Most people who try to make a living online don’t succeed.
They might spend months of their time and thousands of dollars studying marketing. But they don’t get results.
They don’t make a big impact in other people’s lives. They don’t create financial freedom for their families and themselves. They don’t spend their time doing what they love.
They struggle with marketing and don’t make enough sales to reach their dreams.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that you have something of value to sell—there are plenty of people who would benefit from what you sell.
If that’s you and you’ve struggled to make sales consistently, this article should work as a reality check: you’ll know what you need to do next to move forward quickly by the time you finish this article.
You can then focus on and get help with the things that actually matter—not all the distractions and complications many people lose themselves into.
Even Accurate Information Can Be Misleading
I’m not saying that all information and advice on marketing would be accurate. A lot of it is anything but.
When people say, “All you need is [insert tactic] to make sales,” it’s not true.
But sales hyperbole isn’t the only source of misleading information on marketing.
Lots of well-meaning marketing people unintentionally mislead people with what they focus on.
For example, how many times have you heard about how beneficial social media can be? If you’re like most people online, the answer is “hundreds of times.”
Based on that frequency, how important do you think social media is? Many people would answer, “very important” or even “necessary to succeed.”
That’s not the case at all. You don’t even need to know what Twitter is, let alone tweet every 15 minutes, to make millions.
Just because something is discussed all the time doesn’t mean you’d need to do it.
Many potentially beneficial, but ultimately unnecessary things (like social media and SEO) get a huge amount of attention in the marketing world. At the same time many of the actually necessary things get comparatively little time in the headlines.
For example, do you know how to build a sales funnel that consistently converts visitors into sales? If you do, you probably already make sales all the time. Since this article is for people who struggle with marketing, I’m guessing your results aren’t that consistent.
So, let’s look at what it takes to make sales. No hype or hip tactics—just the bare minimum.
1. What You Say vs. What You Say It With
You’ll never, ever make a single sale because you use Twitter, Facebook, blogging, networking, affiliates, email marketing, SEO, advertising… No tactic will ever generate a sale.
In other words, no one will ever buy from you because you use a certain marketing tactic.
People buy because of what you say with the tactics you use.
If your Facebook ad says, “Learn to sing like Pavarotti,” and people click it and buy your product, it’s not because you used Facebook ads. It’s because they wanted to learn to sing like Pavarotti.
You need marketing tactics. But you shouldn’t give them more attention than the message you communicate with those tactics.
Most business owners who haven’t reached their goals spend a lot of time and money on trying new tactics and learning to use them better.
“The old tactics didn’t work, so let’s try something else.”
Very few of them spend as much time figuring out what they need to say with those tactics to make people want their products or services.
If you don’t yet know what you need to say to make people want to buy what you sell, start there. Figure out what specific ideas you should focus all your marketing on to get the best results.
Here’s a quick exercise that helps you see how good your ideas really are and how good your results can be if you focus your marketing on those ideas.
2. Traffic vs. Conversions
Very few people have a “traffic problem.”
In other words, very few people have a problem of getting many enough people to their site.
Instead, most people have a “conversion problem.”
When people come to their site, nothing happens. A few people might subscribe, leave a comment, or share an article.
But just about no one buys.
That’s a conversion problem—you don’t convert your visitors into customers. So, no matter how much traffic you get, it’s worthless.
It doesn’t make much sense to spend time on attracting visitors when you don’t yet have a way to generate sales (there are a couple of exceptions to this rule, though). Just like people spend more time learning about tactics than figuring out what to say with those tactics, they often put most of their time in traffic—not converting the traffic into sales.
There’s far more information available on how to get traffic than there is on how to turn the traffic into sales.
Sure, you can find lots of ideas on the individual things you can do to make sales. But not much on what tactics work together to convert traffic into sales, and how to use those tactics together.
The biggest mistake (after tunnel-visioning on traffic) is to try to build something complicated.
I get it, though. Most advice on sales funnels is complicated.
Even most trainings and programs that teach how to build sales funnels focus on advanced and complex funnels.
They might be great funnels, but only if you manage to finish them and get every detail right.
Even very small mistakes can break down complicated funnels completely. For example, I once had one dropdown menu selection wrong in a massive funnel. The entire funnel broke down as soon as people entered it. They got several emails immediately and were automatically removed from the funnel after getting the surge of emails.
So, if you aren’t already very experienced with sales funnels, don’t fall for the idea of “build a ‘perfect’ funnel using all the latest technology to maximize potential results.”
Start with something you can get to work quickly, so you start to make consistent sales right away. Most people get stuck for months trying to get something complex ready—and many of them never finish what they started, so they never see the results either.
And whatever you do, don’t spend huge amounts of time on getting traffic (SEO, social media, ads, etc.) before you have something in place to convert the traffic with.
If you want to build a simple and clear sales funnel quickly, this one might be a good fit for you.
3. Experimenting vs. Focusing
One of the major problems people run into is that they have too many things they think they need to do.
And then they don’t get great results from anything.
What if you could spend 90% of your time and energy on just one thing? How well do you think you could do that?
When you have a sales funnel in place, you need to do just one thing to make sales: get people to the first page of the funnel.
The funnel converts the traffic into sales.
Sure, not everybody buys—not even close. But if, for example, just 1% of people buy, that means you make a sale every time you get 100 people to that page.
It’s fun to experiment with tactics (like social media and blogging), and you can do as much of that as you want.
But if you want to make sales, make sure you first get many enough people into the funnel, so you don’t need to worry about revenue.
Hopefully by now you can see what you need to do next—just the next thing or two that will actually take you closer to your goals.
And when you focus on the right things, instead of spending time on experimenting with countless things, you make progress much faster.
Focusing all your time on just the necessary things in the right order is how you can build a profitable business from scratch in a couple of months. The only reason that’s very rare is that most people don’t have that focus.
Remember: first figure out what you need to say, then build a simple sales funnel, and then drive people into the funnel. It really is that simple, although, none of it is easy if you don’t get the right help.
If you don’t clearly see what you need to do next to get to your goals, ask away in the comments.