How do I start a marketing funnel business?

Start a marketing funnel business

The number of options available now are overwhelming, when it comes to starting a marketing funnel business.

Even starting a business in general is a lot to take in. And when you think you’ve narrowed it down to “selling marketing funnels”, you then have so many choices to make.

Do you focus on email? Landing pages? Webinars?

Do you charge per month or one off? What kinds of prices should you charge?

Then there are the routes to finding customers. Should you have a logo? What should your own website and funnel look like?

It can all seem very confusing when really, all you want to do is help businesses grow.

This post is going to help you start a profitable marketing funnel agency and focus on what’s important first.

Find your first marketing funnel customer

If you’re ready to start working with marketing funnel customers, you need a process. Even if you’ve already got funnel customers, maybe you’re looking for your next marketing funnel customer?

We’ve got some free training below, to teach you how to land customers without a portfolio, as well as the exact 15 steps we use to build marketing funnels for customers.

You don’t have to be full stack

There is a massive misconception that you have to be a “full stack” marketing agency.

Full stack means that you offer everything, to everyone. The idea is that customers will only want to work with you, if you can provide all of their needs.

We also make the mistake of thinking that the only way to compete with larger agencies, is to offer everything. When we see larger marketing businesses with SEO, website, social and email products, it’s easy to think that we’ve got to compete with them.

The truth is that larger marketing agencies are in a very different position to you. First, they’ve probably been going for 10 years+. They also have the customers ready and waiting for new products.

If you’ve spent years selling websites, it’s easier to start selling email and social because you’ve already got the customers. When you’re starting a marketing funnel business you need to be smarter than that.

Also, when you’re small, you’re agile. Larger businesses are like massive tanker ships, when you’re a speedboat. Both have different needs and agility.

You can focus on a hyper-targeted niche and offer a specific solution that the bigger businesses can’t.

How big is big? Well until you have a board and over 50 team members, you can still be hyper targeted and don’t need to think about being full stack.

Focus on profit

More funnel businesses are entering the market everyday. The concept of tying together multiple marketing disciplines, into a conversion journey, is very appealing to new entrepreneurs.

However the massive threat to your new marketing funnel business, is that with so many options, most customers will boil everything down to price.

Our key objective above all else is to be profitable, If new funnel businesses entering the market force our prices down, we have to avoid that.

And the way to avoid being hammered on price, is to choose a specific niche and focus on a core audience. Don’t be everything to everyone. Be extremely valuable to a few.

Owners don’t deliver

You have to decide as the business owner, if you’re going to deliver the projects to the customer, or if you’re going to build a small team.

As a rule, businesses where the owner delivers the results aren’t as profitable and don’t scale or grow. You don’t have to want to run a large 100 person organisation.

But you DO need to separate “owner” from “doer”. If you’re building relationships with clients, understanding their needs and offering them a solution, you can get others to help with delivery.

It also takes the pressure off you knowing everything. I’m more than happy to know, that I don’t know the most about SEO, social, paid ads, copy writing, content marketing and funnel building.

This ability to step back from having to know and do everything, is what will make running a business feel like a business. And not, like a job that you don’t get a regular salary for.

When I started my funnel business

This post is going to be a little about me, how I started my business(es) and what I’d do again if I was starting from scratch.

The temptation is going to be to buy tools, try to offer everything and trying to sell marketing funnels to customers.

Before we even start, the first rule of selling marketing funnel is – never talk about marketing funnels.

The first rule of selling marketing funnels: Don’t talk about marketing funnels

Mike Killen

Customers don’t know what they are and they don’t care. “Marketing funnel” is jargon and customers will be turned off by it. Instead, ask them about their business and how you can help.

How to start a marketing funnel business

1. Focus on one part of the marketing funnel process

Like I mentioned above, the most common mistake that new funnel builders make, is trying to offer everything.

The mistaken idea is that if you can offer more types of products and services, you’re more likely to net a customer.

This thinking will kill your business. It’s absolute poison to think you can attract more customers, by offering more products.

Businesses are defined by the markets they serve, not the products they sell.

Ryan Deiss

I understand the temptation, I really do. It’s intimidating to sit at your desk at day one and realise you have no prospects on the horizon. No leads in the pipeline AND no one know’s you exist.

Surely if you have everything on the shelf, you’ll attract more customers?

Well, yes. You might. But it takes a long time, it’s expensive and you’ll never attract leads. You’ll be forever chasing leads.

