A Cautionary Tale
Phil's ecstatic. His post has just gone viral. He's everywhere—on local sites and major players alike. His site has received tons of traffic, and better yet, opt-ins.
Right now, he's really happy. He's excited about all the new opportunities he's about to receive.
But in a few short days, he'll be crying.
When Phil's post went live, he attracted a lot of media attention. Journalists, marketers and customers flocked to his site for more information. The sudden surge of interest increased his expenses. Server and hosting costs went up. His email marketing costs skyrocketed as opt-ins exploded. Everything was suddenly more expensive. He even won a few new customers.
Then the excitement died down. Collective interest in his post dried up. He was lucky, he had a few new customers, and some revenue. But he had no plan.
Most of his subscribers were interested, but they weren't ready to buy. Aside from the tactics of getting opt-ins, there was no strategy, no game-plan on how to move these subscribers from subscriber to loyal customer.
When Opt-Ins Go Bad
As it turns out, these subscribers were bad for his business. Some opted-in with expectations. But he wasn't sure about what they were looking for. Others showed up with a blank slate, they didn't know what they didn't know.
In either case, Phil got all of the downsides and none of the rewards. He didn't have a plan so he watched as subscribers opted out. One by one, they left. Or they stopped reading. Intrest and opportunity shriveled up and things slowly fell apart.
How do you turn opt-ins into a good thing?
You start with a plan. Your plan needs to accomplish a few things:
- Give customers what they want.
- Train and entice them to read and engage with your content.
- Move customers from point A (subscriber) to point B (customer).
- Keep them at point B.
How do you accomplish these goals?
1. Give customers what they want. Customers have specific problems they need you to solve. It could be practical, emotional or a combination of the two, but these problems should be the driving force behind your follow-up.
2. Train and entice them to read and engage with your content. You're training customers, right from the beginning. Give them a clear idea of what to expect, the tone you intend to use, and incentives to read and engage with your content.
3. Move customers from point A (subscriber) to point B (customer). Customers use free content to evaluate your business. If it's what they're looking for they'll become a customer. If it's not, they'll move on.
4. Keep them at point B. Your content needs to keep them at point B. It's a skill you'll need to master if you want to increase repeat sales and upsells.
Keeping a customer as a customer
So now how do you keep your customer at point B? With problems.
Every product creates more problems than it solves. You buy a car and suddenly you have tune ups, oil changes and repairs to worry about. You buy furniture and you have to worry about delivery and maintenance. Buy a computer and now you need software and anti-virus.
Keeping customers requires you to stay ahead of their problems.
Staying ahead of customer issues
You can't stay ahead of their problems if you're not ready. Being prepared, being ready, isn't as complicated as it sounds. Here are some steps you can take to prepare for customers.
- Interview your ideal customers. Know what makes them tick.
- Create a product or service that solves their problems.
- Introduce and agitate the new problems your products create.
- Solve the problems by introducing them to a new product.
- Repeat steps 2 through 4.
When it's done well, this basic process shows you what your customers want, how to present it to them and how to continue to sell to them.
Plan vs. react
Just like most things in life, you can't plan for everything. In fact, it's not a good idea to try to plan for everything. It's your job instead to plan for the problems and issues your customers care about. The things they want fixed.
This means you'll need to talk to your customers. You'll need to do what you have to, in order to maintain a good relationship with them.
Making money without a plan
You can make money even if you don't have a plan, but it gets harder and harder over time. When you're missing a plan you don't have direction. Customers don't have direction. So instead of training them to look to you to solve their new and future problems, you train them to look to competitors.
On the other hand, creating a follow-up plan gives you the strategy you need to increase sales per customer. Repeat sales becomes a common and repeatable thing. Customer resistance goes down as they realize you have a deep understanding of their problems.
Phil attracted 52,471 subscribers, but he didn't have a plan to work with them. He lost subscribers, sales and opportunities as a result. But it doesn't have to be that way for you.
Create a plan that outlines how you'll follow-up, and when. Outline your strategy and tactics, and you'll have everything you need to win and keep new customers.