Let's talk about the customer journey. It's important that you understand who your customer is. And often times that means you develop a customer persona. That's a detailed profile of one single customer that you keep in mind when thinking about your solution and how to communicate about it. It includes a lot of detail about their lives, attitudes, interests, patterns of media consumption and other details so that you really understand what they're dealing with and where they want to go in life. The customer persona helps you understand what destination they want for the transformation you want to deliver. Let's recall the five basic reasons that people buy from others. They either want to make more money, save time, have better health, better happiness or better relationships. When I think about the customer journey, I like to imagine a fountain. This represents the journey a customer will take as they deal with your business. Some marketing professionals talk about it as an hourglass or funnel shape, but I really like to think about it as a dynamic fountain. I like to envision that fountain as having an active pump. The pump represents the constant marketing that helps your customers move from the bottom pool of the fountain to higher and higher tiers of the fountain. Finally, they reached the top and fall gracefully back to the pool and start over again with a new product or service. And along the way, they might convince other customers to join them and go through the fountain again. Your efforts to nurture customer relationships will send those customers flowing through each of the steps shooting to the top of your service levels and then potentially starting again with another series of steps. These are natural stages that a customer goes through when dealing with any service provider. They first started awareness, then they go to interest, desire, action, purchase, upsell or cross sell, retention and referral. Many freelancers misfire because they skip a step and then they get frustrated when it seems like the business is not growing. In reality, they have clogged their pump and no one is being moved actively from one stage to the next. Designing a high performance, free flowing fountain helps keep customers cycling through your business and it's the best way to get consistent cash flow. Let's explore each one of these stages in more detail. Step one, awareness. The goal of the awareness phase is to educate your customer. First they see or hear about your solution as a result of you getting your name out there. They might find you on social media at an event searching online or from a friend. The potential customer is also aware that they have an interest in this area at this stage, they acknowledge that they have a problem or need that they might need to solve in the future. You need to interact with them now to tell them specifically what you do before someone else does. You can reach out to the specific audience with a specific message that describes what you do. Surround them with your information, be everywhere they look and you can share customer success stories to catch their attention. At this stage, it's good to share samples of your work or even a portfolio. You may or may not have client work yet. So you can feel free to share work from your student days as well. Share that you're open to new clients and make a list of your dream clients so that you're really thinking about how you want to talk to them. Do you already know them? Or maybe you need to get to know them. Show up to events where they might be. You can find events on MeetUp, Eventbrite, at conferences, industry associations, mixers and webinars. Reach out to these ideal clients to share who you are, how you're connected to them or their business. Talk about them online and talk about what they're up to as well. And they'll definitely notice you. You can point out how you can help them do better and your domain of expertise, you can share specific observations that point to a potential problem you could help with. For example, you could talk to them and chat with them about their website. Maybe you notice that their checkout experience could be improved or maybe you find out about a client that has an art collection and you think it could be refreshed maybe with one of your art pieces. You could say, hey, I was reading your brochure and I felt maybe the messaging could be improved in this way. Why don't you try this? You can then ask if they have any questions or needs that you can help with. You can offer to be a resource in the future in mutually beneficial ways. Watch the news for information about that potential client, watch for changes, new events, shifting strategies, new hires and mention that in your email, if you're reaching out to someone. Look for companies doing a poor job in certain areas and share how you can help them level up. Warm introductions from a mutual connection really help a lot. When you decide to reach out to a potential client, personalize the message, don't just copy and paste the same thing to each client. This happens with astounding frequency and it's really annoying to professionals, messages like that turn people off and are generally perceived as spam. In step two interest, the goal is to differentiate. At this stage, a prospective customers curiosity is piqued. They begin to research potential solutions, they might find and read your website and they're really considering and comparing other solutions. So be different to stand out. You might say something controversial to get a response on social media or maybe make a memorable and remarkable impression when you're talking about your business. At this step, the client is signaling an ambition to improve and actively looking for solutions. You want to be the one found. Step three is desire and the goal is to transition the customer from a prospect to a paying client. Their cravings are beginning, they want that better outcome and they're hungry for what you're cooking. They're hungry for something new and innovative. They are ambitious to be seen as a change agent and