Business Development Tips
This blog was created with the novice entrepreneur in mind for business development, while also creating value for advanced entrepreneurs. You could be developing a product, working to get your product online, or maybe your product or service is already online and it is not selling. You will find something here that will help you.
I work with brick and mortar businesses and strictly online businesses. My training can help anyone from a lawyer or doctor or restaurant owner to a blogger or app creator or someone who has an idea and is trying to get your dream online.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are doing, I am positive that you can take something from this to apply to your business.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
This blog will enable you to take my success and apply it to your business. Or if you are an expert at something, and you never thought of making a business from your expertise, I hope that you can have your ah-ha moment and get started building a business around something that you love.
I have dedicated the past 10 years as a student of successful entrepreneurs and testing methods to find what works. This training is the combination of thousands of dollars’ worth of training and millions of dollars in A/B testing. In this blog, I’m going to share with you the best marketing strategies that have helped me build multimillion dollar companies.
When I started my business, I had no idea what I was doing. I wanted to learn how to build a business, and no one was training on these best practices. These marketing strategies were not taught in schools, and there were no experts creating training like this online, so I was lost.
Fast forward 10 years to today, and while there are Internet marketing trainers, entrepreneurs are still lost when it comes to the execution of their ideas. Many of my clients read blogs and studied online courses, but then their ideas got stuck in neutral.
Diversifying Your Portfolio
Many a consulting firm starts off doing hourly consulting. At some point, we invariably expand into insourcing, selling hardware, managing software subscriptions for customers, writing software for customers, specializing in specific products, and, one of the most popular, dabbling in managed services.
When looking to diversify your portfolio of offerings, get started small when you can. If you have traditionally only provided managed services, consider having your team work on fixed-fee or special projects. If you usually do hourly consulting, bring on a managed services customer so you can identify everything you need to scale up that practice.
Getting started with other areas on a smaller scale will allow you to learn how to bring on new products or services without a huge amount of risk. The first step is to decide what you want to add to your portfolio of products and services.
What Is a Good Addition?
I’ve heard people tell me what I should be doing for a long time. And each has a different perspective. Sometimes you will hear the same things repeatedly. Sometimes you’ll hear something once and think “hell yeah, I should be doing that.”
But much of finding new opportunities to expand the reach of your company will come from the gut—that same instinct that caused you to start the company in the first place.
There’s no way to know for sure whether something is a good idea. But there are clear signs that something is a good idea and clear warning signs. Let’s look at some signs that you’ve found a great idea.
•\ Nearly every customer says that you should sell them a given product or service. If you hear something weekly then you should take notice. You might not have to build a huge solution, as you might be able to white label (or rebrand) an offer from someone else who maybe specializes in that product or service.
•\ You recommend a given product or service a lot (and customers buy it). Who are you recommending it to? First, think about whether you can white label it, and analyze the costs around monetizing it for your company. If you can’t, then consider doing something on your own.
•\ You are referring large amounts of business to someone else and not making enough of a markup or commission on it.
•\ There is a huge gap in the market. Either no one is actually doing something or those who happen to be incompetent or missing the mark.
•\ You see a competitor failing to deliver: Be careful about doing something just because a competitor is doing it. You don’t win wars by fighting an opponent’s strategy. But sometimes, you can see that a competitor has a good idea and that they’re just not delivering it in a way that makes sense.
•\ You see a company delivering a product with a massive barrier of entry and you think you could go down-market and deliver most of what customers need in a much cheaper OR easier-to-use fashion.
•\ You really, really want to do something—like your gut is just telling you absolutely you have to do it.
•\ Your staff really, really want to do something. And they’re willing to own an initiative, even if they have to work on it on their own time.
You’ve identified some initiatives and taken a step back to decide if it’s a good idea. Now take another step back and think about it even more critically. In the next section, we’ll look at some ways to keep yourself honest and how to look at things critically before moving forward.
Be Wary When Moving Forward with Initiatives
You have an amazing hour-long meeting with a potential new customer. The meeting goes so well that you decide to bring in some food and take the meeting to another hour.
You strike up a genuine friendship with a potential customer, and you walk away from that meeting feeling invigorated and ready to take on new business challenges. There’s only one small hitch: your company doesn’t do what the customer is looking for.
Maybe you’re in the same ballpark. Maybe the customer provides a beachhead into what you consider an emerging market. Maybe you see the chance to pivot and be able to double your business by entering into a new market segment. But yeah, you really just don’t do what the customer wants.
You call your office and tell the people on the other end of the phone about this amazing new opportunity. They don’t seem as excited, but based on your excitement or based on their inability to connect with you on this level, no one is telling you no.
What You Should Do Before Proceeding
This happens all the time. And there are a few reasons. Sometimes there is actually a real opportunity. But often, you’re about to waste a lot of your time and that of others if you try to force your will upon embarking on a new opportunity that is foreign to you and your team. Don’t force it.
There is no greater killer of inertia than a failed initiative. It can cloud all of your other lines of business if you aren’t careful. Ultimately, here’s a litmus test you should apply in these situations.
\ 1.\ How large is the market that you can address? Obviously, you need to identify the potential business you can get out of this new venture, keeping your blinders on for a bit and only looking at a constrained set of customers that you can actually connect with. You might find that the market is much larger than anyone thought.
You might also find that there is a very small number of potential customers or that the market is already saturated with other vendors. This research also helps drive pricing beyond comparing the price to your current rate card.
\ 2.\ What will you and your team need to accomplish in order to address the new target market? Addressing this new market might involve hiring new employees, creating a small team that focuses on the new market, writing apps or web interfaces, and much more.
Understand the work required not only to prototype the new product or service but also to be able to sell it at scale. Once you understand the required investment you can make a good decision whether or not to move forward.
\ 3.\ Are you able to sell the new service or product into the new market? Your sellers might be focused on a completely different demographic. They might not be able to communicate on the same level as the new demographic. You might not have any leads beyond the first customer. But you might be perfectly aligned to take on this new adventure!
\ 4.\ Do you have buy-in from staff? If you do the research listed previously and list out solid arguments for either proceeding or stopping, then getting buy-in from the staff should be simple.
Be careful not to impose your will too much. But when the market conditions are perfect for your organization to come in and provide some good disruption, it’s basically obvious that the venture is worth pursuing.
\ 5.\ What will the opportunity cost be to your core offerings? If you aren’t getting buy-in, even though you have a good business plan, you have to ask why. If your core business is going to suffer, then you might need to look at dipping into savings or outside capital to fund the new venture.
If the business plan is sound, then make that judgment call. I’m not averse to risks; provided they’re taken using logic and reason rather than based on emotional responses to great meetings and people.
Additionally, make sure you don’t have any contractual obligations not to enter into a market. For example, if you’ve been a reseller for a number of software vendors, then there’s a good chance that you’ve signed a contract stating you won’t compete with them in the same industry they’re in for a certain number of years.
Make sure to seek legal advice when it comes to any contracts you may be in breach of if you are even a little bit concerned that you may violate them.
Are You Overvaluing Your Time?
Listen to the research. Listen to your staff. Don’t try to put a square peg in a round hole unless it makes sense. Be open-minded, just as you’re asking others to be open-minded.
The important thing to remember is that you have a core focus. And reaching outside of that to go after new business will not only introduce you to space where your company might not be a premium player, but you will also be detracting from what makes you great.
There are certainly a lot of arguments that you need to be nimble and be able to pivot quickly, but be careful not to let your emotions and your personal time investment outweigh that of your organization as a whole!
Finally, the time you invested is never wasted. The potential customer you want to work with will understand if the opportunity is not right for you. The time you spent researching better educates you on markets. The time you spent working with your employees to determine if the opportunity makes sense provides great team bonding.
Every single person in the chain will respect you more if you back down on an initiative. And given that they’ll share in the ownership of success, they’ll also be elated when everyone gets huge bonuses if the initiative works out!
Implementing a New Offering
Once you’ve decided to go ahead and start with a new line of business, you have your work cut out for you. Especially if you’ve never done so before. And the planning stage will often decide the outcome before you send your first email or make your first call to existing customers.
In this section, we’ll provide some tips and strategies for making sure the new service is a success (or getting as close to making sure as possible).
