One of the hard things about being an old fart in this internet marketing game is that your old speeches, products, and seminars come to haunt you.
So for the record, here are 4 THINGS I NO LONGER BELIEVE:
#1 The Right Market Research Makes You Invulnerable to Competition: I used to think no one could touch me in my old markets because I did so much research, I’d know so much more about the market than anyone else would. It still truly IS invaluable, but you have to make the time, energy, and resources to execute on all that intelligence, and keep executing as the market evolves.
Moreover, as people start seeing your success you definitely get a bulls eye painted on your back. So I now believe it’s critical to engage in counter-intelligence, put up fake sites for your competitors to copy, and focus like crazy on a very small number of markets where you can continually build visitor value and execute on everything you learn. Oh, and like John Reese used to say “Make your money and then just shut up!” (Don’t go around talking about your markets except with your closest friends, mastermind partners, and mentors)
#2 PPC is a good enough traffic source to sustain a real business all by itself: It’s not. PPC is the best (but not the only) place to research and test a market, to identify your “money keywords”, optimize your sales engine, and build your visitor value. But there are so many ways to get traffic in this Web 2.0 world (soon to be 3.0) that’s it’s crazy to obsess about PPC alone.
Moreover, PPC ads are always a deteriorating asset. It’s just the nature of a Darwinian auction environment. If you’re not constantly working on it, your campaign’s performance will constantly degrade. If it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.
The solution? Build a profitable stream on PPC, and pump it for all you can, but not at the expense of SEO, social media, telemarketing, direct mail, and above all… a compulsively psychotic quest to build your visitor value by serving your best customers with ever more high end products and services. (As Dan Kennedy says “the winner isn’t the one who pays least for the leads, the winner is the one who engineers their business to be able to pay the most”)
#3 Social Media isn’t really worth your time as a marketer:
I used to warn people to avoid spending too much time considering Twitter, Facebook, etc. as possible traffic sources. However, at the same time, I engineered my research processes to incorporate them for market intelligence purposes, and I now find I need to rescind my previous trash-talk and tell people to take what’s happening on social media seriously. It can definitely enhance your conversions.
I still put PPC first, but with the new research process, social media’s (and in particular Twitter and Facebook) looking like a very attractive part of the roll out process.
#4) That it’s always possible, or even desirable, to launch a business in the black from day one. I’m taking a big risk by saying this, since a lot of my reputation was built on pounding ALL the risk you could out of a new business by exhaustively researching a market using techniques I developed as a Fortune 100 consultant.
And people tend to talk about me as the guy who “launched 17 markets profitably IN A ROW”.
Well, first of all, that’s a big fish story, which seems to have gotten bigger over time. I did go into 17 markets profitably. And most of them were in the black within a week or two after launching. But they weren’t all sequential. There were a lot of false-starts and red flag negatives which caused me to kill several markets over the course of that famed 18 months. And there was one I flopped on early on.
Moreover, only 5 of those markets were anything to write home about, and then, only after working very hard to push them from fledgling profitability to serious monthly income and list building. The rest were anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand a month.
But here’s the thing … in today’s competitive environment, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you think you’re gonna be profitable out of the gate. There are literally 10x more advertisers than when I started. Plus, in many (if not most) markets, the click costs are 5 times higher. And marketers are MUCH more sophisticated in content management, follow up, and direct response in general. Plus, of course, Google’s made it harder and harder for the little guy to advertise well.
So, just like in the real world, if you want to develop a real business, you’ve got to have a funding and cash flow plan to get you through your research + a few months of losses while you do your testing and develop your system.
“The name of the game is staying in the game until you win the game!” That’s my favorite thing I ever said. Doing yourself the honor of researching your market and carefully planning cash flow is what empowers you to keep buying traffic and making incremental improvements until you’re profitable, and then WAY PROFITABLE.
Thinking you’ve gotta get out of the gate in the black is just a way to demoralize yourself before you even start. (I’m not saying to be stupid and just let money run out of your bank account month after month – but to have a realistic plan to inch your way to profitability with steady testing and product development)
Which is why I spent a good part of month #8 in the Hyper Responsive Club reviewing a detailed spreadsheet model I use for cash flow forecasting prior to launching a business.
There, I feel so much better! (Now if someone could just help me tell my Mom I no longer believe in Santa Claus I think my conscience will be totally clear)
Onwards and upwards!,
PS – I’m going to open a few personal coaching slots in the next few weeks. And in addition to the slots with myself, there should also be a few available at HALF PRICE with one of my most successful students, who’s mastered the process and has already built a $250K/year business using my methods in a non-make-money niche. Get on the waiting list please if you’re interested.
PPS – The Outsourcing Webinar Replay really IS worth watching (Note: affiliate link) if you’re not already familiar with this resource.