achieve the success you're promising to deliver. So start to reach out more proactively. At this stage, they may be asking friends, colleagues, and family members for recommendations for solution providers, especially if they've been burned before. Trust is really important at this stage. They may be commenting about how they admire your work online. That's a great signal that you should reach out. At this stage, they're open to jumping on a call with you. They're receptive to being influenced and more accessible than ever. They're also more susceptible to sales pitches from others. So you want to be the one to get in there first. The goal is also to build, report and comfort with that client. So they're really happy to do business with you. Step four is the action step. The goal here is discovering the client's needs. What is that moment of truth when a potential customer chooses to buy from you, your job is to discover their needs and make the case that you can really help them. Your goal is to identify that burning need. That's the point at which the pain of inaction is worse than the cost of action At this stage the client is open to a solution and ready to hear what you have to offer and ready to open their checkbooks, pretend that you're a doctor in your specialty. At this point, they're open to your expert recommendations on diagnosis and treatment and ready to go forward. Or if you're a teacher they're impressed because you shared something they didn't know in a light bulb of future potential in off. They really admire you at this stage. You can tell them what you like about them and what they're doing and they'll just eat it up. You can also tell them why you're so excited about the potential to work with them. How can you tell if they really trust you at this stage, share something quickly that they could use to improve as a do it yourself type of technique even before you asked to charge them for working together. Another thing is to talk about mutual connections that you might have in common. You can check LinkedIn in advance to see who might be that connection. You have to have conviction at this stage. Are you convinced and convincing that you can get them to the outcome they seek, maybe you've worked with others in their industry who have been really successful. Telling those stories is really effective at this point. If you have a solid portfolio testimonials, endorsements, prizes and press this is the time to actually mention them. The urgency for the transformation you can deliver finally overwhelms the excuses they have for not buying yet and they're ready to go. You can tell them exactly what you offer. Tell them the result, they'll get the quality, the quantity and the price ask them if they're ready to move forward, verify that they can pay. Do they have the budget or maybe could find the budget? I found if clients really want something, they'll always find the budget from somewhere. You'll also be able to tease out if they're loyal customers, are they just looking for a short term quick fix or are they looking to establish a long relationship with a provider? If they're really looking like long term loyal customers, they're signaling, they're eager to get started, they trust you and they're ready to go. So open the door for them and welcome them into your business. They are ready to sign a contract. Ask for the sale. If you never ask for the sale, I can guarantee you, you won't get a sale. People are not going to beg to work with you, you have to ask first. In step five, they're making the purchase. And the goal is to maximize revenue from this purchase. You want to lead them down a smooth, easy road to paying you. So you send over a list of ways that you can get paid here are the things that are included in the way that we're going to work together. Then offer a streamlined online payment system, send an invoice that can be paid online by credit debit, PayPal or some other form of payment. If you're working with international clients, you may have to send a separate cross border system for remittances. In step six, you're going to upsell or cross sell if it's appropriate. The goal is to add just a little more revenue. When they're in the buying mood, they're more likely to buy something else that you suggest if it makes sense for them. Have a few irresistible suggestions to add to their carts. In step seven, you're looking for repeat or recurring purchases and the goal is to create more consistent revenue for your business. Can you make working together with a client you like working with a regular habit, offer monthly, quarterly or annual plans for more services, get them to buy the next stage of service from you. In step eight retention, the goal is keeping revenue plug holes in your leaky fountain. Don't let customers evaporate away, keep your pumping good repair. Keeping a good customer is less expensive than finding a new one. If a long term customer decides to cancel the subscription or ongoing service arrangement, what can you offer them to stay? Think about when you call your phone or cable company to cancel and they give you an irresistible offer, you really usually stay. In step nine referral, the goal is to get revenue from more clients that your clients know happy client referrals, fill your fountain back up again. They may also encourage your existing customers to go on another cycle with you, since their friends are now involved. How can you incentivize happy customers to talk with you about other qualified clients. You can offer discounts, rewards, cash for access to premium VIP services when they refer another client, you'll always be prospecting for good qualified clients. So keep an eye out for articles and press releases about industry news that might talk about potential clients. Look for things like industry awards, best of lists, etc. Industry press often quotes experts and you might want to follow up with them. Go to trade shows. Look for a certified professionalist. If you discover a website of a potential client you're interested in, you can use Hunter io or email hunter.com to