Review the Offer
The offer might not be a good idea. Take a critical approach to your review of the offer you’ve come up with. Make sure the offer is easy-to- understand, that it appeals to potential customers and that you will make a healthy margin.
This is similar to the process we did in Blog 1 when building our menu of services; however, it also comes with a built-in market you can cross-sell the solution to your existing customers.
Compare the Offer to the Market
A little bit of market research goes a long way. You know your customers, but you also want to keep them—and there’s no faster way to lose a customer than to sell them goods or services above market rate.
Additionally, if you’re planning on using a new offer to entice new customers, they know what kind of competition is out there. You may even choose to make a new product a loss-leader (or one that loses a minimal amount of money) in order to recruit new customers.
Make a Project Plan
The project plan is a plan for how you will implement a new project. Here, your goal is to build a visual representation with timelines and milestones for how you’ll implement a new endeavor that makes sense to anyone you might show it to. This will help you sell the plan to existing employees as well as track performance against a timeline.
I find that many entrepreneurs will tweak mind maps until the end of time. But I like Gannt charts. Like a lot. I would always recommend starting with a brief outline in a mind map, then getting that into a Gannt chart as quickly as possible. Gannt charts allow you to do resourcing and dependency mapping, which would be challenging in a Word document or a mind map.
I’ve done entire courses and certifications (including the Project+ and PMP). Let’s break the process down in some digestible steps.
•\ Define the stakeholders: I know, I pulled that word out of my PMP certification exam and it bothers you because it feels all corporate and you run a small business. Too bad. One thing that’s nice about things like the PMP is that you end up using the same vernacular as others in that field.
If you’re talking about project plans, especially if there’s a project manager involved, then you should try to use their words, especially if you want them to maybe hire you again in the future. If this is for your own product, then scale the project plan as you would any other initiative.
•\ Build a communication plan with the stakeholders:
If you’re the only stakeholder, then this is pretty easy. But stick to your check-ins with yourself. If there’s a bank or investor, make sure you understand how often they need to be communicated with.
If there’s a subcontractor, then let them know well in advance how often you expect them to check in with you, and monitor (a.k.a. guard) the timeline of the project.
•\ Define the starting point: Where are you now? Do you have any code written, infrastructure built, or component software or hardware purchased? Define these.
•\ Define the outcome: What do you want this to look like in the end? What time constraints do you have? How long do you want to wait to go to market? Identify each milestone of the project with a due date, even if the due date is an arbitrary date you make up to keep yourself honest.
•\ Perform a gap analysis between the two: Brainstorm everything that needs to happen to get this project off the ground. Don’t worry about breaking the larger chunks up yet, just make sure to be as holistic in your thinking as possible.
•\ Define resources: Make a list of all humans, service companies, hardware, software, cloud services, virtual machines, and anything else you think you might need. Don’t worry about lunch though; I think you’ll figure that part out on your own every day.
•\ Define required tasks: Remember that gap analysis? Now it’s time to break each one of those items down into tasks. In my opinion, never have a task that’s more than half a day on these. Each could be part of a larger entry uncovered in the gap analysis.
At each check-in on the communication plan, you’ll want to cover the percent that each of these tasks is complete, and so the smaller the chunks the less risk that an overrun of costs for one task will go unnoticed and that you might be left holding the bag for the overspending.
•\ Define dependencies: When doing dependency mapping, think of what’s required for each and every task.
For example, you have to build a virtual machine before you can put a host OS on it, you have to do that before you can put a database service on it, you have to do that before you can cluster that database server to another in the database cluster, and you have to do that before you can attach it to a web service.
When you get a lot of tasks, you end up with a lot of interwoven task dependencies. You can make sure that you don’t end up with a task that stops work down the road.
•\ Map resources to tasks: Once you understand everything that needs to happen and the dependencies on one another, define who does what, and what you might need to purchase before you can have certain tasks be completed.
•\ Calculate risks: You think it’ll take 4 hours to set up the first exchange server in a cluster. But could it take twice that? I like to calculate the risks of each task independently but to be realistic. Others like to calculate risks across a number of tasks, or as a standard percentage.
All of this probably seems like it’s going to take more time to do than you initially thought. It is. If a customer or another vendor asks you for a project plan, then you need to make sure to factor additional costs in communicating at their cadence into the project.
But once you have a visual representation of the project flow, it’s easier to communicate with everyone involved about what you want and where similar to a blueprint when building a cathedral.
Note To produce a Gantt chart on a Mac, use a tool called OmniPlan that allows you to create them on your Mac. There are also Excel templates for project plans and a number of SaaS-based services.
Once you have a visual representation of what you’re trying to do, you can best understand the go-to-market costs for the technical and infrastructure requirements. Next, it’s time to understand the cost of the sales plan and how long it will take before you can start recognizing revenue from the new project.
Make a Sales Plan
Many of us will get stuck in the solution of a new product or service. No matter how good the tech is, if no one buys it then it isn’t a success. So often, the capacity to sell the new product or service is what makes the endeavor a success. And that will usually start with a sales plan. What does a sales plan look like?
•\ Make marketing materials: I actually like to start most projects with a glossy one-sheet or a piece of paper that provides an elevator pitch. Watching people’s faces when they read the headline and then the descriptions is a great way of getting a quick and dirty response of how the market will interpret the new offering.
•\ Compile talking points: This is more of an in-depth review. I like to start with an FAQ on a company wiki and then keep a running list of items to add to that FAQ every time I get asked a question. Occasionally I’ll go and update the outline of the FAQ so it flows better.
•\ Communicate with sales teams about the new product: The more in-depth your technical presentation, the less likely the message is going to be easily digested.
I like to have a few meetings, with the first introducing the concept, the second digging in deeper on sales strategies, and the third doing role-playing. Then make sure to schedule ongoing update meetings.
•\ Communicate with front-line employees about the new product: Keep in mind that sales teams aren’t the only ones who sell products. Support, operations, and accounting can talk about sales and usually talk to as many existing customers as anyone else in the organization, making for a great cross-selling touch-point.
•\ Update systems so the new product or service is easy to sell: I know I’ve said this already, but one thing you just can’t buy in business is inertia. When you’ve got it, don’t let it go! This means removing as much friction from the sales process as possible.
Make sure SKUs are listed with good directions for when to use them, teams are ready to sell (enablement has been done organization-wide), and that any resellers are notified and enabled.
•\ Make sure you have buy-in from sales teams: This is the most important aspect. If they don’t think they can sell a product or service, sellers will not be confident when they’re in front of customers.
Once you’ve built a sales plan and a project plan, then it’s time to get started. And the flow should follow both plans. But because things don’t always work out, we’ll cover failing fast in the next section!
OK, so here’s a secret. Your plan might have a tiny flaw. Or, it might be a terrible plan. Or, it might be a terrible idea. So I say “fail fast” with a little hesitation. But, your plan might go on losing your money for years if you don’t eventually stop. So how do you know when to let go?
The same way you know when to start someone on your fantasy football team or when to buy a given stock: intuition. Study the numbers. Especially trend lines and do so as intelligently as possible.
If you really feel like an initiative is going to be just the thing the company needs, then make an educated decision to keep going. But make sure to look at the following first:
•\ Sales for the initiative
•\ Costs for the initiative
•\ Potential customers that are planning to purchase
•\ Timelines for the completion of a given project
•\ Pricing for goods and services
•\ Access to competition that your market has
Finally, don’t forget to estimate the impact of pulling out of an initiative. Will customers be put in a bind? And how can you soften the message, while being final about any decisions?
Dealing with Failure
We can’t always be successful. You’ll hear a term “fail fast” in all of the business blogs. I would say that while you want to be quick to respond, don’t do so until you understand why you’re failing. Sometimes, as business owners, we have to put our egos to the side and be as honest with ourselves as possible. There’s a chance that pivoting is better than failing.
There’s also a chance that the timing is wrong and we should cut our losses while we have the chance. Either way, there are two main buckets into which I’d put failures in an Apple consultancy: customer initiatives and technology initiatives.
Why Customer Initiatives Fail
Sometimes, we decide to jump into a new area, and we fall flat on our faces. And that’s the way new initiatives are supposed to go. This can be especially challenging for people who have never experienced failure in a professional area.
