There are two online business models that you might be following or have heard about. One is a Consulting Business model; the other is an Online Teaching Business model. They are quite different, but you may be able to apply elements of both of them in your business, depending on your goals and the kind of clients you want to work with.
However, it is important to realise that if you want to be just a consultant, you do not need to do the same marketing as someone who sells online courses or programs!
What Kind Of Online Business Do You Have?
If you have a consulting business you are working with clients on a one-to-one basis.
Consulting refers to you offering a high-level working arrangement with a key group of clients; this could be consulting, group coaching, training, or one-to-one premium coaching. It could also be a mastermind group and cover services such as web design, marketing, launches, advertising, design, VA, Admin, HR, as well as consulting. The key is that you are working directly with your clients.
You will have a small number of clients that you work with at any one time, and you invest a lot of time into building each working relationship and delivering each project. For example, when I work with clients on a one-to-one basis to do done-for-you marketing support, build funnels or ads, this is a consulting service, because I cannot work effectively with hundreds of clients like this. I can only work with a select few as it requires a high investment of time in order to deliver each project to a high standard.
Online Teaching Business
An online teaching business, on the other hand, is quite different. Here you package your expertise, your experience and your skills into online programs.
Online programs or courses can be completely standalone, such as an E-course, where someone just buys the course and works through it at their own pace with no involvement from you. Or they can be more supportive programs, where you also provide weekly Q&A calls or offer help and support through a Facebook group or online forum community, but you are not as heavily involved with delivering the program and supporting clients, as when working one-to-one.
Following this business model, you would need a lot more clients to achieve a high-level income, especially when selling low-price E-courses. At say $100 per course you would need to sell thousands of courses per year to become a six or seven figure business owner. If your courses and programs were priced higher, at say $1000, then you would need to sell 10-20 per month, but to do so you would still need to get a lot more leads into your pipeline in order to get the same conversion rates.
Compare this to just looking for two new clients per month who would each pay you $5000. This is where the differences line up between the two different business models.
If you are thinking of running an online business you need to know which online business model you prefer. Do you want to run an online consulting business where you use online marketing and online systems to get consulting clients? Do you want to run an online teaching business where you bulk-sell online courses, programs and other online products or memberships sites? Or do you want to run an online E-commerce business where you sell actual physical products through websites?
Online Product Business
E-commerce, for example, could be like Amazon. You could launch your own line of mugs, t-shirts, jumpers, card decks, or actual physical books, that you have to ship out.
All these examples of E-commerce business models require a different marketing strategy. Tell me in the comments which of the models do you follow in your business? Are you running a consulting business or a teaching business? Or maybe your business incorporates elements of each model? Perhaps you are consulting and also selling E-courses to top up your income and leverage your time more effectively?
Combining the two business models is a good approach; there may be times when you do not want to or are not able to work on a one-to-one basis with any consulting or coaching clients, but you would still have a steady income stream through the sales of your online products.
Marketing Strategies: Consulting Business
If you are running a consulting business and only need a small number of clients you do not need to invest as much time and money into mass marketing and promotions. Your marketing efforts can be built simply through relationships and online networking.
You can connect with people in Facebook groups, or through your social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you are in the B2B industry LinkedIn is a great opportunity for you to start building those connections!
The key here is that you have an ongoing campaign that is constantly generating a small number of leads, and then nurturing those leads to the point that they are ready to work with you and invest in your premium consulting or coaching package.
How to Get Leads
There are several ways in which you can use social media to generate leads.
Firstly, you could post on your social media profiles and in Facebook groups where you could talk about common challenges that your ideal clients will be facing in their life, in their business, in their career. You could then share results from your clients and how you have helped them overcome those challenges. Other social media users will engage with your posts, whether they like them, or comment them or share them, their engagement will help increase your reach.
Your next action is to personally connect with people that have engaged with your posts; thank them for liking, commenting or sharing them. You could ask them if it is something that they might be interested in, and if they are, then you can go on to ask them for direct online contact, like a Skype call, to learn more about the challenges they are facing and discuss how you could help them.
