There are a few marketing campaign strategies that are pretty much universal…

This is one of them.  In fact, if I had to pick one default strategy, this would be it.  It’s simple.  It’s widely-adaptable.  And it’s quite effective.

If your per-customer value is down near zero (maybe sub-$30), it won’t work.  You just won’t have the economics to make it happen.  But aside from that, this is a campaign template you can apply to nearly any business, in any market.  And frankly, if you do this right, your economics will be far better than the alternative.

This goes back to my Architecture of Skill essay.  The specific techniques and tactics that you use to apply this may vary by industry.  But the principles it’s based on and the high-level strategy are universal and quite adaptable.  We’re going to mostly focus on the strategies and the principles it is based on here.

So, what’s the campaign strategy?

The multi-step marketing campaign…

Put very simply, this strategy is to start by getting the lead, then follow up with the lead to close the sale.

We’ll get into more specifics in a moment.  But I want to contrast this first with one-step marketing.  One-step marketing is where you try to make the sale in a single contact.  If you don’t make the sale, that contact is essentially wasted.

If you see a company running ads with a direct offer, that’s one-step marketing.  (Unless you’re online and there’s some sophisticated retargeting going on behind the scenes, but that’s beyond the scope of this essay.)

Multi-step doesn’t try to make the sale at first.  In fact, a good multi-step marketing campaign will actively try to AVOID any mention of an offer in the initial contacts.

Instead, a multi-step marketing campaign is best broken up into two phases.

— Phase 1: Get the lead.  Here your first and only goal is to get permission from the prospect to follow up with them, to send them more information.  In most cases, we’re talking about email here.  But this could also include getting permission to send something via the mail, or fax, or to call, or contact them through some other channel.

— Phase 2: Make the sale.  Once you have the lead, then and only then do you make it about making the sale.

There’s a lot more to this, as you’ll see in a moment.  And within each phase of the campaign, there are multiple smaller checkpoints along the journey to the sale.  But if you think about it like this, it applies whether you’re doing a 2-step campaign or a 38-step campaign.  Either way, your first goal is to get the lead, and only then do you try to make the sale.

Before we get to what to do at every step along the way, let’s look at…

The principles that make multi-step marketing so effective…

When you understand the foundational principles behind an approach, it becomes easier to make sure you implement it for the best results.  So let’s cover those before we go any deeper…

Principle #1: You want to make every step toward the sale to be as easy and painless for your prospects as possible.

If you want maximum conversion rates, you should minimize the friction of each step toward the sale.  What do I mean?  Well, there’s more friction in paying for something than there is in entering an email address.  There’s more friction in buying something without a guarantee than there is in buying something where the risk-reward is totally in your favor.  And so on.  You want it to be as easy as possible for your prospects to take their next step — while still also making sure you’re always moving them toward the desired outcome.

Principle #2: More cheese, less whiskers.

Dean Jackson gets all the credit for the metaphor here.  Mice are genetically attracted to cheese, and repelled by whiskers.  If you want a mouse to follow you, use cheese.  If you want them to run away, show them cat whiskers.  Sure, it’s a simplification, and your prospects aren’t mice.  But the principle applies.  Your prospects are attracted to VALUE, and they’re repelled by PRESSURE.  Education related to your offer (but not about your offer itself) is cheese to your prospect.  Going straight for the sale rather than helping them make their purchasing decision is whiskers.

Principle #3: Once you’ve established a relationship of giving value, it’s easier for your prospect to buy from you.

People buy from people they know, like, and trust.  So your goal throughout the marketing and selling process must be to first become known, liked, and trusted by your prospect.  You do this by educating them along the path to the purchasing decision — delivering them value first.  Once you’ve established yourself as a trusted advisor, it becomes a much smaller leap for you to recommend they do business with you.

So — how do you implement a multi-step marketing campaign?

Let me break down the steps or checkpoints of the get the lead, then make the sale two-phase process above.

First, you decide where you’re going to connect with your market…

Where is it easy and economical to reach your target market?  Are we talking Facebook?  AdWords?  In-person at trade shows?  In the local newspaper?  Targeted direct mail?  In some other media?

Figure out where you can effectively put a message in front of your target market.  This requires you to get crystal clear on who you’re targeting.  Then, to figure out the best way to reach them.

