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If you’re been following the latest “catch phrases” in the marketing world, you know that FUNNELS is one of the big ones right now.
Normally I’m pretty against doing anything just because it’s the “cool” thing to do. But this time around, I’m totally on board with the power that a funnel can have for increasing sales in a semi-passive manner for your service-based business.
I know there are misconceptions out there about a funnel being an icky marketing ploy that takes the relationship-building out of the business. So I want to clear up right away what a funnel is and what it’s not.
When I’m talking about a funnel, I’m referring to a series of content and emails that attract your ideal clients, and guide them on an educational path towards eventually booking your services (if it turns out to be a good fit).
In no way do I ever want a funnel to be seen as a sly marketing technique to get people who really don’t need your service to buy it. Let’s be honest, if someone isn’t really interested in what you’re offering, they are probably going to pretty much ignore your attempts to put your content in front of them anyways.
The people opening your emails, reading your blog posts, and connecting with you on social media are people that are interacting with your marketing.
Those are the people that your funnel is going to take from casual reader to forever fan and red hot buyer.
If this sounds like a strategy that you’re ready to implement in your service-based business (I’m taking to you designers, copywriters, VAs, travel agents, health coaches, business consultants, etc.), then read on, and I’ll take you through the 5 steps of setting up your first funnel to book clients on auto-pilot.
And don’t miss your chance to steal my EXACT "mini-course" sales funnel to use as a model to create your own funnel that brings in clients on auto-pilot while you sleep!
I’m giving you my Complete Sales Funnel Swipe File, that includes the exact swipe copy of my 6 automated sales funnel emails, my complete email schedule, and a behind the scenes look at the tools + software that run it all! You'll see exactly why each type of powerful funnel email is a must-have to turn your funnel into a 24/7 sales machine. AND how you can do the same!
The 5-Step Funnel to Book Clients on Autopilot
Step 1: Figure out what people most commonly want to know related to your business.
When I get started writing a new blog post or crafting a new piece of content, the first thing I do is go to either Google or the Pinterest search bar. My goal is to find the exact words and phrases that people are most commonly using when searching for topics centered around my business.
I could spend time checking analytics and using keyword tools to get even more specific results, but I like to keep things quick and simple. So I start typing phrases into the search bar and I see what comes up in the guided search.
For example, let’s say that you offer online dog training consultations. In Pinterest, I type in dog training and the following phrases come up:
- dog training tips
- dog training ideas
- dog training tricks
- dog training potty
Those results make me realize that a lot of people are searching for info on how to potty train their dog.
So I try the search bar again, but this time I get more specific. I search several phrases related to potty training a dog, and I find that many people are searching for “how to potty train a puppy in 3 days.”
For my purposes, this result is perfect…it’s specific, it’s actionable, and it’s something that I could definitely create content around for my audience.
Step 2: Create a “pillar” piece of content that is high-quality and educates potential clients on topics related to your service
Now that you know the topic for your piece of content, it’s time to create an in-depth, high-quality blog post. This can’t be a “fluff” piece of writing.
The job of this post is to attract people that are interested in what you offer, and there is no better way to attract them than showing off your expertise and knowledge.
Ideally, you’re going to provide enough information in this blog post for people to take action on one piece of the overall strategy that you provide through your services. Never be afraid of offering “too much” info. This should be your best work, and there is no reason to hold back.
When someone hires you it is for the personal attention, the one-on-one service, or the complete package. A single blog post (no matter how amazing it is) will not cause someone to suddenly DIY it instead.
For example, if you’re a travel agent that specializes in the Caribbean islands, you may write an blog post on which Caribbean island is the best for honeymoons. In this in-depth post you review each island, give specific resort recommendations, suggest possible romantic excursions, and provide a few insider tips about how to make the best decision.
A person who reads this article is going to realize a couple of things:
a. you’re an expert on the topic who knows what you’re talking about
b. there are a lot of parts to figuring this out, and even with your well-written article, they are feeling quite overwhelmed
c. maybe this is something better left to an expert
Now that you’ve provided enough educational value for your reader to start thinking about the potential of using an expert’s services (ideally yours!), it’s time to move on to step #3...
Step 3: Provide a “Work with me” opportunity, or get them on your email list
At this point, you have two options. Every blog post that you write should have one main business-building purpose.