If you keep following this process of connecting with people on social media you will start receiving some replies; then you can start a conversation, offer some advice or tips, maybe send them your free resource that you have available already for people with this common problem or challenge. And then invite them to book an appointment with you to have a discovery call.
When they attend the discovery call, either they will buy or not buy.
So, if they buy, then great, you have just secured a premium client.
If they do not buy, you could put them in your CRM system, and then follow up with them on a regular basis until they are ready to buy.
This often works for me; I have secured several clients many months or even years after we first connected. When they first heard about me it was not the right time for them to work with me, but because I stayed on their radar, and we kept in touch, we kept talking, when they were ready to step up and take the leap, I was their go-to person because they had got to like, know and trust me over time.
They were ready to invest and work with me directly.
Create Valuable Posts
Create valuable social media posts that provide useful insights; share a case study or a testimonial from one of your clients, or offer a freebie to download as a strategy to constantly generate new leads to talk to one-to-one.
You could use multiple social media platforms to share your posts: LinkedIn, Facebook, Facebook groups, Twitter – obviously your messages will be a lot shorter on Twitter, but it is a great fast-paced platform. You could also use Google+ or post blogs on other websites. If you are a member of any forums or other online communities, you could share your posts and blogs there too.
Do Not Direct Promote
The key is that your posts are not directly promotional, so you are not saying something like:
“This client just worked with me and we achieved this as a result. This is the transformation they have generated.”
And then going on to say, “So, if you want this and that, then click here to book a time,” or “click here to buy” or, “click here to go to my website.”
This would be self-promotional.
Instead, you want to be sharing something useful, like a tip on “how to get the body of your dreams” or “how to lose ten pounds”. Or share a case study of a client who followed your fitness routine and reduced their back pain, or a client who followed your meal plan and managed to stop their blood pressure medication due to their improved health, or perhaps someone followed your one-to-one program and now their children are super well behaved.
Whatever it is, share your case studies or testimonials, but not by saying “do this, go here, buy here.”
You are just providing some useful insights and examples which people will relate to and engage with. You can then start reaching out to them one-to-one and form the know, like and trust factor to build those relationships.
Yes, It Is Time-Consuming, But…
You might think “isn’t it just easier to post something automatically, or run a Facebook ad?”
Firstly, this method is a lot more effective than just running ads. And secondly, it doesn’t cost you anything.
Furthermore, if you are just starting up your consulting or coaching business, you can use this approach to get your first five to ten clients without investing in Facebook ads, without having a super glamorous website, without building massive funnels and creating hundreds of products, programs and courses. You can start getting your business out there, you can start building relationships, connecting with people, getting clients and getting income without investing in all this fancy marketing.
It is a lot easier for you as a solopreneur. It is less costly and it is also less risky because you are not investing as much upfront in testing your idea and making sure you can get clients and generate sales.
This is the strategy I would recommend if you are purely a consulting business and you want to get clients.
Marketing Strategies: Online Teaching Business
If you are running an online teaching business then usually you will be looking to get clients in big numbers. You will be launching a course, and you do not want to have just five people buy the course, you want to have tens and hundreds of people buy it.
Similarly, if you have an online program, you do not want just a couple of people to join your program, you want tens and hundreds of people to join.
Or if you have a membership site, you do not want to create content on a weekly or monthly basis if you only have three paying members, you want to have the numbers there to support your efforts.
For your online training business to be successful you need to have constantly high numbers of buyers of your courses, membership sites, or online programs.
In order to get high numbers of buyers, you first need to generate high numbers of leads into your sales funnel which you can then convert into clients. To generate high numbers of leads, it is going to be extremely difficult for you to build those leads through only one-to-one relationships, especially if you are trying to sell something like a $97 E-course.
This is where automated marketing, funnels and online systems really come into play. You need to start automating lead generation, conversion, engagement and product delivery because you are working with a large number of clients and leads.
Doing it one-to-one is just going to be completely crazy and it will take up all your time.
