You need to find a way to make this idea a reality.
You need to find a way to make it happen without wasting a huge amount of time or money that you don’t have.
You need to reduce the risk.
To be brutally frank, you’re probably starting from the wrong place.
The idea might be amazing.
The idea might change the world.
The idea might be the greatest idea anyone has ever had.
But if people won’t pay for it, it’s worthless.
You need to start with an audience. You need to pick a niche.
Who are you going to target? Who do you know? Who can you get in front of?
This is important, because it then leads you on to the rest of the process. For example, poor people are generally a bad market to get into. It’s tough, but they necessarily have to look after every penny. They will ring you up for help and support, because they have nowhere else to turn to.
It’s actually easier to raise your prices and sell to the rich. Because they will just hand over money to make their problems go away.
And the more focussed your target audience, the closer you can understand those problems and the easier it will become to get them to pay you.
It’s something that I enjoy setting up, it’s something that saves me time, it’s something that gives me benefits whilst also using some of my core skills.
But, when things aren’t going your way, automation can also be your enemy.
Because, when things aren’t going your way, they weigh you down. You feel the weight on your shoulders, you feel it within your brain.
That weight, that heaviness; it makes it harder for you to keep going. It means the simple things that you need to be doing, they just don’t get done. The tasks that you need to complete take twice as long.
Because of that, the weight increases. The struggle continues.
The thing is, most of the time, when we feel like this, we don’t actually need a solution. We don’t need a way out.
We just need to feel like we’re moving forwards.
And that’s why automation can sometimes be your enemy.
That’s why, sometimes, you need to force yourself to do some easy activities.
Set yourself a simple target.
And then just watch yourself as you hit those targets.
Especially when it comes to bringing new clients into your business.
I’ve got a little something planned about this – how to escape the everyday struggle by setting yourself the right targets.
Have you ever spent a fortune on a Facebook advertising campaign?
It’s easily done.
Facebook is probably one of the most sophisticated advert delivery platforms around – maybe even the most sophisticated platform around (and don’t forget, it’s not just Facebook, it’s Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger too).
But that sophistication can bring you huge rewards, or massive costs.
Jumping in and naively chucking a load of cash at some boosted posts is not going to help you. Instead, you need to have a strategy for your campaign.
This image shows a small snapshot of a set of campaigns that I’m running for myself (the results are from a few hours in one day).
It shows the “Four Ts” – the four things you have to be doing if you want any chance of getting Facebook adverts to work for you.
Never “boost a post”. Never just pick an audience for your advert off the back of an envelope.
More than anything else, choosing your target audience for your advert is the key to success.
Facebook hoovers up a ton of personal and intimate data about you and everyone you know all the time. So let’s use that to good effect – you can build audiences of people and then show your adverts only to them.
So you need to know:
Where do they live?
How old are they?
What brands do they like?
What interests do they have?
What car, phone or clothes do they want?
What sports do they follow?
You need to know all this stuff, or you’re just throwing your money away.
There are four components to a Facebook ad – and one of them is nothing to do with Facebook. You need to have an image or video to catch people’s eyes. If they look at that, then they will probably take the time to read the headline. If they read the headline, they might read the text (the copy). And if they read the text, they might click the ad and end up on your landing page.
All four of these need to be in alignment. But more importantly – because we are dealing with human beings here – you cannot be sure exactly what is going to work.
So when you start a new campaign, you need to be prepared to throw a load of money at testing. A phase where you try out different combinations of images, headlines, copy and landing pages, to see what gets the engagement, what gets you results.
This testing process is useless if you can’t measure the results you are getting. If you look back at my screenshot earlier, you can see that I have a number of stages that are being tracked – in effect I have built a marketing funnel. At each stage, I know how many people have arrived there – and just as importantly, I know how much I have spent to get them there.
The final column on that screenshot is “arrived on sales call questionnaire”. This is the last piece of my marketing funnel and means that someone has actually booked a call with me – which is a result. And in this case, it has cost me £3.55 to get that call1.
People grow tired of adverts. Eventually, you will have shown your ad, several times, to your audience. So you need to shake it up, you need to change things around. Sometimes, this is as easy as switching the images you are using. Sometimes, you might need to change the audience definition.
