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How To Make The 4 Gears Of Marketing Work For You

“What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” ~ Peter Thiel

In most of the sales conversations I share with peers and prospective clients, sooner or later we bump into the topic of the 4 Gears of Marketing, and what it means to reaching the goals they’ve set out for their business.

To make it easier for other expert-based businesses to leverage this methodology, I pulled some material from our paid Fill Your Pipeline Online program, and built this page to answer the following questions:

  • What is the 4 Gears of Marketing Methodology?
  • Why does it matter (it often helps explain where businesses stall or get stuck)
  • How to use the right strategy, at the right time to unlock more revenue in your business

To get started, here is a short video overview of the 4 Gears Methodology, and then we will break down the details for each of the four gears.

Please note, this video references other lessons sequenced before and after this video – from our paid training. If you have a specific question, drop me a DM with a question about the “4 Gears of Marketing” and we can work out what you need from the missing pieces.

1st Gear – Getting More Conversations Started

Several years earlier, when my business was struggling with cash flow issues, I would lie awake in bed at night and wonder… where is my next client going to come from?

At the time, I was getting referrals – which is always a reward for doing good work. But I never knew when the next one might reach out. I was testing paid traffic to a webinar funnel, but the ROI was under water and I couldn’t afford to keep losing good money after bad.

To say I was frustrated, was an understatement.

And as I would stare at the ceiling at night, thinking about what did work for me, I kept thinking this one thought… “if I could just get into more conversations, and with the right people – everything would be fine.”

Because that was my experience. Put me in a trade show booth or at an event, I always had the ability to talk about what we do – and why it might be compelling to the right person.

But I wasn’t seeing enough of those RIGHT people even showing up on my radar. Where were they? And even if I did find them – how could I connect with them without sending them scurrying away like I was some “weirdo from the web” who was begging for business.

That thought… “if I could just start more conversations, with the right people” became the inspiration for the Conversations at Scale methodology that we teach, train, and certify for in SalesMAP.

And here’s why you should care…

The ability to “go get clients, yourself” without having to rely on a blog post or a webinar to do it for us, is what separates the those who are thriving, from those who just get by.

When you have the ability to FIND ideal clients, then strike up a conversation with them in a friendly, non-sales kind of way – it is a game changer. Because now you are in control of your business destiny. You don’t have to sit back and wait to see if clients are coming to you.

You get to go directly to the best prospects, and enter their world (one of my partners calls it “Friend Hunting”) in genuine and authentic way that builds real relationships.

First Gear of the 4 Gears of Marketing is all about how to do that conversational outreach in a way that draws the qualified prospects into your world, instead of chasing them away.

When you have to produce results… consistent, reliable, and results that you can bank upon, the Outbound approach of First Gear is the most control you can have on the process of getting new clients because you always know what you need to do.

  • Find the right leads (qualified prospects)
  • Spark more sales conversations (in an intelligent, elegant way)

Need more business? Block out an extra hour for outreach. Start more conversations.

Those conversations will NOT ONLY produce enrollments in your programs and services, but the phrases you will hear and the feedback you will get will end making all your other marketing efforts work that much better.

There is something magical that happens when you get your compelling offer dialed in to the point that people start reaching out to you. That doesn’t normally happen just because we dream up the perfect words. In fact – because we are so close to our work (I call it being nerdy about our work) we often miss when we try to describe it.

But our clients and prospects will describe what we do (and why they chose to buy) in the simplest, most direct way. Once you hear it from them – then you can start to repeat those same phrases with others.

By using the words of your best prospects and clients, you will find yourself having more conversations with others just like them. You will be able to use those words to amplify and turn the volume up on your marketing.

That’s how we rev up your sales and marketing engine, and shift into Second Gear.

It is worth noting here, that HubSpot, the company that coined the term “Inbound” marketing for the content marketing approach by literally writing the book on it… actually grew their business (to the point Google invested in them) by ramping up their Outbound Sales Team.

Outbound comes first, because as you will see in a moment – when you do it right it makes all your content marketing work that much better.

On the topic of Outbound, if you would like to see a breakdown of the 7 steps that we use to organize the flow of conversational outreach (we don’t use scripts and we don’t copy & paste), my partner Janet Clark wrote a short report last year that gives away our secret sauce. DM me and I can get you a copy.

If you wonder WHY we would give away our secret sauce, its because SalesMAP’s business model is built on matching our clients with Outbound and Inbound SalesPROs who can not only have a kick-ass sales conversation, but they can also generate their own leads and bring new deals to the table.

