Raise your hand high right now if you dream of more automation, easier customer nurturing systems and more passive income in your business.
Good. Now that I have everyone's attention (because let's face it, I've never met anyone in the online space who didn't want at least ONE of those things, and most of you want them all) let's talk about what it takes to get there - and the biggest mistakes people make in trying to get there.
And a big old disclaimer before we go any further: I believe all businesses are unique and all take different paths to where they’re going. Which means what you see below is the typical path I see my clients taking to get from where they are to where they want to be. Which is also the path I'm taking myself.
But know there are a million ways to get there: some entrepreneurs will go fast, some slow. Some will skip a step when it makes sense, others will add mini-steps between these big steps.
Even more of you will stop somewhere along the way because you don't want to take your particular business all the way to step 4.
Those are all totally great options. What I'm sharing below is a framework to think through how to get from 1:1 services to a passive business. How you customize the framework to your individual business and desires is completely up to you.
Why A Roadmap
I developed this roadmap for my clients because while I heard them all saying they wanted to add more automation and passive income into their businesses, they didn't know how to to do it.
And worse, they were trying to copy what they saw the most polished automated marketers doing without realizing the evolution those companies and personalities had to go through in order to systemize their businesses into the automation machines they are today.
Which means my clients were trying to leap straight from a new offering to a polished, sophisticated marketing machine in one swoop. Their strategy looked something like this:
And, not surprisingly, it wasn't working for them. At all.
Enter the Roadmap.
After seeing too many of these case studies, and wanting to accelerate my own growth without falling into the same traps my clients were, and not finding anyone else who was sharing this information publicly, I decided to break down the path all the successful online marketers were taking.
The end result of that process is my Client Attraction System Roadmap, your step-by-step guide to gracefully transitioning from 1:1, manual marketing, selling and delivering to systems that effortlessly attract your best clients.
Keep reading to learn how to move your business through the 4 steps, and the tech and resources you need to make them happen.
Step 1: Realizing You Want More Than 1:1 Work
Most of you enter the Roadmap in Step 1: you're selling, marketing and working in a 1:1 relationship with your clients. This might mean custom graphic design, 1:1 coaching or consulting or freelancing.
At this stage you're happy to have a business of your own established outside of the confines of the traditional 9-to-5, but you've also realized that the 1:1 model doesn't exactly give you the time and money freedom you've been dreaming of.
And while you may have started with a 1:1 model for a bunch of reasons (typical ones being that it's the easiest and fastest way to start a business, or because automated selling felt scammy or not genuine) you've come to realize it might be something you're interested in pursuing.
You've seen others do it authentically, and you've realized you don't want to continue trading your time for dollars.
This is what Step 1 looks like:
When you think about moving past Step 1 you have absolutely NO IDEA of how to actually make it happen, and your goal is to simply wrap your head around what an automated marketing and product delivery system might look like for you, and to start implementing baby steps to make it happen.
step 1 action steps:
- Choose an email provider (see tech recommendations at the end of this post) and start building an email list of your current clients and prospects
- Pay attention to email lists you’re on, and recognize when you’re in an automated sequence and how you (probably) don’t mind being in that automated sequence because it's providing you value
- Pay close attention to the clients you're serving 1:1 and take notes on the questions you answer over and over, the common issues they're all struggling with, and the biggest wins and a-ha's they experience while working with you. You'll come back to these notes in later steps to determine the topics you should be addressing in your automated and passive products.
Step 2: Group Programs and Basic Sales Funnels
As you move from Step 1 to Step 2 you're realizing with certainty that 1:1 work isn't the direction you want to go long term, and that you do have all the skills and knowledge you already need to deliver results for clients in a more efficient and affordable way.
At this stage you're not quite ready to deliver fully automated, passive courses but you are ready to take your 1:1 services and deliver them in a small group setting.
Doing this helps you start to automate your teaching and delivery methods since you have to get everyone in the group working in the same direction at the same time, but since it's live and small group you also have the freedom to switch things up if you want to in order to get better results for your clients.
Step 2 is all about starting to translate what works in your 1:1 relationships into something that can work for more than one person at a time.
Pro-Tip: If you're on a fast track and learning and implementing quickly, this is the stage you're most likely to skip to move directly from Step 1 to Step 3.
