Best Practices in HR
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Bryan Heathman
  January 4, 2017

How to Build the Perfect Product Funnel

Building a product funnel is a fundamental item for your speaking and writing business. Yet few efforts are more misunderstood in the information business—from Internet Marketers to Professional Speakers—creating the means to effectively sell products online or offline is largely a mystery.

Getting this right can be the difference between having a luncheon featuring beef bourguignon by the green at the Pig & Whistle or packing bologna on white bread in a brown paper bag.

So just what is a product funnel, and how do you use it? Is it some mechanical gadget that baristas use to whip up a mocha Frappuccino? Is it the end piece of a conveyor belt found in a state-of-the-art Amazon warehouse? Hardly. Let’s start with a few basics.

A product funnel is the sequence of exposures or “touches” that your prospective customer goes through before deciding to buy from you. It begins with the initial touch and manages your prospect’s buying relationship with you all the way through product up-sells and special offers.

Whether you’re using advertising, email marketing, social networks, live events or a combination of media, your customers learn your “music” through repetition—like a song on the radio. Typically, you find a set of marketing vehicles that works for you and repeat their use until your prospects absorb enough information to make buying decisions.

The magic number here is seven—that’s how many exposures it takes to cross what I call The Trust Gap.It takes seven to fifteen exposures for a prospect to become a buyer, building trust and rapport with each contact.

You don’t need to be a professional master buyer to bring home the sales. All it takes is a few simple efforts to get the job done. Once you set up your sales funnel and drive traffic to your products, they will practically sell themselves.

The Attraction Factor

In January 2009, Pepsi made waves when the company opted not to advertise during the Super Bowl, choosing instead to channel its mega ad budget into social media marketing. This was a stunning development in the world of advertising, and it heralded a new era. It meant that, for the moment, the playing field was level. It also meant the death of “salesy” sales tactics.

Pepsi didn’t exactly create this new paradigm, it merely tapped into events already unfolding. The writing was on the wall. People no longer wanted to be sold to. They wanted sincere product recommendations from their friends, and they wanted to try before they buy. The era of the online review and the product giveaway was born.

Before the 2009 Super Bowl, only savvy marketers were giving away a free report or eCourse to attract new subscribers to their mailing list. After Pepsi’s landmark decision, this tactic became the new norm. Freemiums were no longer the fodder of Internet Marketing geeks who slaved away during the wee hours. The “freemium offer” was now mainstream.

Building the Perfect Blend

The Giveaway: The purpose of giving away something of value—such as a book chapter or an audio file—is to build trust and rapport. As Dale Carnegie so aptly put it during the early part of the last century, people want to do business with those they know, like, and trust. Getting the giveaway item right takes skill and effort, and makes a material difference in your campaign. Give this aspect of your campaign some effort! Click here to see a sample of a giveaway offer for a book launch campaign.

The List: Giving something away for free does not work without a list to tell people about your offer. Adding followers, names, and email addresses to your lists allow you to create multiple exposures to your efforts. If you are new to this business, then know that building an email list is the “gold standard” of lists. Social media lists can be more cost effective to build versus email…just remember that attention spans are micro-short.

The Product: From the initial contact through repeated exposures, you can encourage your prospect to check out your well-crafted sales page for your entry level product. Let’s say you’re offering a limited time discount on your book to celebrate its launch. You can mention this several times over the course of your email series and include a link to the product page, or what insiders call a “squeeze page.” When brainstorming your product line, consider the 12 product formats common to speakers and authors.

The Up-Sell: Once your prospect clicks through the link and opts to buy, you can offer them a second product to purchase while they are in the buying mood. This up-sell tactic doesn’t have to be limited to a single product. It could be a bundle of products, a set or system, a special coaching session, a webinar—even an upcoming conference.

The Follow Up: Once your prospect makes it to your list of customers, you can market to them in a whole new way. You can offer additional discounts, build excitement over new product launches, keep in touch about your latest endeavors, or otherwise leverage the attention of the audience you’ve built.


Using product up-sells as part of your sales funnel is the surest way to double or triple your income from your marketing investment. Understanding your sales funnel as the key to your money-making endeavors can unlock the door to prosperity for you. Walking through that door is up to you.