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Launching self-liquidating offers with Eman Zabi

Eman explains how Canadian freelancers can launch self-liquidating offers to generate more leads for their business.

Eman Zabi is the Founder of The Scribesmith — a copywriting agency that specializes in research-based strategy and conversion copy for digital products.

Eman is also the creator of The Conversion Kits, brainstorming decks to help entrepreneurs increase conversion, as well as Terrain, an online course marketplace that hosts and markets high-quality courses for entrepreneurs.

In this episode, Eman and Mohammed talk about how Canadian freelancers can launch self-liquidating offers to generate more leads for their business.

Short on time? Skip to the parts you're most interested in.

[02:07] Getting started as a freelancer

[05:06] Start of building sales funnels

[08:15] Learning about self-liquidating offers

[10:02] How to build self-liquidating offers

[14:35] Determining what you should offer

[16:43] Offers Eman has set up for her business

[19:01] Setting up trip wires for your offers

[21:51] Challenges of running self-liquidating offers

[24:09] Tools to launch your self-liquidating offers

[28:23] Creating self-liquidating offers for your business

[33:27] Converting your leads into clients

[36:37] When it doesn't make to set up a self-liquidating offer

[38:15] Eman's advice for Canadian freelancers

If you enjoyed the conversation, check out more episodes of our podcast. You can subscribe to Freelance Canada on Apple Podcasts or listen to it wherever you get your podcast. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the episode.

Mohammed: How are you feeling overall?

Eman: I feel pretty good. I’m excited to talk about this. I don’t think I’ve spoken about this on any podcast so far.

Mohammed: Oh, yeah? I’m keen to see how this goes because I am quite interested in learning this since I didn’t know there was a name for this. So, the fact that I’m learning this, it’s gonna be pretty fun. So, before we get started on anything else, let’s start by talking about what is it that you do as an entrepreneur?

Eman: Sure. So, at this point, I’m running a copywriting agency, The Scribesmith. We have a couple of different sides of the business. We have an e-commerce site. We have a platform that we’re in the process of developing. And then, of course, we do lots of one-on-one client work with people who are either launching courses or memberships, but this is like a few years in. I started off fresh grad, no real experience in the industry, was unemployed, and that’s kind of how I got my start in this space.

Mohammed: Right, right. And when you did get started as a fresh grad, what was the driver for going the freelance route? What made you decide to, (a), not only get into it but then also stay in it?

Eman: Well, it was a little bit of an accident. I think most people kind of stumble into this industry. I was unemployed, it was really hard to get a job at the time. I had probably the most useless degree on the planet, political science. Super interesting, I loved every minute of it but, oh my goodness, it’s impossible to get a job with that degree. So, I started blogging, as many of us do, and I was sent a link to The Copywriter Club Podcast, and I’m like, “Oh, this is a thing I could do,” and it kind of just went from there.

I did end up getting a full-time job as a writer a few months into the process but I knew that I would be leaving the country in like eight or nine months, this was before I moved to Canada, and I wanted to see if I could build my freelance business up on the side. So I was kind of using my full-time job as my primary income source and I would come home from work and then work until like 1 or 2 a.m. on all the little bits and pieces you needed to seem like a legitimate business.

I had a lot of like, “Oh, I’m too young to be doing this kind of stuff,” so I wanted to seem as legitimate as I could possibly seem. So I had a great website, I had like my early funnel set up, I was investing in my business already and I tried to have everything ready to go by the time I moved to Canada and that’s pretty much what I did.

Mohammed: And where did you move to Canada from?

Eman: From Qatar — which is a tiny, tiny country in the Middle East.

Mohammed: Yeah. So, let’s look at that. So, you started the freelance business in Qatar, and you found clients that were in Qatar or were they already in Canada?

Eman: It was next to impossible to find clients in Qatar at that time because freelance just wasn’t really an accepted concept there. I was finding clients in the US primarily because the exchange rate was great and I did have one or two trained clients.

I went from making a few $1,000 a month to making — well, enough to pay like a full-time team in a couple of years once I moved here.

