I’m following up the Minimum Viable Funnel article by drilling deeper into each component of the funnel.Today, let’s look at the service description page/1-page site.As a refresher, remember that my Minimum Viable Funnel looks like this:Promotional activity (like teaching) –> Lead magnet –> 3 months of “lead nurture” emails that are constantly reminding subscribers about your services via the –> 1-page service description pageI am describing the components of this funnel out of order relative to how your leads experience it, but that’s intentional. Building them in the order I describe them is the most efficient way to go about it.As they move through this funnel, you will be encouraging your leads to visit a page that describes your lowest-priced service. If you have multiple low-priced offers (for example, maybe you have a training workshop and a low-priced audit service), then you can use list segmentation to send subscribers to one of several different service description pages. But for now I’ll keep things simple by walking you through a situation where you have just one low-priced service offering.Even if you sell very high-priced consulting offerings, I think you should present a low-priced offering to your leads first before you try to sell a higher priced offering.Think about it like this. This funnel is designed to build trust as quickly as possible as early on as possible. That’s why the promotional activity at the mouth of the funnel is a teaching-based activity.Teaching or speaking in front of a group about the right topic is like magic when it comes to building trust.The lead magnet in this funnel simply creates a win-win situation in which you get permission to market to leads over time and they get something of real value to them. If done well, your lead magnet further increases trust by demonstrating your expertise.Your lead nurture emails also increase trust. They show that you are an expert who is so overflowing with expertise that they can’t help but sit down on a regular basis and share that expertise through writing (or screencast videos, or podcasts, or some other form of media). If you have the time to do this, your business must not be struggling, which also increases trust (this is also why traveling to give a talk at an expensive, time-consuming conferences increases trust even more). By regularly showing up in the sacred inbox, you become familiar and even likable, which increases trust even more because people have a hard time trusting people they don’t feel like they know and like.Even with all this trust-building, you can’t expect most of your new email leads to start their financial relationship with you at the 5 or 6-figure price point. Some will, of course, but most won’t be ready to make that leap no matter how much they trust you.That’s why I recommend making your first pitch for your services be for your lowest-priced offering.Even if you currently have no low-priced offerings, you can easily create one. Here’s what they tend to look like:
- An audit, assessment, or paid discovery: you asses the current situation and identify problems, risks, or opportunities for improvement. You may also recommend approaches to make things better.
- A “teardown”: the same thing as an audit but usually focused on a public-facing thing like a website, e-commerce store, or SaaS app.
- The first step: You focus on selling the first step/phase in what is naturally a larger engagement in order to create a quick win and build trust.
If you’re concerned about a low-priced offering being bad for your profit margin (I hope you are!) know that these offerings can often be highly standardized and systematized, both of which tend to drive up profit over time. Because an initial low-priced offering often does not involve any code at all, the risk tends to be quite low, which helps with profitability too. Even so, you may make less than your ideal effective hourly rate on an initial service offering.Most people I talk to have a ridiculously high success rate moving from initial service offering to full engagement and they find that the full engagement is more likely to be successful. These benefits often make it worthwhile to offer a slightly less profitable initial service offering.If you don’t know what would make for an attractive initial offering for your clients, then ask them. 🙂 The book Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez can help with this.About the Actual PageThe page where you describe your low-priced service offering is not strictly necessary. Especially with smaller sized clients where you’re working with a single decision maker, you could sell your service entirely over email. Even if you do create a web page version of this offer, you may also want to create a PDF version you can email prospects as the opportunity presents itself. PDF documents often have this strange power to frame an offer in a way that raises its perceived value.However, with larger clients with multiple stakeholders, having a page that describes your low-priced service offering is helpful. So here’s how to create that page.You basically want to build a landing page to describe this service. That means the page has one and only one job: to encourage the desired action. What should the desired action be?That depends. In some cases, the desired action could be clicking a buy button. Especially at the 3-figure price level, it’s possible to sell to a service to someone you’ve never met or spoken to. It’s more likely that the desired action on your service description page is to fill out an application or schedule a conversation with you or someone on your team.To encourage the desired action means you must strip away anything that interferes with this desired action. That includes:
- Site navigation begone!
