Embracing the 5-A Framework
Let’s check back in with our agency owner, “Heather Carlysle.” When we last left off, Heather found her voice and felt more confident owning her market. Now, it’s time to discuss the last two A’s in the 5-A Framework—Authority and Acquire.
Heather and I met at the coffee shop, and she looked full of disappointment. “Brent, I think I should choose another niche. I don’t think business coaches are the right fit for me. They don’t trust me because I don’t have enough experience.”
Heather told me that just a few days earlier, a coach had called her after reading her “Ultimate Guide” and asked her about her experience with business coaches. Her lead made a snarky comment about how her article made it seem that she had a lot more experience—and maybe she wasn’t a good fit after all.
I could see that Heather was experiencing the same crisis of confidence that everyone goes through when they begin to master anything. I carry a copy of Seth Godin’s best-selling book, The Dip, with me just for these occasions.
I pulled it out and read one of my favorite sections to Heather:
In the beginning, when you first start something, it’s fun. You could be taking up golf or acupuncture or piloting a plane or doing chemistry—it doesn’t matter; it’s interesting, and you get plenty of good feedback from the people around you. Over the next few days and weeks, the rapid learning you experience keeps you going. Whatever your new thing is, it’s easy to stay engaged in it. And then the Dip happens. The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. A long slog that’s a shortcut because it gets you where you want to go faster than any other path.
Heather replied, “So I’m in the Dip? You’re saying the new and shiny has worn off. And if I start over with a new market, it will be new and exciting again. But then I’ll experience the Dip all over again?”
“How long is the Dip when focusing on a new market?” she asked.
“Heather, I hate to break it to you, but I don’t have that kind of crystal ball. What’s important is that you keep doing what you’re doing. Now you’re published, with more articles on the way. Some nasty comment from a single bad-fit lead doesn’t mean you should toss your strategy.”
Heather thought for a moment. “I guess you’re right. One comment isn’t a good reason to change direction. But what can I do to help build more trust and do a better job answering that question next time?”
I explained to Heather that there are two processes that buyers go through when they make a purchase: they try to measure benefits, and they try to mitigate risk.
“Your prospects need to understand the value they will get by working with you. But they also need to know that investing in your services is safe. When someone asks about your experience, they are trying to assess how risky an investment you are. What I’d like to do next is give you a framework that will help you answer these questions with facts that will help mitigate the risk your prospective clients might be feeling. Remember our fourth A, authority?”
Heather did. “Yes, like the before and after image that I included in my blog post?”
“You got it, Heather. That’s an example of authority. It says, ‘I’ve done this before, and I get results.’ And that’s the basis for building your authority.
I pulled out a worksheet with a few columns for different proof points—facts and figures that build trust and credibility—and I prompted Heather to start filling them in. Heather listed two dozen selling points that spoke to why she could be trusted to solve her market issues. They all painted a compelling picture of why she could be trusted to help her clients grow their businesses.
Now she had a tool that could be used as a reference when it’s time to write articles, update your website, talk to prospects, or take the stage at conferences. I told her to put the proof points to work on her website and social media profile.
Obtaining New Leads
Two weeks had passed since our last meeting. Heather had never been late before. I knew the assignment I’d given her was outside her comfort zone, but the more customer development you do in a short amount of time, the more you increase your odds of entrepreneurial magic. Heather needed some of that magic.
When Heather arrived, she burst into the café in a flurry of excitement.
“Brent! I’m so sorry I’m late. You won’t believe this, but I just finished my tenth customer development interview. I’m late because she just kept going on and on and on. She just wanted to hire me! Brent, you’ve opened up a whole new world for me. Just focusing on learning from prospective customers changes everything.”
As Heather told me more and more, I started to feel what drew me to consulting and coaching in the first place. I love seeing people get tangible results in their business and watching someone change their deeply held erroneous beliefs.