Mohammed: Awesome. Okay, so — and you knew you were going to move to Canada or — I guess how did that come about?

Eman: So I was in the process of applying for immigration at the time. I had just kind of received my documents and I had about eight or nine months to kind of get ready to make the move and I used those nine months to build up the business before I did. And by “build up the business,” I had very unrealistic expectations of how much it would actually cost to live in Canada.

I was making maybe like 1,000, 1,500 US dollars but it was really not enough but I had savings from my full-time job which allowed me to kind of make that transition a little bit smoother. And then I went from making a few $1,000 a month to making — well, enough to pay like a full-time team in a couple of years once I moved here.

Mohammed: And earlier you mentioned you built your website, you wanted to look legit, and you talked about building funnels. Could you dive into that a little bit more, please?

Eman: Sure. So, I did a lot of testing around funnels. So, I did everything from the basic opt-in to welcome sequence to like small offer at the end to more complex funnels. I was looking at what other people were doing in the industry and trying to deconstruct it and figure out what I could apply to my own business. And one thing that we started doing fairly early on was looking at self-liquidating offers which is still a big part of our business strategy but it’s also a big part of what we recommend to our clients because it’s such a neat way of building your list for, well, essentially for free.

The way self-liquidating funnels work is that like it’s an offer that you sell to cold audiences and the idea is that the cost of getting it out in front of that audience is then recouped by the offer sales. So, for example, if you’re like putting $1,000 into your Facebook ads and you have, say, a $50 offer, then if your SLO is working, you need to make like at least 20 sales and then you’ve recouped your money but you’ve also brought in new leads into your funnel.

And the best way that I recommend to do it is to kind of set it up as a tripwire so you’re getting free leads in the front end and then they see your pay offer right after and then they’re sent — then they just get added to your email funnel and that’s kind of how — those were some of the early funnels that we set up. Well, I set up, I just made them then. Yeah.

Mohammed: Okay. I have a lot of questions here. So, how did you even think to be like, “Oh, I’m going to set up this email opt-in and I’m going to have this funnel and I’m going to go and deconstruct other people’s websites,” like where did all these ideas even come from? What was even the end goal that you were trying to accomplish there?

Eman: I probably should say something along the lines of like I was being really strategic about this and blah, blah, blah, but, no, I was just really curious about how it was working for other people. I guess just a very — I’m very inclined towards experimentation in general and I’m like if it works, it works; if it doesn’t, I’ve learned something. So, I was just looking and reading and trying to understand as much as I could about the industry.

I was listening to at least three hours of podcasts a day because I had a crazy commute and every time I would like — something would stick out to me, I would scribble it down and see if there was a way I could test it in my own business. I tried everything from like this five-day mini-email course and I did that very — like very, very early on into my freelance career when I had no business teaching anyone anything but I learned how to set all of that up, how to run like small scale ads to that and all of that.

So I was just piecing together as much like information about the industry as I could and finding out like — and every time I saw someone doing something interesting, I would go dig into their funnel, I would go sign up for it and just creep on their list and figure out what they were doing right. Yeah.

You need to understand the context in which the offer is kind of being made, like what is the suite of services that you currently offer and you need to find an offer that naturally kind of lends itself well to those upsells.

Mohammed: And, okay, so you came across self-liquidating offers. Did you even know that’s what they were called or was it — I don’t know, like were you just on Twitter and somebody’s like, “Self-liquidating offers, here’s your funnels,” and you’re like, “That sounds really cool.” Like how did it all come about?

Eman: I think someone mentioned it on a podcast or maybe it was some free webinar I had signed up for. It could have been Bushra Azhar. I’m not very sure. I listened to a lot of her stuff early on because she was based in the Middle East and she was brown as well and she was an incredibly successful person. I think she was making like, at the time, a few $100,000 a month and I’m like I’m looking to make that in a year.

Mohammed: Yeah.