You need to decide if your blog post’s purpose is to:
a. Get your potential client to fill out a specific “work with me” form indicating their interest in booking your services so that you can follow up
b. Provide your potential client an actionable and valuable “freebie” piece of content related to your blog post topic, that they can receive if they opt-in to your email list (I suggest ConvertKit as my favorite email provider)
My ultimate suggestion is to eventually follow this process for several blog posts so that you can split your blog posts between directly driving people to your opt-in form, or driving them to your email list opt-in form.
For now, you’re going to be better served driving your readers to your email list so that you can continue to follow up with them, providing more value, and eventually working towards a sales.
The key is to make your “freebie” that you offer, so irresistible, and closely related to the blog post that you just wrote, that it’s an “no-brainer” for them to opt-in to your email list to receive it. The freebie should make it easier for the reader to take action on what they just read.
For example, my freebie in this blog post is a swipe copy file of the exact emails to send out to people in your automated funnel. This helps you to take action so that you don’t have to start from scratch with writing emails (which can be overwhelming!).
Here’s some other examples to get you thinking:
- Dog trainer writes a blog post about potty training a dog in 3 days = “freebie” is an hour by hour schedule that shows exactly what you should be doing for the 3 days time period to potty train your dog.
- Travel agent writes a blog post about honeymooning in the Caribbean = “freebie” is a ebook that gives a 1 page fact-sheet for each island, providing all the specifics you’d need to know for each (language, money, airports, best restaurants, resorts, and activities for honeymooners, etc.)
- Copywriter writes a blog post about the most important pages to have on your website to increase sales = “freebie” is a template for your about page that shows exactly what sections to include and sentence starters for each.
This freebie is something that’s going to build trust in your business and brand with your potential client, so don’t be afraid to take some time to really make it high quality and presented professionally.
Once you’ve got it created, you can use it in multiple blog posts, on social media, and any other place you connect with potential clients.
The effort that you put into creating a piece of free content is going to show your potential clients that the experience of working with you in a paid capacity is likely going to exceed all their expectations. Which is exactly what we want!
Step 4: Make the opt-in opportunity “magnetic”
Now that you have a freebie that’s going to be a “no-brainer” for your potential clients to opt-in to, it’s time to make it super easy for them to do just that!
That means that a little text link hidden in your blog post isn’t going to cut it. People are “skimmers” when it comes to online content, so we need to be sure your opportunity to opt-in really stands out.
You’re got a couple options to try:
- Create clickable buttons, a minimum of 2 per blog post (towards beginning and end)
- Include a clickable image of your freebie (could be in combination with buttons)
- Include an “ad” for your freebie in the blog sidebar
- Create a pop-up or slide-in box specifically for that blog page
We don’t want to overwhelm the reader, so I don’t suggest doing all of these options together. However, I do suggest providing at least 2-3 opportunities per blog post to encourage opt-ins for your freebie offer.
I actually suggest creating a "sales" page for your freebie, (people don't just "give away" their email address for nothing!), and I love using ClickFunnels for all of my funnel opt-in pages, thank you pages, and freebie delivery.
The key is to make sure the reader is aware of the valuable freebie, but don’t over-do it by pushing it in their face continually.
Step 5: The FUNNEL!
We’ve finally made it to the step you’re been waiting for…the FUNNEL! This is the part that gets those people that are currently on the fence about your services, primed and ready to book as a paid client.
Steps 1-4 have focused on getting their email address, and now that we have it, we have permission to follow up, provide more value, and prove exactly how amazing you are at what you do (and why they should book your services!).
Remember that a funnel is simply a series of emails that are automatically sent out to the people who opt-in to your freebie.
You can set up this automated email series through your email provider. With MailChimp, you’ll need to purchase their automation capabilities, or I suggest ConvertKit, which includes this automation capability with their standard service.
Let’s break down a simple series of emails that you can use regardless of industry, that works like gangbusters to take casual readers to red-hot buyers!
And if this all seems overwhelming, be sure to grab my swipe copy of the exact email copy you need to set up a sales funnel for any industry.
Email 1. Automated Email on Opt-in (delivered directly after the person opt-ins for your freebie).
This one pretty much does what it says. Get that freebie to them!
Very little text is needed in the email other then saying thanks for opting-in and providing a clear link in the email to download their promised freebie. The whole point here is to build trust by doing what you said you would do — providing the freebie in exchange for their email address.
