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5 Key Business Insights to Guarantee Success with any Niche, Brand or Product

My journey into online marketing has been a real experience.

A roller coaster ride of the ecstasy of selling my first e-book (the system works and I’m making money, hurrah!) and the frustrations of building traffic and engaging subscribers (build it and they will come, pah!).

Having plugged away for the past 18 months, I’m finally starting to see the fruits of my labor and enjoy a momentum that’s building nicely and producing consistent results. I’m not about to retire to the Caribbean just yet, but the pressure to create new streams of income is at least somewhat relieved by the realization that I’ve taught myself to fish so, come what may, I will always be able to feed myself and my family.

Thinking back over what I’ve discovered about how to be successful in business, I realized these could be categorized into five major bsuiness insights:

Business Insight #1: Online Marketing shouldn’t be Exclusively Online

Awareness, credibility, likeability, respect and trust are the factors most oft-quoted as necessary for building customer loyalty and getting those all-important sales. There are no shortcuts here, just good old fashioned honesty, integrity and hard work. The harder you work, the “luckier” you will be.

To really boost your brand and get your name out there, try engaging face to face with real people. Even if it’s just attending the occasional conference, workshop, training day or networking event. The energy and validation of your ideas that you get from face to face interaction really can’t be underestimated.

Use networking events as an opportunity to get to know others in your field, get a new perspective by applying ideas from other industries to your business, and engage with your potential customers to find out what they want. What are they talking about, complaining about, excited about, what is hot news?

After years working in corporate marketing, fundraising and some decent small business success I’ve often talked about the necessity of “integrated online and offline marketing techniques”. But it’s only in the online world that I’ve fully appreciated the importance of this. You can’t be two dimensional anymore, you need to be 3D if you want to stand-out.

Business Insight #2: Become a Key Person of Influence

There is much buzz at the moment about positioning yourself as an expert in your field. This expertise is self-appointed but if you have any experience or training in a specific area you are an expert compared to most other people.

Having recently spoken on stage at a large event I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to promote my brand and tell people how I can help them build their own profitable online businesses. All of a sudden, I am seen as a credible expert in this area and women are seeking me out, friending me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and requesting my help. Result!

The tipping point between promoting yourself and people seeking you out is essential to success. Becoming a Key Person of Influence will help you build the momentum to achieve this tipping point and move your business from mediocre to stellar.

A key factor in becoming a Key Person of Influence is to create a personal brand website. After attending a presentation on this recently I went straight home and knocked up a personal brand site. It’s not the best site out there but it’s my online bio and my opportunity to present the best of myself to the world in a professional manner. Google me and hopefully you’ll find that site, not pictures of me dancing on the table at a recent birthday party. 😉

Business Insight #3: Clarity, Clarity, Clarity

So, you’re working hard, blogging consistently, building your websites and promoting your brand from all angles, but do you have a clear message?

Research shows that you have 10 seconds to demonstrate to visitors to your site how you can help them. Fail to do that and they’ve gone. So, make your headline compelling. Tell people how you can help them and what results they can expect from working with you.

Then have a clear Call to Action. I’ve made the mistake of trying to appear an authority in my niche by building the most fantastic website with all sorts of bells and whistles. The first thing my business coach advised me to do was to strip my site back to two key things: Clear benefits of working with me and a clear call to action. Very simple, but very powerful.

Taking the online/offline approach into account you should also develop an “elevator” pitch so you can roll off the benefits of working with you should you be asked the inevitable “what do you do?” question. This is not what you do (I print leaflets) but how this benefits others (we create materials that are proven to convert prospects into customers and boost your sales).

Business Insight #4: You Need To Be Marmite

Marmite. You either love it or hate it.

It took me a while to realize that in order to build an active community of engaged subscribers I needed to inject some personality into my writing. I’d been so focused on keyword research and writing pillar posts to attract the search engines my writing was very textbook and bland (but keyword rich!).

I wrote about this in my entry for the Marketing That Works contest. To build a community of loyal and buying customers you need to polarize your visitors to take action: love you and stay, or hate you and leave. A definite reaction is better than a bland nothingness which will result in inaction anyway. Focus your energy on the people that value what you do and ignore the rest.

Business Insight #5: Clearly Define Your Sales Funnel (And Don’t Be Afraid To Sell!)

It can be hard to make money online. Either we don’t have products to sell, don’t know how to sell or we have limiting beliefs that stop us asking for money. We don’t believe we’re worthy so we place no value on our work or find a reason not to charge for it. Mine was that I wanted to build a list and a community before monetizing my site. But that meant I’d built a list of subscribers used to getting everything for free which made it all the harder to start promoting products.