Eman: Like, so I tried to learn everything I could about the way she was doing and she had some really, really clever funnel strategies. Very ostentatious, which is kind of her brand. It’s very loud. But it worked for her and I wanted to kind of understand. And I’m — like if Bushra is like on the loud end of the spectrum, I’m like on the opposite side. I’m like the quietest, mousiest person you’ll ever meet. So I’m like how do I take Bushra’s strategy and then kind of make it my own?

And it was sort of this journey of experimenting, kind of figuring out how to make that work and in the process of kind of understanding the self-liquidating offer, I ended up like you need for like, for example, for a self-liquidating offer to really be effective, you need to understand the context in which the offer is kind of being made, like what is the suite of services that you currently offer and you need to find an offer that naturally kind of lends itself well to those upsells. It required me to take a big step back and understand what I was driving my leads towards.

Mohammed: Let’s start understanding self-liquidating offers, right? Earlier, you mentioned that it’s essentially an offer where you can essentially break-even, if not sometimes even make a little bit of profit, but that’s not the goal of the self-liquidating offer. It’s that the relationship or it’s that lead that you get as a result of it. Did I capture that right?

Eman: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Mohammed: Right. And so then, now that I have this email or person that’s in my funnel, I guess, what am I leading them to? Like, walk me through the process of building this funnel. What does that look like? Or how should people think about building theirs?

Eman: Sure. So, you need a couple of things in place first. There are a couple of different types of self-liquidating offers. I prefer the one that has a tripwire in it because you get more leads for your dollar so I’m going to talk about that one. It’s a slightly more complicated version. But, essentially, you need an offer, you need an opt-in, and you need a welcome sequence that kind of comes after it. And, of course, you need ads.

So, you’ve set up ads that run to your opt-in page and then once people have opted in, it redirects them to a landing page where they then see your offer. And your offer needs to be something that’s relatively low cost but has high perceived value so that it’s an impulse buy for them. And once they purchase that offer, both sets of people, people who opt-in into your page and people who purchase the offer, go into your welcome sequence and then you can upsell them a higher ticket offer at the end of it.

But the idea is that the cost is — the amount you’re making off the sales of that offer should be enough to offset the cost of your ads. And that’s essentially it.

Mohammed: Okay. So, I’m going to say it back to you, just to make sure I’m learning, and as a result, I’m also summarizing it and those learning are also like, “No, you got it wrong and listen to her.” Okay, so, I have something that I’m offering and — let’s in the case of Benji, right?

Let’s use Benji as an example. So, let’s say I come out with an online course. Is that course my offer? Or do I create, let’s say, like a downloadable PDF, white paper or something, and that’s my offer to get them into my funnel and the course becomes the upsell?

Eman: Well, it depends on the cost of your course. So, if your course is a couple of thousand dollars, then I would make it the upsell at the end.

Mohammed: Okay.

Eman: For a course, I would recommend doing a PDF checklist as your opt-in and then having something a little bit meatier as your SLO offer. So like maybe it’s a $99 masterclass or something like that, like a recording that they can access or something along those lines. So they sign in, like opt-in for your PDF, and then they get redirected to your masterclass and then they purchase. Whether they purchase or not, they go through that same welcome sequence or if you want to be fancy, you can segment that and have two different versions of it.

And, at the end, you upsell them something else. So the upsell and whatever money you make off the upsell is just pure profit because the masterclass sales have offset the cost of your ads.

Mohammed: Okay. So, the way that an SLO funnel works is that I have three key things that I can offer my potential audience/buyer and, in the case of Benji, for example, I might have a spreadsheet to manage your finances, right? And that’s the free offer that you have to opt-in to my email to download, right? And then, once you land on the thank you page after you’ve downloaded the spreadsheet, you see an offer for a pre-recorded video of managing your finances course or it could be something else but let’s call it a video course or something of that sort.

And then that one has a higher-priced item or has a price item. And after that, once they kind of go into that funnel, I then sell them on like the larger course or a freelance finances boot camp program. Have I gotten all the pieces right?

Eman: Yep, that’s exactly it.

If you have a free offer on the front end, you get more emails coming in and then you will have a percentage of those people purchase your paid offer.

Mohammed: Okay. So, is that spreadsheet that people are downloading, is that free or does that also have a price to it?

