Let me preface this article by saying I really respect ClickFunnels, I’m a 4 figure customer, and love the software. So to Russell Brunson or anyone on the ClickFunnels team reading this, I respect you a lot.
That being said, if you’re just starting out and you want to build an online sales funnel, you don’t need ClickFunnels. I’m warning you– please just don’t get it right now. You’ll thank me later.
Too many beginner entrepreneurs are getting ClickFunnels too soon before they really need it and can afford it, and they’re burning a lot of money in the process.
All Facebook hype aside, let’s take a look at what some ClickFunnels customers are really saying from the review site g2crowd.
“It was supposed to provide ease of marketing & selling of products but FAILED terribly.”
The marketing agency in KL ClickFunnels frames itself as a really easy to use cure all marketing tool, but marketing is never that easy.
“Most of the funnels are designed around products for retail customers, and it is less clear how to build a funnel for B2B small business.”
Selling physical products is a lot different than selling services. It’s a lot harder to sell coaching through ClickFunnels than it is to sell clothes.
“It’s really expensive compared to other WordPress based solutions.”
You can do most things you want to do on ClickFunnels with wordpress/squarespace and Mailchimp and pay 290 dollars less a month.
It’s Easy To Get Seduced By ClickFunnels Hype
It’s frankly really hard and expensive to create an automated profitable coaching funnel through Facebook ads and ClickFunnels. If you have thousands of dollars a month to burn on ads, it could be worth it. But most business owners who are just starting out are definitely not in this position.
When companies advertise their brands, they often focus on their success stories. This is especially true for ClickFunnels and combining those success stories with great marketing funnels that they openly use on you makes it easy to get seduced by the hype. But for every person who’s had massive success with ClickFunnels, there’s a hundred who’ve wasted a lot of money in the process (or I suppose have used it as a learning experience).
If you analyze ClickFunnels’ marketing tactics, you’ll notice they have a sort of brute force approach to marketing. It’s likely you found them either through an ad online or someone told you about them through word of mouth (and that person probably found them through an ad). Their advertising strategy is basically about spending as much money as possible to reach as many potentially qualified interested people as possible, and then putting them through their funnels to see what happens.
When you have the means to spend as much as possible to reach as many as possible, you’re in a much a different position than the one most coaches find themselves in. As coaches, we probably don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend a year on advertising. At best, we might be able to scrape together 5-10 dollars a day on ads. But spending that little on advertising normally doesn’t work very well.
The Economic Reality of Being a Beginner Entrepreneur
Mosts beginner entrepreneurs don’t have a large budget when starting out. That’s almost one of the basic criteria that comes along with being a beginner entrepreneur. You aren’t funded by an angel investor or VC, it’s just you starting a business founded on the capital of your unique knowledge, experience and expertise.
Most likely if you’re just starting out as a entrepreneur, you have very little startup capital. Heck you may even have zero startup capital. You almost certainly don’t have the startup capital required to play around with advertising (which is maybe as predictable as playing Texas hold-em) and a 300 dollar a month subscription based software.
How To Build Your Business When You’re Just Starting Out
When you’re starting out , the best way to build your business is to focus on networking—having real conversations with people—as that leads to referrals.
So how do you “network?” The internet provides you with the ability to access millions, maybe even billions of people. Many of those people are your target market, and step one is just finding the right people to network with. Who you’re networking with depends on your goals. If your main goal is to get new clients, then network with potential clients.
You can find potential clients by searching for them on social media. You can go on LinkedIn, and search for specific job descriptions or keywords that describe your target market. For example, if you’re looking to work with dissatisfied people in corporate settings, you can search for specific companies that have poor employee satisfaction ratings on glassdoor. You can also find and join Facebook groups based on what you’re target customer is interested in or what their problems are (perhaps a Facebook group on career change).
The second step is connecting with these people. Once you’ve found the right person, send them a friend request on Facebook or a request on LinkedIn. If you have access to their email address it’s encouraged to send this message on email. Reaching out definitely doesn’t have to happen on social media, and your initial “friend request” can be a cold email if you have access to that. It’s important to not approach friending people in a commodity sort of way– it isn’t about friending 10 people a day, but finding the right people to connect to. If that’s just a few per week then so be it.