The reasons why our initiatives fail are infinite but can really be summed up in a few different areas, including sales, project management, customer perception, and architecture.
Sales are typical because what you’re trying to do doesn’t resonate with customers. Project management is about the plan not being followed well. Architecture is about the plan is wrong, and customer perception is that the idea isn’t communicated well (so more of a marketing fail).
Since most Apple consultancies are going to focus on technology projects, we’ll dive into this a bit more granularly.
Why Our Technology Initiatives Fail
One of the most frustrating things in business is when your technology initiatives never get implemented. Why do so many fails, costing organizations untold expense, negatively impacting trust in those championing projects, and hurting the ability to complete other projects? There are about as many answers as there are projects that fail. Let’s look at some.
•\ The Strategy Misses the Target: You have a goal. This goal is to address a problem, make an improvement to systems that make them more useful, complete an upgrade, etc. You translate that goal into a strategy.
But not every strategy can be perfect. If an initiative fails to launch, consider a new strategy, iterate on an existing strategy, and re-think whether the goal is worth the expenditure.
•\ Unclear Goals: If your whole team understands the underlying goals of a project, they are more likely to make decisions in alignment with what you’re actually trying to accomplish.
As you add team members, make sure they’re onboard in a way that not only tells them what to do but also provides the “why.”
•\ No Buy-In: Different parts of an organization have different reporting lines and different goals. To get buy- in from other teams, look for ways that your project can be beneficial to other groups within your organization.
The political capital you could end up walking away from if your initiative resolves problems for others can be immeasurable.
•\ Conflicting Initiatives:
Sometimes these goals are complementary and sometimes they are at odds. To keep your initiatives from going down the political abyss, involve others in the planning phases of any major initiatives.
And as your projects mature, look for ways to keep communication flowing, to keep conflicts at a minimum. After all, conflicts often mean overlapping costs, so this should help keep your costs in check as well!
•\ Costs: Your accounting department will throttle me if I don’t mention cost. You can have good, fast, and cheap: pick 2. To make sure your initiatives stay within an appropriate cost structure, have a target Return on Investment (ROI) for each. A realistic ROI is often the most important aspect of a project.
The ROI isn’t to “make more profits.” Instead, ROI should be represented in clear, concise, and quantifiable metrics, well communicated throughout the organization, not just the stakeholders on your team.
•\ Bad Tactics: No matter how good your strategy, your initiative may fail. Often, when the proverbial rubber meets the road, the tactics leveraged to close your gaps might be incomplete, in the wrong order, based on bad assumptions, or just end up being bad ideas. I find the best way to protect from poor tactics is to use peer review to identify potential pitfalls and bad ideas.
•\Technology is the Wrong Fit: Sometimes technology is too new, buggy doesn’t meet the goals of the initiative, or is just crappy. The best way to make sure your software is the right fit is to solicit as much feedback as possible.
For example, if you are implementing a new CRM and haven’t discussed the project with sales teams, then how can you be sure the CRM is the right fit for the organization?
•\ Project Management: Depending on the scale of a project, a good project manager will reign in many of the most critical aspects of a project, communicating change with key stakeholders. Before you start a project, decide how the project will be managed and set up milestones and a communication plan early.
•\ Impatience: Step one, do some stuff. Step two, make all the monies. I wish every project went that way. Sometimes there are 192 other steps that span 3 years. Know your ROI, but also know the aging process to realize that ROI.
A new product may require a year to mature, which includes architecture, scoping, implementation, waiting for vendors, starting to gain positive momentum, etc. This time is valuable when you’re improving your organization but should not be implemented improperly due to the team rushing through the project.
•\ Communication: Your team needs to be clear about all the things: underlying goals, project plans, who the key stakeholders are, who are funding the project, what to do when going over budget, and anything else that’s important.
This isn’t a repeat of the previous items— it’s to emphasize that if people don’t know about each aspect of the project, they cannot successfully implement it.
Finally, this section is about technology in businesses. But nearly all of the reasons strategies fail are applicable across types of organizations.
Dealing with success
Dealing with failure is one thing. But dealing with success can be just as telling. When things work out and you start selling and delivering well, you’ll feel the new initiative start to pick up some steam. Things can start to feel easy. But business shouldn’t be easy and won’t be for long.
So if you’re fortunate and an initiative works out, a competitor will iterate and do it better if you aren’t careful. Therefore, once things are working well, take a step back and take a hard look at every aspect of the operation, with a keen eye on how to do everything better.
This doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome, but everything can always be better. And getting complacent shouldn’t be an option. Here are some ways to critically look at successful endeavors in order to avoid complacency.
\ 1.\ Increase the return on investment: Look for incremental improvements, such as raising the cost of goods sold in order to control demand or reducing costs by introducing new tools and automation.
\ 2.\ Increase scalability: If things are selling, then you’re gonna want to gain efficiency as they sell. Chances are you won’t be able to hire fast enough. How can your organization grow without more people? Consider subcontracting some work to scale the business. Just make sure you’re doing so at a rate that scales faster than hiring staff.
\ 3.\ Keep adding to your portfolio: You had some success with one area, why not try another!? What other additional goods or services might you be able to bring to the market? Additional SKUs for sales teams to cross-sell or markets that you can get into are a great way to keep revenue soaring.
Make sure you understand each market, opportunities, and risks, but keep the inertia going in a way that doesn’t cause customers to say “they just keep calling me to sell me more things.”
\ 4.\ Look for more ways to get to markets (or routes): Think about adding sales channels, creating new sales enablement assets, and meeting with those who sell in order to help them sell better and communicate how you’re continuing to strengthen each product line.
Even if you think you’re running at capacity, stay bullish on sales and subcontract more work if you have to—provided your margin stays strong, of course.
\ 5.\ Streamline the organization: How can you make the organization run more efficiently given the new products or services you’ve introduced? Are you getting value from every part of the operation? Can you merge processes between lines of business (such as support) in order to increase the effectiveness of each?
\ 6.\ Make things better for the team: Poll for employee attitudes and how the culture is holding. Make sure to listen and do what your team is asking for, and not making too many assumptions.
For example, pretty much all employees want more and better training. A workforce that feels like their essential needs are being taken care of will be happier and more successful.
The best time to review the business is when things are going really well! The best time to think of how to make each product line better is when the product line is doing really well. But take a holistic approach and examine every part of the organization and how it can be better, without bleeding all of the inertia right out of it.
Don’t just look at one area, either. If you only improve the employee experience, then your costs will get completely out of control. But if you only ever improve efficiency, you will alienate customers and the people who are becoming increasingly more efficient (usually to the point of having no more fun).
And if you just keep adding more and more things to the portfolio, then the organization will seem chaotic to staff and probably greedy to customers.
But a balanced approach that is well-communicated with employees is likely to keep staff happy and around for a long time!
The key to building massive success is by taking massive action. However, if you are constantly doing busy work, copy and pasting, or building reports, you will never achieve your highest level of success, reach your goals or become wealthy.
Doing busy work never gets you anywhere, and will only create busier work for you. Don’t keep yourself busy; instead, keep yourself productive building systems.
Once your systems are built and running, then you will focus your energy on tweaking the systems, rather than wasting your time and energy with busy work. Systematize everything you can in your business.
If customer service is an issue, there is an app to make your customer service run smoothly. Set up the system and train your staff to run the operation, while keeping a pulse on the performance through reporting.
Create benchmarks for your system reports; for example, a customer service report will have the number of tickets created and closed in a day, and the average time to close a ticket. Watch these performance rates and train your staff to improve the numbers. Over time, you will go back to the reports to see how your customer service has improved.
Without this system in place, your staff is merely responding to emails and verbally updating you on issues. Poor customer service protocols can set up your business for failure. Also, without having the proper benchmarks on your reports, you will have no basis for identifying the improvements of your systems.
Yes, there is an app for just about anything you need! To create a custom application for what your business needs, whether it is customer service, email marketing, CRM, reporting, etc., there is an app you can purchase for a small fee that can be up and running in minutes or hours.
These applications are vital to moving quickly to create massive action. And if an application does not exist for your needs, you can find programmers to create these systems, if you desire.