Eman: Well, no, that one’s free. You can do this in two different ways. You can have your paid offer be the only offer that you kind of have on the front end, but that means you’re limiting the number of emails you’re collecting in the process. But if you have a free offer on the front end, you get more emails coming in and then you will have a percentage of those people purchase your paid offer so that kind of works in that way. You get more emails for the same amount of ad spend, essentially.

Mohammed: Right, and then, I guess, the question becomes, what am I doing with all of these emails that I’m collecting through that free lead gen?

Eman: Well, ideally, you also have your welcome sequence set up. So, your welcome sequence — so these are cold emails that are coming in and the purpose of your welcome sequence is to warm them up, establish your authority, and really start addressing their pain points and then getting them primed for you to make an offer. So, maybe that’s — if you’re a freelancer and doing like one-on-one service work, that could be like one of your high ticket offers that you’re getting them ready for.

If you have a course, [as] you mentioned, then that’s really starting to address the pain points that that course will solve and then starting to slip in, say, some social proof, maybe mention it a few times. It’s not a super hard sell until, say, the last few emails. If people don’t end up purchasing that course, then they just get added to your regular newsletter list. You should have a newsletter. You should be keeping your list.

Because if you don’t do anything to those emails that you are collecting, they’re going to forget that they signed up for your offer and they’re — once you’ve kind of — even though they’re in your funnel, if you aren’t nurturing them, they kind of — you lose relevance and they’re gonna unsubscribe when you suddenly wake up one day and just try and sell them something.

Mohammed: Okay, I am excited, you can see my face, and I have a lot more questions. So, first, let’s start by understanding how you currently have an SLO set up for your business.

Eman: Sure. So, we did something a little bit different. We don’t have an SLO running for any of our digital products. What we do have is one running for our physical products. So, we created these launch planning and strategic copywriting decks, like brainstorming decks, and we’ve been experimenting with different ways of kind of getting them out there and since our audience is primarily people who are building these funnels and trying to launch courses and trying to sell some kind of digital offer, we figured that this would be something that’s interesting and a little bit out of the box.

Everyone’s seen the PDF downloads, everyone’s seen like the spreadsheets and the webinars, things like that. We wanted to see something, create something that was a bit of a pattern interrupt and something that had really high perceived value because it’s something beautiful, if I say so myself, and it’s a physical product that you’re actually getting in the mail. So that’s kind of what we did. And once people purchase those, they get into our funnel and then they are upsold a consulting call. 

So, this is like — this is a simpler SLO than the tripwire one that we just talked about because there’s just one thing. You see the ad for the deck, you purchase the deck, you get added to our funnel. And the reason we have this is because we have other list-building ads running as well. So, our focus here was just to bring in sales because I have a box of like a thousand something decks in my garage and they need to move. So, yeah, that was essentially it.

So they get sold in, they get added to our email funnel, and then they get sold a consulting call. After the consulting call, they have the option to, again, purchase some of our higher ticket, one-on-one, long-term kind of client work packages. So, essentially, we’re selling like a $70 deck into — and then upselling it to a $750 call and then upselling it to, say, a $10,000 project at the end of it. And that’s kind of how it works. But our acquisition cost is still like the 10 bucks that cost us to get that one lead for the deck.

Mohammed: Yeah, yeah. So, okay. Hold on, with every upsell, I just feel like you’re adding another zero at the end. 

Eman: Yeah.

Mohammed: So, okay, $70 turned into $700 and then that turns into like $7,000 or, well, $10,000. Okay. And, earlier, you also mentioned something about a tripwire. What is that?

Eman: So, the tripwire is the second offer that you’re seeing. So like if we take your example, it’s that video, that pre-recorded video, that would be the tripwire. It’s like it was triggered by the act of people opting in for your free offer. And that’s kind of the tripwire offer that you can — some people like to make it time-sensitive as well so you can really up the urgency with that. That component of the SLO is called a tripwire.

Mohammed: Okay. So, that video course or pay to watch this video, essentially, that part is a tripwire?