Facebook uses machine learning to pick out good candidates to show your ad to. As they respond, it learns who to show it to next. Sometimes, it gets “stuck” and can’t figure out good candidates to show the advert to – and you’ll notice your statistics plummeting. If that happens, you’ll need to rebuild your audience so Facebook can reset who it’s targeting.
The final thing, with a Facebook campaign is never, ever point your adverts at your website. It might sound funny, but your headline, your advert, has hooked them in on a particular promise – you can fix the problem that was bugging them at that moment in time. If you send them to your website – it’s not really going to fix things for them.
Instead, you need to send them to a dedicated landing page which focusses purely on that one problem and gives them the solution – either as a free download (in exchange for an email address) or a webinar or other type of training. You have just spent money to grab their attention – don’t waste it by failing to give your audience what they want.
In effect, you are building a marketing funnel – you grab their attention and then lead them through your funnel on a defined, controlled, journey that eventually2 leads them to buy from you.
So that’s the Four Ts of Facebook advertising.
If you’re not sure about any of this marketing funnel stuff, I’ve got a free email course that explains how to build a measurable funnel that can bring predictable, reliable revenue into your business. Just enter your details below to find out more.
This screenshot shows the stats for half of a single day – so it has cost me £3.55 so far that day to get that call booking. Over the lifetime of this campaign, each sales call has actually ended up costing me about £100. But I wouldn’t know that if I weren’t tracking my figures. ↩
and this can take time – the potential customer needs to learn who you are and has to believe you can help them and trust building can’t be rushed ↩
A common problem when working for yourself – especially in a service business where delivery of the project can take some time – is late payments.
Now there are a number of things going on here and it’s not necessarily going to be what you’re going to want to hear. But, underneath it all, there are two possible reasons that they’re paying late.
Firstly – they simply don’t have the money. This is a bad situation to be in. They’re not a good client for you, they shouldn’t have signed up with you and you should not have accepted them. It’s an easy mistake to make. I’ve got a client right now who owes me thousands, and I keep kicking myself over the situation I’ve put myself in.
Secondly – they don’t trust you to do the job. This is a bad situation to be in. They’re not a good client for you and you failed completely during the earlier stages of your relationship to remind them that the work you are about to embark on is important enough, vital even, to the success of their business.
In both cases it’s your fault.
So now you’ve found yourself in this situation, what do you do to deal with it?
Step 1) Stay in touch. Email and messaging isn’t enough. Schedule a weekly call with the client and keep them up to date on the progress made on the project every week. Just remind them that things are going well. I really don’t like talking to people but this has to be done. If they’re the “don’t have the money” type they will start to feel a bit of pressure to find the cash. If they’re the “don’t trust you” type they will start to understand that you’re actually making progress.
Step 2) Get some help. If things get too bad, ask someone else to get in touch with the client for you. I don’t know why, but having someone else’s voice delivering the message that payment is due makes a real difference. They don’t even need to be some muscly heavy type.
Step 3) Make sure it doesn’t happen again. Be more careful in how you select your clients. Add “guard rails” into your sales process where you inform yourself as to whether these are good clients or not.
Step 4) Give yourself time to find new clients. Make sure you understand what your pipeline looks like – if things are looking good, just feed your marketing activities in the background. But if your pipeline looks a bit empty, in three months time1, now is the time to take action. That way, you aren’t desperate for work the next time a dodgy client shows up and you don’t end up in this situation again.
If you’d like to know more about how to predict your business pipeline so you can take action early, check out my free email course – “Your Two Magic Numbers”. Just fill out the details below to sign up.
Actually I say 3 months time – this time period varies and you need to know how far ahead you need to be looking. ↩
I had the great honour of being interviewed by Steve Twynham for Great Yorkshire Radio and Podcasts for Business.
We chatted about giving value to your clients, how sales isn’t the sleazy process it often appears, how getting your money sorted can trigger the improvements in the rest of your business and how you need to put your Profit First.
The phrase is thrown around often, but it’s only once you work for yourself that you truly appreciate what a rollercoaster it can be.
One minute, work is coming in faster than you can keep up with it. You’re working day in, day out, evenings, weekends and even through the night. Taking a day off seems impossible and the thought of a holiday is unimaginable.
Suddenly, things ease off.
You can breathe again. And you start thinking you might have finally got this business malarkey sussed after all…
Then you realise there’s barely anything in your pipeline, your biggest client has gone off the radar, and the project you had scheduled in next week has fallen through.