Email 2. Did you See This? (delivered one day later).
After opting-in, some people will hop right over to their inbox to consume the content, but others are in the middle of something or just aren’t in a spot to access their email right away. Life goes on, and they may forget about your freebie.
This email is sent 1 day after opt-ing in, to remind them that this is something that they requested, and provide another link to download it if they didn’t get a chance yet.
This email is also a great chance to introduce yourself, and remind them of what you do. Here’s the format I like for this email:
- Paragraph 1: Did you miss this? Provide a reminder of the freebie and another link to download.
- Paragraph 2: A few sentences to introduce yourself and your business.
- Paragraph 3: Why should they care? Tell a little bit of your background, your experience, and how you help your clients (be sure to focus on benefits to your clients and don’t just toot your own horn).
- Paragraph 4: Let readers know what to expect from you. Mention that you’ll be sending out several other valuable pieces of info over the next few days. Invite your readers to reply back with any questions, and you’ll be happy to answer.
In your paragraph 2 or 3, be sure to include a link to your paid services page that is relevant to what you are writing about. This isn’t a big call-to-action, but just a small mention that naturally fits in with your writing.
Email 3. Education email.
The whole point of this email is educate.
Often your readers may still not understand why the service you offer is even worthwhile paying for. This is your chance to educate them on the value of what you do.
You’re not trying to directly sell you or your service. You’re showing why what you do is valuable to your clients.
Some possible topics for this email could be:
- 5 Reasons why you need …..
- 5 Reasons why you should ….
- 5 Things you’re missing by not using a ….
- 5 Ways to know you’re ready for a …….
Don’t be afraid to make this a more lengthy email, where you really break down each of the 5 reasons, providing well thought-out, in-depth reasons that speak to your ideal clients’ common “hold-ups” on hiring someone who provides your type of services.
Email 4: Training or How-To Email
It’s time to provide more value to your reader. You already covered one facet of your business in your initial blog post. Now it’s time to pick another sub-topic or strategy to provide a more in-depth training, tutorial, or how-to.
Pick one small thing in your business that you can teach to provide a “quick win” for your reader.
When teaching about it, you can do it in written form directly within the email, and consider including screenshot tutorial images if helpful. You can even provide videos if that helps to get your point across better.
Be sure to provide a link at some point in this email that links back to your paid services page. Once again, this is not a strong call-to-action, but it is a casual link that allows people to find your paid services if they want to know more.
Email 5: Mistakes/Myths
In this email you’re going to address mistakes that you used to make before becoming an expert in your field. Try to think of a personal story from your own past that shows these mistakes in action.
Or you can instead focus on myths if you prefer. Address 3 common myths that people believe about your industry, and then dispel those beliefs as untrue.
In this email you will follow up with a direct pitch for your services. What do you offer, how can they find out more, and where should they click to book with you? Directly ask your readers to take action.
Email 6: Case Study
Do you have a client that you really “hit it out of the park” for? Did your services produce incredible results for them?
This is the email to showcase exactly what you did for them, including visuals if you can. Also, ideally, the client will provide a testimonial in their own words, in either written or video form.
Be sure to include a link to your “work with me” form for people who want to achieve similar results!
Email 7: Final Sales Email
This is the time to lay it all out on the line and push for the sale!
Show off your best testimonials, answer all of your FAQs, describe exactly what the process is like to work with you, and include strong calls to action.
You’ve provided a bunch of free value to your readers, so it’s time to go all in for the sale. Make it super easy to figure out how to book you, and what the next steps are.
Optionally, you may want to include an urgency to your services by offering a limited time coupon (use Deadline Funnel to set this up), or bonus upgrade, if they book (or at least contact you with their interest) within the next 48 hours.
So there you have it! A complete sales funnel sequence to book your clients on auto-pilot for your service based business.
Does it seem like a lot of work? Honestly, it does take some time to get all the emails written and scheduled into your funnel.
That’s why I’m providing you with a free swipe copy file that includes the exact emails that you’ll need for this email sequence funnel. Take them, tweak them, and make them your own for your own business!
And don’t forget that, once you get this all set up one time…..it’s ALL automated!
That means you can spend your time serving your clients, working on other parts of your business, or even taking a day off! Once you have a client acquisition funnel set up, the options are limitless for how you spend your time rather than always hustling for new clients.