Eman: Yes.

The first thing in your SLO is bait, right? It has to be something that can hook people. If your paid offer is good enough to hook people on its own, then you don’t need an additional opt-in layer.

Mohammed: Okay. So, in your case, your deck is the initial offering and then the consulting call, would that be your tripwire or is that your upsell?

Eman: Yes. So, that’s our upsell. We don’t have, for this particular offer, we aren’t using a tripwire anymore because we figured like the decks were enticing enough to work well on their own, but if you have something more common, like a PDF, then I would recommend having that extra layer in front of it to kind of — so, okay, let me put it this way.

The first step, the first thing in your SLO is bait, right? It has to be something that can hook people. If your paid offer is good enough to hook people on its own, then you don’t need an additional opt-in layer. But if it’s something people are more used to, like a webinar or spreadsheets and stuff like that, then it’s helpful to have a free layer to attract people first.

Mohammed: Okay. So, essentially, it’s that, if it’s common enough where I could download this PDF here or I could go somewhere else and — or just Google for like spreadsheets, then it’s not something I’m willing to pay for and don’t even try to do it. Instead, use that as lead gen, in a way.

And then, because it’s free, you’re going to add a tripwire — to use your terminology — and that is that on the thank you page, I’m going to show them something that is a paid offer and that could be a time-sensitive offer if anything. So, that paid offer still is not too expensive. Still, I’m assuming, probably under $100.

Eman: Yep, generally.

Mohammed: Generally. And then that tripwire or that paid offering, whoever purchases that gets added to the funnel of then being upsold to other offerings that you are providing. Do I have that right?

Eman: Yep, that’s exactly it.

Mohammed: Okay. Okay. So, I think I’m getting a hint of this. Thank you. Thank you. Now, as you’ve been setting all these different funnels as part of your SLO structure, what have been some challenges that you’ve run into?

Eman: So, testing is huge for this. Like, especially with Facebook ads, like, oh my goodness, you have to find the right combination of copy with imagery with targeting and it’s really, really hard. I burnt through so much money trying to do this myself and then I just decided that I was going to hire somebody and have them take care of it, for that, really, the Facebook ads part of it. Things change with Facebook so frequently that even if you’ve taken a couple of courses on it, if you aren’t staying up to date, you aren’t going to get great results.

Now, when I first started kind of dabbling with this, I suppose this was like 2017, it was a lot easier back then. Even someone with as little experience as me was able to kind of get results. But, right now, if I was attempting to do it, I would just save myself like all of the — really, the effort and the money and I would just give it to an expert and be like, “Please, can you set the ads up for me?” And, yeah, so, that’s kind of it. That part of it I think is tricky and you need to know what you’re doing on the ad side of it or else you’re going to lose money in the process.

You also really need to be patient because you have to run — I mean, if you want to do this right, then you need to be open to optimizing your funnel at different points. You have to be willing to get into the data and look at [it] like this landing page is converting at whatever percent, this isn’t converting, how do I kind of — do I need to change the hook on this page to get conversion up? Maybe the button needs to be brighter. Maybe the button needs to be bigger.

It’s kind of taking ownership of the whole funnel and being patient as you kind of — and as you test. And testing takes money. So, it’s something that I would recommend for people who are a little bit further along in their freelance career so if you have a little bit of like, honestly, like a burden budget that you can use for experimentation, this would be a good place for it to go. Because once it’s done right and once it’s set up, it pays off. It’s just the initial testing stage can be painful.

Mohammed: I have so many thoughts and I’m now making sure I articulate all of them. I suppose one thing, as I’m listening to this, I’m trying to understand, hey, this sounds good, I have an idea of let’s say, I’m a designer, freelance designer, and my larger upsell offering is that I’m going to offer my services as a designer to a company or to other designers or something of that sort. Right?

But then the service before that is maybe I help do an audit of someone’s brand or something of that sort? And then the offering before that is maybe like a downloadable — maybe it’s not downloadable, maybe it’s something I buy which is that it’s a pack of a Figma UI kit where people can sort of get started with their UI design for their app or something, right?

