Do a little digging, and you learn the quickest and most sure-footed path to making a million dollars or more is by finding an online niche — preferably one that actually excites you at your core — and discovering what the people in that niche want.
Too many people do the opposite — they focus on the hottest product or service and try to blast that out to as many people as possible. There’s an inherent risk in being left holding a bag of goodies nobody wants. And that’s one expensive bag!
Just like the old-fashioned way, you’re not buying tons of inventory and then hoping that you sell it. You get the orders and the money first; then you deliver. Online, you learn your market’s want or gap in fulfillment, and then you deliver a product or service that the market wants. Social media is a great way to learn more about your market (and pull in very qualified leads!) once you’ve established what your niche will be and build your website around it.
As usual, proceed with caution. Not everything can be sold online. Not every want that might be clear and evident can be fulfilled just by throwing up a website.
The late Cory Rudl, one of the pioneers of Internet marketing and online businesses, used this analogy. If you had a cure for the common cold, in an easy-to-digest pill form, “billionaire” might not even apply to what you’d be worth. That product would be everywhere — 7-Eleven, every grocery store, corner store, market, you name it.
Now try selling those pills online. At minimum it takes at least three to four days for the product to get to you. You’re already over your cold by then. It’s a failure from day one. Don’t start with a product. Start with a market, and then find a product that the market wants.
People spend money on things they want. It’s an emotional investment. A necessity can be satisfied by the most convenient and cheapest product or service. People are willing to pay more money for wants, but they’re usually very price-conscious with things they have to get or do.
And no different from traditional businesses, there’s the backend after that want is fulfilled. It’s the product or service you sell after they’ve bought the first product from you. That’s where all the money is.
Been to the movies lately? If not, no one can blame you as expensive as it can be to take your family out for movie night. But just think about all the money being made at the concession stand alone.
You go up to the counter for a small popcorn (because you’ve already tucked away all the candy you’ll need in your purse or bag), but you leave with a large bucket plus a soda. Why? “Well, you can get this for only 40 cents more...” Or “This meal-deal saves you this much money.”
Even fast-food workers are routinely taught to upsell. It’s no different online — the point is, your customers come in for one thing and walk away with more — because you gave them something they wanted from the beginning.
Once you have the customer’s name online, it costs you nothing to sell to that person again and again and again. You can make 100% more net income than you are right now by backend selling.
To know the importance of having a website for your business is one thing. Knowing the purpose behind having a Web presence is a whole other level.
If your business is already up and running, you’ll have to cater your strategies to what you already have in place, particularly in terms of your pre-existing customer base. That means getting them to fill out cards in your physical business, or otherwise enticing them to your website with special offers. Then follow-up emails. We’re still talking basic marketing and backend selling — making money on those who are the easiest to sell to: those you’ve sold to before.
But if you’re still unsure of what kind of business you’d like to create, take a good, long look at creating an online business.
The easiest way to make money online is to focus on a specific market, find a product that they want, and give it to them. Searching for your best prospects online isn’t that much different from doing so offline.
How do you do this? The same way you look for anything else online: surf. Simply search on Google — for example, maybe you have a passion for scuba diving that you’d like to turn into a business. You find all the news groups, forums, and websites regarding scuba diving. Is there anything they’re talking about a lot? Any patterns where something is wanted but not easy to find?
That’s how you find your target market. It may take you a day, a week, a month, maybe longer. It depends on what your market is and what you’re trying to find, but whatever the niche, there’s a large enough market that’s relatively easy to get to. You know where they are, and after some research, you’ll know that they want something specifically. All the gamers are hanging out in one market. All the sports nuts are hanging out in one market. All the people who are interested in holistic medicine are hanging out in one market. All the doctors are hanging out in one market. It’s easier to reach people than you might think.
Just try to reach those people through the local newspaper. If 20,000 people view your ad (theoretically), you’d be doing great to get 10 of them to show interest. Online, you can go right to where all of your target market hangs out. Your target market is sitting right in front of you.
There are tons of people who know enough about the money-making potential of the Internet and ask, “So what do I sell online? What’s going to be a hot seller?” It’s the most common and most fatal mistake.
You never decide on the product. You find an easy, targetable market, find out what they want, and give it to them. It’s the easiest method in the world. You have an instantaneously successful business. It is a no-brainer. It doesn’t take any smarts to figure that out.
Anybody out there discovered the power of doing business online recently (I know you’re there)? What did you find frustrating, or powerful, or even profound? Did you incorporate a Web presence into an existing business? What have been your most important takeaways?
Cruise Control over Your Business
It’s a virtual road trip toward business success, the final destination — whatever your next venture will be, because you’re done with that last one. It’s running on its own, without you.
Until then, cruise control helps. Without cruise control, long road trips would be more tiring for the driver and, for those of us with a lead foot, a lot more speeding tickets.
All you need is a dashboard that has the exact readouts you need to control your business. You choose your top five to 10 critical success factors and come up with a system for how you’re going to measure them. If you can’t think of five, choose that top factor.
If you’re measuring lead generation, for example, how many leads are coming in? You gauge leads per week and per month, at least. Now dig deeper. How many leads from each lead source? How much does each lead cost per source? Is one source cheaper and bringing more return than another? When you have benchmarks — like how much you’re willing to pay for each lead — you’ve got numbers right in front of you that tell you how many leads come in and what you pay for them. What do you have?
You have control over your business.
Consistency, predictability, tracking — systems that can be operated and understood by practically anyone. When you can duplicate these systems, you’re on cruise control.
Now take 15 of the most important things you want to track. It might be lead generation. It might be customer satisfaction. It might be cash-flow management. If you have a business with labor, labor productivity is a good thing to measure. And then the question you want to ask is what’s going to enable you to measure whether or not you are being successful at that?
All you do is establish a handful of gauges, tools, or metrics — whatever you want to call them — for whether or not you’re executing that critical factor properly.
Then test them to make sure they work. Test them backward and forward. You want to make sure you can get to the benchmarks you set from the steps in your system. The good news about systems is they don’t require that much training. A good system is one that you can put in someone’s hands and the person knows how to use it.
It can be a simple narrative to describe — for people who like words — how this system works. You do flow charts for people who are the linear and visual thinkers in your business. It’s as simple as a checklist. Someone else could operate it because all the person needs to do is go down the list: I did this, check; I did this, check. If you do every step on your checklist, at the end, you’ve got a system. That simple!
Please understand it’s not that easy. There’s work required to put systems into practice. Not torturous work; it can be a lot of fun as you refine them. Intuition and creativity can play into this thing, from the artist to the architect. You are the person qualified because you know it inside out. You know all the parts of it. You know what’s involved.
Your business is you, and you are in control!