One of my other partners, Caitlin Doemner also wrote a really helpful report about why businesses get stuck at 6-figures, or in feast or famine cycles that could be fixed with a slight shift in how you organize your business. This is also a pdf I can share – just DM me and ask about the “Stuck” report.

2nd Gear – Getting More Content In Front Of The Right People

There are tons of experts out there in the area of content marketing or what some like to call attraction marketing. Though I used to run a content marketing agency, my focus these days has shifted because it felt like I could never create enough content to get the flow of business that we needed. Content creation can feel like a full-time job and their is no guarantee if or when it will pay.

So I am not going to try and reinvent the wheel here. If you are focused on Second Gear and you want to know who I follow and learn from in this space, let me know and I will introduce you.

But here are a couple of things you should know:

  • There is a way to do 20% of the work, and get 80% of the results by being more strategic with your content creation
  • When you have a good First Gear program running, it sets your content on fire (in a good way) and I will explain why
  • What YOU think you should be creating for content – might actually not be the stuff that will get you more clients – so we reverse the process

So let’s break this down…

You know this. You meet someone new online. What’s the first thing you do?

You go check them out. You look at their profiles, their website. You try and figure out who they are, what they do, and most importantly WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

When we create content – we do it from that purpose FIRST. We are not trying to attract some random person from the web. Instead – we are trying to answer those questions that they are already asking in their head.

Secondly, we take all the questions you’ve been asked in the last month – by clients, by prospects, by partners, and we answer those questions in our content.

We literally do the work once (say fixing a problem for a client) and then we take that same answer/process and we share generically (no personal details) to our content channels so that other like-minded people will see how you work and what it would feel like to be engaged with you as a resource.

Brilliant, right?

We’ve actually developed a matrix with the 3 sources of good questions, by the 3 situations to monitor for these gold nuggets that take your content from “ho hum” to beating the drum of what your best clients want to know.

Get this rolling, and now we are ready to hit the onramp and shift into Third Gear.

3rd Gear – Getting Collaborations Going With Strategic Partners

Shifting into Third Gear is where your vehicle starts to accelerate up the on-ramp towards the freeway. We are ready to go cruising down the interstate!

In the sales & marketing world, that often means finding pools or congregations of your Goldilocks “just right” clients. One of the most effective ways is to work a collaborative approach with a thought leader who has already gathered your tribe of people, and who has their ear (meaning he or she has built the know, like, and trust).

Third Gear is all about getting collaborations going, also called strategic or joint venture partnerships.

A compelling introduction from the right influencer could be the rocket fuel that takes your business to the next level. So let’s talk about some of the elements it might take to make this happen…

First – it has to be a win-win-win. Most people stop at two wins.

The Strategic Partner must win to even consider opening up the door.

It has to be a clear-cut win for their community (one their crowd will thank them for).

And of course, it has to work for you too.

A well-connected strategic partner who has spent time and resources to gather a tribe of people, is only going to share access when they know that it builds on and amplifies their hard work. It has to be good for them, and good for their people.

How to find, start, and win with collaborative JV partnership is a topic worthy of its own post alone, but I am going to share ONE KEY IDEA that you need to know about the secret to getting more collaborations – and I will share some useful resources to you started.

The Secret To Getting JV Collaborations

It turns out that hard work from Gears One and Two… is exactly what JV Partners want to see before they open up their community to another influencer.

In First Gear, you not only talked to dozens of people to get your first enrollments, but you heard their ways of describing what they really wanted to buy, and what they were most frustrated with. When you really listen to what your prospects are saying – you know them like you are in the conversation inside their head, and your marketing messages snap into alignment.

That is a big deal for a JV Partner because they want to know that they are not gambling on you. They want proof that what you have put together is going to be super relevant for their tribe – and make them look great for being the one who made the introduction.

In Second Gear, you created content that spoke to those needs and wants in a way that demonstrated your expertise. This is also essential. Your JV Partners want to be able to show their peeps examples that stand on their own and proof positive that they are bringing great value by introducing you to their inner circle.

Oh… and one more thing. The SINGLE BEST WAY to find, connect with, and develop the deep rapport needed for a successful collaboration… is the same process you used in First Gear. 😱

That’s right. You have to show up in their world – with respect for their mission. You have to get to know them so well, that you can point out how they (and their peeps) will benefit from a joint venture. It is like First Gear all over again, but on a nitro boost because the know, like, and trust has to be a max levels before they would ever think of opening up their inner circle to you.

One last bonus… Bryan Harris of VideoFruit is one of my all time favorites in the digital marketing space because he shares a ton of value, often in the form of epic posts that are equal to paid trainings, and free tools to make the work easier.