Once you get familiar with the best applications on the market today, you will then be able to plan and execute marketing plans in hours, not weeks. This is why the entrepreneurs who create success once can duplicate that effort over and over again.
Entrepreneurs who have already created success, myself included, can instantly point new business owners to an application that can be set up in minutes and can change the future of a company.
This is why my services are in high demand; however, I cannot work with every new client. With tens of thousands of names on my email list and hundreds of emails being received a day, I try to systematize the best I can to help as many people as I can.
Systems + Solutions + Demand + Massive Action = Massive Success
Without systems, I would not be able to communicate with thousands of people a day and to expand my influence, I need more people just like you reading my words and hearing my voice through my videos and podcasts.
The more videos watched and the more podcasts listened to, the more people will see my offers and choose to sign up or not.
I then use reporting to gather data on each step of my system to better understand how effective my offers are performing. Understanding what to look for is the key.
I focus on what messages are shared, when and how those messages are engaged with, and then I check how those systems create dollars in sales. Perhaps an email was perfectly written and the offer was very good, but the email needed to be sent on a different day. Everything is worth a test!
SCIENTIFIC METHOD OF TESTING
If you told me in high school that I was going to become an author, I would have called you crazy. Keep in mind, I failed my ninth-grade English class.
Full disclosure: I actually passed the class for the year and failed the final exam essay. My parents went through a divorce that year. My attendance was less than par and the school had a rule that you had to pass the final if you missed 10 classes in a semester.
My teacher failed me on purpose to make me repeat the class. She told me I should have shown up more frequently. Hats off to her and my guidance counselor for telling me that I would never amount to anything in life. Cheers!
In high school, I never would have ever thought that I would use the scientific method in my life or algebra. But here I am, using the scientific method for testing every day in my business, and patiently waiting for the day to use my algebra skills. For now, let me break down the scientific method for testing:
STEP 1: ASK A QUESTION
All too often we are not recognizing that we are executing this step in our scientific method, yet subconsciously we are asking a question. In marketing. The questions can sound like, “How do I get more website traffic?” Or “how do I make more money?”
As business owners, we often ask ourselves and our staff these questions. How do we approach the question? What are the next steps? Our next actions can determine our future success.
STEP 2: DO RESEARCH
Here is where we need to jump into our competitor research to better understand how others are accomplishing their success. I believe that every great idea has been thought of and executed to some level, and we can leverage these genius ideas to propel our journey to success. Find someone who has done it before, faced the same questions in the past and created success.
STEP 3: CONSTRUCT A HYPOTHESIS
After our research, we then create a hypothesis. This is an educated guess based upon our research and can often take the form of an “if/then” statement.
For example: “If I advertise this message on Facebook and target this audience, then I will generate more sales for my business.” This is a very basic hypothesis, but for many of us, we have thought about running a Facebook Ads campaign that mirrors our competition.
STEP 4: TEST WITH AN EXPERIMENT
Assign a budget to test the hypothesis. This is where so many business owners make mistakes. Instead of assigning a budget and focusing on testing an idea, many entrepreneurs can abandon their plan to go in a different direction. The focus should be on making small, isolated tests where we eliminate as many variables from the test to focus on reading the results.
Testing does not include rebranding a company or spending too much time rebuilding an entire marketing plan. Also, do not fall into the trap of hiring freelancers to manage this entire process for you, as many freelancers can be good at Facebook Ads (for example), but they will not be focused on the big picture in what is being tested.
STEP 5: IS IT WORKING?
At this point, you have an idea of how the test is performing. However, you have not completely analyzed the results. Perhaps the hypothesis or test needs to be tweaked, and in marketing, this can mean a slightly different ad or landing page for the marketing experiment.
It is also important to carefully consider the variables of the test, as these variables can show false readings when we get to the reporting of the test. Examples of variables in marketing could be: A/B testing landing pages and not controlling the source of the traffic.
For example, some traffic could be coming from source X and other traffic from source Y, and if the traffic is seeing different ads on each source, then the conclusion of landing page X or Y working better might be influenced by variables in the experiment. Limit your variables and always have control in your testing.
STEP 6: ANALYZE DATA AND DRAW CONCLUSIONS
The analysis of your data will be the cornerstone of your future growth in your business. Without understanding your data, future testing and hypothesis will be pointless.
In campaigns that I have run throughout the years, we focus on watching for trends in the marketing reports, and our sole focus is to improve the systems to lower the cost per lead and raise the return on investment. Once you have systematized your marketing, drawing data and conclusions becomes a large part of your daily activities.
For example I have previously built marketing machines for clients where we have 10 to 15 emails in a sequence to create sales. The front end of the machine attracts prospects and the emails turn the prospects into sales.
The daily reports will show us both sides of the machine and allow us to create a new hypothesis to test, such as: “If we send this email on day 1, then we will see an increase of 10% of sales in the first two days.”
Then we set up the testing environment, eliminating our variables as best we can, and will watch the test traffic enter the system and read the reports on the testing setup.
We were so good at testing that I would set up competitions with our staff to come up with the best emails to test. Whichever staff member created the best converting email would win a prize.
Keep in mind, every test that is set up needs to be statistically sound, meaning that you cannot set up a test with 10 site visitors. That will not work. I typically will not start testing until I have a control also, meaning that I will not test new landing pages until I find an ad that is working. I will not test new landing pages until I have a control ad (best performing).
The idea here is to create a controlled landing page and a control ad. Your next step is to try to beat your best performing ad in a controlled testing environment.
As for emails, I will not start testing new emails until I have a control and benchmarks for the ads and landing page, along with a control for the emails in the sequence. Understand the controls and variables in your scientific testing to create results that you can report with confidence.
CREATING WEB SYSTEMS
What is a web system? Is that just a website? Or is it a sales funnel? What exactly does this mean to systematize with web systems? The thought here is to leverage computer programming or other systems to eliminate the need for manual labor or copy and pasting.
The perfect example of a web system is one of the promotions that we executed for the launch of this blog. Here is how the web system works in detail:
Goal: we want to sell this blog through Amazon to build the rankings to become a best seller.
Note: every web system needs to have a clear goal and focus in mind.
Hypothesis: If I offer a free gift to those who purchase through Amazon, then I will create more sales and new loyal customers.
Problem: Amazon does not give me information on who buys for me to send free gifts, so I need to create a tracking solution for my customers.
The System: First I created a few ads for my blog, and in these ads, I highlight the benefits of why the potential customer might want to purchase the blog. Also in the ad, I highlighted the bonuses of $197 in free training offered with the purchase of a blog through Amazon.
The clicks on the ad take the visitor to a landing page where I explain the offer in detail, include testimonials and reviews of the blog for the potential buyer. Then I ask the user to start the process by sharing their name and email.
I collect their name and email first, so if they are unable to complete the blog purchase, I am able to remind the visitor about the offer. Similar systems have generated up to 70% of sales on day 1.
The follow-up system will then convert 50% of the dropped off users over the next few days. If the system is not generating sales at over 50% of traffic in total, then I need to work on the email systems and continue testing until the numbers improve.
Here is where the magic happens. After the customer buys from Amazon, they will need to forward the receipt from Amazon to my web system. We have built these systems before where we are selling 3,000 to 5,000 units a month with an incentivized offer.
Think about manually sending out 5,000 emails a month to users fulfilling their offer. It was an insane waste of time copy and pasting. Besides, by creating a system like this, we are virtually eliminating human error from the equation, and thus improving the probability of a positive customer care experience.
Now the web system is ‘listening’ for emails to arrive, and the system will read fields in the emailed receipt to verify that it was, in fact, a qualified buyer. If the system verifies the email, the system will then authorize sending access to the content.
In order to avoid sharing or pirating the content, we have put systems in place to grant access using the email address and assigning a password to the user. Other systems in place are recognizing if the user is already on the list, or if the user is a new user, and then the system will make that determination to send the correct email accordingly.
Taking the system further, we programmed additional training workshops for the readers that they will receive over the next few weeks, since we know this customer is interested in taking their business to the next level. Through these offers, we are attempting to assist the customer in building their own systems and help expand their influence.
By creating this web system, we are able to serve an unlimited number of customers as our time has been eliminated from the equation, and thus we are infinitely scalable with the only constraints being our marketing reach.
