Many times on this blog I’ve spoken about how we can look at the traditional idea of the ‘marketing funnel’ through the lenses of the ‘7 Graces’. While some might consider the idea of the marketing funnel to be an old paradigm concept, if reframed with new paradigm eyes, it’s actually a very useful tool, as it helps us understand THE most important aspect ethical marketing – relationships.
Each ‘layer’ of the marketing funnel reflects a different type of relationship we have with our audience. Each type of relationship has a different degree of familiarity, closeness and mutual trust.
For example, our relationship with people at the top rim of the 7 Graces Marketing Funnel (which I call the social media ‘cloud’) is loose and undefined. We might have some interests in common; we might also have many people in common in our social networking ‘circles’. But at this level, we often know next to nothing about each other, whether as business owners or as people.
Our relationship with people who take one or two steps into the funnel by becoming regular readers of our blog, or by taking advantage of a ‘free offer’ (such as a downloadable report or audio, etc.) is still quite distant. They have gotten to know a bit more about us, but as yet we probably know very little about them. If we’ve taken the time to ‘profile’ our audience and cater our articles and free offers to their needs and interests, we can make some educated guesses, but these are likely to be broad generalisations that tell us very little about our customers as individuals.
As we progress down through the funnel – and money is exchanged – things change. We begin to see an inverted ratio between prices, service and customers, i.e., as the price of our products and services gets higher and the level of service we provide increases, the number of customers decreases.
But something even more significant happens as we go ‘down’ the funnel – the relationship between our business and our customers deepens. Because there is a greater exchange of money and/or time between us, there is also the need for both greater trust and responsibility on BOTH our parts.
By the time our customers advance to the ‘deepest’ part of our marketing funnel – where they are considering whether or not to buy our most expensive, most exclusive, top-end product or service – they NEED to feel they can trust us without question, both as people and professionals.
Conversely, we need to feel confident in our knowledge of this customer. We need to feel confident that we know intimately what this customer needs, likes and wants. We also need to feel completely confident in our own ability and expertise to meet those needs, and our commitment to delivering on our promises.
Some marketers focus on numbers only. When they talk about sales and marketing, they will cite statistics and conversion rates. But without understanding – and giving care and attention to – your customer relationships at each stage of the marketing funnel, you’ll be likely to spend most of your time focusing at the top end of the funnel, putting a great deal of energy into the looser, broader relationships in your audience, and wondering why you’re always chasing your tail financially.
So let’s take a ‘7 Graces’ style look at this issue, and explore some things that can help us cultivate this key relationship between our business and our potential top-end customers.
The 80:20 Principle
A concept I have found useful in understanding how our customers relate to us is something called ‘the 80:20 principle’. Basically, what that means is that 80% of your sales (income) comes from 20% of your customers. Of course this is a generalisation, but this ‘rule’ can help us to gain a better understanding the inverted nature of our marketing funnel.
Let’s say your business pulls in $100,000 a year, and you have 100 customers/clients per year. The ’80:20 principle’ would mean that 20 of your 100 customers are generating 80% of your income ($80,000), which is an average of $4,000 each.
I’d even guess that 20% of that 20% (4 customers) might even generate 80% of the 80% ($64,000 in total, or an average of $16,000 each).
So, if the 80:20 principle is accurate:
- Of your 100 customers, 80 of them are spending an average of $250 per year (around $20 a month) on your business.
- Of your 100 customers, 20 of them are spending an average of $4,000 a year on your business.
- Of your 100 customers, 4 of them are spending around $16,000 a year on your business.
Of course, there’s a HUGE difference in commitment between someone who casually spends $20 a month and someone who invests as much as $16,000 in your products and services. Their expectations, needs and requirements are going to be radically different.
Thus, creating a top-end product and simply putting it out on the market is not enough to ensure anyone will buy it. Unlike entry-level (or even mid-level) products, effective marketing of your top-end products go hand-in-hand with the cultivation and deepening of your relationship with your customers, especially those who become your top 20% (or the top 20% of the 20%).
Using the 7 Graces to Cultivate Our Customer Relationships
The 7 Graces model provides us with a useful tool and ‘checklist’ as we explore our relationships with our audience at every level of the marketing funnel. But when our customer relationship steps into the deepest, most intimate part of the funnel – involving larger sums of money and greater amounts of time, commitment and service – employing the 7 Graces becomes not only ‘useful’, but absolutely crucial.
The Grace of Connection
At the deepest part of the marketing funnel, the Grace of Connection is vital not only for your customer, but for you as well. Without a close connection, your working relationship will be strained and awkward. There will be gaps in trust in both directions.
Before you consider launching a top-end product or service, you need to be very clear on your OWN criteria. If it becomes only be a matter of asking whether or not they can afford your product, you are bound to end up with the wrong kind of customer/client.
- What kinds of customers/clients could enter that kind of relationship with you?
- What would they need to know? What would they need to already have experienced?
Then, ask yourself:
- How you will cultivate and nurture such a relationship with your current clients BEFORE they reach this level?
- How will you engage with them?
- How will you demonstrate and instil trust and confidence?
- How will you make them feel safe in your care?
The Grace of Inspiration
‘Inspiration’ means ‘to breathe life into’. Thus, ‘inspiring’ our customers means to inform, educate, strengthen and empower them. The key questions you need to ask are:
- How will I help my customers understand where they are now?
- How will I increase my customers’ competence so they can make informed choices about what is right for them at this point in time?