So, take a hard-nosed and professional view and put a sales funnel in place from day one. Start with a freebie gift for opting in to your list. Then offer a low priced, $7-$17 e-book or video series. I’m not saying to sell hard to your list but don’t give it all away for free either.

I’ve finally also got the message recently that hungry buyers want to buy more from you, so don’t disappoint them by not offering an upsell. Package together a bundle of e-books or videos, or create a membership site or e-store where you can charge a higher price for a premium product.

A percentage of your customers will want to go further and sign up for coaching or your gold-plated mastermind program. I’ve heard two successful internet marketers say recently that their businesses only really took off once they’d put a sales funnel (or sales “ladder”) in place. I don’t know about you but that’s enough social proof for me. I’m developing new products and a more solid sales funnel as we speak.

Lessons and Takeaways

So, to summarize, consider the following elements to ensure your success online:

  1. Get out from behind your computer and go and talk to some real people (it’s fun, really!)
  2. Become a Key Person of Influence. Nominate yourself an expert in your specific niche and declare it to the world through word of mouth, social media, your website and mailing lists.
  3. Define yourself. Create a personal brand website that presents a professional image to the world.
  4. Have clear goals, a clear message to the world and a clear Call to Action on your site.
  5. Use your personality to attract people that want to work with you. And don’t be afraid to sell to them.

Okay, it’s your turn. Please leave your comments below and share your business insights for success.

About Cassie Hicks Kerr

Cassie Hicks Kerr blogs at Women's Way to Wealth about different strategies and tips for creating profitable online businesses from home. Learn how you can create new streams of income by signing up for the 12-Step Blueprint to Creating a Profitable, Long-Term, Passive Income Business.

32 thoughts on “5 Key Business Insights to Guarantee Success with any Niche, Brand or Product

  1. Insight #1 pretty much defines my business model. I’m probably using a reverse strategy to other online marketers, but since most businesses operate OFFLINE, it’s a strategy that resonates with many entrepreneurs. 80% of my business is offline. But I leverage my online presence to enhance my brand, network with other industry thought leaders, solicit business and build credibility as an expert. And like you, after about a year of slugging away…it’s working :-).

    These are great insights! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Ruth, thanks for your comments and positive feedback. It’s interesting how offline/online work together so well but can be misunderstood. The two together are really powerful. What business are you in? It sounds like things are taking off which is great.

  2. Awesome Cassie.

    Can’t even pick my favorite from the list because they all rock. Seriously, you really nailed it here.

    Oh, and I still have no idea what a Marmite is. Thought it was an animal or something, and my wife thought it was a monkey of some kind. Of course, looked at the website link and saw only two choices: Love it or Hate it.

    Bingo. You can’t be all things to all people, so be polarizing. Unique positioning at its finest.

    Thanks for the awesome post Cassie. Well done… 🙂 Eric

    • Hi Eric, thanks for your feedback, and for commenting. I don’t know what the American version of marmite is (in Australia they have Vegemite which is a very similar yeast paste that you eat on toast). It is very strong and salty and you either love it or hate it. Perhaps Donald Trump is a better example, love him or hate him?

      So true that you can’t be all things to all people – but interesting how bland many people’s sites are until they find their unique voice. Or lose the fear to be themselves.

  3. Become (be) a person of influence. Niche plays a big, big role here and so does something else; time. I recently check out Blogcast FM’s recent podcast with Matthew Kimberley (at itunes) and that point was diven home. He got a book deal in one week! Yeah, after blogging for 9 years he finally figured it out. Danny, the strategies (on your course) are sound, thanks for that, but I am still a big proponent that hard work and persistence pays offf big time. it did for Matthew.

    • Hi Ralph, thanks for your comments. I’ve always bought into the idea that blogging is a long term career too and not a get rich quick like say niche sites [if you put the pieces of the puzzle together correctly]. However 9 years is a long haul but good for Matthew! I would hope most bloggers can be successful [read: profitable?] within 2 years if they/we plug away at it, listening to our markets, evolving our message and style, and providing value.

      Writing a book is a key step towards becoming a Key Person of Influence and blogging is a good way to write a book in small chunks. All steps in the right direction.

  4. Hi Cassie,

    Thank you for sharing your ideas with the world in this post. 🙂
    I’ve been rereading your article and trying to decide which of these points applies to me the most. I think its a tie between 3 and 5, although truth be told, I was strongly called to point number two as well. Mostly I guess, the ideas that seem most important to me are about deciding who I am online (or anywhere) and then being that person consistently.