The good news is you’re not alone. And the even better news is that there are some things you can do to make the fluctuations less severe.
Understand the magic numbers
Most problems occur because business owners don’t understand their magic numbers.
How many clients do you need to win each month in order to cover your overheads and pay yourself the amount you want? What is your conversion rate and the average length of time from enquiry to invoice? How many enquiries need to be generated each month to hit your target?
If you know these figures, you can forecast for the months ahead, predict when a quiet period is coming up, and feel confident enough to turn away the projects you don’t want.
Pay yourself a set amount each month
When the work is flooding in, it’s tempting to spend a little more than we should. It’s great while it lasts, but when the work quietens down, it can leave us wondering if we’ll be able to cover the mortgage next month.
I’m a big fan of the ‘profit first’ way of working. Rather than paying yourself whatever is left at the end of the month, you take out the profit you want first and then invest what is left into your business.
Of course, if you want this to work, you need to have figured out your magic numbers.
Manage your marketing
When you’re busy, it’s easy to neglect your marketing. When you’re busy, you focus on the work you already have, not on winning more.
The problem is, once you’ve completed all your current projects, you’re left with nothing in your pipeline except tumbleweed.
So what happens now? Well, you go back to everything that worked last time of course.
You have a real push on marketing and advertising and networking. Your follow-ups are awesome, you spend hours putting together detailed proposals, and you take time to go and schmooze potential new clients.
All your hard work pays off at once, and you get an influx of work. Brilliant!
And now you’re back to being too busy to manage your enquiries properly, and you’re working on a load of projects you don’t really enjoy.
And so the cycle continues.
Up, down, up, down, round and round you go.
Take control of your pipeline; don’t let it control you.
To ensure consistent sales, you need consistent marketing.
Even when you are crazy busy, take time to nurture future clients. And when business is a little scarce, don’t fall into the trap of taking the projects nobody else wants.
It’s time to get off the rollercoaster
If you’re struggling to break the feast and famine cycle, I can help.
Every business needs a system.
A system for making sure you’ve got enough cash. A system for generating enough sales. A system for making sure you’ve got enough time to live your life. I work with you to create that system.
If you’d like to know more, let’s arrange a call, and I’ll explain exactly how I can help you build a business that works for you.
That’s how it goes for a good few years, while you get yourself established.
And then, some magical lever gets pulled, and then you’ve made it.
Out the other side.
But how do you get to that magical point? What makes the magic happen?
There are actually two things that make it happen.
Two Magic Numbers.
These two numbers, once you know them, give you a level of certainty and confidence in your business.
They mean you can plan ahead.
They mean you can predict the future.
They give you the space to concentrate on the things that matter.
And they allow you to safely turn down the bad clients, the ones who always hammer you down on price, the ones who take up all of your time, the ones who are always complaining.
The first Magic Number is your Conversion Rate.
Suppose you go out and get 100 business cards from a load of networking events. You go through those business cards, calling each person up on the phone, and you end up with 30 people who are willing to have a meeting. You go to those 30 meetings and you end up with 15 people who would like you to give a presentation to the board. You give the presentations and you end up with 10 people who would like to buy your services.
10 out of 100 leads turn into business. Your conversion rate is 10%
Your second Magic Number is your Sales Cycle Length.
Let’s say you spend all of January getting those 100 business cards. Throughout January, you’re on the phone to people, but some are busy, others are away – so your 30 meetings end up being booked across January and February. Your first new client from this round of networking signs at the beginning of February – barely four weeks after you started. But after meetings and presentations, delays and postponements, the tenth new client, signs up in April – almost 16 weeks after you got their card.
On average, the 10 new clients you got signed up 8 weeks after you received their business card. Your Sales Cycle Length is 8 weeks
Now you know those Two Magic Numbers, you can start making predictions about the future.
Suppose in April, you did another round of networking, but this time you only got 50 business cards. Based on your Two Magic Numbers, that suggests you’ll get 5 new clients at some time in June.
The real power of this comes when you decide to use it to your advantage, however. Let’s say you want to raise an extra load of money to go on holiday. If you know your Two Magic Numbers, you can use them to calculate how many leads you need to generate – and when – so that you’ve got the new clients, and the money in your pocket, at just the right time.