IKEA bookshelves & your process

I like going to IKEA. Not just for the meatballs and lingonberry jam, but for the showrooms. Oh the showrooms. Where else can you see a dozen hip Euro bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens?

Now imagine an IKEA in an alternate universe. Imagine an IKEA that had photos of their furniture instead of showrooms. It’s not hard to imagine, actually: what if IKEA had just the warehouse of stacked boxes and no showroom?

It would be hard to choose your furniture because it would be hard to picture it. It’d also be hard to build it, because a picture just isn’t as tangible as seeing and touching the finished item. Knowing how the furniture will look when it’s built turns out to be critical to both choosing and building it.

Your sales campaigns suffer the same fate. Creating an effective campaign requires good planning. You can’t build a bookshelf without the right parts, schematic, and step-by-step instructions.

Is it too much to ask to treat your sales with at least as much dignity as planning as a $100 bookshelf?

That’s what I did with my podcast monetization campaign. (You can catch up on the specifics here and here.)

I had four considerations in setting up the sales campaign:

  1. Buying Style
  2. The Sales Process
  3. What I Had to Make
  4. Tools I Needed

Buying Style

Buying style is a spectrum between “transactional” and “relational.” Transactional buying is what we do with simple, easy-to-understand, and relatively low-priced products. A $9 IKEA lamp doesn’t need a pitch or explanation. You just get it, and you want it or you don’t.

On the opposite end is the most complex and expensive buying style: the relational kind. It requires education, consultation, time, expertise, political and social maneuvering, compromise, and more. This is closer to what you and I do.

Advertising is typically transactional. You can login to Google or Facebook right now and purchase ads, no problem. But I didn’t want to take a transactional approach with the advertising on my podcast because I knew it would diminish the value proposition. I wanted to minimize time spent with each prospect because 1) they probably didn’t want to spend too much time with me, charming as I am, and 2) I figured volume would be critical in executing the campaign.

I also knew the campaign would flop if my podcast advertising were presented as simple advertising. Most buyers would see the ads as transactional – a total commodity. My prices would suffer as a result. Instead, I needed a process that didn’t include self-service, and provided a different framing for the purchase. So I never framed it as “podcast advertising,” I framed it as “weekly conference sponsorship in your ideal market.” Which is more valuable?

The Process

Now the entire process. Envision the bookshelf fully built and work backwards, step-by-step. Here’s the process I created:

On the left side you can see the process to generate replies to determine who’s interested. In the center is the transition from stranger to engaged prospect, and the sole purpose of that step is to book a meeting.

On the right side is the sales process, which is incredibly simple. Again, it’s simpler than selling professional services – or anything complicated and expensive – because sponsoring a podcast isn’t complicated, and it’s not a major purchasing decision. I imagined a single, 20-minute call that would bring the prospect to a decision about whether there was a conceptual fit, and how they wanted to proceed.

What I Had to Make

I needed to make stuff to execute the campaign quickly and effectively.

I always start with messaging. What story will I tell? I already mentioned the framing of the podcast sponsorship opportunity, which was critical. I also had messages about the podcast itself and how it was different.

I also imagined what the prospects would be thinking and feeling. What questions they’d have, the level of knowledge they’d have, and their likely objections.

Then I had to implement the messages by writing my email campaign, a LinkedIn welcome message, a video script to include a video in the first email, and the slide deck I’d use to present on the initial call. All total it took about 2 full work days to create, spaced out over a week.

Tools I Needed

Yes, I needed some tools to do all of this! The good thing about tools is that they’re infrastructure for your business. Once it’s in place, it needs to be maintained, not recreated. I had all of this in place. Here’s what I used:

  • A way to send an email drip campaign directly from my inbox – I highly recommend Mixmax for this (that’s an affiliate link, btw)
  • A way to embed video thumbnails and shoot custom videos for each prospect – I use Vidyard Go Video for this
  • A slide-making tool – I used Google Slides because it allows me to send a live link to prospects so they’re always seeing the most up-to-date version
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator to get data and message people
  • A CRM to manage the whole thing, and make calling a whole lot easier

Time to Execute

With all of this in place, I had a clear picture of what it would take to bring advertisers on to the podcast. I knew what the bookshelf would look like, and I knew how to build it.

It was time to see what happened. I’ll tell you tomorrow.

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