Is marketing a headache in your company, or does it generate revenue? Is it a place of uncertainty and frustration or a place of confidence and success? Is it a simple process or a complex series of vague ideas?
These are the questions answered in Marketing Made Simple, the newest book from Donald Miller and Dr. J.J. Peterson. Building on the foundation of the bestselling book Building a StoryBrand, this latest book walks you through a simple, step-by-step process to make your marketing more effective.
In this post, I’ll walk you through:
- What Marketing Made Simple is
- A definition of a sales funnel
- The components of a sales funnel
- What it takes to put it all together
What is Marketing Made Simple?
Unlike most marketing or business books, it isn’t filed with quips from distant gurus. The examples and principles found on each page come from real-world success stories (one of the success stories is on the back cover, and it’s one of my clients who did what’s in the pages of this book. More on that later).
Perhaps the entire book can be distilled into the opening sentence:
Marketing should be easy and it should work.
Donald Miller & Dr. J.J. Peterson, Marketing Made Simple
These eight words set the tone for what follows. Each chapter walks through what you should do and how to do it. It’s a game plan to create a more effective marketing plan.
What you read isn’t theory; it’s been taught to and tested by thousands of companies at the StoryBrand workshops. And it’s the same formula used by hundreds of StoryBrand Certified Guides and Agencies (we are a Certified Agency) around the world.
Let’s break down that opening sentence.
“Marketing should be easy”
Marketing is usually complicated. Not because it’s supposed to be, but because people make it that way. Why? Well, there are a few possibilities:
- External agencies or freelancers want job security. If it sounds hard, people are less likely to try it internally.
- There’s a ton of noise about marketing, what it is, and how it works. That noise creates confusion.
- There are so many possible strategies and tactics to try. Where do you even start?
There’s more, but you get the idea. Marketing is complicated because we make it that way. And because it’s easier for things to be complicated, it’s hard to make things simple. If we do the hard work of making things easy, then we reap the benefits later.
“It should work”
What does it mean for marketing to “work”? Different people give different answers. They may tout different metrics or stats to track. Some are helpful, some are not. There’s really only one stat you should track:
In other words: Does marketing help you make money? If the answer isn’t a clear YES!, then your marketing isn’t working. Your marketing investment should get a great return. Follow the path laid out in Marketing Made Simple, and you’ll discover marketing can be easy, and it will work.
What is a sales funnel?
There are a ton of definitions for the term “sales funnel.” Google that phrase and you get 52 MILLION responses.
That’s a lot. For the sake of this conversation, let’s use the definition Don and J.J. give in the book:
A sales funnel is a relationship.
Marketing, at its core, is about building a relationship with someone. Most brands suffer in their marketing because they rush the relationship. How many married people do you know who got married before going on a first date? Likely zero.
Relationships take time. There are steps involved. You don’t tell someone about your aggressively political uncle within the first 10 minutes of meeting them. You wait until you’re 10 minutes out from your first family holiday dinner as a couple.
It’s true in relationships, and it’s true in marketing. Take time to invest in your prospects and they’re more likely to become customers. Ignore the relationship and you’ll lose the sale.
Stages of a Relationship
In Marketing Made Simple, Don & J.J. walk us through the three stages of a relationship:
Let’s look at each phase:
Curiosity is what you think: hooking a reader with something focused on their problem. Most marketing focuses on the company. You and I don’t care about that. We care about what makes our lives better.
This is a chance for you to educate someone. Show a prospect what you do and how you do it. Also, show them their problem. Talk about the issues they have. Your company is only helpful if someone understands your offering in light of their problem.
Ask for the next step. Be clear, specific, and direct. Relationships don’t work in ambiguity. Neither does a business. If someone understands how you make life better, asking for a commitment is a no brainer.
The components of a sales funnel
Now that we know what a sales funnel is, let’s talk about what’s included.
Remember: the premise of the book is simple: “Marketing should be easy and it should work.” So when we talk about the components of a sales funnel, they must be easy. Sure, you can put on your fancy pants and do really sophisticated stuff with funnels—but only after you become an absolute master of the fundamentals.
The fundamentals include:
- A one-liner
- A website
- A lead generator
- Two email campaigns
Marketing Made Simple Step 1: What is a one-liner?
Think of it as your elevator pitch. The term one-liner comes from the film industry. Screenwriters need a powerful one-liner for a studio to buy their script. The most famous example of a movie one-liner is Jaws in Space.
This is how two writers pitched the idea for the movie Alien.
Most companies don’t have a pitch that’s clear, concise, and compelling. Instead, it rambles. It focuses on the company. It makes people say “Well bless your heart.” (If you’re not from the South, then know that phrase isn’t a good thing.)
