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:
- Get out from behind your computer and go and talk to some real people (it’s fun, really!)
- 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.
- Define yourself. Create a personal brand website that presents a professional image to the world.
- Have clear goals, a clear message to the world and a clear Call to Action on your site.
- 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.