went after that bigger goal and stepped outside of your comfort zone. All growth happens outside of your comfort zone. I need to give credit for knowing this quote from Joseph Campbell to Jonathan Fields who wrote the Good Life. He has the Good Life Project Podcast.
I had him on my other podcast on the Optimized Geek and that was just a mind-blowing awesome episode. He was suicidal from getting tinnitus, a ringing in the ear that wouldn’t go away and it was driving him crazy. He ended up finding a spiritual awakening through that. It was a gateway to mindfulness meditation and that has changed his life. Now he still has tinnitus, but he lives with it and he’s grateful for it. He sees the gift in it. It was the thing that terrified him and where his treasure lied.
The hand-raising free offer helps them begin to solve their problems to get the result and then realize that if they want to fully solve their problem, fully get their result they should reach out to you and find out about some paid engagement with you. Those are the first three steps, the groundwork and the foundation work. A lot of people do all those things to some degree, but very few do it well. They never developed the deep insight into the ideal client that problem don’t have and don’t want, the result they want and don’t have. They never crafted into this simple, compelling message. They put together a lead magnet which may not capture their ideas in a way. If your ideal clients are coming across your ideas and they’re thinking, “I’ve heard this before. This sounds like everybody else.” It’s not just the message. Now we’re talking about how you present your intellectual property.
There’s nothing new under the sun. How you talk about it absolutely can be new. Another little side tangent that might be interesting is that there are a lot of people out there parroting what other people say and haven’t mastered their craft. They’ve mastered copying other people. Nobody’s going to ever be truly a 100% completely original. We’re all standing on the shoulders of giants. We are all learning from others. However, the real question is, “Have you lived with what you’re teaching? Have these ideas gone through you?”
If you’ve lived ideas and they’ve gone through you, you’ve earned the right to them and you have your own story. You have your own way of talking about it. It’s no longer just copying, imitating, and parroting somebody else. That’s an important part of what we look for in our ideal clients. It’s expertise or experts who’ve earned the right to their expertise. You’ve mastered your craft, you’re good at what you do, and looking to create a consistent flow of ideal clients as well. They want a systematic approach to their marketing like they have a systematic approach to their operations where they serve their clients. Talking about how you present your ideas, you need to present them in a way that people can’t just listen to the ideas and think you sound like everybody else. “Everybody else hasn’t been able to help me so I’ll keep looking. You must not be able to help me either.” That’s how you present your ideas in the hand raising free offer and the talks that you give.
It has to be done in a way that makes them think, “That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of it quite that way before.” You’re capturing their attention and interest. Those three are the foundation. Step four, we finally get to tactics to get to know the sequence. At this point, you want to pick a simple tactic that you could enjoy turning into a repeatable system, that you can enjoy mastering. Every tactic is going to have its learning curve. Every tactic is going to be a roughing it stage. Then you’ve got to push through the roughing it stage and get to master it.
You’ve got to pick something that you’d enjoy doing. A lot of people get stuck on this because they think, “I need to do this, and you do that.” That’s where they end up overwhelmed. One of the most freeing things is you need to realize this, let’s work backward from your business goals. Let’s say your next goal is to double what you did last year which in many cases is reasonable. Sometimes that’s exactly what to go after. People love six figures, “I want to double what I did last year.” “You should do that.” Sometimes within seven figures a goal too. You don’t need to be good at five, six, or seven different tactics nor can you so pick one, systematize it, turn it into something, improve it over time.
Think of it like a highway. Over time, you could add another onramp, you could add another lane. That will be another tactic, another way for people to get into your funnel, so to speak, to come into your world. The important thing is that most people jump to step four. They jump to tactics and that’s where they start in many cases. They start with, “I should do Facebook ads.” They do put some thought into the strategy and the messaging and so on, but they haven’t mastered those first three pieces. Therefore, the tactic that they’re using doesn’t work because not only are they wrestling with learning the nuances of whatever tactic they’ve chosen, but they are also wrestling against the fact that they don’t have a strong strategic foundation, strong messaging, and strong deep insight into their ideal client to feed into their tactical system, marketing funnel, or their marketing and selling system.