For our sake, a one-liner follows a three-part formula:
People pay attention to problems. So we open that pitch with a problem so they listen.
The problem creates tension. Now let’s resolve it. In other words, tell how your company solves the customer’s problem.
Cast a vision of how life gets better after working with you. Vision is like a magnet.
Why start with this? Because your company needs to know what you do before you attempt external marketing. Nail this part and you’re already ahead of your competitors.
Marketing Made Simple Step 2: Wireframe your website
Anyone familiar with StoryBrand knows this phrase, but let’s define it here: A wireframes website means you write and design a website intended to convert browsers into buyers.
- Copy focused on your customer
- Design that supports your content
- A clear path to work with you
Most companies are embarrassed by their website (know the feeling?). Instead of treating it like their #1 sales rep, it’s treated like a dated brochure stuck behind someone’s desk drawer.
In today’s world, a website is critical. People follow you online before doing business with you. If your website isn’t good, you lose sales. Period.
Marketing Made Simple literally walks you step by step through how to wireframe a better home page. I won’t repeat that here (because you really should do the exercise in the book). I will, however, give you some of the main things I use when writing websites for clients:
- Make the call to action buttons frequent and obvious. Never let people wonder how to do business with you.
- Keep it as short as possible but as long as necessary.
- Focus on the problems faced by prospects.
A great website generates sales 24/7/365. Do it right and you transform your business.
Marketing Made Simple Step 2: Create a lead generator
What is a lead generator? It’s a way to generate leads. Yeah. It’s that simple. Remember: marketing should be easy.
What does it look like? Usually, it’s a PDF download. Think of it like a short ebook, maybe 1000-1500 words. The focus is a problem faced by your audience or something you can explain.
For example, I once wrote a lead generator for a mortgage company called “5 Ways Other Lenders Rip You Off.” We explained five common “fees” that should always be $0. This PDF added hundreds of people to my client’s email list, and it also:
- Explained a potentially confusing topic
- Established my client as a trusted authority
- Empowered readers to know what they should be paying
Put this on your website, social media, and even on paid ads. When people find you, use this as a way to slowly build a relationship.
Tip: If you hire someone to write and design one, expect to pay between $2500 – $3500.
Marketing Made Simple Step 4: Email campaigns
Email marketing isn’t sexy, but it’s wildly profitable. It’s still the #1 way to make money online. In some cases, email marketing generates $44 for every $1 spent.
You read that right.
So what should you do for email marketing? The title of the book is Marketing Made Simple, so we won’t overcomplicate it here.
Don and J.J. walk through two types of email marketing in the book:
- Sales campaign
- Nurture campaign
Each one has its place, and each one is critical. Let’s start with a sales campaign.
Sales email campaign
When someone downloads your lead generator, they should automatically get your sales email campaign. This campaign is written and set up once, then runs continuously.
The goal is pretty simple: enlighten your new prospect (remember the stages of a relationship?) and ask for the sale.
So what does it include?
- 5-7 emails sent over the course of 7-15 days
- A mix of teaching and sales content
The book walks you through how to write the campaign. They focus on the theme of each email. Those are great, and you should absolutely go through the process in the book.
After writing 75,000+ words for client email campaigns, here are some of the go-to themes I use:
- Solve a problem
- Show future failure if they don’t buy from you
- Use screenshots of testimonials as social proof
- Write a short sales letter as the final email, then use your one-liner to start the email
Setting up this one campaign can be a catalyst for your business. Seriously. The next email campaign, though, sets you up for long-term success.
Email nurturing campaign
Once someone joins your email list through your lead generator, they get the sales campaign.
Then what? A newsletter? Sales? Promotions?
No. A nurture campaign.
Unlike a sales campaign, a nurture campaign is sent weekly. It includes valuable content that solves problems for your audience. It positions you as the trusted authority. And it helps you stay top of mind by consistently being in someone’s inbox.
What kinds of content should you send? A few ideas:
- How someone can save money in what you do
- What people should look for when buying what you offer
- Explaining confusing terms or ideas in your industry
This short list is just the beginning. The ideas really are endless.
Putting it all together
At the end of Marketing Made Simple, Don and J.J. give a killer plan for implementing everything noted above in your company. We often help people through the Marketing Made Simple process in our on-site and virtual strategy sessions. After doing a few dozen of these sessions in recent years, I can say this is a game-changer for you.
What does it include?
- Meeting agendas for the meetings you need to implement this content
- What to do (and what to avoid) in these meetings
- How to get it right, even when you feel too close to your own company
Remember: Marketing should be easy and it should work. That’s the entire premise of this book. Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it won’t require hard work. Embrace it. Do the work. Invest time and resources into getting it right.
Over time you’ll reap tremendous rewards. Marketing will be much easier, and it will work better than ever before.