I was speechless. For Heather, the game of business was about to change. Then a worried look came over her face. “Brent—what’s next? Seriously, I hope you have something up your sleeve to help me capture leads better. I’m not prepared for this type of exposure.”
I looked down at my empty espresso cup. “Sure, let’s talk about the fifth A: Acquire.
Time for A Revamp
Heather’s website was like just about every other agency site on the planet. I had known since the start that Heather needed a different type of website. But I had also always been aware that she had ten years of momentum behind the EMA site—and the last thing I wanted her to do was to turn that off.
She asked, “Brent, I think I should revamp my entire website. Is it time to change my homepage to focus exclusively on business coaches?”
I told her no. On the one hand, shutting down the current site made sense. But Heather also had a large payroll to support, and she wasn’t yet getting the traction she needed in the business coach market to go all-in (yet).
What she needed was a lightweight marketing asset that served a narrow purpose for her market. So I asked her a question instead—what percentage of her client base comprised business coaches? Heather thought for a moment. “It’s small, I guess. I’ve just had a few articles published.”
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s keep your existing EMA website as-is for now. Instead of thinking about replacing what you have, let’s think in terms of adding to it.”
Heather asked if she could add a landing page focused entirely on business coaches. I told her we could create a dedicated micro-site within her current brand that she could link to from external articles and advertising traffic.
“When more of your business comes from the business coach market than your core agency business now, then you can look at transitioning to that market or even creating a separate market-focused brand. But for now, let me walk you through how to create an appointment funnel and lead magnet.”
We met again two weeks later, and I hoped Heather had done her homework. Her great article had gone live—“3 Secrets Helping the Top Business Coaches Dominate Online”—and I would have been devastated if she had missed the chance to get some leads.
When she showed me the article, there it was: her byline and a link back to her specific “coaches” landing page on her EMA website. I clicked on the link to find a compelling, focused headline aimed directly at coaches.
As I scrolled, I saw a big fat “schedule an appointment” button. Heather had positioned it as a “breakthrough session” to help coaches determine whether their website and marketing were holding their business back.
Further down the page, there was an opportunity to sign up to receive a bonus download—a free high-value document. I sat back in the café chair with a giant grin. “You got it all done, Heather. Excellent job following the recipe. How does it feel?”
With a conspiratorial look on her face, Heather pulled out her laptop and placed it on the table as she pulled a chair around to my side. “Brent, I need you to see this. It’s crazy. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I have twenty-two appointments booked on my calendar from a single article. I have never in my life had even three sales calls schedule themselves on my calendar while I was off doing other things.
I’ve already spoken to a few of these leads. Two of them need new websites and marketing plans—like yesterday. I signed one up for our strategy intensive. They gave me a credit card over the phone on our second call. And with the other, I’m waiting on a confirmation to move forward.”
After a couple of congratulatory pats on the back, I replied, “Well done, Heather. You did the work, and now you’re enjoying the results. But it ain’t over. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I need you to immediately start your next article. Building a predictable pipeline of opportunity requires you to keep going.”
Heather took her seat, still wide-eyed.
“Brent, that’s the thing. They loved the article so much they’ve asked me to commit to a monthly piece! There’s one more thing. They want me to do a workshop at their upcoming conference, too! I’m in full-on ‘freak out’ mode, of course. I’ve never given a keynote presentation in my life. I have no idea what I’m doing.”
I drained my espresso and smiled. “Well, Heather, our work is cut out for us. But you’ve got this.”
Changing your perceptions and beliefs can be difficult. But embracing and following the 5-A Framework really does work. It might take you out of your comfort zone, but if you’re willing to stick with it and be uncomfortable for a little while, your endurance will pay off!
You can be like Heather and own your market too! If you’re ready to get started, check out my new book, Get Rich in the Deep End, where I go into greater detail on the topics, I’m sharing here in my blog. And if you think you’re ready to talk about how you can own your market, then it’s time to set up a free strategy session. Simply apply for it here.