For example, regardless of whether we’re talking about health, business, skills or personal development, you cannot offer a ‘maintenance’ programme to your clients if they are still in the ‘fix me’ phase. Similarly, you cannot offer them a ‘growth’ or a ‘launch’ programme if they are still in the ‘start up’ phase. So, you’ll need to ask yourself:
- How will your business take your customers through these progressive phases in the long-term, so they are mentally, emotionally and financially ready for the next step?
The Grace of Invitation
The ‘Grace of Invitation’ is the opposite of the ‘Deadly Sin of Invasion’. ‘Invasion’ is when we are 100% focussed on making the sale. But focusing on the sale at the expense of the customer is a sure-fire way to shut down this very important Grace and sabotage your relationship. Ask yourself:
- How you will open the door to inviting customers to enquiring about your top-end product?
- How will you ensure your conversations will be open, engaging, respectful and hospitable?
- How will you make your customers feel relaxed and able to ask whatever questions they may have?
- How will you turn the attention away from ‘closing the deal’, and towards keeping the connection between you?
The Grace of Directness & the Grace of Transparency
I’ve put these two together because they work in tandem:
- The Grace of Directness means that you communicate in clear, simple language, so your customers don’t need a road-map to understand what they’re getting into.
- The Grace of Transparency means that there are no ‘hidden clauses’, and that both the benefits AND the risks of your top-end product are fully explained – in writing as well as in conversation.
To activate these Graces in your marketing funnel, ask yourself:
- What are the features, benefits AND risks of my top-end product?
- How will I express (verbally and in writing) these features, benefits AND risks to my potential customers?
The Grace of Abundance
At a practical level, the Grace of Abundance has to do with money, but really it has to do with flow.
I’m going to take a moment to address service-providers – consultants, therapists, coaches, trainers, etc. Many newer service-providers find the task of pricing their top-end service/product to be a traumatic experience. They often oscillate between the questions ‘could I really charge THAT much?’ and ‘do I really want to work for so little?’ But, in my observation, when we allow our own self-worth to be entangled with our feelings about money, it can completely shut down the flow of money through our business.
Pricing a top-end product is really a lot less emotional than many business gurus make out. It’s not so much a matter of ‘charging what you’re worth’ as it is ‘charging what it will cost you’. When you are clear about how much it will cost you to develop and deliver your top-end product, pricing simply becomes a practical matter. For example, if you know you need to hire an outsourced team or utilise some specific technologies, you need to include all these expenses into your pricing. If you know you will spend 50 hours delivering the service/product, you need to put that in as well. Tally it all up and leave some for growth, and you’ve got your price point.
The Grace of Abundance is not about thinking big and shooting for the stars. It’s about knowing that there is enough for all when we live in balance and rhythm with the ‘flow’ of the bigger picture of things – the Planet, society AND the economy. When money comes into our business, it needs to flow out as well – to our service providers, our support staff, to ourselves. And some of it also needs to stay in the business to help it grow, just like nutrients in the body.
When we embrace this kind of ‘organic’ attitude towards money and pricing, speaking about costs and billing with our customers becomes easier and more relaxed. And because you have already demonstrated the Graces of Directness and Transparency, it becomes easy to justify and explain your fees to customers in an objective, egoless way.
The Grace of Collaboration
Sometimes it’s good to ask for help when marketing a top-end product. This can mean enlisting the aid of promotional partners from your network, possibly in the role of affiliates. However, while many affiliates might be attracted to the idea of earning a nice sales commission on your top-end product, it’s important to remember that the law of relationships hasn’t changed. That is to say, people with whom we have no relationship have almost zero possibility of spending on our top-end product.
So then, is there any point in having affiliates for our top-end product? Is it all a waste of time and an exercise in futility?
Employing the help of collaborative partners for a top-end product can only succeed if three factors are in place:
- First off, we need to choose the right partners. It’s vital that your partners share your VISION. They must embrace the same outlook on life and must have a similar mission as you do. There are two reasons for this: 1) if they share your vision, they will be able to speak authentically about you and your work to others; 2) if they share your vision, then their audience is likely to share it as well.
- Secondly, just as you have cultivated a relationship with your audience, you should already have cultivated a relationship with your partners as well. The closer and more intimate we are with people, the more naturally and easily we speak about each other to others. This is true in all aspects of life. Our best partners will naturally come from those who are genuinely closest to us.
- And finally, the best partners are also those who have taken time to cultivate a close relationship with their audience. It’s not about how many followers or subscribers your partner has, but about how close your partner is with them. If their audience has come to trust your partner’s opinion, they will feel comfortable about checking out your offer.
If you’ve tried to build an affiliate programme in the past, and both you and your partners got frustrated because they made no sales, it’s time to take a look at the relationships involved – between you and your partner, your partner and their audience, between your vision and the vision of their audience, etc. Spend some time on these relationships, and integrate this into your marketing strategies, and you’ll see a big change in your results.
In the book The 7 Graces of Marketing, one of the ‘7 Key Relationships’ is the relationship between you and your audience. As we’ve explored, this Key Relationship is especially important when we dive into the ‘deepest’ layer of the marketing funnel, where there is the greatest degree of financial and personal investment between you and your customers. I hope this article has helped you reflect on that relationship, so you can develop and ‘grace-fully’ market excellent top-end products and services that bring tremendous value to both you and your customers.
As always, please share your thoughts about this article in the comments below.
And, if you’re looking for help in developing product ideas and marketing strategies for your ethical business, feel free to drop me a line via the ‘Work With Us’ page on this site, and we can set up a (free) initial consultation to see if/how the 7 Graces Project can help.
23 May 2014
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)