Once you have your simple get noticed sequence, what that’s doing initially is it’s getting in front of your ideal client, giving them a chance to request, to raise their hand, take some action and say, “That hand raising you offered, that lead magnet sounds good. I’d like a copy. I want to go through it. I want to watch the video. I want one of the ten-year session or whatever it might be that you’re using.” Some of them will go through it, watch your webinar, listen to your podcasts, or read your guide or E-book. Some of them are going to go through that and say, “You got my attention and interest. You helped me begin to solve my problem, begin to get my result in a way that leads me to feel that I could trust you. I could see your expertise is good. You presented your ideas in a way that’s quite different from the way I’ve heard it before. What do you recommend for me?”
Then they’ll come to the third question, “Is what you recommend right for me?” Then they reach out to you. Piece number five is the elegant sales conversation. Piece number six is the easy yes offer. Sales conversations are where lots of people get stuck. They’re winging it. It’s something that I also had to learn step by step until it’s become natural and masterful. I can certainly continue to improve and plan to.
Then there’s the easy yes offer. How do you package and present your expertise in a way that makes it easier for them to say yes than to say no? That doesn’t mean you’re giving it away for free, it doesn’t mean low prices, but it does mean that assuming you’re talking to the right person at the right stage, that you want to make it easier for them to say yes than say no. Those are the three core questions and the six pieces that you put in place. The way most people think about a marketing funnel is, “What’s the purpose of your marketing funnel?” They say, “It’s to fill your pipeline, to get leads, to close deals,” and those are all true. I’d like to think that those are the oversimplified answers because they don’t help you know what to do next.
What I came to understand is that we need to strive for simplicity on the far side of complexity. I see it as a continuum. There’s the oversimplified and then there’s the over complicated, the complex and then past that there’s simplicity on the far side of complexity, which comes from a quote that I heard a long time ago from Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. He said, “I wouldn’t give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity, but I’d give my right hand for simplicity on the far side of complexity.” That’s where mastery is. That’s where consistent flow of clients is. Most of us would get into business and don’t fully understand.
We think, “It can’t be that hard. I’m good at what I do. I’ve got relationships. I’ll get some referrals and introductions, and I’ll build my business.” Then whether it’s a few weeks, a few months or a few years into it, we suddenly hit a wall and find a lost in the complexity. We go from oversimplified to over complicated. We’re lost in the weeds. We don’t even know which way to face sometimes. We’re busy with all the things that are calling at us, pulling at us, everything seems like a priority. We’re not sure what to do, where to go and so on.
Usually, it gets some mentoring or guidance and push through, you’ll end up at simplicity on the far side of complexity. In my view, the oversimplified answer of what’s a funnel is to fill your pipeline, to get leads, and close deals, but the simplicity on the far side of complexity answer is what I walked you all through. That is the purpose of your marketing and selling system, your marketing funnel, is to lead your ideal client to answer yes, yes, and yes. You do that by building out the six pieces that we talked about. Now, you always know where to look and you can start to rapidly diagnose when something isn’t working, where is the breakdown? If I’m talking about what I do and nobody’s interested, then maybe I don’t deeply understand who my ideal client is and the problem they have and want and the results they want and have. I might need to take a look at my marketing helium or my simple, compelling message if I’m getting their attention and interest.
If people are coming to my sessions but now following up afterward my speech, they’re not reading my webinar, guide or book but not contacting me afterward or whatever the next step is, maybe I’m losing them in how I’m presenting my ideas. I’m not leading them to conclude, “You know your stuff. I can trust your expertise and you as a person,” or if I’m leading them through that and they’re reaching on having sales conversations with me and I’m losing them there in the sales conversation or towards the end when I’m putting together an offer, whether it’s verbally or in a proposal, then I’m losing them somewhere over there.
Once you understand that these are three questions that go through the mind of your ideal client every single time like it goes to our minds when we’re the client, it helps you diagnose, “This is where I need to fix something and the flow through the results of the entire system will improve.” It always helps you to understand, “Where’s the bottleneck?” It’s a good marketing funnel that fills your pipeline, but you don’t know what to do. The way we presented it now, you know what to do and that’s the clarity that we need.