After you’ve connected with your prospect by sending a friend request or request to connect, write them a message that goes along with your request. In the next section, I’ve shared an example script of what you can say.
Networking Scripts To Start Conversations With Your Target Customers
The following is an example script that you can use to reach out to your target customers on Facebook, LinkedIn , or email. This is just a principle based script that needs to be customized for everyone you interact with. If you use this script to spray a million people with the same basic message it’s not going to work, and that’s just spam. Each message you send needs to be personalized and written with care. And you better not add people to your email list who haven’t opted-in and send them mass emails. That’s illegal, and please don’t be that guy/girl. It is okay, however, to send individual personalized cold emails to people, as long as they’re written with care.
Here’s an example of what you can say (just focus on the principles, don’t copy what I’m saying because it obviously won’t apply):
“Hey Rick, I noticed you are a fan of Ramit Sethi, and I’m a fan of his as well. I’m currently taking his ZTL and accelerator programs, and I’m subscribed to his email list as well— I even actually met him in person last week at a meetup in Brooklyn. It would be cool to meet a like minded person for a phone or Skype call sometime to see what you’re working on and exchange a few ideas if you have 15 minutes.”
As you may be able to tell, this script is all about common interest. You obviously can’t copy this script exactly, but the principle to follow here it is to start with a common interest and use that as the jumping off point for a deeper conversation. If you don’t have anything in common with a potential client, then don’t work with them—they won’t be a good client.
When you first meet with a potential client, don’t have an agenda in mind. What I’m setting up in my script isn’t a sales call, just a synergy conversation with the intention of establishing a friendship. Please don’t try to sell in an initial call, unless it truly comes up naturally and the client leads the effort. Also, notice that I’m being super casual in the script, and sound like a real person not some formal business dude.
In the first sentence of the script I referenced the common interest, then in the second sentence I described my relationship with this common interest in some detail. Then I shifted to next steps to advance the conversation to a Skype call. If you’re only sending text and words to someone on the internet, the relationship is going to be very shallow, and it will be hard to get clients that way. Transition from online text to Skype, phone, or an in person meeting (if possible and practical) as soon as you can.
Once you’ve had an initial synergy conversation with a potential client, follow up with value. Perhaps you can send them an article that speaks to them, or a even ship them a book that speaks to them if you really want to blow them away. Keep developing your relationship by adding value, and when the two of you are comfortable with each other, go ahead and present your coaching services too them.
I call this approach to networking “deep networking” or the “relationship approach to networking” and it runs counter to how many people approach sales. This way of going about it is about developing trust, friendship, and comfort, before asking for anything.
Now let’s get back to more reasons why you don’t need ClickFunnels.
The Technical Difficulty of ClickFunnels
There are certain things about ClickFunnels that are easy. It’s a drag and drop landing page builder, and that’s a much easier way to create landing pages then coding them from scratch. Most landing page builders are drag and drop, so that’s not exactly a unique feature on ClickFunnels part. But it’s good that they have this functionality.
That being said, if you really want to create great funnels you will have to spend a lot of time perfecting the copy, mechanics, and design of these funnels. You can learn these skills and figure out, but it’s going to take a lot of time to create a great funnel. It certainly won’t be easy. And the funnels you build will require constant monitoring and updating if you want them to keep getting results.
Although some aspects of ClickFunnels are easy, it’s definitely not all intuitive and you will have to speak to customer support on a regular basis to get everything working the way you want to. If you’re a beginner entrepreneur, you don’t want to spend half of your day every day designing and optimizing funnels. As a beginner entrepreneur, your number one activity should be talking with customers. In terms of marketing, you really should just focus on networking and referrals, until you’re at the point where you’re ready to scale with content marketing and funnels. You’re an entrepreneur, so be an entrepreneur, not a designer, copywriter, or funnel builder.