find emails for that company. Send them a request to connect on LinkedIn and continue the conversation by email if they accept. Many public libraries and educational institutions have subscriptions to valuable databases that you can use to search for free. >> Look for businesses in your target market. One of these tools is called merchant intellect. Follow industry thought leaders and connect with other followers and admirers. Comment on their posts so that you can stay in the flow of conversation. Also work with other successful service providers. You may get referrals for their overflow business from power partners that can't actually handle what you do or just have too much business on their own. In your outreach to potential clients, you want to be yourself. If you would feel funny saying it in person, I don't recommend saying it in an email. Giving first is a really powerful strategy because reciprocity is a powerful force when you give other people want to give back to you. People who receive value and are grateful will make wonderful clients. When you show up online or in person, make sure you're looking professional and consistent to make a great impression. Another word about spam calls and emails. People are getting an overload of outreach right now and they're filled to the brim daily. Spammy emails and phone calls, actually, I like to think of them as spam me. Spam is all about the messenger with no regard for the time or needs of the receiver. Too many attachments in your emails could get you stuck in spam filters and associated with other spammers and certain words will land you in spam land. Too many links can also get you stuck in the spam filters. Listen, perspective clients don't care about your business, they only really care about their own business and themselves. Your message must stand out in that cluttered inbox mailbox or voicemail. Have a captivating subject or opening line, create the curiosity to get someone to open your email. Be different, show value, give a suggestion or an idea for free, that would really help the recipient and humans love numbers Specific numbers and headlines really get the click, flattery will also get you further than you think. If they've seen your name before on social media or in a video or an ad, it will really help them to recognize you when they see your name in the inbox. It creates that don't I know you effect or where did we bump into each other or? Yeah, I think we do have something in common, so I'm more likely to click that email. Make your emails and messages really quick and easy to scan. Use less than 200 words. One link only, avoid attachments and avoid spam filter words so that your message gets into the inbox. Your message should be all about the other person, what you admire about them, and be specific. Maybe you read a blog article or saw a campaign, a performance or recent announcement about them and mentioned that. Share that you really understand their space and understand the results that they want and need activate that hunger need curiosity and ambitions that they reach out to you for more information. Share how you can prove that you can deliver a big win to them. Another great technique is to create suspense, what can you promise to send them when they reply or take action? What juicy tidbit will be included in the next email. What valuable resource can they find on your website and what can you share with them on a collar webinar that will get them to take action, stand out. Be controversial, a little funny, a little different and share unique insights. You might also find it effective to drop credibility points in your emails, who have you worked with before. Why should they trust you? Tell them something they don't know, make it really easy for them to decide to take the next step. Make it clear that you want to continue to add value in further conversations. Make it clear what you want them to do and what will happen as a result, add an easy to click action link like scheduling a time to talk a calendar link. Or invite them to jump on your website and download that information, offer a low cost complementary proof of results. Maybe a writing sample, a quick mock up a website audit or something else that you can do to build trust with them. Or if you want them to email you back, ask them to reply with and give them further instructions. Once you get things automated and your email sequences, the feeling will start to be a little bit different and less personalized. Once you start to automate your email outreach, the feeling will be a little different. It's important that you stay unique in your emails and make them feel special. Create a series of emails that shuts off whenever they first respond to what you're asking them to do. And always have a one click unsubscribe link to make it easy for people who don't want to hear from you to get rid of you. I want to establish a reasonable expectation about your email outreach when you're sending cold emails to people you don't know. Your outreach response rates will be low. You may have to reach out 25-100 people to get one client. It's not the other person's job to answer your emails, it's your job to keep trying and following through to find clients. Your odds will be greatly improved if you know the people you're reaching out to or you've been introduced by someone they trust and admire. You'll need to keep doing outreach consistently every month in your business. In order to grow, you'll want to automate as much of this as possible as you learn what's really working in your outreach emails. We'll talk about automation more in a future video, but don't overthink it, just do it. Clients are not going to come to you if they don't know you exist and they don't know that they need you. If you're not specific about what you can do to help them and how much it will cost, clients are not going to come to you. Get into a regular routine of reaching out and over time, momentum will grow in your business. Design a smooth, enjoyable customer experience that will set you apart from other freelancers in your space.