Eman: Yeah.

Mohammed: So there [are] three offers right there. [Does] that so far seem in line?

Eman: Yeah, it does.

I recommend using a tool like Hotjar so you get heat maps of your landing pages so you can see if people are getting distracted by your design or if there’s something — if buttons aren’t being clicked.

Mohammed: So, now that I know that I have this sort of setup and these three offers, where do I get started? Like what tools do I use? What am I paying for? What should I not be paying for? What should I do?

Eman: So, the only tool that you’ll really need is something to post the landing pages on so you can use — you can use Unbounce, you can use Leadpages, whatever you usually use. Leadpages is probably the easiest to use if you’re newer to this. So, you need Facebook ads, imagery for that, you can make on whatever your image platform is of choices, Canva all the way, and then you need something for your landing pages and then everything else is over email. So, really, that’s all you need.

And, of course, I mean, I’m sure you have something, like something to — you need Stripe to integrate with Leadpages so that you can take money but that’s essentially it. It’s very simple from a tech setup point of view. It’s there isn’t much. It becomes challenging [from] the strategic point of view. So, you need to be able to kind of take a step back and look at what the data is telling you and then make informed decisions based on that. For that reason, I recommend using a tool like Hotjar so you get heat maps of your landing pages so you can see if people are getting distracted by your design or if there’s something — if buttons aren’t being clicked. 

And I’ve seen conversion go up significantly when you refer to the heat maps and things like that and like we've — it’s been as simple as changing the colour of a button and then we’ve seen conversion spike. So, it’s being very hands-on with that data and you’re looking at parts of your funnel in isolation to see where the problem is but also taking a step back and looking at it as a whole.

Mohammed: Right, right. And when you say email, am I using my personal email? Am I using MailChimp or what are you using?

Eman: Right. Right, sorry, I should have said. Please don’t use MailChimp. MailChimp — Please don’t use MailChimp.

Mohammed: Oh, no.

Eman: Definitely not your personal email either. I highly, highly recommend ActiveCampaign because when you’re doing any sort of funnel work, it just gives you the most amount of data. It gives you the most flexibility with the kinds of funnels that you can set up.

It can be a little bit intimidating at first and there’s a little bit of a learning curve, but like the flexibility and the — it’s just a very robust platform and there’s so much you can do with it that you just can’t even dream of doing on MailChimp or even ConvertKit, for that matter.

Mohammed: Wow. Those are some fighting words. Okay. I mean, MailChimp, if you’re listening, still love you.

Eman: Sorry. Well, MailChimp is great if you’re starting out. I will say that. I will say that. But if you have any sort of complicated funnels, you should be on ActiveCampaign. And they’re not paying me to say this. They should hire me though. I keep — I gush about how great they are.

Mohammed: Right. At least have an affiliate code or something.

Eman: I know.

Mohammed: So let’s go back to our example of this freelance designer, right?

Eman: Right.

Mohammed: Their first offering is a UI kit that someone’s going to pay to download and they create a website using whichever tool they’re familiar with and they have that offering, Stripe is connected, and it’s connected in the backend in terms of the welcome email that you mentioned, to ActiveCampaign, right?

Eman: Yes.

Mohammed: So, now, I then learn how to run ads on Facebook or I ask around for somebody who can help me run ads on Facebook to then drive traffic to that webpage. Do I have that part right?

Eman: Yep, that’s perfect.

Clickbait gets a really bad rep but it’s important to have something that can hook your audience. It’s incredibly important that you deliver what you’re promising.

Mohammed: Okay. So, now, I’m spending money so far and I’m spending quite a bit because those Facebook ads are not cheap. So, people come to my site and then let’s say they decide to go ahead and pay for this sub-$100 product, this UI kit, and then when they purchase it, I show them a thank you page and on that thank you page, is that now where I have the offer to do like an audit or consulting of their existing app design or does that not come because this is a paid offer right now?

Eman: Well, it depends on how much your audit costs. So if it’s a significant jump from your UI kit, which I’m assuming it would be, then I would recommend it come post emails because you have time to kind of establish your authority a little bit more and warm the audience up.