Instead, you need to write up the whole marketing funnel process, from start to finish, and pick ONE step.

Marketing funnels are a process of taking a load of people that don’t know we exist, and turning them into happy, repeat, profitable customers that recommend us to their friends.

Michael Killen. It takes a special kind of person to quote themselves.

Let’s take a look at my example here (no-optin), you can see all the options in the marketing funnel process. There’s massive crossover as well, for example the sales process shares items with the content stage.

Instead of thinking about the whole marketing funnel process, think about that quote above of mine. We’re just trying to get the attention of people that don’t know that a product, service or business exists and convert them into customers.

Specifically happy, profitable, repeat customers that refer the product, business or service to their friends.

As funnel builders, we’re concerned with the conversion. Converting people from cold traffic to warm traffic. Warm traffic to subscriber. Subscriber to lead. Lead to sale. Sale to hyper-profit customer.

There are so many stages to the process that it’s almost impossible to do all of them. Yes, some customers WILL want to work with you on every stage of the funnel. However, if you want to ATTRACT customers, then focus on ONE step.

You can deliver what you want. If you hate SEO, then don’t worry about SEO. If you like webinars and the process of attracting traffic to webinars and getting them to sign up – awesome.

Who is most suitable for that kind of conversion? Usually it’s warm traffic. So now we’re focusing on helping businesses convert warm traffic into email subscribers with webinars.

What kinds of businesses have a use for webinars? Online courses, software, SaaS. Most of them will have a scalable product. Something that can be delivered at scale.

So now, we help convert warm traffic into subscribers for scalable products using webinars.

You can keep adding to that focus, using lists like this niche list here. Become more and more specific and keep writing and re-writing the focus. Eventually it’ll become clear as to what you do and for who.

2. Decide what you’re going to charge

When you’re starting a marketing funnel business, it can seem that you’re supposed to be happy with what you get.

Beggars can’t be choosers right?!

Even if you’ve been running businesses for a long time, or if you’re brand new to the world of entrepreneurship, pricing is a prickly subject. When you start a marketing funnel business, you’ve got to do the exact opposite of what you think. You have to decide the price first.

You need to decide what you’re going to charge your customers, before you decide what you’re going to deliver. I know, this sounds counter-intuitive and a leap in the dark. If you’ve never sold a marketing funnel, how do you know what you’re going to charge?

Most marketing funnel businesses when they start, will think about the products and services that they provide. They’ll list out the features they’re going to build and then think “how much can I charge for this?”

During that process, they’ll look at what their competition are offering and what the “market rate” is. I’ve talked before about how your prices are your prices here.

In summary, you’re no more informed if you use your market and competition to price your services. It’s the blind leading the blind.

“But Mike! I’m new to this, not only do I not know how much to charge, I can’t justify a big price tag yet! I need experience first.”

Yeah…except that’s not true.

Let’s look back at point 1. Focus on one part of the whole marketing funnel process. When you focus on a niche and a specific offering, you can’t compare your service to anyone else.

You’re helping a specific audience, get a specific result or solve a specific problem, that no one else wants to serve.

That’s the definition of a niche by the way. To solve a problem or get a result, for a specific audience that no one else wants to serve.

When you’re hyper specific about your niche and offering, your price needs to increase.

Instead, what I want you to do is think about how much you’d like to make this year. What do you need to make to be comfortable? $100K? $5K per month?

This number is your income. It’s the revenue to the business. What do you want that number to be? Write it down on a piece of paper.

Now, think about how many clients you’d like to work with. Not the products or services you’d offer, not the funnels you’ll build. The number of customers you’d like to work with.

Maybe when you’re starting your marketing funnel business, you could only work with 4 clients per year. Awesome.

Maybe you want a few more so you can hire a team. 20? 30? Great!

Divide your income goal by the number of clients. That’s your price per project.

$100 000/4 clients is $25 000 per project. Write out whatever your number is. That’s your price per project.

Even if it’s 5X 10X OR 25X what you thought you’d charge, stick with that. You don’t increase your prices by starting small. Your time on the market and experience have absolutely no impact on your pricing. When businesses launch they’re supposed to have higher prices.

Your time on the market and experience have absolutely no impact on your pricing.

Mike Killen

Don’t confuse working with low quality customers, for waiting to find high quality customers. Just because 15 or 99 or 194 customers have said “that’s too expensive”, does not mean the right customer isn’t out there.