Let’s apply that to a particular situation or a hypothetical one where the person is saying or asking me to predict the ROI and maybe even make some promise or commitment to meet that ROI and I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to promise any particular results. I’m not going to make that commitment. SEO is not that discipline because Google calls the shots. Google is the defining factor wherein if I can influence Google then, but I can’t control Google? No SEO can. What do I tell people who ask me for this prediction or fortune telling?
I’m seeing two stages here where that would come up and you want to address it. The first would be an answer to the second question. You’ve got a lot of free material out there, your talks that you give or your website. Is there something that you want most of your clients to go through to be exposed to before they get on a call with you?
I do want them to read an article I wrote for Search Engine Land about How to Establish a Realistic SEO Timeline. That’s different from the budget question, but it’s like, “How long does SEO take?” People will have unrealistic expectations about it and think that, “Shouldn’t I start getting results within the few weeks of hiring the SEO consultants?” I was like, “No,” so that helps reset their expectations.
Your ideal clients are going to come to a conversation with you with a certain sophistication and understanding of what you can and cannot do for them, what you’re likely to be able to do, and how to approach SEO in a way that puts them in the 1% of clients. Perhaps there is some more that you could do in addition to that article or perhaps with something new. The reason that most people don’t get what they want from SEO is because of A, B and C. This is their thinking about it and therefore, this is what they do. These are the results that they get. However, those who understand D, E and F, this is the way we were. Therefore, that’s why most clients are not a good fit for us. They’re coming at these not recognizing that the ROI for SEO is achieved thusly and you’re educating them on the things you would like them to know ahead of time.
You want to present that information in a way that doesn’t drive them away. You’d probably want to present it in a way along the lines of where like I alluded to some but it’s one idea. I’m sure there are others where it’s like, “We are an exclusive SEO firm.” They won’t appreciate without some education or perhaps a referral introduction from somebody who has experienced that directly. You need to educate them to some degree. It also gives you an opportunity to pre-frame how to think about the ROI question because it’s a legitimate question. I’m sure you have a good answer for that and good guidelines whereas maybe you can tell me now how the best clients think about it.
They think about it like building an asset not like I need to generate X percent of ROI in the first three months. They are in it for the long game.
If we were to contrast that, for example, it’s a pay-per-click. Here’s how you think about pay-per-click in contrast, here’s how you think about SEO and give them an analogy. It’s comparable to what other things they might be doing with their business where they understand the logic of building for long term?
Let’s say that PPC is like renting a house. It’s a great house. It’s providing a good lifestyle and everything, but you don’t own anything. The moment you stop spending money with PPC is the moment you stop getting the result. The moment you stop paying your rent is the moment you get kicked out of the house you’re living at. Whereas if you buy a house and maybe it’s under a mortgage, you don’t own the house yet or you own a part of it, but you’re owning more and more of it every single month. It’s an asset that you are building over time like SEO. If you invest in link building, that will pay dividends month after month, year after year, even if you stop spending money on link building. All that great authority and trust that you’ve built up over time, through previous months of link building are going to continue to pay dividends.
Just as a question because I don’t know the answer and others may have that question, isn’t it also because it’s very competitive? Can you ever stop? Will you get to the point where you still reap the rewards even if you slow down your investment?
Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend stopping or slowing down. For example, let’s say you have some investment that you keep putting money into Bitcoin or whatever that investment is and you’re like, “I’m done. Let it ride,” whereas if you were dollar cost averaging and buying it over time, then that makes it less rocky and it also continues to work. That’s how I see SEO. It’s like I’m never going to stop. SEO is never finished. Like my website, it’s never finished. It’s not a project like, “I don’t ever have to touch my website again now that I have that great sales page.”
It’s not even just renting compared to not buying the building but buying a portfolio of buildings over time because your principle goes up. I have to assume that this is not the first time you’ve used that analogy. Then maybe this is at least a partial answer to your question. You’ve got to pre-frame something that’s important for them, so they understand that. You have to translate it to understand that we charge the fees and we have the clients precisely because we are able to help the savviest, most sophisticated corporate marketing teams build these long-term assets. If you’re somebody who has an expectation of you’re going to get your money back in 90 days, you’re probably not ready yet for SEO. You got to still focus on renting because you’re not ready to own.