Then, make a value-only offer…

Your initial contact with your prospect must NOT be about making the sale.  Instead, consider what you can offer them that they would be interested in if they were in the earliest phases of a buying decision.

What questions does someone have as they experience the problem your offer will solve for them?  What answers are they trying to get that will eventually lead them to your product?

If these are very closely-linked to your product’s core promise, the sales cycle will likely be short, but you will limit yourself to the smaller segment of the market that is closest to buying.

If they are broader but still relevant, you’ll capture more of the market, but you’ll likely have a long sales cycle as you walk them through the decision-making process that will lead to the purchase.

Either way, your offer here is pretty straightforward.  You make an offer for some kind of information related to the product, and give them a way to get it, such as giving their email address.

Next, deliver the promised value…

Now that you have their trust and attention, you MUST respect it by delivering what you promised.

Whatever information you promised in the previous step must be fulfilled here.

This can be delivered in the form of a book, a report, a webinar, an email mini-course, a video mini-series on the topic…  The format options are vast.  Pick whatever works best for you, and deliver the value.

If you are selling services, you probably want to focus on the what to do aspect of your services.  They will ultimately come to you because of your expertise on how to do it.

If you’re selling a product, you’ll probably explain what it does somewhat generically as a solution to the problem, setting up buying criteria that will later favor your product.

Then, pitch…

Once you’ve fulfilled your value promise, the leads who are still with you have gotten to know you a little bit.  Because you fulfilled the value you promised, they likely even like and trust you.

With that, you can now move into the presentation of your product or service as a superior solution to their problem.

Here you’re more concerned with positioning the product as the ideal solution, rather than closing the sale.

You’re continuing to deliver value, by educating them as to why your solution will get them the results they’re looking for better than any other option available to them.

Ultimately, your goal is to have them ready to purchase before you actually make the offer itself.

That’s when you make a low-threshold offer…

Once you’ve already established your product or service as the ideal solution, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to try it out.

Maybe they submit an application for a free consultation, if you’re selling services.

Maybe you have a trial or demo, if you’re selling software.

If you have some other product, maybe there’s a risk-free trial period, backed up by a 100% money-back guarantee.

No matter what you’re selling, you want to make it as risk-free and obligation-free as possible for them to move forward and actually commit to the purchase.

The less final their decision feels today, the easier it is for them to make it.  Even if you’re asking them to invest thousands of dollars, or commit to regular payments stretching out over months or years, you want to make it feel like they have an out if they’re not totally satisfied.

Finally, make sure you follow-up…

Everything up to this point can be done as two-step marketing.  You can make a value-only offer, and when someone responds and becomes a lead, you can deliver the value, pitch your product, and make a low-threshold offer all in one go.

Even so, direct marketers found out a long time ago that people who didn’t respond to that first pitch were often primed to respond to a second, or third, or tenth.  So rather than keep trying to find new leads (or, in addition to keeping trying to find new leads), they’d send out more and more “touches” until it was no longer profitable.

Today, the cost of communication has gone through the floor.  Which means each subsequent touch can have an incremental cost of almost nothing — especially online.  This means the amount of contacts that you can have that will remain profitable are almost limitless.

When I sold high-end IT training, I was still following up with people for the 28th time when I finally moved on from that job.  A $30,000 purchase order was worth yet another “just thinking of you” email, I thought.  And I consistently got those purchase orders, when others did not.

If someone was considering a purchse 6, 12, even 18 months ago, odds are they were going to buy from someone.  But most people contemplate decisions for a long time before making them.  It’s only by following up that you can stay on top of them up to the point where they’re ready to purchase.  And if you’ve been delivering value along the way to help them make that purchasing decision, you’re likely to be the one who gets the sale.

Nearly every major marketing “system” has been a variation on this core strategy…

I could point to just about any guru, just about any system they’ve pitched, and show you how it is, at its core, a variation on this strategy.

Does that mean they’re less valuable?  Absolutely not!  Rather, it shows just how valuable it is to understand the strategy underneath.

That way, you can approach each strategy with a grounding in what makes it work, and use the specifics others have unlocked to create even bigger breakthroughs!

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr