bb2014Photos by Jeremy Green

The best conferences make you feel like you’ve just won something incredibly valuable. It can be an inspiring conversation, an idea that solves one of your biggest challenges, or an “aha moment” that completely reframes your way of thinking. Whatever it is, you walk away feeling like you’ve won the lottery.We recently had the chance to participate in BaconBiz, a conference for B2B bootstrappers, run by 30×500’s Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman. One of the challenges of co-founding Summit Evergreen in different time zones (and different countries!) is that we rarely get to attend conferences together.bb22014That’s just one of the reasons that getting invited to talk at BaconBiz this year was extra special. We were honored to be among some of the most amazing speakers of any conference, including people like Nathan Barry, Brennan Dunn, Josh Pigford, Patrick McKenzie, and many others.BaconBiz was amazing on many levels, from the community and camaraderie of the attendees, to the quality and advice of the speakers, to the delicious food. (Bacon-themed conference means bacon-themed catering!)

Recurring Theme of 2014: Perpetual Marketing

At many conferences, an overarching theme begins to emerge from the presenters, completely unplanned. Just like in fashion, where the seasons dictate change, themes began to emerge throughout BaconBiz in response to industry movements and trends.The emerging theme of BaconBiz was “Perpetual Marketing and the After Purchase Experience.”This is interesting for a number of reasons, as it shows a major departure from some of older trends in the online marketing world. Traditionally, business advice was all about how to grow your user base, increase customers, and thus increase your short-term revenue. But what many of the “new blood” of online productization are learning is that focusing on a smaller number of devoted customers can be more valuable in the long run than a larger audience that is less engaged.BaconBiz presenters focused heavily on strategies like these:

  • Increasing customer happiness
  • Improving purchase support and customer services
  • Building lifetime value

Let’s take a look at the best advice we heard throughout BaconBiz, the kinds of strategies that you can use within your own business…and might make you feel like you’ve won the lottery.

Lessons Learned, Strategies and Takeaways

Before the purchaseMarketing is not a dirty word, and as you create your product and your message, it’s important to remember that you are helping a real person with a real problem. Marketing is simply engaging in a conversation with that person who will soon be your customer.patrickmckenzieMarketing is the conversation you start before customers purchase, but you can’t simply stop talking or emailing to your customers after they purchase. That’d be weird.Increasing customer happiness is a simple as emailing your customersEmail Funnels, Storytelling, Open Loops, Lifecycle Emails…different names, but similar concepts: create an ongoing conversation that engages your audience. When applied to a sales process, this is hugely successful.patrickmckenzie2It’s also hugely successful when applied to the customer experience. Don’t just send your customers one email – keep the conversation going. Share case studies, highlights, inspirational quotes and tactical how-to information, and remind them about all of the great information that is in your course.Brennan Dunn described his email funnel as a story arc, breaking it into four sections:

  • Trust Email – Why you should trust me
  • Problem Email – What’s the issue that you’re having?
  • Solution Email – How to fix the problem
  • Offer – HARD SELL, BABY!!!

You can use the same story arc for your customers after they’ve purchased. We’ve taken Brennan’s framework, and tweaked it slightly for post-purchase use:

  • Trust Email – Why you purchased this course and what you can expect
  • Problem Email – Reminder of the issue that you’re having, and what life will be like as you take action
  • Solution Email(s) – The immediate steps that you need to take to fix the problem.
  • Offer – Here are some related products that you may also find useful.

Surprise – charge more!No conference would be complete without a none-too-subtle reminder from Patrick McKenzie to “Charge More.” Even after almost 10 years of Patrick encouraging people to “Charge More,” they still think that a $5 SaaS is a smart investment. If you only get $5 per customer, think how many customers you’ll need to generate revenue of $5,000 per month.Patrick also talked about the value of personalized advice, and remembering that your customers aren’t seeking the product itself, but “what can it do for me?”Improving purchase support and customer servicesAs our generation of “online productizers” moves past the “first sell” stage to the “hey, we actually have customers!” stage, customer support becomes even more important.Grant Ammons talked about the importance of being reachable, and including a phone number on your website so that customers can reach out for support. Typically, your customers will reach out either when something is broken or when they are struggling with something. Both instances are an opportunity for you to be the hero.“Talk to your customers… Ask them: What are the challenges that you are facing?” –Grant AmmonsWhen responding to support requests, be prompt, thorough, and specific. Have canned responses in your pocket, but modify them to make sure you’re fully answering your customers’ questions.Customer support also means dealing with payments and billing. Always be polite and professional when reaching out to customers who haven’t paid their bill. It may be simply that they didn’t realize that their credit card number expired. Don’t assume the worst until you’ve had the conversation.amyhoyHow would you rate the support that you provide to your customers? Is it just so-so or would you say that it’s off the charts? Providing great support and a good customer experience will create loyal customers that want to purchase more products. Every business – even the ones that already have off the charts service – can get better.Building lifetime valueThe first sale is always the hardest. If you’re providing a great customer experience, and delivering on the promises that you made while marketing, then you’ll have happy customers, who will want to buy more products. Call it loyalty, retention, or lifetime value…it’s what we should all aim for.Our very own Keith presented an excellent presentation about “The Morning After” a customer purchase…(slides available here).patrickmckenzie3Yes, it’s true. As your customer service increases, your lifetime value increases, your business grows. Many presenters echoed this sentiment, providing their best tactics for keeping their customers happy.amyhoy2richardfelixpatrickmckenzie4patrickmckenzie5patrickmckenzie6patrickmckenzie7We’ve talked about lifetime value on the blog before, and it will come up again. LTV is too central to running a successful course to ignore. But here’s the hard question – do you know the LTV of your customers? Do you have an actual number? Or is it one of those things you put off by saying: “I’ll think about that later. It’s too much to figure it out right now.” You need to know your numbers in order to grow your business.

Don’t Launch It Once – Use Perpetual Marketing

Evergreen, or perpetual marketing, or educational marketing, kept popping up at BaconBiz. Evergreen is part of our name, so obviously we think it’s important. But it’s even more important for you, as it directly relates to the amount of work you to do keep your product thriving. Why launch over and over when you can go evergreen, and never launch again?patrickmckenzie8Ryan Delk from Gumroad discussed how 80% of your new product sales will be made in the first week you launch in the standard Launch model. After that, you get chicken feed. This steep dropoff is called the “Revenue Cliff,” and it happens after the initial product buzz has worn off.But what Ryan, Josh Kaufman, Nathan, Sean, and, well, everyone who has been working on productization says is that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can focus on evergreen sales instead.Take Josh Kaufman’s book, Personal MBA. Josh has been able to build a community and recurring revenue stream for the book through marketing funnels that he controls.patrickmckenzie9He’s able to leverage word of mouth to spread and increase sales over time, not drop off the revenue cliff of traditional launches.Sean Fioritto frames it another way: “I look at educational marketing as a mini-product which I give away for free. Not blog posts. Assets.”We love this point, because it’s been shown time and again that how you present your product matters. It’s why your customers will pay far more for your online course than your PDF or e-book. And it’s why you’ll be more successful at going evergreen if you have a high value product to offer.bb32014If you want to learn more about evergreen, check out our additional articles here. Ultimately, creating evergreen products is the surefire way to grow your business, without having to continually rush from one launch to the next.

The secret sauce is action.

It’s easier to give advice than to take it, so let’s step back from all the exciting things we learned at BaconBiz and talk about how to really put them into action. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Are your customers happy?
  • Are you creating lifetime value for them?
  • What happens in the first 5 minutes after your customers purchase a product?
  • Are they having an experience that you’d be proud of?
  • Do your customers have an amazing customer support experience – or is it slightly less than amazing?
  • Are you spending a lot of time following the traditional launch model?
  • Are you utilizing evergreen/perpetual marketing to get the most out of your product?

That’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? We felt inspired listening to all of the BaconBiz speakers, but it can be overwhelming to hear so much advice at once. And the million dollar question is, what are we going to do with all of this helpful information? What are YOU going to do with it? It’s easy to think about it and not take action.Now that you’ve read the highlights, what will you do with this information? Make a list of three things that you can do to improve your business, and then go do it. Get in the BaconBiz spirit, and start checking off your list today.

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