If you do want to put something on the thank you page, that’s when I recommend having like — so in the UI kit, I would put that on the thank you page and then have like a “15 Mistakes That Can Kill Your Design in 2020” PDF on the front end or something that — it’s bait. It is bait, but the idea is that you also deliver on like, okay, like, I’m going to go off on a tangent for a second, but like —

Mohammed: Yeah, do it.

Eman: — clickbait gets a really bad rep but it’s important to have something that can hook your audience. It’s incredibly important that you deliver what you’re promising. If you’re using some enticing copy and like a fun headline thing, you have to deliver on it. Clickbait on its own isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I’m just gonna put that out there. So you need something attractive enough to stand out in the noise and stop people mid scroll, get them to click through. It’s a trade, right? 

You’re providing something in exchange for their email address. You need to make it look as enticing as possible and sometimes that means it has to be for free. So, you’re giving them some really valuable feeling-free PDF and then they get onto your UI kit thing. They pay for it. And then they go through your emails. And then I guess an audit is like 1,500 bucks ish?

Mohammed: Sure, yeah. Sure, let’s do that, yeah, 1,500 bucks. Okay.

Eman: Yeah. So, I would say like 10 days of emails and then you make that offer and you should be in a good place. I will say that some people make this mistake with welcome sequences where they kind of — where they drag it out a little bit too much. So a welcome sequence that spans over two months and then you make your offer is generally a bad idea. You want to want to make the sales within, say, the next two weeks or so while people are still familiar with you and your work.

Mohammed: Right. And the problem may be that sort of led them to pique their interest is still relevant but they’re like, “Actually, I’ll just go ahead with this solution that I wasn’t expecting.”

Eman: Yeah. 100 percent.

Mohammed: Okay. So, now I have my offer, I’ve got my PDF, I’ve got my UI kit, I put them through this welcome email sequence that’s no longer than, let’s say, two weeks. So, is it at the end of my email sequence, like in the last email sequence, that I make my pitch about, like, “Hey, if you need help with your app audit or whatnot, book me for $1,500.” Is that it?

Eman: Well, you want to make a harder sale than just that. 

Mohammed: I hope so.

Eman: “Hey, if you need help, I’m here.” We don’t want to do that. I would say maybe the last three to four emails and I would make it a time-sensitive offer so, say, your audit is usually $2,000 but if you purchase right now, it’s 1,500 bucks. And have some of that urgency going. And if it’s a service that you’re providing, then there’s also like a natural cap because you can only do so many at a time —

Mohammed: Right.

Eman: — so if you only offer, say, two to three a month, make sure you mention that. Just urgency and scarcity and perceived value are the three key things that you kind of need when you are trying to push an offer that isn’t an impulse buy. At 1,500 bucks, for most people, that’s not an impulse buy, unless you’re dealing with corporations because 1,500 bucks is pretty much their lunch budget, but, yeah.

Mohammed: Got it, got it. Okay. So, then, let’s say they book my consulting session and I’m kind of just going through and helping to do that audit that we talked about, and I got my $1,500, then what? Do I just be like, in the middle of that consulting, I’ll be just like, “By the way, you should hire me for $10,000.”

Eman: Well, no.

Mohammed: Okay.

Eman: Well, I mean, you wouldn’t offer everyone who takes your audit your $10,000 offer because it depends on whether that offer is actually good for them. Like, do they need the services that you provide at that point? Is it something that is realistic for them at that stage of the business? Because it’s less about trying to fit everybody into your — take everybody forward into the next stage of your funnel at that point, it’s more about is this the right next step for your client?

And, if it is, then you tell them why it’s the right next step and then you offer them — follow it up with a formal proposal. And the benefit of that is that normally — I mean, you have — if you’ve done an audit already, then you have a really good understanding of how their business works so you can make a very tailored proposal that just spells out like where you’re going to get them the ROI, the benefits, and all of that and that makes it easier to close like a higher ticket deal as well.