When you decide the price first, you can write out what you’d deliver for that price. I’ve got an exercise here talking about how to price a funnel like that.

Focus on finding high quality, high budget customers and ignore low value customers. Your business will never grow if you only work with customers who want a low price.

3. Don’t worry about your website

We’re naturally “doers”. Especially those that set up businesses. And in the marketing and funnel space, when you’re starting a marketing funnel business, it seems like the most important thing to start with, is your website.

Company name, logo, “brand”, social handles. All that shit. It seems like that’s what you need to get started with first and most importantly right?

Wrong. Sorry, but it’s pretty much a waste of time.

Here’s what happens. Your business needs revenue, it needs customers, sales and income. Cash flow is the LIFE of your business. Never ever ever forget that. You need to make a sale. And if you aren’t making sales, you’re losing money.

Every single activity in your business is an expense. It’s costing you money to create a website, fuck around with a logo, get the perfect name and font.

Doing all that work seems productive, but it’s really procrastination. Whenever you do work that avoids the #1 priority – you’re procrastinating. If you know that you need to make sales, and you’re doing everything you can to avoid having those conversations, you’re procrastinating.

You can give me every excuse and reason in the book. You can justify the work however you want. You can talk yourself into it over and over. But I can prove time and time again that working on the “perfect” website won’t get you sales.

All things being equal, if you and I started a funnel business on the same day, and you focused on talking to your idea client. Whereas I worked on getting my website and brand just right, you’d land a sale before me.

Your website needs 2 things. Contact form, long blog post with CTA (more on that in a bit).

I know websites with beautifully designed pages, amazing images and great looking brands. But those are expensive. They’re expensive whether you’re making money or not.

It costs you money to work on a website. You need to clearly tell people who you work with and what you get them. Logo, brand guidelines, font, all that shit can wait.

Instead, why not land a $25K customer (more than possible) and put $10K to someone else to build the site? That’s how real businesses grow. Instead, lots of people procrastinate and do the work that they should really hire someone else to do.

Right now, some people are screaming at the screen “Mike! If I’m a marketing funnel business I HAVE to have an amazing website. Customers expect it!”

Do they? How could you possibly know unless you’re talking to them. People made sales long before websites. What you’re doing is putting fear based reasoning, behind your actions.

If you talk to 10 ideal customers and every single one of them says “I won’t work with you because I want your site to be better looking” I’ll personally apologise to you.

No marketing funnel business in history has ever become successful profitable and grown because they have the best looking brand. I can’t pay my mortgage with “but my site is really beautiful”.

Beauty might win awards, but awards mean fuck all in a world where Suicide Squad has more Oscars than Shawshank Redemption. Adverts often win awards, but there is NO correlation between an award winning ad that’s very beautiful, and direct ROI.

I don’t care if my content is boring to my friends, family, colleagues, team, or audience. If it converts and makes sales, that’s what matters. I only care when my accountant gets bored of my content.

Keep the site basic. We’ll talk about what to put on your site in a minute.

4. Decide who benefits the most and how

You’ve got your focus area, you’re not going to offer all services to everyone. You’re going to specify an area that you work on.

For example:

  • You convert YouTube subscribers into email subscribers
  • You use webinars to sell online courses
  • You use email marketing to reduce refund requests
  • You convert email subscribers into first time customers

Whatever you’re going to do, you have to be clear on what the benefit is and who benefits the most. Who has a better life after buying from you and how is their life better?

Write out the specific area you work in. For the rest of this post, I’ll call this your niche.

I don’t doubt that you could help every business in the world. Given enough resources, budget and time, you could add massive value to almost every business out there.

But we can’t help everyone. You can help anyone, but you can’t help everyone. You just don’t have the bandwidth.

Choosing a niche isn’t about finding the most amount of money. It’s not a magic pit of customers, waiting ready with wads of cash in their hands.

It’s about asking WHO can you help THE MOST? If you created a product, and delivered perfect results, who would benefit the most?

Let’s take one of the examples above i.e. You use email marketing to reduce refund requests. Who would benefit the most from that mission? I’ve got two lists below. Who could you help the most?

Company A

  • 100 sales a month
  • Business age of 5 years
  • Refund rate of 5 in every 100
  • Revenue of $25 000 per month
  • Refund volume of $1250 per month

Company B

  • 100 sales a year
  • Business age of 18 months
  • Refund rate of 1 in every 100
  • Revenue of $1000 per month
  • Refund volume of $100

One of those is way more suitable than another. One of them might look easier to work with (maybe the younger one?), and more keen to buy.