Therefore, we can leverage advertising to assist an infinite number of customers through our sequencing and potentially help an infinite number of entrepreneurs with their businesses.
PLANNING THE SYSTEM
The future success or failure for your system is in the planning. Understanding the technology and predicting what your audience will think and do.
Predict what your audience is thinking through the marketing processes, and take extra special care through customer care systems. Start planning at the end of the funnel or process, and then begin to work backward.
I find this planning procedure to work better than starting at the beginning and planning towards the end. Why? Because you can put yourself in the mindset of the end user, and think “what would I want to read or watch in order for me to take this next action?” Learn to use the eyes of your audience to predict their actions.
Words on these pages are meant to give you ideas on how to implement these systems in your business, and this blog cannot give you the answers explicitly. You will need to interpret the messages into plans and action for your business.
Digging a little deeper into this blog launch plan, as mentioned in the last section, I can take you through the sequence of thoughts that brought me to creating this online system and the evolution of my business that has brought me to this point.
I have been building websites for over a decade, and in the beginning, website development was not as easy as it is today. In today’s world, it seems that everyone has become an expert in website development or has taken a stab at creating their own beautiful website. I have no issues with this because I love entrepreneurship and the fact that millions of people are starting their own businesses.
I wanted to compete with the other site builders in the marketplace, so I came up with the idea to beat the competition on price, offering $1 websites! My next thought was that I cannot live off of $1 per month, per site, nor can I afford to keep the business profitable. So I decided to upsell services in the systems.
This was going very well for over the next few years; however, I came to the point that I realized that I do not like hosting thousands of websites for clients. Website hosting is not my passion, so I pivoted to higher level education, taking the websites from some traffic and some sales to massive success and millions in sales. This is my passion.
To recap for a moment, I took a hard look at the end of the road and realized that website hosting was not my true passion in life. You should take something from this and apply to your business. If you are not truly passionate about the road ahead, change direction.
Start moving towards your passions and future success, and envision yourself at the end of the road. If you can envision your future success, and what your day-to-day will look like, then you seem to be on the right path and you need to continue forward.
However, something was still missing. I began my journey at the end of the road, and I am slowly working back towards my lead magnets and main offers. I want to give more value.
The thought processes continued on for months where I finally came to the conclusion that the best knowledge I have to offer is building these systems to take businesses from six figures a year up to seven figures a year in revenue.
The strategies, planning, and execution of these plans is my objective, and I need to create a solution that could help thousands of entrepreneurs.
OK, now we have our plan and our spectrum of solutions, and we can start planning out the system and predicting the audience’s actions. Now understand that this flow and the thought of educating your customer might not be the solution for every business, but you would be surprised how your sales can improve through educating your prospect before asking your prospect to buy.
BUILDING YOUR PLAN
The psychology of my sales process begins with being disruptive in a noisy marketplace. Without the disruption, I am unable to create clicks and sign-ups. Here is where you need to start getting creative. What do I mean by creative? Do you remember the “Congratulations You Won!” website banners from years ago?
Those banners disrupted hundreds of millions of people worldwide, and I designed many of these banners in my earlier years. We could not beat that promotion, and we signed up millions of users to the offers.
This is an extreme example of being disruptive, and I have dialed down my marketing ridiculousness, but sometimes you just have to test everything to see what works.
If you cannot get past the idea that I created banners that might have frustrated you, keep in mind that I created banners that were ripped off by people who then put a voiceover on the banners.
My banners were pretty obnoxious and flashy but were not the banners with the spoken voice. Mentioning these promotions that I ran for my client years ago was not meant to frustrate you.
The purpose was to explain what disruptive means. And if you are still frustrated with those banners that stopped running years ago, then these banners really disrupted your lives. Think about that for a moment, is your advertising that disruptive? Are you making an impact with your messaging and your business?
Going back to the thought process of the visitor, they have now clicked on a promotion and arrived at your landing page. Here is where the magic begins in the mind of your visitor. Your page needs to clearly communicate the following: 1) trust 2) who this offer is for and 3) can the visitor get results from this?
If your website visitor is on a trustworthy page, often this page should match the ad that is clicked on, and if they believe that this product or service is for them and they can get the desired results that they are looking for, a percentage of your visitors will take action.
Keep in mind that a percentage of your traffic will leave this page and never view anything from you again, so be sure to put your best foot forward here. The idea is to get these visitors to sign up to your email list, where you can continue to give value and educate on the sale.
Education of the sale can be case studies, news articles, and publications or helping the prospect to understand that this is the right product for them. And you have to do this using technology to the best of your abilities.
Again, you cannot get on the phone with every person and try to educate and sell over the phone. If you are starting a call center, you will need to educate your staff on how to sell over the phone. Either way, leverage technology to create sales processes that educate and seed the sale.
Focus on giving value and continue to give value. Leave the prospect feeling as if they have been given a gift and that they are happy to have found your business.
The Internet is a noisy place and we have to stand out with our advertising. Once the prospect has signed up to our list, we have to give value and nurture the prospect through the process of turning into a customer.
There are a variety of tactics that are currently working, but the key is to give the best value that you can offer, without expending too much of your time in the process. Remember, your time is the most valuable commodity that you have, and we cannot buy more of it. Spend your time wisely, and leverage your systems to educate your buyers and give value.
The most valuable commodity that you have is your time. You cannot buy more time and there is no monetary value that you can exchange to buy more time. As you begin to realize this, you will begin to evaluate how you approach your business in regards to your time.
Understanding that no one gets rich from hourly work unless you are charging a very large sum per hour. Six figures a year in revenue is simple, as you can sell your time.
40 hours a week X 4 weeks per month X 12 months per year = 1920 hours Divide 1920 hours by $100,000 and you will get $52.08
Therefore, for this example, if you charge $75 per hour, you should easily reach six figures in gross revenue.
For years, my hourly rate was $100. Other streams of income pushed my earnings over $100,000 per year in revenue, but that is not seven figures. Here is what I would have had to charge at an hourly rate to earn seven figures:
$1,000,000 divided by 1920 hours = $521 per hour
Who is going to pay $521 per hour for marketing for one year? Not many companies would ever consider hiring a freelance marketer and pay this sum on an hourly wage. Now, this does not take into consideration commissions that can be written into contracts.
Performance-based incomes can easily reach over seven figures with the right business plan. But perhaps you’re a lawyer and can charge a premium for your time, but you are not billing a full 1,920 hours per year. You need to leverage technology and monetize the system.
There are so many ways to systematize and leverage technology to grow your wealth, but the most popular is to create a product. You can also grow a team and charge a premium for time, where you pay your team a lower rate than the client is billed.
In both instances, you can leverage technology to systematize your sales process, inbound marketing, and fulfillment, or you can choose to leverage technology for productivity and duplication of service where the client pays a premium and the staff members earn a salary.
I have developed products, both digital and physical, and sold services, attempting to duplicate myself. Unfortunately, no one is as good as I am in providing services for clients and had to back off on bringing on more clients and training more staff.
I felt that sacrificing quality was not worth increasing clients, and therefore I created a digital product in my training to ensure every member received the same level of service and customer care. I’m not saying all companies are like mine. I just chose to move towards scaling back my business without hiring a large staff for client work.
Do I have members who have gone through the training who would rather pay me $1 million or more per year for me to execute this for their businesses?
The answer is actually YES! We are currently working with clients now who have offered us large sums, plus revenue share in their businesses. This is the only business model we will work from going forward, as the demand on our time has overpassed the hours in a day.
Why am I mentioning this? Because you need to take your time and the demand into consideration. As I started earning millions for companies, my time was taken from me in the form of the hourly rate, which did not earn the revenues that I needed to achieve my goals. The only way for me to work for a client and achieve my goals at the same time is at an hourly rate, plus a revenue share of the sales.
These clients held me back from launching my business and achieving my greatness for years as I worked diligently in building other companies. When
I learned that the sacrifice of my time would not allow me to achieve my goals, I began researching how to sell my knowledge in order to scale myself.
SALE OF PRODUCTS
There are so many different ways to sell products, and I am earning through almost every method possible. This blog is a product that was created, put on Amazon and now I earn royalties from sales each month. I also have physical products that are in Amazon warehouses, that is if I haven’t already sold out those companies.