THIS IS WHAT STEP 2 LOOKS LIKE:
When you're in Step 2 you're focused on basic automation: welcoming prospects to your world via automated list generation and email campaigns (as opposed to having to individually connect with everyone) and systemizing what's working 1:1 to work in a group setting.
step 2 action steps:
- Add some basic marketing automations (prime example: an email welcome series when people first subscribe to your list) to help people get to know you without having to talk to you live.
- Commit to list building – you actively research and create the kinds of freebies/lead magnets that will attract your right kind of customer without a bunch of manual work on your part.
- Use the notes about what works in your 1:1 relationships (the ones you gathered in Step 1) to create systemized ways to structure and deliver a consistent experience that can deliver the same results when consumed in a group setting as opposed to 1:1.
- Add in the tech you need to support list building and email auto-responders (see tech recommendations at the end of this post for ideas).
Step 3: Adding Automation and Passive Products
Now that you've perfected the live group experience and can get your group clients the same level of results as your 1:1 clients achieve, it's time to take it a step further and translate your live group experience into a passive course delivery that doesn't require your continual live presence.
You do this the same way you translated your 1:1 service to your group offer: look at what works the best for your group offer and translate it into videos, worksheets and other tools that can be shared passively.
And, while you're doing that, continue to build and prime your email list so you have a group of eager customers ready to go as soon as you're ready to release your program.
THIS IS WHAT STEP 3 LOOKS LIKE:
Step 3's all about translating your live group program a step further into a passive course, and building the audience eager and ready to jump into that course.
step 3 action steps:
- Choose your course topic by taking the information you’ve gathered about what got the best results for your customers (both 1:1 and in your live groups). This will ensure your course topic is both relevant to your audience (because your customers found it relevant enough to implement) AND that it works (because they got results from it).
- Re-work that automated email welcome series you've been using to help leads get to know you into a welcome series that now serves 2 purposes: 1) helps people get to know you and what you're all about AND 2) primes them for a passive course purchase.
- Actually create your course content and get the tech in place to deliver it. (Not sure how? Check out my tech resources below for my recommended systems to build your course with, and for courses to check out yourself if you need help figuring out how to actually build your course).
Step 4: Full Passive Automation
Before we dive into Step 4, full passive automation, I want to again remind you that you don't HAVE to bring your business all the way to full passive automation. Lots of entrepreneurs I know prefer to stop at Step 3 because while they want some automation built into their businesses, they also prefer to maintain some regular and live connection with clients.
Totally ok. It's all up to you. Always.
But if you do want to take your business fully automated, Step 4 is where you make that happen. In this final step you're focused on building on what you learned in Step 3 when you rolled out your first passive course so you can perfect your automated sales funnel that leads to that course, add additional funnels that feed into the same course, while add additional products to your portfolio.
THIS IS WHAT STEP 4 LOOKS LIKE:
Ready to make this happen? Here's what Step 4, full automation, looks like.
step 4 action steps:
- You've perfected that first sales funnel you created in Step 3 for your first course. It converts prospects to customers efficiently and predictably.
- Because you have one funnel that works you understand how to build other funnels that will work, so you begin adding either additional funnels that feed the same product (maybe with a different opt-in that attracts slightly different, yet still perfect, customers for your same original product) OR you create additional products to offer your current customers. Or maybe a combo of both.
- Your tech is on point and fully automated and efficient (see below for my best tech recommendations).
Let’s Talk Tech (i.e. Automation Made Easy)
At this point you may be thinking that the steps listed above sound all fine and good, but you have no idea how to make them happen tech-wise. I get it, I totally get it. When I first started helping clients with this and designing my own tech it was overwhelming for me too.
That's why I took the time to compile this list of my favorite tech to help you make your own tech decisions. It'll also help you move (alot) faster than I was able to when I had to start from scratch to figure it all out.
Of all the tech systems you need to build your business I easily spend the most time advising clients on which email system to choose. The two I recommend when you're just starting out - and that will easily scale with you - are Active Campaign and ConvertKit. Both are budget friendly when starting out (they start at $9/month and $29/month respectively) and they'll deliver robust automation tools at that price that people are used to paying hundreds of dollars a month for.
Seriously these 2 programs are relatively new to the online entrepreneur space and they are game changers when it comes to the functionality they deliver at their price points. I know it's tempting to start with MailChimp's free account, but it won't scale with you AT ALL and I highly recommend against starting here. You'll end up having to move systems within a month or 2 and that's never fun. Might as well build it right from the beginning.