However, Company A is more likely to feel the benefits of your work. Company B just isn’t making the revenue to support hiring you.

If you reduced Company A’s refund rate to just 3%, that’s $500 per month saved. That’s $6000 per year AND you can continue to work with them. One of the biggest mistakes funnel businesses make is chasing the easy sale.

A new business or a business desperate to work with you, doesn’t mean they’ll benefit from your work. They might beg to work with you, but if they can’t afford you, it’s not helping anyone.

Create a list of traits or characteristics that customers need to have, in order to benefit working with you. If you could only get paid after the client got results, what would they need to have, for you to get them great results?

If a customer has a $10 000 product, and another has a $100 product, which is going to be easier to generate $10 000 in revenue? 1 sale or 100? All businesses would benefit from working with you, but only a select few will benefit the most.

Once we’ve got a list of characteristics, we can start to see HOW they benefit. What is the better life that they’re seeing, after working with you? Obviously more money, more leads, more sales.

But let’s go deeper than that. It’s not enough to just generate income and revenue. Deep down, that’s not what motivates people or drives them. What they want is more X so they can have more Y.

Respect, love, freedom, time, opportunities. It’s specific to your customers. What are they really working towards? Why do they put so much effort into their business? What will more customers/sales/leads etc. get them?

How is their life better after getting those results? A better future, is what people are buying. They don’t buy beds, they buy a better back and a good night’s sleep.

I’ve got a video here talking about how to write great benefits for your marketing products.

How to convert marketing funnel features into benefits

When writing benefits, stop thinking about results or just the money and leads. What does someone’s day-to-day life look like after working with you? What does their future look like?

How do they feel? Are they happier? Busier? Less stressed? How do their friends and family see them? How do they see themselves?

Once you begin to write out the true benefits to working with you, it becomes easier to sell your service (hey, that’t the name of the blog).

5. Tell people who you work with

Critical: Stop telling people WHAT you do. Tell people WHO you work with.

WHO is the business type, customer type, product, characteristics or niche.

  • I work with business who have high refund rates
  • I help businesses with large YouTube followers
  • I work with online course businesses
  • I work with businesses that have low cost splinter products

Then, explain what you get for them. Not what YOU do, not what YOU deliver, what THEY get after working with you.

  • I work with business who have high refund rates to reduce their refund rates and convert refund customers into new customers
  • I help businesses with large YouTube followers to convert subscribers into email subscribers
  • I work with online course businesses who sell courses with webinars to scale their new customers on evergreen
  • I work with businesses that have low cost splinter products to generate revenue from new leads and email subscribers

It’ll be very tempting to continue telling people what you do. You might be worried that some people will say “what’s an splinter product?” or “what’s a YouTube subscriber?”

I get it all the time.

I help marketing funnel businesses attract and close 5 figure marketing funnel projects

What I do

“What the hell is a marketing funnel business?” I WANT people to ask that. I want people to ask me who I work with. If people are clear on WHO I work with, they’re far more likely to recommend me.

Focus on who you work with, how they benefit, and tell everyone you meet.

Now comes the lead generation bit. Your job is to tell everyone who you work with, so you can book calls with people who might fit that bill. Yes, it’s a grind, no it isn’t sexy. But this is how real businesses get real customers.

Email, LinkedIn, call, text, WhatsApp, messenger – whatever.

Hey Mike. I work with businesses who have high refund rates, to reduce those refunds and convert refund requests into new sales. Do you know anyone who might fit that profile?

There, you can use that message as a template. 90% of people won’t get back to you. Fine, that’s irrelevant. We just need 1 person you know, to know someone who will benefit.

Book a call, have a meeting and ask questions.

6. Write up a long blog post

“But Mike! I haven’t got a portfolio or previous customers?!”

I totally understand how you feel. You’re not the only person to say this. And what we’ve found is that a portfolio isn’t what you need.

When you’re starting out, you’re not going to have a portfolio. Instead, you need another method of demonstrating that you know what you’re talking about.

And the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to do it is to write a long from blog post.

If your mission is to help businesses with large YouTube followers to convert subscribers into email subscribers, you need to write a long blog post explaining exactly how to do that.