- Distractions of any kind like graphics or animations that don’t encourage the action you want may need to go.
- Text that doesn’t contribute directly to encouraging the action you want definitely should go. Bloated “about us” text is the usual offender here.
- Secondary calls to action (inline links are a good example of secondary CTAs you should never have on a landing page) should also go.
The result of this, especially when you make the page easily readable and accessible on a mobile device, is usually a single narrow column primarily comprised of text. That may feel very plain and “unsexy”, but go with it anyway unless one of the two following conditions applies:
- You are 100% sure that your potential buyer will take an expensive-looking, over designed, chrome-laden page as a sign that your company is very healthy and can afford to spend money or time creating this kind of page. In other words, your buyer expects to see you spending money on stuff like an expensive office and so an expensive-looking web site fits in with their expectations.
- Your buyer equates a flashy-looking site with your technical skill. If clients like this also misapprehend how software actually creates value they tend to be difficult clients, but if you want to attract clients like this you may need to deviate from the approach I’m recommending here.
Other than the call to action, what else should be on this page?Strong value proposition: Visitors to this page should clearly understand the value to their business. That means you will have to be very specific about who this service is for (because if you’re not clear about this they won’t know if it’s valuable to them), what problem it solves for them, and what results it will create for their business. There is a time and a place to talk about your bona fides, but don’t do so at the top of the page–save that for later in the objection-handling section towards the bottom. Make sure your value proposition is made clear in the first few sentences or paragraphs of the page.Service description: Describe what the service is, but don’t go overboard. Unlike the world of information products it’s hard to sell a service using curiosity. So don’t leave much if anything to the imagination when you’re describing your service. But if your service is a simple, focused offering, it may require only a fairly short bullet list to describe what the service is and how it creates the results you promise.Social proof: If possible, prove that you have delivered this service to others and that the results have been equivalent to or better than what you promise in your value proposition statement. You can do this through testimonials from previous clients, case studies, or other demonstrations that your service works as you claim it does. If you have no social proof now it may be worth delivering your low-priced offering a time or two for free in order to get this social proof.Objection handling: Deal with the common objections to buying your service in plain, straightforward, factual language. Common objections include:
- Why should we do this now?
- Why are you the right person/company to do this?
- Is your approach really the best approach?
- How will this really create value/benefit?
- How will this produce a ROI?
- Will this take too much time to actually do?
- Will this be disruptive to business?
- Is it worth upsetting the status quo to do this?
- What if this goes horribly wrong. What recourse do we have?
- How much risk is involved and how will you minimize the risk? (sometimes a money back guarantee is the right way to handle this risk but not always)
You may not need to deal with all of these potential objections, but do handle the ones that are common for your clients.There you have it. The vital elements of a good service description page.Let me leave you with a few additional tips:
- If more than a very few sentences on your page start with “I”, “we”, or “our”, you have a problem. Try to fix it. Freaking email me for help–I’ll do what I can. Making this page about you instead of about your clients and their needs is marketing malpractice.
- Your call to action should be impossible to miss, even if you step 10 or so feet back from your desktop or laptop computer display it still should be clearly visually differentiated from the rest of the page.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned for the next how-to article where I’ll dive into the lead nurture emails component of the Minimum Viable Funnel.Related Links
- Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez has some excellent info on interviewing people without your preconceptions getting in the way: http://www.amazon.com/Lean-Customer-Development-Building-Customers/dp/1449356354
- The Brain Audit by Sean D’Souza has excellent, usable information on writing a good service description page: http://www.amazon.com/The-Brain-Audit-Customers-They/dp/0473175045
- Check out these examples of good service description pages. They don’t all contain every single element I described above, but they get most things really right and therefore are good inspiration for you: