Well-designed lead magnets are great for building your email list, and they also serve as tangible examples of how you can solve the problems of your customer avatars. When I took Fizzle’s 7-day Build Your List Challenge recently, I knew that designing a good lead magnet was going to be a core component of the course. I thought it would give me a new lead magnet for list building, but I was wrong. What I did not expect was how easy this process would make inviting new clients into working with me.

Even if you don’t know precisely what a lead magnet is, you’ve probably seen them before. ‘Subscribe to get my free PDF workbook!’ is a standard call-to-action, to encourage people to sign up for your email newsletter list. The PDF workbook is the lead magnet – it is the free incentive that you offer your new subscribers.

My previous lead magnet was way off base. I was using the Sales Funnel Workbook, which is an awesome piece of content, but it’s way too advanced for the type of person who usually hires me. I love geeking out on sales funnels, but my clients, they hire me because they do NOT love doing this. They want me to do it, and deliver them the results.

I’m really glad I signed up for Fizzle’s 7-Day Challenge, because I knew my lead magnet needed an overhaul, and even though I’ve got really well targeted customer avatars (you can see them here) I wasn’t offering them something that they wanted.

By doing the foundational work, thinking and strategizing about what my customer avatar really wanted, I became flooded with new potential clients, and I was also able to show off some of the digital skills that I rarely get to showcase.

Here’s how it happened:

Step 1: Sign up for Fizzle’s 7-Day Grow your List Challenge

This is an excellent email course – and I say that as somebody who produces autoresponder courses for a living. There was plenty of content delivered to my inbox every day, but it was scannable, and focused on simple outcomes and tangible wins.

Step 2: Do the work for list building

I must confess, I started this course three times before I actually got all the way through. The final time, I doubled back when I had a better idea. All in all, it took me 10 days for this final run (and a combined total of 5.75 hours), but the extra time spent was worth it. When you’re digging, you never know how far it is until you strike riches; sometimes you just have to keep at it.

Step 3: Make the right thing for clients, not for list building

To give myself accountability, I liveblogged my homework for this course every day on YouTube. You can see it here:

When I was finished, I was surprised to find myself with a Homepage Audit. This was a 48-question self-assessment that anyone with a website could use to improve their website design, functionality, and loading time.

I started making this into a Homepage Grader instead, assigning a score to every question, but then I realised, once again, I had made the wrong thing for my audience.

Step 4: Iterate, again – just not for list building

The kinds of people who hire me are not going to sit through a 16-step fillable form, learning all about their website flaws along the way. The types of people that hire me, they don’t want to do all that stuff – they want to pay somebody like me to give them customised, specific recommendations, and then to implement those recommendations.

So I offered the first part for free.

Step 5: Gateway Product instead of list building

I’ve been trying to pin down a gateway product for years, and I didn’t figure it out until I went through this experience.

All I did was offer free homepage reviews to my personal network. Anyone who has a website (those are my kinds of customers) and filled out a simple form would get a free 5-10 minute video screencast review of their homepage, where I would discuss the 4 things I liked about their homepage, and listed 4 things I would improve.

Here’s what I made:

These quickly became very popular. Nearly half the people that I did this for asked me, “How much would you charge for doing those 4 fixes?”

It worked like a charm.

By providing my services for free to people who matched my customer avatars, I was able to do a lot of things at once:

  • Demonstrate my expertise
  • Provide some actionable advice that they can use right away
  • Open a conversation about improving their website
  • Build credibility, trust, and rapport

As a client generation tool, this has worked really well. I became so swamped with new work that I had to set up a paywall; instead of offering my homepage reviews for free, now they cost a few bucks. It’s still a great value, but having a paywall filters out the people who wouldn’t want to pay for my services, and preserves my time and energy for people who are already willing to pay for the work that I do.

My email list? It’s growing, but not very fast. Everybody who got a homepage review became a subscriber. But I can’t use this as a lead magnet; it’s too time intensive for me to offer a 10-minute customised video for every new email subscriber.

Besides, what’s better for me right now: a subscriber that might buy from me one day, or a new client that will buy one of my services, right now?

Moral of the story: New clients are more valuable than email subscribers.

I’ll keep working on the lead magnet, because I do want a good passive way to build my list.

The big lesson I learned here is to follow your creative impulses, even if you’re going off track. If you know what you’re aiming for, sometimes going off track can give you a much better shot at reaching your goal.

About The Author

Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.

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