It took me longer than it should have to see it. We had been doing the same old thing for years, and revenues were still good. However, like many others, during the COVID-19 quarantine, I had the opportunity to take a good hard look at our marketing strategy. Upon examination, I quickly realized how much had changed, and how far behind we really were. The tactics that we had been using for years had slowly but surely waned in their efficiency. So, I got to work researching what other people I respected were using, reading some great books, and having a lot of conversations.

Through this, I came up with a vision for what I think the marketing for my business should look like and I am sharing it with you below, so you can utilize it yourself.  I would love to hear what you think of the below, and what is working for you.

One tool in your arsenal will absolutely make or break this strategy: authenticity. Replicating the content of others isn’t enough; you have to create. You need a framework, flexible enough to apply to your business, and adaptable to the shifting landscape. So, without further ado … here are the three pillars of marketing that will propel your business successfully into the future.

The Three Pillars of Marketing for The Business of The Future

As business changes, the path to success is based more than ever on long-term, ongoing relationships. Before you can build them, though, you have to help customers find you.

Even if you’re starting from scratch, you can generate low-cost leads and nurture them into loyal customers with the help of these three pillars:

  • Lead generation through paid traffic (with the opportunity to stack on an “info business”)
  • Lead generation through organic content
  • Consistent and repeatable referrals

Each pillar fuels and supports the next. Instead of repeating the same effort endlessly, you’re building a marketing foundation for your enterprise.

Pillar One: Paid Traffic and an Optional Info Business

Paying for traffic is like paying rent for a home. It solves an immediate problem but lacks long-term leverage. However, it is an excellent place to start and in some cases and some markets, it may be more efficient.

An information business, or info business as it’s often called, is a collection of valuable and in-depth content on a subject that interests your customers. It’s an inexpensive way to share your expertise and develop relationships with current and interested clients. Content can be written, video, audio recordings, or webinars in any combination.

The structure of most information businesses starts with a free report, video download, or webinar. This gives buyers a reason to provide their contact details. Customers are invited to upgrade to more detailed paid product options. For higher-priced products or packages, some information business owners include one-on-one coaching services.

The benefit of combining an information business with pay-per-click traffic is that you can minimize or eliminate the cost of paid advertising by using the revenue you generate from selling your information products. Information products are inexpensive to create and if distributed digitally, are essentially  free to distribute. They also help forge relationships as customers get to know who you are, what your expertise is, and ultimately how you can help them.

You can direct paid advertising clicks into an information product “sales funnel.” A sales funnel involves the steps a customer takes between the first click on your ad and their purchase or registration. A funnel can be simple, leading contacts to sign up for your newsletter or your webinar. They can also be more complex, inviting customers through several customized steps and offering upsell opportunities throughout the process.

In the funnel, new leads know exactly what you want them to do. Example actions include:

  • Book an appointment
  • Watch a video series
  • Purchase information products

Any funnel that captures leads will grow your business. As your information product arsenal expands and bundle prices go up, you can advance into a self-liquidating info product funnel. The goal of a self-liquidating funnel is for paid advertising leads to cover their own cost of acquisition. After the first irresistible offer, a series of upsells gives you an opportunity to generate new customers for almost no additional expense.

Pillar Two: Real-Time Storytelling Through Content

Information can go in one ear and out the other, but stories stick with people. Storytelling is a way to connect and build trust with your audience. Real-time storytelling through content goes out into the world and brings leads back.

If paid traffic is like renting a house, then online content helps you own it. The content you create stays out there and can continue to generate leads into the future.

Depending on your talents, audience, and business, you can choose from:

  • Podcasts
  • Live streams
  • Special reports
  • Physical books
  • E-books
  • Blogs
  • Audiobooks
  • Social media

You don’t have to do them all! Start with the channel or channels that feel most authentic to you, consistently post quality content on each, and expand as you feel comfortable (or hire someone to help you with the expansion). You can always add more online channels as your team grows.

Once you’ve selected your channels, how do you know what to write or post?

There are two useful approaches to endless and relevant content ideas.

1. The Cover Song Effect

I was having a conversation with my friend, Dean Jackson, the other day and he and I were discussing the strategy of up and coming musicians posting cover songs (popular songs by other bands) on YouTube to build a following, and how in some cases it ended up with the act getting the ever coveted record deal. They diverted traffic to their channel with familiar favorites. Listeners got used to their voices and became fans. Eventually, their online platform leveraged them into a professional career.

What’s the equivalent of a cover song in your business? What are most people searching for when they look for a business like yours? Let them find what they want first, and you second.

In food, the cover song would be a chef’s version of a familiar favorite. People flock to the favorite, and, as a side effect, get to know the chef.  One example of how you can use this, is what are people searching for that you have answers to?  You can answer these questions they have, and you can earn their trust, and then take them on a journey with stories about what most interests you, or how you can help their business.  For instance, in the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many accountants became experts on the government Paycheck Protection Program.  By sharing their knowledge online, many who wanted information on this program would find these accountants.  If they liked the info, they might reach out to the accountant and become a client for other work the accountant offers.

2. Clicks on a Dial

Magnetic Marketing founder and longtime mentor of mine, Dan Kennedy, recommends a method he calls “clicks on a dial.” These let you know exactly what topic to use, no matter when you sit down to create.

To start, identify your 10 to 12 core concepts. These are topics central to your business, and more importantly, central to your clients’ desires.

For each core concept, list at least two sub-concepts. Some people think of sub-concepts like episodes of a television series or chapters in a book.

Immediately, you will have dozens of topic ideas. However, that number grows exponentially as you move through the year. Depending on what’s happening as you create each post, you can relate a sub-topic to current events, trending ideas, news, sports, or upcoming holidays.

With your core and sub-concepts identified, you will have everything you need, including information to give a 30 minute or even three-hour speech on short notice.  You just decide on the length, by how many clicks on the dial you want to go through.

To get the most from your money or effort, repurpose content created for one platform to use across the others. Using this method over time, your content will create a sizable body of work that all connects back to your message.

Pillar Three: Consistent and Repeatable Referrals

A systematic approach to referrals involves more than providing excellent products and services. Customers need to hear from you in constructive and engaging ways across all formats. Rather than sinking to the bottom of the proverbial pile by delivering mediocre content that people don’t connect to or want to sift through, providing value each time you reach out builds stronger client relationships.

The best way to get customers to invite friends and share is to ask them. Simple, right?! The ideal referral system for your business will change depending on the industry. To get your creative juices flowing, ReferralCandy put together a list of effective referral programs.

Build Your Brand With Online Content

At The Success Network®, we call online content the “Digital DNA®” of your business. Each blog, video, podcast, and social media post weaves together the fabric of your brand. Online content either is or will be how many customers find you, and how they know you best, but you first have to commit to creating it.

P.S. – If you need help with building any of these pillars, feel free to reach out here to learn about how we can help.