I’ve spoken to business owners who’ve purchased ClickFunnels because they though it was easy. Later these owners realized ClickFunnels is a lot more complicated then it seems, and they don’t have the time to become really good at it. If you’re sold on ClickFunnels but don’t have the time to do it, you may be tempted to hire a funnel builder or ClickFunnels expert, which will just add another costly expense to your pile of expenses.
The Various Useless Features of ClickFunnels That You Don’t Need, At This Point
ClickFunnels is expensive, and that’s partially because it’s an all-in-one marketing software. It includes an affiliate marketing system, a landing page builder, an email marketing software, a funnel store, a subscriber influencer rating tool, a membership program builder and some other stuff.
Having all of these in one software sounds really appetizing and tempting, but truthfully if you’re a beginner entrepreneur most of these things are simply distractions. You don’t need most of the tools I’ve listed until you have at least several thousand engaged email subscribers at the bare minimum. The influence rating tool (I don’t remember what it’s called) rates each of your subscribers based on their influence on social media. When I had ClickFunnels, I brainstormed ways I could use this tool, before realizing it was totally irrelevant for me in a stage where I was just trying to get a few new clients for my business. It might have been useful to me if I had 100,000 subscribers.
I definitely didn’t need a membership software, and if I did I could have got Wishlist member through WordPress, which is the cost of one month ClickFunnels, one time.
An affiliate marketing system is not something you need when growing your client base.
You don’t need a funnel store, because if you want to create funnels you just reverse engineer a funnel that works in your industry like Russell Brunson of ClickFunnels recommends.
You may need an email marketing software, but Mailchimp is sufficient and zero to ten dollars a month. You can actually do things with Mailchimp’s email marketing software than you can’t do with ClickFunnels including more complex segmentation options.
You may need a landing page software (but you most likely don’t and can use WordPress or Squarespace). If you really want a landing page software, there are much less expensive options like Leadpages.
All in all, I saved literally 290 dollars a month, and several more hundred dollars a month from advertising by just using Mailchimp and WordPress—and my results were no different.
The Blandness of Using a ClickFunnel Too Early
I pay a lot of attention to other gurus, coaches, and consultants especially those who promote themselves on the internet. It’s really obvious to me who’s using a ClickFunnel, and honestly the more they rely on that at the expense of a compelling brand, the more bland and unremarkable they are to me. ClickFunnels should be a supplement to an already remarkable and interesting brand. You shouldn’t use ClickFunnels if you don’t have a strong proven brand, and a remarkable brand takes a while to build.
Many entrepreneurs will copy not only the mechanics of the funnels they are modeling, but also the design, brand, and copy of who they’re modeling as well. And that just leads to a lot of generic, unremarkable businesses saying roughly the same thing in their funnels.
I subscribe to email lists of entrepreneurs often just to see how someone’s funnel will play out. And most of the funnels out there look like a copy of Sam Ovens, Russell Brunson, or some other famous funnel using expert. Great marketing at it’s core is about being interesting, unique, and remarkable. If you don’t have a unique, remarkable brand, a ClickFunnel isn’t going to help you solve that. Focus on getting that down before making a complicated funnel.
When To Consider ClickFunnels
When you have a portfolio of products, thousands of subscribers, and thousands of dollars a month to spend in advertising, you can think of creating a ClickFunnel for a high end coaching offer, and that might work well. But ultimately, you shouldn’t use it to build your business from scratch.
ClickFunnels is best for businesses with big budgets and plenty of proven sales. It’s not a brand builder and shouldn’t be played around with if you’re just launching something into the market. If something sells well it will sell well using various methods. ClickFunnels is one method of making sales, but you have to prove that your thing can sell and scale before investing a fortune into it.
The pain point that ClickFunnels’ confronts is that your business really needs more sales. That’s the position most coaches find themselves in, so it’s easy to get tempted by ClickFunnels. ClickFunnels’ solution to this pain point is their easy to use funnel building system. All you have to do is create the funnel and then drop in some Facebook advertising into that funnel and boom, you have sales. The reality is far more complicated, expensive, and time-consuming than that. It’s best to start building your coaching business with tactics of smaller scale, like networking.