Beyond the sale of products mentioned above, I have also partnered with other entrepreneurs who sell real estate where I am earning commissions from house sales and other various companies that I earn revenue shares.
Selling products and finding better ways to sell products is how so many of the top companies have earned millions and billions. If you are able to identify market opportunities to sell products better or easier, there is potential for your business to step into a space that can generate a fortune for you and your employees.
For example, one of my digital products sold for $1,497. In order to achieve seven figures, I had to sell 669 orders. This sales volume is totally possible to achieve every month, based upon the market opportunity of entrepreneurs looking for training.
Seven figures a month as a solo entrepreneur, charging an hourly rate is impossible. But selling seven figures a month in a digital product and blogs is possible. Not only possible, but there are countless entrepreneurs who are actively selling over seven figures a month!
In order to achieve your goal, you must reconsider how you leverage your time, versus leveraging the technology to grow your business and sales. Technology can be used for more than just creating digital products. You can also leverage your system for fulfillment, customer service systems and even assistance with productivity.
The sale of information or your expertise is the holy grail of passive income in regards to scaling your time. The benefit of selling an information product is that the development of your product could take 40 hours of your time, for example. Yet you could sell this product 1,000 times over, every year, forever.
The financial benefits of selling an information product can be very lucrative; however, the greatest benefit is that you can craft your product around something that you love.
Create a life and a business that you love, set your schedule and enjoy what you do for work every day; all while helping people in their lives. Think of an information product as a win-win for everyone. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs will approach their product with the wrong approach.
Those who are too focused on lifestyle, cars, yachts, mansions, and freedom often lose sight of what truly matters - helping people solve their problems. If you are able to identify a need in the marketplace, and your expertise is in high demand, consider making an information product to help people with their issues.
There are so many different ways to deliver an information product, and equally as many ways to attract new customers to your business. Like always, the first place that I begin brainstorming the launch of an information product is by looking at the competition. Or if there is no direct competition, I look for people who have already launched a similar product.
Typically, when I am looking through blogs, videos, blogs, podcasts, and other media, I let my mind begin to explore taking the approach of the competitor but introducing my new spin on the concept.
Keeping in mind, the best way to stand out is to be the best at something, and brand yourself as the best in that field. Think about it this way: would you go to a surgeon that only works on hands for hand surgery, or would you rather hire a surgeon who specializes in any ailment?
Same goes for your customers when considering who to purchase from online. Your potential customers in your space are advertised to hundreds if not thousands of times a day.
Your ads will need to stand out, and your message will need to be embedded in their minds. Understand face-to-face meetings stick in the mind longer than a video or blog that was read. Leave a lasting impression as your first impression.
Perhaps the most difficult objective with selling information products is to convince your potential customer that you are, in fact, an expert. The issue here is that you need to predict what the viewer will be thinking and what they want from the beginning.
A majority of traffic to your message could be generated online with an advertisement; and from that first ad, you need to be focused on what their objections will be. In future blogs we will discuss copywriting, sales funnels and the psychology of online sales.
A simple phone call can often help to overcome online objectives. People want to feel like their questions are all being answered, that you are in fact an expert, and lastly this information product is for them.
If they can realize all of these objectives and approach the sales page feeling good about the next step, there is an excellent chance they will consider purchasing your product.
Again, we focus on taking your time out of the equation to the best of our abilities, but we also understand there might be 10 out of 100 interested buyers who just want to talk to a human before buying. Later this blog we discuss more in detail systematization and leveraging online systems to qualify leads.
SALE OF SERVICES
Leveraging technology is also required when choosing to grow your business by selling a service. I have worked on projects using our systems to recruit and train new staff. We will then use those same systems to attract prospects, make them customers and then round-robin the new clients into a project manager to handle the services.
These systems were built to manage the criteria, as well as assigning the customer to a staff member based on geographical data and the needs indicated by the customer.
These systems can include surveys and other questionnaires that qualify the needs of the new customer within the sales process and will move the customer into the service that best suits their requirements.
Without leveraging these systems, we would destroy our profits by having to hire more staff to manage the phones, calling each new customer in the sales or questionnaire process that is otherwise handled by the coding of our system, which can be managed by a single programmer.
In short, one programmer can manage the sale to millions of customers, and without the system created, we would need hundreds of customer service reps to handle these phone calls to new customers.
In your business, staff will come and go; therefore your training system needs to be top notch to get your new staff members up to speed on fulfilling services. Without the training content, the cost for training each staff member is estimated at $20,000 per person. By leveraging online training, plus a certification system, we can build systems for the cost of training one person.
These training systems can be managed at the cost of training two additional people per year. By leveraging technology for training staff and certification processes, we can train 1,000 or more staff members per month at an affordable cost. Without leveraging technology, this would not be possible without completely removing our profits from the bottom line.
Don’t rule out services as a sustainable business model for generating seven and eight figures for your business. However, leverage technology to train staff, manage customer service and fulfillment services through as much automation as possible. The more you can systematize in your business, the more wealth you can generate for your company.
It is easy to understand how your technology build can automate aspects of generating sales through your website. However, also take into consideration that your systems can weed out potential bad clients and customers. For example, say you’re in the real estate business. It is safe to assume that you would agree that time is definitely not on your side. And your time is valuable.
Potential real estate clients need to be qualified, as you cannot put a buy now button on your website to have million-dollar real estate deals happen, or even a $100,000 deal.
There is no way to generate sales through eCommerce. Perhaps maybe one day in the future you can buy a home with a click from a website, and have $1 million leave your bank account, but that day is not today.
So how does a real estate agent value their time? By weeding out unqualified customers. Unfortunately, this process can become time-consuming through phone calls and meeting in person to qualify your buyers.
Here is where leveraging online questionnaires to qualify potential buyers or sellers can help maximize productivity. But keep in mind, it is nearly impossible to guarantee that every customer or potential client will fill out questionnaires with 100% honesty, but you can still ask the tough questions via online systems that can eliminate those clients who would have otherwise consumed your valuable time.
In working with real estate professionals over the years, the biggest issue they have is spending time with clients looking up MLS listings and even taking clients around to see properties before they are qualified.
The qualification of a potential client before time is exchanged applies to businesses other than the just real estate, as that was only an example. In fact, it applies to my business now, but there was a time in the past where I would spend a half hour on the phone with just about anyone.
At one time in my life, I was spending hours a day on the phone with potential clients, chasing existing clients for content, feedback, and payments for work rendered, and I was also trying to find time to actually do the programming and development work.
Insane to think how I was spending my time unwisely, and spinning my wheels, just squeaking by. I can say with confidence, my business would have completely failed if it wasn’t for automating processes and leveraging technology.
Understand that is what happens when you are hungry and will do anything to make a sale and for some, just accomplish staying in business. But once you realize that your time is valuable, and you start taking your time more seriously by leveraging technology to qualify leads, then this miraculous thing happens and you spend more time working with good leads and less time on the unqualified leads.
Another thing can also happen, with a steady stream of qualified leads, you will feel more confident charging higher prices so you get paid what your time is actually worth.
Now, this doesn’t go for every industry, but there are thousands of other freelancers who are living from project to project, waiting for their breakout success. I was once on that level.
Also remember that when you treat your time as being more valuable, it is incredible to watch how your clients and prospective clients will begin to treat your time as more valuable as well.
Use technology to stay productive, stick to schedules and keep your focus. Then you are maximizing productivity while valuing your most valuable resource.
Developing your online marketing
Building your machine takes time and resources, but if you build it correctly the first time, it is possible that you will never have to revisit development again. Create your plan, identify your audience, their frustrations, your competitors and your unique value proposition or offer for your potential customers, and then go to work.
When developing your online marketing machine, either start at the cash register or your lead magnet/offer. For me, I like to start with the cash register and work backward.
In order to attract these viewers of the free workshop, I will need to advertise an offer through Facebook and can attract potential customers who are interested in self-publishing through a variety of different Facebook Ad targets.
Now I will need a great landing page to go along with the ad that offers a free case study and workshop for seeing how to launch a number one best seller.
