Marketing 20-30 years ago was so much easier and yet harder. We had less choices (print, newspaper, mail, radio & TV), but we had less data (no Google Analytics, or websites, email, online video, podcasts and more).

If you’re marketing online, there are a lot of new options that frankly I didn’t even know about years ago — things like virtual assistants, and now you hear this talk about funnels and lead pages and landing pages and all this other stuff. They all sound helpful and sexy and like something that can really improve your business, but the question I want to ask today is: Do you know the difference between a marketing funnel and a marketing system?

What’s A Marketing Funnel?

Let’s start off by looking at what a funnel is. A marketing funnel is used to guide people through a process — that is, you get them to a landing page and then you offer them a bribe, a prize, something to get their email address so that you can continue to communicate with them; or once they sign up, then you take them to next step and get them to buy what’s called a tripwire purchase, which could be free plus shipping. You’re going to send them your book for free, but they’ve got to pay for the shipping and handling, or you send them a free report or you give them access to a webinar or a video or something along those lines. The goal is to try to get them into your funnel and guide them through the process, which is great. It works really, really well, but the difference is that it’s really there to gather names and to grow your sphere of influence with a whole bunch of people that potentially could buy from you. This is a good thing, but with some businesses, this is not the end all, be all.

A lot of times, you have to think, what is my end game? What am I trying to achieve? I was working with a customer who called up and said, “Okay, I want to do a landing page.” The question I asked is, “Okay, well what is the end game? What are you trying to achieve?” Ultimately, what they were trying to achieve was booking a phone call so that they could qualify potential clients for a pretty high-level system that they have. That, my friend, is a system. There are lots of moving parts to this. A system requires looking at where you’re starting and what the end result is and what you want people to do.

What’s A Marketing System?

I would say one of the biggest differences between a funnel and a system is that a system has more moving parts. An example of this would be that most landing page software and funnel software have analytics built into it, but it’s really limited to what’s happening inside of that funnel. A true system has a lot of different pieces to it. Let me give you an example. In the case of this one client, they wanted to generate a phone call. That phone call specifically was to qualify and quantify whether somebody would be a good fit for this high-level thing that they’re selling. It starts out with having a website. It’s much more than a web page because you have one web page, you could say, “Okay, this is good for engineers and marketers and dog trainers and so on and so forth, but if you throw all of those three completely different groups on one landing page, it really says, ‘Well, is it really good for an engineer and a dog trainer?’”

What you have to do is take a look and say, “Okay, I’m going to create a landing page or a home page that says, ‘If you’re a dog trainer, click here. If you’re an engineer, click here. If you’re a marketer, click here,’ but even better, there are pages inside of the website that talk specifically to each one of those people.” In creating that system, why not write some blogs or create some content? There are lots of ways to create content. You could do blogging. You could do podcasting. You could do video. You could do webinars. You can do telesummits. You can do all kinds of things, but the goal is to drive them to the page specific to them and their needs.

Once they’re on that page, you have a call-to-action. What is that call-to-action? I’m ready to get started now; click here to book your free 15-minute phone consultation. Or, I’m not ready to get started right now, but I want to stay in touch because I love your blogs; join our email list. You don’t want to give people too many choices, but if they’re ready, they’re going to take action. If they’re not, you want to stay in touch with them. That’s the biggest difference between a funnel and a system.

Parts Of The System

Let’s look at some of the parts of that system. Alright, let’s say that you’re going to use webinars to drive people to a specific page. The webinars can have that sales message in there: “If you are ready to get started now, you can click this button or go to this link and set up that free 15-minute consultation” — but the problem is, are they qualified? Maybe you want to take them to a link that has a questionnaire on there. Are they ready to purchase now? How committed are they? Do they have the time to execute what it is that you’re selling? More importantly, do they have the budget? One of the things I talk about is that you want to work with customers that have the three P’s. They have to have a purpose. They have to have passion. They have to have a pocketbook, or pockets with money in them.

You want to make sure before you invest all of this time doing 15-minute consultations that you’re getting the right people in there. I suggest you make people qualify. Think about this. You’ve done the webinar. Now you get them to a page where they submit this. Once they’re approved, now you want to take them to scheduling software. I recommend Acuity Scheduling. It’s a fabulous program that integrates with a whole bunch of different things. It integrates with PayPal. It integrates with your calendars. It integrates with GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar, does a lot of different things. Now you can have them actually schedule that and look at your calendar and say, “Okay, I’m only going to take these phone calls on Tuesdays between one and four and that’s it.” They can book in 15-minute increments during that time.

That’s what a system does for you. It allows you to work people through the process. Some people would say that’s a funnel, but a system is what truly integrates all these different parts. Now, if they’re not ready to buy, you want to get them on your email. Again, I recommend AWeber for most businesses. Check that out.

Now, you’ve got to create the form that says, “Hey, I’m not ready to get started, but I want to stay in touch.” Then you want to create autoresponders that say, “Okay, here are some of the key points about what we’re talking about.” Maybe it will prompt them to say, “You know what? After I’ve seen these four or five sequenced emails, I’m ready to get started,” and at the bottom of each one of those emails is the CTA: “Are you ready to schedule your 15-minute appointment?” You take them through the same process, but in a different way. You take them into that form that is that questionnaire that qualifies them if they’re ready to purchase, and then, if they do qualify, then you give them the opportunity to select that 15-minute time slot.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you can see some of the differences, and that building a system is a little bit more complex. It may involve a lot of third party software, whereas just a funnel itself is not going to solve everything. If you really want to gather the right people for your products and services, consider putting a system together. That’s essentially what I do in my business is help people figure out those systems. Think about it. Are you just trying to gather names or do you have an end game in mind? Make sure you work through all of those steps step-by-step in giving people an opportunity to buy from you in the future and buy from you today.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this subject. Comment below and share how you have created funnels or systems that have exceeded your expectations!

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