KEY #3: THE ADVOCATE METHOD
(This is article #4 in a 6-part series. Start from the beginning here. Or watch, listen to or download the entire series here.)
When Graham—a niche inspirational author and speaker—came to me, he was spending an average of 200+ days a year on the road speaking and was looking to spend more time at home and have deeper impact with his audience. Now he’s speaking less than 10 times a year and collecting high-five-figure checks every month from his eLearning business— which includes a subscription-based, premium channel with 3000+ members and boasts a 90%+ retention rate!
There are plenty of reasons for Graham’s product success, but none are greater than his relentless commitment to:
the Advocate Method
...an online marketing approach I’ve designed for LASTING, PROFITABLE IMPACT (not just short-term conversion and sales numbers).
Regardless if your customer would ever see it this way or not, marketing is about understanding how your customer feels right now ... how they want to feel ... and offering a way for them to feel the way they want to feel. ;)
The Advocate Method is designed to understand emotional needs at every stage of your customer’s journey, relative to your offering, and guide them through each one!
Let's take a closer look into these stages and how they’ve been applied.
NOTE: I’m going to take a little more time for the first three stages and only touch on the last two, as the former are more relevant for the initial phase of launching an eLearning business.
Become Relevant Through Empathy
The first currency of marketing isn’t money, it’s attention. And in a world as noisy as ours, your customer’s brain is wired to tune out anything that isn’t acutely relevant to them.
Follow the word relevant to its Latin root and you’ll find “revelo,” the same root of “relief ” and “raise,” or more directly “raise up.” Even its root seems to support the point that in order to be relevant to your ideal customer, you must offer relief, and a path up and out of that pain.
The art of this initial stage is about identifying your customer’s pain and a way out. Both are the result of empathy, or the ability to understand and be relevant to how your customer feels.
In a recent empathy experiment with JP Sears, we published a survey asking about the primary frustrations of his tribe. (And of course packed it full of entertainment value seen to your right.) ;)
We designed a product around health, emotional wellness and relationships, as these topics were the most popular on his Youtube channel. However, the survey showed that the biggest frustration was an inability to build an income doing what they loved.
Did we scratch our original concept? Not at all. We simply chose to add key interviews and content to address this primary need of income-building into the offering.
The launch brought in over 2000 customers—largely in part because we made the decision to implement empathy and become as relevant to the needs of his audience as we could.
Cultivate Trust Through Relationship
Once you’ve got attention, it’s tempting to jump right into sales...but if you’re interested in long-term sustainability for your business, along with depth of impact, this stage is about inviting your customer into a relationship with you as a brand, and as a human. Much the same as offline relationships, the foundational ingredient of any thriving relationship is TRUST.
Pulling from my previous marketing “experiments” and the studies by Maurice Schweitzer, Ph.D. and Adam Galinsky, Ph.D. (documented in their book, Friend or Foe), cultivating trust online is developed from three sequential elements:
Trust = Ability + Vulnerability + Consistency
Within the Advocate Method, this formula informs everything from our branding and communication strategy to our marketing tactics. If interested, here are a few ways we’ve implemented each!
Invite Reciprocity Through Commitment
Now that we’ve won attention and contributed value to our customer, it’s time to take a step further. As in any relationship, the only way to gain momentum and depth is in a reciprocal exchange of value. In our case, this next level of commitment we're asking for is an exchange of monetary value.
The Advocate approach to sales is designed to be (and to feel like) an invitation to better your life from someone you deeply trust.
Without getting into authentic sales tactics used at this stage, the biggest thing to understand is that this approach is most concerned about the question:
Does “x” sales tactic support or damage my customer’s overall journey?
We want to maximize conversion, but not at the cost of damaging trust with over- promising and under-delivering or manipulation of any kind.
Graham (as referenced earlier), said something when learning this method that had a way of capturing this mentality to sales perfectly.
I’ve always believed that if you have to pressure someone into a sale, you simply haven't done a brilliant enough job at presenting the possibilities awaiting them.
Build Loyalty Through Transformation
NOTE: This is the most critical stage to understand as you create your eLearning product.
The reciprocal exchange has happened. Where many might file them away into the customer bucket and immediately start looking for new leads, an Advocate knows that this potent relationship has only just begun.
At this stage, our focus is on cultivating a sense of loyalty to us as their guide.
As we look again to relational science, studies have found that it’s not feelings of love that keep couples together, but the idea of “self-expansion.” Your fidelity to an individual is largely based on how much a partner “enhances your life and broadens your horizons.”
Is your product actually enhancing your customer’s life and broadening their horizons?
If not, you’re missing out on more than just an opportunity to help someone.
According to research from Harvard Business School, increasing customer retention rates by 5 percent increases profits by 25 percent to 95 percent.
Create Replication Through Empowerment
You’ve successfully made the rare step and developed customer loyalty. Now what?
This stage is all about equipping them to take your methodology and create their own impact in the world. It’s about instilling your values and worldview into your tribe, and creating a structure for people to be empowered within your business. It’s also the key to creating a self- sustaining profit engine.
When we intelligently empower others to use our methodology, it only enhances our exposure and appeal.
In the end...
The Advocate Method can be applied as an overall marketing approach for a brand and/or a strategy for a single campaign.
Regardless, I’ve not seen another approach consistently create both short-term results and long-term sustainability the way this method has!
Read Part 5 of this series to learn what kind of manpower an Authorpreneur needs...