Between the initial sign-up and the free workshop, I need to work on some emails that will reinforce reasons to attend my workshop. This can include added incentives, bonus content or videos and the fear of loss. Again, we will go in-depth into copy that sells in the next blog.
For now, the main focus is to understand how I am leveraging technology to create leads, and then qualify the leads before they are pitched to become customers.
For example, let’s run some numbers. With Facebook ads, I am able to put my marketing message and page in front of 10,000 interested or prospective authors using Facebook interest targeting. Out of the 10,000 people seeing impressions of ads, I receive 3,000 clicks and 1,300 sign-ups on the landing page.
I now have 1,300 people who said they were interested and shared their email addresses with my system. Of those 1,300 people interested, 700 show up for my free online workshop or the replay of the workshop. That is 700 people who hear my voice, my message, offer and pitch in a single day.
Ordinarily, with an hour-long presentation and sales pitch, it would take 700 or more hours to educate and deliver my offer to 700 people. In an 8-hour workday, I would need 88 employees making back-to-back sales calls every hour for 8 hours in order to reach 700 people.
From these 700 people, I am now able to use my email marketing follow-up sequences, which are all automated to identify the user’s statuses: not interested at all, somewhat interested and want to hear more, or ready to buy.
Let’s say 400 people were not interested in all. I could then offer another free workshop in the next 14 days, but if no action is taken, I will remove them completely off my list.
Again, this process is completely automated by my systems. And the thought process here is to offer a lower priced item or attempt to see if they are interested in something else I offer.
Considering the fact that I promised to never spam or sell their information, I would rather keep my promise than sell that lead. However, some businesses at this point choose to sell unresponsive leads for a profit, but for me, I honor my promises and keep my integrity intact by never selling customer information.
The 50 users who are interested can purchase through the system right away and gain access to the product. This leaves 250 people who are interested, but something held them back. Using email marketing automation, my systems will continue to educate and offer bonuses until they decide to buy or not.
In this sequence, I can identify the people who might want to talk to a live person. Eureka! By leveraging technology, I was able to whittle down a list of 700 people down to 20 or so who would like to talk on the phone for 10 to 15 minutes. I just saved hundreds of hours leveraging marketing automation and technology.
Before I get too in-depth into explaining the software that is the backbone of my and many of my clients’ businesses, let me first tell you the history of how I came to love this software.
In 2003, I was building websites and had no idea how to make a website functional. Let’s face it, I was lucky if all the pages in the menu loaded correctly.
Fast forward a few years when I was starting to leverage email marketing and was introduced to MailChimp. It blew my mind! I could embed a little bit of code and then capture email addresses to send emails to my subscribers.
Around 2005, I started learning how to monetize my new found talents in Internet marketing, but still, there were aspects of tracking and reporting that were completely missing from the equation.
Not to mention, eCommerce websites were still beyond my knowledge. I began learning how to manipulate my site to rank in search engines and found that I was growing my online presence through the limited tools that I had available.
When comparing my vast knowledge of systems and technology today to my knowledge in 2007, it brings a smile to my face. I wish I knew then what I know now!
Since I do not have a time machine, we can only speculate what would have happened in my life if I had this blog as a guide back then. Regardless, I took the knowledge that I had and started a web agency.
All the work I was doing was labor intensive, spending hours at a computer. I was spending too much time on every project, every bit of code that I was implementing took forever to troubleshoot and I was fumbling through projects.
This love for building the future of the web took me on a journey to live in New York City in 2009, and I started work for one of the top 200 most visited websites.
There I learned about this thing called a CRM, customer relationship management system. This company custom built a system that managed sales, marketing, reporting, customer support and everything wrapped into one robust system.
Also, the company leveraged sales funnels and taught me how to write copy for sales. This experience was priceless, and I worked with that company for five years!
Midway through my career with this massive web company, I had my breakthrough idea. I need to help smaller companies implement similar software solutions like the bigger companies. But where are these applications and are they affordable? Enter Infusionsoft!
Think of Infusionsoft as the engine of your car, or the backbone of your business. Your customers will never see it, but it is making your car run. After implementing this software into my business, sales started coming in at a faster rate! Why? The eCommerce and follow-up sequences were so simple to set up that I had built out an entire sales funnel process in an hour or so.
What took me weeks, using MailChimp for emails and PayPal for payment days, was now taking hours. And let’s remember that time is the most valuable commodity that we have. The intricate functions we were implementing through my former client’s custom-built CRM system could be handled through the Infusionsoft simple campaign builder.
Thank goodness for drag and drop templates! I do not like wasting my time with code, and I am a visual builder. Infusionsoft has been a game changer for my business.
Is Infusionsoft the only software that does all this? No. But I have tested a few other solutions and am sticking with Infusionsoft. Will I stay with the software forever? Perhaps! So many entrepreneurs are held back because they are constantly building and rebuilding, always chasing the new technology.
Something new comes out, and they completely rebuild their system over. This will get you nowhere. So yes, I will stick with Infusionsoft for a long while to run my business on autopilot.
Fact is, there will always be new software systems, and if you are able to stay away from the “shiny new object syndrome,” then you will be able to be more productive.
There are entrepreneurs today who spend the hours to build their systems, then tweak for performance; and when the system is finely tuned, they will let their systems run forever!
In fact, a few entrepreneurs are still using the same systems they set up in 2009! That is six years of using the same setup, and this structure will keep you focused more on advertising and building traffic rather than consistently tinkering with your machine.
POWER OF EVERGREEN
In botany, an evergreen is a plant that has leaves throughout the year, always green. In marketing, evergreen has a bit different meaning but in some ways is similar, always green.
The thought process is simple - build a system, watch the reports as your traffic begins to come to the site, and then tweak the system to maximize performance. Once the system is optimized, then you flip the switch to go live and will let the system run, possibly forever.
I believe in innovative entrepreneurs, and there are so many examples of software systems that have been built by entrepreneurs who had specific needs in their businesses.
An excellent example of this is with the development of WebinarJam and ever webinar. These software programs power my webinars and online workshops for my members.
Within these programs, I am able to set up my marketing automation and presentations. Webinar software and other online video presentation software has existed for years, and several giant software companies developed solutions. However, these solutions were not good enough, and a couple of entrepreneurs identified a need and provided a software as a solution.
Within many of these software solutions is the ability of a solo-entrepreneur or someone with limited resources to run their own marketing campaigns. Think about that, software that has been built from the ground up with non-technical minded people as the targeted users for the systems. No, I am not personally able to open a blank document and build a complete software program from scratch.
But what I am able to do is learn how to set up software systems that other people have created, and connect those systems through API (application program interface) solutions. API in layman’s terms means software programs talking to each other and executing functions based on another program’s protocols.
When building a system, I look for the software that will accomplish the tasks, and each piece of software needs to communicate through API with the other systems I already have in place.
Now I also look for software systems that can be set up easily and can run evergreen where the systems are generating revenues for the company without having to be hands-on.
If the system requires manual actions, I try to automate as much as possible, while still maintaining an excellent user experience. If the user experience would be sacrificed in the usage of the evergreen software systems, then I would reconsider the usage of those systems for my solutions.
In short, do not set up software solutions that frustrate your members, viewers or customers. If the software that you are setting up is creating a bad user experience and you are seeing an increase in complaints, then you will need to make changes to the software systems to give the highest levels of customer care.
To me, a great customer experience is more important than increased revenues, but if I am able to leverage evergreen systems and at the same time create happy customers, well then we have a win-win situation! That is the sweet spot.
When building online systems that sell, scarcity is the most important aspect of the online sales process. In the next blog we will dig into copywriting for sales in detail, however, for now, we need to discuss the scarcity systems that you will set up for your web pages and evergreen systems.
Scarcity on sales pages or sign-up pages can be seen in two different ways - in text or graphically. An example of a scarcity graphic could be a countdown timer that is counting down to the end of an offer. And in the text, the scarcity can appear in the form of saying “limited time offer” or “limited to the first 100 customers.”
An excellent example of this is on QVC or any home shopping network, or perhaps going back to the infomercials on TV that we love. “Be one of the first 100 callers and you will receive this excellent bonus!”
