It’s not enough to have a great product.
As Gabriel Weinberg, the founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo, put it in the book he co-authored with Justin Mares, “Traction”:
“Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have are enough customers.”
So the question is this:
How can you get your product in front of your potential customers?
Today we are going to discuss four proven marketing strategies that will help you do exactly that…
Including the one that our founders used to get ClickFunnels off the ground!
#1 Cold Email
Paul Graham is one of the co-founders of the startup Y-Combinator which is known for alumni like Reddit, Airbnb, Stripe, and others.
His essay “Do Things that Don’t Scale” is now considered a classic piece of startup advice.
Graham argues that “startups take off because the founders make them take off” and encourages entrepreneurs to do things that don’t scale to get their businesses off the ground.
And what is the most common unscalable thing that founders have to do when they are just starting out? Manually recruit users.
“Nearly all startups have to. You can’t wait for users to come to you. You have to go out and get them,” he explains.
Now, there’s no denying that cold outreach can be scary, but there’s also no way of getting around the fact that it’s the most straightforward way to acquire users. It’s also the fastest one.
Justin McGill, the founder of LeadFuze search engine for leads, grew his company to $30,000 in monthly recurring revenue in just one year with cold email outreach.
Here’s the QVC formula that he used in his cold emails:
- Question. “Most people try to lead in with some sort of introduction and this just tips off the prospect that they don’t know you. Instead, try to lead in with a question that pertains to your business.”
- Value Proposition. “This is where everyone gets it wrong.Instead of going on and on about how great your service is and ALL that you offer, try to get the core message out and highlight what makes you unique.”
- Call-to-Action (CTA). “Don’t end the email weakly, with a “Look forward to hearing from you” type closing. Instead, ask directly if they can speak in the next few days OR give them some sort of closing question that begs an answer in order to elicit some sort of response.”
Here a sample cold email:
Justin also advises giving the recipient a way to opt-out from the follow-up emails:
Note that the cold email is just the start, once you send it you need to follow up… And then keep following up.
Justin notes that you shouldn’t just “check in”, you want to provide additional value in each subsequent email.
Here’s a follow-up strategy that LeadFuze has seen a lot of success with:
- QVC Email.
- Case Study.
- Value Add (recent blog post link, relevant news article, another case study, etc).
- Break-up Email (letting them know you won’t be following up anymore).
How many emails should you send?
“It is ultimately up to you. As long as you can bring some sort of value to each email, there isn’t any reason why you should stop. Especially if you feel your solution will truly help them. You have an obligation at that point!”
Don’t hesitate to use cold email outreach in your business. You can start by experimenting with Justin’s approach. See if it works for your company.
Also, if you are selling a product that is priced at $10,000 – $50,000 per year, you may want to check out Jordan Crawford’s article on what he calls pain-based cold email.
It’s an extremely effective approach to cold outreach but it also requires a ton of customer research, so it only makes sense for products where the price point is high enough to justify it.
#2 Content Marketing
Content marketing is about building trust with your potential customers by providing valuable information for free.
That way, when they feel ready to purchase a solution to the problem that your product solves, your company will be the first one that will come to their minds.
Blogging can help you attract organic search traffic from Google.
However, you need to approach it the right way, otherwise, you may end up writing endless blog posts without any sales to show for it.
Surprisingly, the strategy that he used to grow his blog this fast wasn’t new, in fact, it’s been around for over a decade at this point:
“While you can read about a ton of fancy “hacks” and shiny new tools, there are fundamental principles that have not changed when it comes to SEO and blogging.
- Content and links.
- Content and links.
- Content and links.
This has remained unchanged for the last 10+ years.”
So if you want to build a popular blog, then you need to focus on:
That’s how Adam Enfroy grew his blog from zero to 178,021 monthly users in just one year (88.7% of his traffic was organic Google traffic).
Just remember that all traffic isn’t made equal. You don’t want to attract just anyone, you want to attract your potential customers. Always keep that in mind when you are doing keyword research.
YouTube is another great way to get the attention of your potential customers.
Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, has grown his channel from zero to 413k subscribers.
His video “How to Start (And Grow) a YouTube Channel in 2021”is jam-packed with valuable tips:
Here’s a quick overview of Brian’s advice:
- Make sure that your channel looks professional. You want to pay attention to your channel banner, your channel icon, and your About page.
- Target specific keywords that a lot of people are searching for. You can discover them by using YouTube autocomplete. When you search for something on YouTube, you get keyword suggestions. These are the popular keywords that you want to target.
- Plan your videos. Either use a word-for-word script or have a video outline. Don’t speak off the cuff unless you truly are a natural on camera.
- Optimize your videos for SEO. Include the target keyword in your video title, use it 2-3 times in your description, and use keyword-rich tags.
- Get more comments. Videos with a lot of comments tend to outrank videos with fewer comments. Give people multiple-choice questions in your videos (e.g. “Which technique from the video are you going to use first?”). Use pinned comments where you ask viewers a question. Reply to as many comments as you can.
- Get more subscribers. Focus 100% on quality, not quantity (Brian himself only has 42 videos at the time of writing). Optimize your end screen for subscribers by adding a subscribe button to it.
- Increase session time. Use a “Next Video” on your end screen (link to a video that is relevant to the one they just watched). Instead of organizing your playlist around topics, organize them around outcomes and benefits (e.g. instead of a “Healthy Dessert Recipes” playlist have a “Lose Weight Without Cutting Out the Dessert” playlist).
Watch Brian’s video and implement his tips. It will help you grow your YouTube channel much faster than you would have otherwise.
You can also build an audience with podcasting.
