Before we had electricity, internal combustion engines and nuclear power, the entire world economy depended on the wind.
And when ships ventured near the equator, sometimes the wind would just die, leaving sailors stranded for weeks or even months until they ran out of food and water.
They called these pockets of deadly calm “the doldrums.”
Entrepreneurs get trapped in the doldrums, too—especially after a product launch.
A product launch propels you like a jetstream. Everybody's excited and throwing money at you, and it feels like you've finally arrived.
But it doesn't last. In fact, it's common for sales to stop entirely once the buzz dies down.
You find yourself wondering if your product (which seemed so promising just a few days ago) is dead.
Software developer Jesus is at this point now with his course on programming in Ruby.
He has a small list of around 220 software developers. He's earned $677.73 so far, and then sales went in the toilet.
Now what most people do in this situation is PANIC.
Then they start running around like crazy, trying every tactic that pops up in their noisy Twitter feed.
They write a bunch of blog posts and spam the Internet with links.
They post about their course 10X a day on Facebook.
They try paid advertising and lose hundreds of dollars faster than they can blink.
This is why 90% of new businesses fail.
So what should Jesus do instead?
This is where you have to buckle down and start the hard work of building a working sales funnel.
The key to staying sane and making progress is to:
1. Accept that bringing in sales consistently over time means building a sales funnel.
2. Break your existing sales funnel up into pieces.
3. Work on one piece at a time.
In this case, Jesus has all the components of a sales funnel in place.
He has a website. He has an email list. He has a sales page.
So you look at each piece of your funnel and start evaluating how well it's working.
How much traffic is the website getting?
Is the website converting 2-4% or more of visitors to email signups?
Is there a system for building a relationship with email subscribers and showing them how their lives would be better if they bought your course?
Maybe Jesus is only getting a few hundred visits a month to his website.
Well, in that case, he'll only collect a handful of new email subscribers every week…
And since a small minority of those people will turn into customers, it's going to be tough to make any sales.
In that case, it makes sense to focus for a while on getting more traffic to his site.
Now he knows to go looking for some tactics that will help him get more traffic from his target audience, and he can ignore everything else for a while.
Or maybe he's getting 5,000-10,000 visits to his blog every month, but no one signs up for his newsletter.
In that case, more traffic isn't the solution, and Jesus needs to spend some time testing different lead magnets and opt-in forms.
I find it works best to start with your goal—a purchase of your product, a lead for your service business…
And then work your way backwards. What are all the steps a person needs to take before they become a customer?
Look for the weakest link in that chain, and focus your efforts there.
Otherwise you'll drive yourself nuts trying an endless string of ever-changing tactics.