    I know I have tried a few different times to establish my center through what I am writing, and most times, it fell short of what I believed my core values to be. But about a year ago, I started building my life of light site. I built a list of people who I send emails to every day and occasionally a product idea to buy.

    It’s been a remarkable experience for me, as I let go of most of the ideas that I had been taught were the “right” things to do online and simply allowed more of myself to reappear. That sounds to me like part of what is at the core of your message here, and having lived through that identity crisis (of sorts) I love working and writing now.

    Thank you again for an excellent post.

    • Thanks for your kind words Michael. It’s interesting how the perceived wisdom doesn’t always gel with your gut instincts. And it’s those gut instincts that give us the personality to be ourselves and that’s what our readers relate to.

      I haven’t worked out the magic formula (maybe there isn’t one?) for writing but I know my most popular posts and articles are the ones where I forget about the rules – and trying to write around a keyword – and I just write openly and honestly about something I feel strongly about – or something I’ve learned that I feel will be of benefit to others.

      It is sometimes the reverse of textbook marketing but that’s why it’s so important to test and test again to see what motivates your readers and builds your community (and profits!).

      • That is so very true. I do believe that in our hearts we already know the right answers for us. Not that we can’t learn new things in new ways, but that those things that resonate with us, resonate with who we already are. Trying to pretend that we are somebody else is definitely not a recipe for success.

  5. Hi Cassie,
    I am just a fresher chick that has enrolled itself into the Write Like Freddie Blogging program.
    Barely two weeks old.
    WOW! In just 18 months you have graduated yourself into a PRO.
    I saw your website. Mine is just as bad too.
    While I was looking for a standard a good website should conform to, I came across this blog at blog.hubspot.com titled ’12 critical elements every home page must have’.
    See if it helps.
    Best wishes
    Shekar, India

    • Hi Shekaran, thanks for your comments (I think?). You call me a PRO but think my website is bad? I am always open to constructive feedback so will take this in the spirit in which it’s hopefully intended. LOL!

      I would echo my comment above that it’s important to test, and test again – your home-page, message, video, headline etc. and also your blog posts and products. While it’s best to have the clarity of your market and what it wants you also have to be flexible enough to evolve your business.

      Best of luck with the “Write like Freddy” program. If you can get some of Danny’s brilliance to rub off on you you’ll be doing well.

  6. Hey Cassie,

    I am going away with tip #5.

    It is hard indeed to get sales from people and even though the market is now a lot harder than before (more scams, rip-offs, bad deals, under delivereance, etc) I think that if I never place a proper sales funnel, I’m never going to get any kind of income in return.

    I’m willing to change this as soon as possible, thanks for the reminder and glad you’re creating passive income by now.

    Sergio

    • Hi Sergio, thanks for your comments. It’s definitely harder to make online sales than it used to be but that’s why you’re learning from such great sites as Firepole. The standard and quality of content is amazing isn’t it, and raises the bar.

      Do let me know how you get on with your sales funnel. It doesn’t have to be complicated and have tons of products, just a few well thought out products with progressively higher price tags and value and you can create a very successful business. All the best with that and thanks again.

  7. Hi Cassie,

    Congratulations on winning the contest!

    Right now, Insight #3: Clarity, Clarity, Clarity resonates with me. I love how you coin it the “elevator” pitch. I am constantly tweaking to find the message that resonates the benefits of my site to my audience. It is slowly getting there and I sure hope I could use it to a networking event I am attending soon. I’m really a shy guy so I do need to practice this pitch to make it automatic 🙂

    Thanks for the post! Thanks as well to Danny and Peter for sharing this to us 🙂

    • Hi Allan, thanks so much for your warm and kind wishes. Having the opportunity to work with Danny and the other Marketing That Works contestants has been amazing and I feel very fortunate. What a great group of people on this site………….we can all learn so much from each other.

      It’s great to hear you’re networking soon, even though you consider yourself shy. Just remember you don’t have to meet everyone or change the world at your first meeting. Sometimes you can attend a meeting for months before you really get to know the right people. Then will then connect you to the other key players and suddenly lots of doors open.

      Having your 30 second pitch will really help, and make sure you ask how you can help them (so many people pitch but don’t connect or look to add value, and that’s a real turn off). Hope it goes well!

  8. Cassie,

    Great article… I have to agree with you on the issue of Clarity.

    Consistency on a topic with a clear and defined call to action generates specific traffic to that niche. Hopefully you love writing about that topic and only that topic.