With these scarcity messages, we can convey a fear of loss where the viewer could miss out if they do not act right away. To some people, this sales tactic is slimy and feels wrong. But for those of us who own the company, and it is our marketing message, we can set up the scarcity sale without losing our integrity in the sales process.
One great example of this is Ticketmaster. As you select your seats for the event, a countdown timer is letting you know that you will lose these seats if you are unable to complete the purchase in time.
Keep in mind as you are setting up your offers to give an expiration date. If the system is set up correctly, you will have a majority of your sales happen on the first visit, and then the other bulk of sales happen on the last day.
It is important to use software that is correctly counting down for the user or counting down to the last day of the process, then have your email marketing reflect the correct timing in the process.
If you do this correctly, the scarcity and limited time offers can drive your sales through the roof, but if you set this up incorrectly, you could potentially find yourself with more customer service problems.
Partnerships can be a great way to grow your business and your influence quickly. With partnerships, you can leverage the network and credibility from your partners to generate sales rapidly.
Before you get worried about giving up equity, know that partnerships in marketing could mean a joint venture or co-branding of a sales page. The top marketers run these campaigns frequently, and I will go into detail here on how you can leverage partnerships to grow your business.
Most of the people who start a business, or are just getting started growing a business do not have a large list of engaged customers in their email system.
In some cases, we have worked with authors or business owners who already have an established customer base for buying blogs, then the idea is to take this audience and put them into online training and workshops.
However, for those who are getting started with a small list and advertising budget, leveraging partnerships can be a great way to grow an engaged audience very quickly.
How do you find these partners? That is a really great question! The best way to meet new potential partners is at trade shows and other events in your industry. Meet and exchange information with as many people as possible. First, build a relationship, and over time begin to suggest the partnership for revenue sharing.
Keep in mind, most of the people who have large lists of engaged users will typically hold that list as their most valued possession. And the last thing they would want is to cross-sell your products then have you pester their list with your sales copy till they unsubscribe.
Now you might say, “what about the people who just mail other offers?” Keep in mind, you want a partner who has a list with a high open rate, and a high click and sale rate for the ‘right’ products.
There is no point putting eyeballs on an offer that never converts to a sale for your business; you cannot take ‘exposure’ down to the grocery store and buy eggs.
We are in the business to create leads and make sales; with that, never buy email lists and think that you can mail. There is the unicorn chance of having success, but don’t risk it.
You can find your website banned, IP address banned, get yourself banned from your mailing system and also find yourself having to focus on reputation management due to poor performing email marketing campaigns.
So now you found the perfect partner, where your product or service fits nicely into their audience. Now what? The first step is to strike the deal, and get this in writing.
After you get your partnership agreement in writing, it is time to begin building your campaign. There are a couple great ways to approach advertising this offer, and my favorite is a co-branded online workshop.
The number one reason people buy is that they are educated customers and they know what they want and why they want it. And a great way to do this is by creating a workshop where the list owner will send mail to his or her list, informing the customer about an upcoming free workshop where they will learn about something that might interest them.
You will also be present at this workshop to introduce your product, educating the viewer and then pitching your offer at the end of the presentation. Think of this process as an invitation to pitch your offer to an audience, and you have their attention throughout the presentation.
There are several ways that you can handle this workshop, but the best way is by using WebinarJam or EverWebinar, two products that we highly recommend for educating and selling to your audience.
In this example, you will have the opportunity to leverage a partner’s list and you will have their full attention, depending on the quality of the list and their trust of the list owner. Are you starting to see why you need to find the right partnership and the right opportunities?
Set up a few great partnerships (JV campaigns), and the door can open to a new world of possibilities for your business. Once you create a successful campaign, then you will have the ability to sell other partners very quickly on your opportunity or offer.
If your offer is hot, and new partners see your offer as an opportunity to sell to their list, they will jump on the offer and bundle their products up as bonuses for buying through their partner links.
Think about it this way, your product becomes the “talk of the town” and then you will have partners competing to have their list buy your product. Also keeping in mind that once you get into sharing lists, and cross-selling offers, these partner’s lists could be very similar, with lots of familiar faces on each other’s lists.
Taking this a step further, if the customer is on multiple lists, then they have bought multiple offers, and with that, they are the prime candidates for pitching the offers.
Let’s break all this down into numbers: you could partner with someone who has 100,000 emails on their list, and of the 100,000, let’s say 20,000 have purchase something for $5 or more; 8,000 have purchased a product for $500 or more, and the lifetime value of 2,000 on the list is over $5,000 in sales.
Therefore, the partner might decide to offer the part of their list who have never purchased anything, which is not the best deal for your offer. For your success, you will want to negotiate the offer being seen by the best customers on the list.
Also, understand that the best customers are probably on other lists. Therefore, they will be seeing the same offer over and over from different partners.
Your goal is to find the right partners, develop relationships with them, and start small with your offers, slowly educating the partner’s list about your products and services. With time, you can grow your list with the best clients from other’s lists who perhaps spent a premium to create their list through their advertising campaigns.
By following this concept, you can save thousands of dollars in advertising because the best customers, who have already purchased, are a couple clicks away from being introduced to your product.
At this time, you are thinking, “oh yes! I want partnerships right now!” Not so fast! The best way to sell a partnership is with a proven product and proven case studies for driving sales through your presentations and your offers.
Therefore, you might be putting the cart before the horse jumping right into partnering for a JV product launch. Start testing the waters and perfecting your offers before approaching potential partners. You will only get one first impression, make it count.
ALWAYS CLOSING SALES
At any moment, any day of the week, at any time of the day, there is someone considering purchasing one of my products. And with any luck from my excellent sales pages, there are sales being generated every hour of every day throughout the entire year.
This is the end goal of owning an online business, and passive income is a goal that we are all striving to achieve.
But what exactly does passive income mean? I no longer think in terms of creating “passive income” versus whatever you would consider the opposite. I now think in terms of creating sales machines and then sending as much traffic through the machine as possible.
With this mindset, I am in the business of building machines, then setting up reporting for tracking sales.
After one machine is built, I move onto the next project. Once you are able to set up a program and trade quarters in advertising for dollars in sales, then you have a system that is generating passive income.
In my younger years, I thought that passive income had to be achieved through multi-level marketing or network marketing businesses. Then I thought that passive income was achieved through blogging and ranking in search engines.
Throughout the years, I was able to make a considerable amount of money in both business models; however, I eventually discovered these business models were not sustainable for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I know several business owners who are doing very well in these industries, but for most of us, these industries are not sustainable. And to me, I want to build, test, tweak and pivot towards success, and then not have to touch the machine unless for a small bit of maintenance.
If you do not own your business and every aspect of the system, it can be taken away from you. I have seen network marketing companies go out of business, and I have had websites that were ranking at the top of search engines lose interest.
In fact, I had a website that ranked on the top of search engines for months, creating millions of page views and organic website visitors.
After I put a few ads on the page, I was able to earn ad revenue checks over $10,000 a month! It was insane. And I thought this was my future, I finally found what I do really well, ranking websites in Google.
Well, so do thousands of other people like me, and it is a dog-eat-dog world out there where you always have to look out for the next best opportunity.
I don’t want to continue chasing my tail, and I do not want a virus or malware on a web server to put me out of business. How do I continue expanding myself as a serial entrepreneur, but at the same time, build a steady foundation for years of earnings? Answer: provide value!
Enter information products, writing blogs and building software solutions! Yes, I have achieved passive income, and I have built systems that automate my sales processes, fulfillment and training for my customers.
Over the years, I have learned how to test, track, pivot and scale the strategies that thousands of entrepreneurs and want intrapreneurs are looking for online.
Wantrepreneurs by definition are those people who want to become an entrepreneur, talk about starting a business, and by training but never actually get started. Don’t be a Wantrepreneurs.
I have trained thousands of experts throughout the years, in a variety of different niches. And keep in mind, no niche is too big or too small for you to get started building your influence. Do not worry about having too much competition or not enough competitors.
If you truly believe in yourself, your message and believe that you can succeed, then you should stick with your dreams, no matter what. Do not be afraid to pivot on your dreams, but always move towards your goals.
Do not let anyone tell you that you are not good enough, or that you cannot achieve creating a sales machine for your idea. Remember, the only person holding you back is you, so get started building your dream today!