And, because they have this experience working with you, it makes them less — like the risk is lower in their eyes because they know you’re the real deal and all of that. And, yeah, it makes it easier to close those $10,000 deals, but it also makes it incredibly important that you knock it out of the park with that audit. Like your goal going into that audit is to delight them. You need to blow their minds in that audit if you’re gonna like upsell something for 10 grand.

Mohammed: Okay. This is interesting because, in a way, we’re talking about funnels but it’s almost me building a pipeline for clients for myself while making additional funds along the way, because I think what’s interesting that you said is that you’re essentially screening out people that you don’t want to work with, right?

Eman: Oh, yeah.

Mohammed: That’s what the audit is doing. The audit is somebody paying you to see if you want to work with them.

Eman: Yep.

Mohammed: That’s what that is.

Eman: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a paid discovery call.

Imagine paying a few bucks for a Facebook ad, a lead coming in through a Facebook ad, and then eventually being able to upsell them into big-ticket projects.

Mohammed: That is dope. Okay, I like that. What? Okay, good. Okay. Damn. How do you feel about all this?

Eman: I mean, I can see why it probably feels overwhelming to people hearing this for the first time but I promise it’s worth the effort. I promise it’s worth the effort because once this is set up right, it is a machine that brings in leads and — I mean, the ROI on this is fantastic.

Imagine paying a few bucks for a Facebook ad, a lead coming in through a Facebook ad, and then eventually being able to upsell them into big-ticket projects. Like the biggest we have done through this kind of funnel has been around $30,000 and, I mean, all of that initial front-end effort pays off in spades.

Mohammed: I guess, as we think about this, and it sounds amazing, don’t get me wrong, because it’s something I’ve been thinking about and experimenting [with] next month, surprisingly, as well, or not too surprisingly, I don’t know. Nonetheless, I guess I’m interested to see, in your experience, at least, when does it not make sense for somebody just to set up an SLO for themselves?

Eman: Well, if you have — you only have very high ticket offers and you don’t want to devalue your brand by having lower-priced offerings at all. Like, for example, if you’re going after like the Nikes and the Patagonias of the world and you’re dealing with them and not like agencies, then Nike isn’t going to buy like — like opt-in to your free offer. Like that’s not gonna happen. So like it depends on who your audience is.

So, if you only have very high ticket offers, very like high profile clients and you only take a limited number of clients at a time, then this is probably not a good fit for you. If, for example, if you only need one client a month or two clients a month at like $5,000 a month, then this probably isn’t the best fit for you, especially if you don’t want to be doing like that mid offer at all.

It’s also probably not the best fit if you haven’t sat down and done the work about figuring out like your own offer funnel so like what your high ticket offers are, whether you have like your midrange offers and like what your gateway drug offer essentially is,

Mohammed: Oh, man. I like this so much and it reminds me of something I’ve been learning through a friend of mine who’s going through The No Pants Project because they have essentially this model and I just didn’t know that that’s what it was called, it was self-liquidating offers, so I’m super excited to be learning about building these funnels because I think it’s so cool and so awesome. So, as we come to a close, I’d love to know what advice you have for Canadian freelancers.

Eman: Show up like a strategist in your business. I think that’s kind of the most important part. Look for opportunities to test, to optimize. That’s it. And always charge in US dollars, you guys. Like that exchange — you don’t want to be missing out on that exchange rate, just saying.

Mohammed: Right.

Eman: Just saying.

Mohammed: So, as we wrap up, I’d love to know where people can find out more about you and your work online?

Eman: Well, the best place to find us is one of our three websites. So, thescribesmith.com is kind of our home base. It’s where all of the agency stuff is. If you’re interested in learning about funnels and things like that, we’ve got lots of blog posts on it so that’s probably a good place to check out. If you’re interested in poking around and looking at the decks and testing our offers, theconversionkit.com is where to go.

Mohammed: Awesome. Well, Eman, thank you so much for this opportunity to learn from you. I appreciated learning about SLOs and I can’t wait to apply those to Benji as well. So, thank you so much.

Eman: Thank you so much! Thanks for having me.

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