    To a certain extent, a think that a defined, focus niche can on occasion stifle some spontaneity but it is infinitely important for visitors to know exactly what you’re about.

    Thanks

    Ryan H.

    • Hi Ryan, how are you? Great to hear from you, and thanks for commenting. I agree with you, if I had to pick one of the 5 insights clarity would be my #1. I’m so guilty of flitting from one thing to another or not presenting a clear and concise message to my market. Awareness is part of the battle though and the rest is being clear and sticking with it (persistence as Ralph pointed out above).

      One secret to beating blogging boredom is to have multiple sites. I don’t mean to dilute your focus but in addition to your main, “uber” site, you can have a number of smaller niche sites to keep things interesting (as well as create additional streams of income). That’s how I mix things up and keep things interesting (thinking about bearded dragons next………..!)

  9. Cassie,
    I’ve heard others cover your topics, but I took notes this time and as I did I envisioned what I can do to improve my website (Clarity) and offer usable products that others can use and find beneficial (Clearly Define Your Sales Funnel).

    All other points were absorbed, too, so I plan and attacking my website, following through on several ideas and becoming a Key Person of Influence in my field. already received so much feedback about this, but taken baby steps that need to mature.

    I know the value in your suggestions and am starting action today! This is gonna be fun!

    • Hi Linda, thanks for commenting. I feel really excited for you after reading your comments. I’ve heard the same messages myself too, in different ways, over the years but somehow failed to take the necessary action or not persisted long enough to make them works. Then, when you remind yourself of these basics it’s a “duh” moment of “I know that but haven’t been applying it to my business”.

      I hope your action taking (and fun!) has started. With such a positive and can do attitude I’m sure you’ll be successful. Do stay in touch as your business and KPI status grows. We’re all on the journey together and it IS great fun and very rewarding.

  10. Cassie,
    Thank you for your response.
    I still very much consider you a PRO.
    I am just clarifying the sincerity behind my appreciation.
    Under insight # 2 , since you had written ” it is not the best of web site out there but it carries my on line bio”, I thought you may benefit from my reference.
    Regards
    Shekar

  11. Clarity makes easier to define target market. We always found difficulties while targeting, Reason we are not precise with what we are going to target. Online marketing are much more complected if you do not understand and know how to target a particular market. Good post cassie.

  12. Hey Cassie, great guest post.

    The online/offline mix is an interesting one. I’ve managed to network almost exclusively online to great effect — which is good because talking to strangers at a networking event, ich! Far easier to hide behind a laptop screen, right? That said, I’m really really easy to get along with 1:1 — even if I haven’t met you before. Note to self: MUST GET OUT MORE.

    As for Marmite. I love it. But I gave it to my (American) colleague who had no idea what it was and her reaction was hysterical. Have you heard of Erika Napoletano? She’s just written a book, “The Power of Unpopular.” Touches on some of what you talked about here.

    • Hi Nikki, thanks for your comments. Networking can seem like a tough thing to do but I suppose it becomes a habit like anything else you do regularly. I get a real buzz from networking, quite often you are reconnecting with old friends and people you’ve known a long time, as well as making new connections. Some of the bigger events we go to almost have a party atmosphere, if you can believe that (I can’t sleep when I get home because I’ve had such a great time). And of course, you’re on the radar, especially if you can get a speaker slot at the events too.

      Thanks for the book suggestion. I haven’t heard of it but will look it up now.

  13. Insight #3 is a great reminder to everyone. Regardless of how great your blogging skills are or how many subscribers you have if the message is not clear that your are selling or promoting a business or service then profit is elusive. Great insights here. And I must say Insight #1 pretty emphasizes how important offline marketing is.

    Spatch Merlin
    How to Blog Guide

  14. Thanks Spatch. None of what I’ve discovered is “new” but I find it’s important to keep learning and reiterating the key messages or we can forget to apply them to our businesses, and then wonder why things aren’t working as well as we’d hoped. I’m glad my post serves as a great reminder….thanks for commenting.

  15. These are really great insights.

    You should build authority by delivering quality goods. Whatever is your contribution, it should be the No. 1. If you are promoting a niche blog, you should be consistent in presentation of ideas and they should be filled with facts and figures.

  16. I feel whenever any person is going to start a new business then he should have at least conducted some seminars on that which could generate good exposure of his business products. You cannot generate good turn over from your business until it have good exposure at least at local level.
    When it comes to online then i think we should do two things in start like blogging and social media communities to aware.

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