Here are some takeaways:
- Stay consistent. Initially, Noah set a goal of getting 100,000 downloads per episode, but he didn’t even get close. So he gave up… And lost most of his audience! A goal that he found helpful was to commit to releasing one episode per week. “I promise you, it will get really boring, you will want to give up. And the way to win at podcasting is to be consistent with it.”
- Create compelling titles. Podcast titles are extremely important. Noah spends 20-30 minutes on the title of each podcast. He recommends coming up with 10 title ideas for each episode and then picking the best one. You can also go back and edit the title later if you come up with something better.
- Promote your podcast. Noah used an example that you may be familiar with. Joe Rogan does several-hour-long podcasts, but he also releases the most interesting clips on YouTube. You should do the same by creating podcast clips and promoting them to your email list and on social media. That way, someone might check out a clip, then decide to listen to the whole thing, which they may not have done otherwise.
- Be a guest on other podcasts. The most effective way to grow your podcast is to appear on other podcasts. When you reach out to the podcast host, make it easy for them to say yes. Pitch something that they will want to discuss on their show.
- Tap into different audiences. Noah’s audience is people starting marketing businesses but he has appeared on a variety of podcasts in categories ranging from fitness to cooking. Why? “Because there are people in those categories that are interested in starting a marketing business”. So what other audiences you can tap into to attract new listeners?
There’s more good stuff in the video, so watch it and then apply Noah’s advice to your own podcast.
#3 Email Marketing
Email marketing is probably the most effective form of online marketing there is.
In fact, according to the Data & Marketing Association, the average estimated return on each £1 spent on email marketing is £35.41.
That’s why it makes sense to invest in building and nurturing your email list.
Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is something that you give away for free in exchange for the potential customer’s email address.
It can be anything that they can either download to their device or access online:
- An ebook.
- A report.
- A cheat sheet.
- A checklist.
- An email course.
- A video course.
However, if you want your lead magnet to be effective, you need to make sure that it:
- Offers a solution to a problem that your potential customers are struggling with.
- Provides a TON of value.
It’s best to approach creating your lead magnet the same way that you would approach creating a paid product.
Ideally, you want your lead magnet to be so valuable that if you were to charge money for it, people would happily pay you.
Optimize Your Website
Once you have an irresistible lead magnet, you need to be proactive about promoting it.
This starts with optimizing your website for email sign-ups:
- Add a feature box to your homepage.
- Create a separate page for your lead magnet and add it to the navigation bar.
- Add opt-in forms to your About page.
- Add content upgrades to your blog posts.
- Have an opt-in form at the end of each blog post.
- Use exit-intent pop-ups.
You need to take advantage of every opportunity to get email subscribers if you are serious about building your email list.
Also, if your lead magnet is truly valuable, then why wouldn’t you promote it as much as you can?
Consistently Provide Value
Once you have a potential customer’s email address, you need to nurture that relationship by consistently providing value.
Those days when people got excited when they saw a new message in their inbox are long gone. Now everyone is overwhelmed by the amount of email they get.
That means that you need to earn your place in a potential customer’s inbox with each and every email that you send.
You can do that by:
- Helping them solve problems that they are struggling with.
- Sharing links to content which they may find interesting (articles, podcasts, videos, etc.).
Ideally, even your sales emails should provide some free value, so that people who aren’t interested in your offer would still get something out of them.
#4 Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing allows you to promote your product by tapping into other people’s audiences. This is especially helpful when you are just starting out.
Nathan Barry, the founder of ConvertKit ($2.24 million in monthly recurring revenue at the time of writing), launched an affiliate program when their monthly recurring revenue was around $20k.
They offered a 30% recurring commission each month because the company didn’t have enough cash for upfront payments.
ConvertKit’s affiliate program was a huge success because it was such a great fit for their target audience.
As Nathan explained in his Indie Hackers interview:
“That worked exceptionally well because bloggers — our target market — are used to using affiliate programs to generate revenue.
Also, if a small business owner loves your product they might tell 2-3 friends. But if a blogger loves your product, they’ll tell 20,000 readers! So we had a very natural distribution path built in.”
Later on, ConvertKit also started hosting webinars with their affiliates, which not only got them more users but also grew their email list.
Of course, not every company is as well-positioned to take advantage of affiliate marketing as ConvertKit was, but it’s probably safe to say that you can increase your revenue with this strategy, especially if you are being proactive about it.
When Todd Dickerson and Russel Brunson launched ClickFunnels, they used affiliate marketing to get the company off the ground.
Russel aimed to do 5-7 webinars a week with various affiliate partners which allowed him to reach large audiences.
Sometimes he’d end up doing 2-3 webinars in one day to get the software in front of people who may be interested in it.
One year after launch, ClickFunnels was already generating $10 million in annual revenue, so all this relentless promotion paid off.
The lesson here is that if you want to get the most out of affiliate marketing, you need to be proactive about it.
It’s not enough to just announce your affiliate program and then wait for people to sign up for it and start selling your product for you.
You need to go out there, find affiliate partners, and host webinars with them.
And sure, that will require a ton of work…
But the potential rewards can be huge, as shown by the ClickFunnels story.
You have probably heard the saying:
“Build it and they will come.”
Well, you should purge this idea from your mind, because it’s not at all how it works.
It should be more like:
“Build it, then relentlessly promote it, and then they will come”.
So get out there and start promoting your product.
Just keep in mind that great marketing is not enough.
You also need a system for converting potential customers into leads, leads into paying customers, and paying customers into repeat customers.
Our co-founder, Russel Brunson, has created such a system. It’s called the Value Ladder sales funnel. Want to learn more about it?
Our 5 Day Challenge will show you exactly how to implement it in your business.
You will learn how to:
- Generate unlimited leads.
- Create your first lead magnet.
- Build your first sales funnel.
- Create a simple 6-email follow-up sequence.
- And launch your funnel!
…in just five days.
So don’t hesitate.