On the other hand, if you’ve got the pockets and the capital, you’re ready to start owning the building. Add another building, then we should talk. The first stage is the SEO audit. You want to present the audit in terms of outcomes they can get from the audit as if it’s not like money down the drain if I don’t decide to go ahead. I have to assume that there are benefits to your client of going through the audit, even if for whatever reason they stop at that point. Is that true?
Yes, they have a roadmap where they can hire employees to do SEO activities that are outlined in the audit for them to do.
Even if not that, then I assume that you’re helping them identify weak areas in their foundation, so they can build up the foundation and be ready for the proper SEO in maybe six, nine, twelve months later. Part of that would be done in an answer to question number two and part of that would be done in the sales conversation if they come with still some concerns and hesitations. The thing that we can’t do is turn the wrong client into a good client. We can’t change somebody else. What we could do is educate, so that the right people come with the understanding that they need to take full advantage of you and your expertise. The people who aren’t ready don’t end up wasting your time.We can't change somebody else. What we could do is educate them so that the right people come with the understanding that they need to take full advantage of you and your expertise. Click To Tweet
We can’t turn frogs into princes, but we can take the princes that we’re getting and get them all ready to work with us and that’s what your process does. Having a more elegant sales conversation would help me to get that prince onboard, ready to sign, not questioning the value and having some preliminary thing for them to go through like an article that I published on Search Engine Land that talks about renting versus owning and building an asset versus having something that is an income generator. It’s fine to have both. It’s good but they’re different. Having that homework before the sales call that they read would be amazing.
It could be a video. You want to keep it concise. Start something and tweak it based on seeing how it works like anything else.
Dov, thank you so much for being on the show.
Thank you, Stephan.
Would the next step for our audience be to go to your website and download the five steps to a consistent flow of clients? If that is, what’s the URL?
For five years, I’ve sold the manual called How to Systematically and Consistently Attract First-Rate Clients. We sold it for $97 for five years. It was not written to be a hand-raising free offer. It was not written to giveaway. There’s no fluff. It is a good stuff. We’ll give that away at DovGordon.net/ManualFree. The reason we are giving it away for now anyway is that we realized that a lot of people get a lot from it, even people who never spent a dime with us. There are those who go through that and say, “This is different. I see you do know your stuff and I could trust you.” Then they come in and say, “What would it be like if I’ll get your help?” We found that it was more worthwhile to share it freely than to sell it. We were selling them but this way, everybody wins, including those who don’t spend money with us.
You give and the universe takes care of you. Thank you so much, Dov.
Thanks for having me.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- Kelly Fidel – previous episode
- The Power of Myth
- Good Life
- Good Life Project Podcast
- How to Establish a Realistic SEO Timeline
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Identify my clients’ core problem and provide the best solution. Evaluate my expertise and specify how it can help others.
☑ Create a simple, compelling, and head-turning message that’s quick to read and easy to understand. My prospects should know exactly what’s in store for them within seconds.
☑ Find ways to keep my prospects’ interest. Use attention-grabbing strategies to pique their curiosity in my business.
☑ Build trust with my potential clients by making them aware of my credentials. Make them feel that I care about helping them solve their problems.
☑ Provide the best solutions that are right for my prospects. Present them with very direct problem solving strategies to make them say “this is exactly what I need.”
☑ Continue to improve my skills and knowledge to be of better service to my clients so that my relationship with them develops throughout their business growth.
☑ Develop a sense of predictability where I am able to foresee what happens next in my business. Have a keen eye on the bigger picture so that I can strategize better.
☑ Aim to be remarkable in everything that I do. The only way I can set myself apart from the competition is by bringing something different to the table.
☑ Provide a hand-raising free offer to keep my potential buyers’ feet in the door. Let this free offer introduce them to my expertise.
☑ Live up to my promises and make sure that I give the best customer service to my clients even after the sale. Build a long and trusting relationship between both parties.
About Dov Gordon