You’re going to give almost every step away. Every part of the process, all of the plan. You’re going to write up a long, 10 000 word blog post telling people how to do it, and give it away.

I’ve got a great video here on how to write long form blog content easily and quickly.

Creating content and a long form blog post might seem like a mammoth undertaking. Particularly if you don’t consider yourself a writer.

Even if you’ve never written a blog post before, you need to get over this roadblock. Writing a long form, high quality killer blog post WILL elevate you above your competition.

The thinking is that surely only an expert would write that much on something so specific? There’s a framework that we use here (no optin) that we teach inside our Funnel Business Gameplan.

Take your mission and use that as the title. You’re going to write out the process that you take customers on. You’re giving them the recipe. It’s scary as hell. You think you’re giving everything away. But you’re not, you’re positioning yourself as the expert.

Use the framework that we use here to create a post that positions you as the expert in your field. Follow up your calls, meetings and emails with this blog post. Share it the same way you reached out to your network earlier.

Give yourself 3 days and just get this written. Yes, it’ll feel awkward and slow. Yes, it won’t be a masterpiece at the start. But once it’s done you’ll have that forever.

When you send that to customers, they won’t ask for a portfolio. They’ll ask you for more details. The long form killer blog post is the best way to position yourself in a new market.

I’ve got a load of examples below.

7. Start carving steps

You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do

Henry Ford

Too often new funnel businesses want all the benefits of trust, reputation and experience, without building it.

What does carving steps mean? When you want to be recognised as someone who is responsible for a set of steps carved up to the top of a mountain, you’ve got to carve steps into the side of a mountain until you reach the top.

There is absolutely no shortcut. No elevator. Everyone has to take the stairs. If you want the benefit of reputation and trust, you’ve got to start building it.

It’s a long journey and it takes time. At first it’ll seem like a massive effort to do one thing over and over. But eventually you’ll produce a reputation for getting results and you’ll be known for something.

How do you get there? How do we carve those steps or build a reputation?

If you wanted to be known as the guy or girl who will carve a step into the side of a mountain every day, what do you think you’d need to do?

It’s not complex. There’s no secret. If you want to be known for X, you have to do X every day for 1000 days. That’s the secret to building a reputation. If you want to be known for being the world’s best refund reducer or splinter product sales expert – do that every day.

You need to commit to doing SOMETHING every day that proves you know what you’re talking about. Blog posts, video, podcasts, interviews, social posts, emails, whatever it takes. Your job is building a reputation.

Over time, you build a library of informative, valuable content that helps your audience. You haven’t quit on them. You’ve seen it through.

If you’re going to do anything in your business, ask yourself “would I do this every day for 1000 days?” That’s the gate, you have to be willing to do something every day for 1000 days.

Your reputation is ONLY built when you commit for 1000 times. At first, you’ll be unnoticed. But quickly, you’ll build a reputation as someone who does THAT THING and does it well.

When we first started, our blog posts were unfocused and had no clear audience. But I did them every day for a year. I wrote a blog post every day on marketing funnels for a year. Looking back now they’re not great, but they’re there.

Now, we have the reputation as THE sales blog for funnel builders. Same with YouTube. Small now, but it’s growing. The reputation is built on the past 100 or 500 or 999 times. It’s not built on the 1000 times in the future.

Starting a marketing funnel business

Starting a marketing funnel business is no easier or faster than any other business type. And it depends on you as an entrepreneur, to focus on what you do and what you love.

Give time to your audience and listen to them first. Work out what you’re going to give them. How are you going to serve them? That’s what matters.

Stay specific to an audience and define your niche. It might take a lot of content and writing, but you’ll get there. Once you’re there, double down on that niche and audience.

Do NOTHING but talk about their problems and how you can solve them. Carve steps every day. Write out the long form blog post and position yourself as the ONLY person who’s dedicated their business to that area of expertise.

It HAS to be specific though. You have to have a long form, high quality killer blog post based on a specific topic. That’s what works.

Find your first marketing funnel customer

If you’re ready to start working with marketing funnel customers, you need a process. Even if you’ve already got funnel customers, maybe you’re looking for your next marketing funnel customer?

We’ve got some free training below, to teach you how to land customers without a portfolio, as well as the exact 15 steps we use to build marketing funnels for customers.

Leave feeling

You could completely your life, if you’ll change the lives of others. When you serve an audience and do the best you can do serve them, you’ll be rewarded.

Let’s do this, you can do it.

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Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.