If you are running an online teaching business where you share courses, programs and memberships sites, this is where you need to build those funnels. You could have your freebie at the top, which generates interest from the marketplace; then, as people sign up for your freebie, they get to the next stage in your funnel where you start building relationships and engage with those people in order to convert them into sales.
As people become engaged, they get to like, know and trust you; then they will buy your products and go further down the funnel to the next level.
Then you can stack several funnels on top of each other, so you can have your first funnel, which may be selling this $97 course or program, and then you can have your next funnel on top where you would sell say $297-$497 courses. Then, you can have a higher level again where you would sell say a $997- $2997 course. Finally, for those customers who have completed all your courses, perhaps you could offer to work one-to-one with them as a premium online coaching/consulting business.
If you structure your business this way, then yes, you need to have traffic generation methods like Facebook ads in order to generate high numbers of leads. You need to have lead capture pages and marketing automation systems like Ontraport or Infusionsoft or Active Campaign. You need to have shopping cart systems so that you can process payments automatically online. You need to be able to deliver the content either through a membership site or through secure member download pages.
You need to have those various funnels stacked up and track all your metrics so you really know what is working. Once you start working with large numbers in terms of leads and investment into getting those leads, you want to really understand clearly what kind of marketing works for you and what is not working.
Spending on Ads
Is it better to invest more money into cheap ads which generate more leads, or is it better to invest more money into expensive ads which generate fewer leads, but of a higher quality, with more of those leads converting into clients?
You always need to be clear.
Is it better to invest $1000 for ads that are going to generate 1000 leads, but only 5 leads will buy?
- $1000 investment >> 1000 leads ($1/lead) >> 5 sales x $100 = $500
Or, is better to invest $1000 on an ad that is going to generate 500 leads, but 100 leads will buy?
- $1000 investment >> 500 leads ($2/lead) >> 100 sales x $100 = $10,000
Obviously, your chance to get a buyer with the first ad is less than with the second, although the initial cost to your business of getting the lead with the second ad is a lot more expensive ($1 vs $2 per lead).
In order for you to really understand your own metrics you need to have good reporting systems and analytics in place.
Use a CRM System
When you are building relationships in a one-to-one consulting business, you do not need to worry as much about those analytics and numbers. You could just have a simple Excel spreadsheet where you list all the people that you started conversations with, where those conversations went, and if you need to follow them up. Or you could use a simple CRM system.
In my business, I use Capsule CRM, but there are also others such as Zoho and Insightly, which can help you track those conversations that you had with prospects, log if they converted into buyers, if not, when you need to follow up, and also the outcomes of your previous email exchanges and conversations.
So, if you do follow up with someone in six months, you can review what has been said previously, and then you can resume the conversation from the point at which you left it.
Understand YOUR Business
If you want your business to be a combination of a consulting/coaching business AND an online teaching business, this is where you need to clearly understand which part of your marketing supports which part of your business.
If you have a funnel that generates tons of leads, are those leads for your teaching business, or are you trying to generate leads for your premium consulting service? The way that you generate your leads will be quite different depending on the kind of product or service you want to sell.
Are you are trying to stack multiple funnels on top of each other with a different balance of courses and programs and premium coaching and consulting on top? You need to understand your funnel clearly: if you have leads on this level, did they buy? Then what happens next to them? Will they go to the next level of promotion regardless of whether they buy the first product? Or, do they have to invest in this first product before you take them up the funnel to the next level?
That is where this strategy element really needs to be taken holistically. It’s not just about your Facebook ads, social media, website, or your SEO keywords. You need to look at the whole picture of what you are trying to achieve, clarify the different products and services that you want to sell, and how this all fits together in one unique online business.
It may seem complicated with all these different strategies that you need to implement in order to be successful, when actually, it can be made a lot simpler and a lot easier!
There are a lot of misconceptions about having an online business because, as you can see, you can do all sorts of different things online and you can still be classed as an “online business”. That is why it is so important to understand the exact type of online business you want to run, or are already running, in order to have the right strategy to support your growth to the next level.
I’m here to help. Feel free to book a free Marketing Discovery call with me to discuss your specific business requirements, challenges and how they can be addressed in the most cost-effective way.