Most of my immediate family lives in Connecticut, including my husband’s family. This past weekend they got slammed with almost 2 feet of snow.
2 feet of snow in OCTOBER? It was wholly unexpected. It broke records. My family, along with many others, were completely unprepared. Two people in their 70′s, two in their 40′s, and two kids 8 and 13, all packed into hotel rooms with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Neither of their homes have power, and some of the roads remain unplowed.
It makes me wonder… what would I do if something happened to my business? What if my two biggest clients pulled out? What if this big consulting project I’m hoping to get doesn’t come through? Worse yet… what if my husband lost his job? What would I do?
WHAT WOULD I DO?
This morning I carved out two hours and took a good look at my business. I did a mind map in order to get the big picture. I looked all all my products and services — how I’m selling them, how I’m delivering them, how I’m marketing them. I looked at what’s working, what’s not, and what items have gotten lost in the shuffle.
I realized I’m a little bit scattered, and spread too thin. I have too many things going on and they’re going in too many different directions. I’m not properly leveraging the systems I’ve already put in place and focusing on selling things that are finished products. Instead I’m chasing rainbows by coming up with new product ideas and doing scattershot marketing to try to sell consulting services.
Time to regroup, refocus, and home in on what’s important and viable.
Not only will I have a better business, I’ll be ready if a big disaster strikes.
I think a lot about my sales funnel these days. I have a tall metal filing cabinet, to which I have attached about 30 post-it notes, each representing some channel or other method of marketing.
It loosely resembles a hub-and-spoke model, with my main product in the middle, and the channels emanating around it. Some of the channels also have supporting post-its to emphasize details or other assets.
This is a crude model, but it’s very effective in helping me visualize the importance of certain activities I may be engaged in. It’s also easy to manage. I can move things around, write in details, add highlights or asterisks, add and remove items at will.
Normally a sales funnel is pictured as an actual funnel, where all undifferentiated potential business comes in at the top, and only the final qualified sales come out the bottom. This is fine as a general illustration, but it doesn’t say enough about the actual process you have to go through to weed out the tire-kickers and freebie seekers and price shoppers, not to mention everyone else your message reached who just isn’t interested in your solution.
The hub and spoke model that I use is still only a part of the puzzle, but I like it because it helps me stay focused. Given that my schedule is generally so frantic, and my To Do list is a mile long, I often find myself at a loss for what to do next. When this happens I just look at my Sales Funnel Post-it Diagram, identify which item is highest priority, and focus on that.
Here’s how to make your own Sales Funnel Post-it Diagram (SFPD for the acronym-addicted).
1. Put one product (or service) in the center. Even if you have several you offer, pick one. Ideally you will choose the one that is most important to your business, or simply will provide the highest revenue stream the fastest. Put this one in a color that’s different from all the rest.
2. Write down a list of all the different ways you could attract potential business to this product. Don’t include things you have no intention of implementing. For example if you are terrified of public speaking, don’t put down “Free Seminars” as one of your channels. Pick those you are likely and able to do right away, if given the chance. Write these down on a different colored post-it, one per sheet.
3. Arrange all your channels in a loose, but somewhat equally-spaced, circle around the product sheet in the middle.
4. On a separate sheet, compile a list of your current assets that support these channels. For example if you’ve written a free eBook, this is an asset that might support a channel called “my e-mail list.” A blogger account supports your blogging channel, and a Chamber of Commerce directory supports a direct mail campaign. These assets are written in a different color (I use smaller sized sheets for these too), and are placed near the channels they support.
5. Look at your creation, in big-picture style. Take in the whole thing at once. Start thinking about which channels have the most supporting assets. Which ones might be easier or quicker, or have a better chance to produce fast results. Use a highlighter to add stars or arrows or boxes or whatever will help shed more or less emphasis on different activities.
6. Move the sheets around as you notice relationships and patterns. Does one channel have lots of support while others have none? Maybe you can move those closer to the center.
Leave your diagram alone for a day or two and let it simmer in your subconscious. Then look at it again with fresh eyes and make further adjustments.
When it’s time to sit down and focus on your marketing, look at your SFPD and use it to help you leap forward with your marketing efforts.
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