You will hear about Bryan twice in this post. He earned that spot first, for his Guide: Partnership Marketing 101.

This is no affiliate link. Just straight up value – which is why I am sharing it here to help you grow if you are ready to execute a kick-ass Third Gear campaign. Bryan provides examples, pitch scripts, and even a scoring spreadsheet to organize your partnership outreach.

If you are an expert or thought leader in your space and you are seeking to connect with other experts, you might also want to check out our LinkedIn Group called Book of Experts. All members are handpicked – so if you are interested, DM me so we can chat for a few minutes to make sure it will be the right fit for you and for other ERNers.

Let’s stop for a second a review, before we wrap things up by rev’ing our motor and shifting into Fourth Gear!

4th Gear – Getting More Clicks To Build Your Tribe Of People

Finally – we get to shift into overdrive!

Fourth Gear for your business is where life gets good. You are cruising down the interstate. Top down. Wind in your hair. Living the life.

Unless you are trying to use Fourth Gear to get out of the parking lot.

That’s where most of the frustration with marketing funnels come from. As entrepreneurs we KNOW we need to get our offer in front of more qualified buyers. And the idea of creating an automated funnel with a budget for paid traffic making sales while we sleep is SO compelling.

I bought that. You probably did too.

Trade one dollar (paid traffic) for two (enrolled clients) and I will play that game all week long. Right? Isn’t the dream destination that the funnel builders are selling.

Except my reality was… pay, pay, and more paid traffic. Income generated was a fraction of what was going out the door. It was unsustainable.

The sports car stalled in the parking lot.

But if you have stuck with me to read this far, you know the solution is as simple as shifting through the four gears, and not shifting into Fourth Gear until you have a rev’d up engine and momentum from the first three gears.

Now we can go back to that life is good, cruising down the interstate jamming to your favorite tunes… that is how your business is meant to be driven.

We just had the right strategies, in the wrong order.

I want to leave you with one more good resource, if you are ready (or even just curious) about what an effective Fourth Gear strategy looks like.

Originally, I was hesitant to share suggestions in this section because there are SO many other folks who are selling Fourth Gear solutions. Heck, I used to position my own LinkedIn profile as an “automation marketing guy” because I’ve built websites, grown big lists, constructed funnels and produced just over $1.5M with just 2 emails (client work)…

… but the inconsistency drove me out of that role. I wasn’t enjoying it because we would see results, but not reliably and predictably. Just like you “could” get your car out of the parking lot in second gear, but that doesn’t mean that is how a high performance machine is designed to be driven.

One Good Fourth Gear Resource

So I am going to leave you with one more, free and valuable resource. Again, this is from Bryan Harris at VideoFruit. Remember, he was the guy who gave you every thing you needed to get a kick-ass Third Gear rolling in the section above.

I’m a fan of Bryan’s (and a customer) because he gives so much value in advance. I don’t get anything from these mentions. I didn’t even tell I was going to link to him in the article. I just want you to have access to tools that I would use.

Before Bryan published his Partnership Marketing 101 Guide, he launched this Marketing Makeover on How To Build A High Ticket Sales Funnel. It’s another epic post, with links to all the scripts and examples to get you started on your own.

If you need help with paid traffic to fill your funnel… that’s not my thing. But I know tons of experts who thrive in that space. DM if you need a connection, or if YOU are a paid traffic guy and you want to tell us why you are the right person to put more fuel in this sales and marketing motor – drop a note in the comments. Just share take a page from Bryan and show us something useful 😉

A little bit of background about me (Tobin Slaven) and the role I play (play is the essential word) with SalesMAP.me:

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I am one of four partners at SalesMAP.me with a dozen years experience in cutting edge digital marketing. Prior to SalesMAP, I founded MustTryIt! Media where I helped grow one of my clients into a national non-profit, and from pre-revenue to over $20MM in annual operating budget.

For the last several years I’ve been doubling down on the “Conversations at Scale” methodology that has proven to move cold contacts into closed deals more effectively than industry-standard lead funnels.

I would love to hear what you think of this post. I do conversational outreach daily on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Email. When we chat – yes, it’s really me and not an assistant!


Message from Tobin: One of the best strategies you can employ as part of your online sales & marketing, is to answer the questions or shift the frame of reference for your prospects BEFORE you get into a sales conversation.

This epic post (3000+ words) was pulled from one our our paid training modules, but I kept having to explain this methodology so we could get into those meatier conversations. Hope you find it valuable!

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