As for me I currently use Active Campaign but have begun recommending that my 1:1 clients move to ConvertKit, and I'll likely be making the same move in the not-too-distant future.
A note on other systems:
When it comes to email I hear about the classic systems all the time: MailChimp and AWeber at the beginner end and Ontraport and InfusionSoft at the advanced level. I don't recommend any of these: MailChimp and AWeber haven't stayed up-to-date with functionality to deliver the kind of automation Active Campaign and ConvertKit offer at the low end of the pricing scale, and Ontraport and InfusionSoft also can't compete with Active Campaign and ConvertKit when it comes to growing and scaling. I'm a huge fan of AC and CK and there's absolutely no reason to consider any other program.
lead capture/landing page System
If you want to create passive products you need a robust email list. And in order to build that list efficiently you're going to need a lead capture system that works. I personally use - and HIGHLY recommend LeadPages as your lead capture system. If you have to use something else (and seriously, please don't, LeadPages just works and works well) you can consider the other options listed below.
OPT-INS AND POP-UPS FOR LIST BUILDING
You're going to want a robust opt-in and pop-up system to complement your lead capture software for the most efficient list building. Again I highly recommend using LeadBoxes (which come with your LeadPages subscription) for this. I personally use LeadBoxes and SumoMe (the free version) for my opt-ins and pop-ups.
Bloom (especially if you're using the Divi Wordpress theme from Elegant Themes)
You'll need a way to accept payment for your products. I recommend you offer both PayPal and credit card options for this, because research shows consumers of online products are split down the middle between preferring to pay via PayPal or credit card. And more importantly, they're not very flexible when it comes to their preference. Which means if they prefer PayPal and you don't offer it they're actually unlikely to get a credit card out and you'll lose the sale. And vice versa. Offer both and you won't miss out on business. Both are free to use and have similar per-transaction fees.
I didn't get into it much in this post (because it's a big topic that's a post - or course - in itself), but webinars are a fantastic way of growing your list and doing so fast. I love webinars and personally use WebinarJam for all of my webinars because it's easy to use and offers robust and easy-to-use features for recording, scheduling and registering your participants.
Others simply use Google Hangouts which is a free and perfectly acceptable place to start, especially if you have a LeadPages account that you can integrate it with. WebinarAlly from the lovely Nathalie Lussier is a very affordable system to start with if you're a WordPress user.
If you want to deliver passive courses you'll need a software platform to do so from. I'm a huge fan of Teachable - it's quick to set up and offers the best user experience out there - but it can also be expensive, so if you want something a little friendlier on the budget I recommend Wishlist Member or Zippy Courses to start.
Courses on Building Courses
This one's not tech, but I get a ton of questions on how to actually structure and build the course content of your course. For that I recommend David Siteman Garland's Create Awesome Online Courses course. Full disclosure I haven't taken this course myself (I didn't take any courses that specifically covered course building) but have several clients who have and rave about it - and have fantastic results from it - so I feel very comfortable recommending it.
VIDEO RECORDING & EDITING
When you're creating your course you're probably going to find yourself becoming an amateur video editor. These programs will make that as easy as possible on you.
If you're not using Teachable you'll also need a place to host the course videos your students will view through your course platform. Wistia and Vimeo Pro will both get the job done easily.
How To Implement Your Tech
Before I leave you to it I want to offer a final pep talk when it comes to actually implementing your tech: Don’t overthink this. I work with so many entrepreneurs who spend MONTHS researching the best option for all of these needs. And in turn they never end up releasing anything or making any progress on their desire to become more automated.
The absolute best choice you can make when it comes to choosing a solution in any of these categories is to make a choice.
Every choice you make is changeable down the line if absolutely necessary so don't paralyze your progress and your business by spending too much time on this. Check out my recommendations, make a choice and move on to implementing it.
The other worst mistake I see entrepreneurs make is always choosing the free or lowest cost option. Listen: you are running a business. I'm not saying the free choice isn't always the best choice (there are plenty of free choices listed in my recommendations above) but free is not always best. If it's not going to deliver your objectives (like MailChimp's free account) don't use it. Put the tech in place that you need to deliver your business. If you don't you won't grow. Bottom line.
One final note: a few of the links above are affiliate links. That means I get a small commission if you use my link to purchase the software (at no extra cost to you). Consider it a small thank you for pointing you in the right direction. Or, if you're not comfortable with it, simply type the name of the software into your google toolbar and navigate there on your own.