OK… here goes. My 5 best business ideas for the New Year:
#1 -YOUR NEW CRITERIA FOR SAYING “NO”:
Never say yes to any marketing project where you don’t have all three of these (a) desperate problem; (b) a unique promise; (c) overwhelming proof
I’ve blogged about this previously, but I can’t underscore it enough. If you’ve got these three covered, odds are you’re going to have much more of an operations and capacity problem then a sales problem.
Many people objected to the idea the problem had to be desperate. For example, lots of people buy water filters, DVDs on how to knit, and/or mundane things like hammers every day… and there ARE people making a fortune selling these items.
Here’s my counter-argument…
People are more desperate to hold onto their money (especially in this economy) than give it to you.
So if you can’t MAKE your prospect feel desperate about their problem (even if their problem is “I can’t play that guitar riff like Clapton” or “I want a clean shower or I’m gonna scream”, or “I can’t finish this wood shed for my son by Christmas without a friggin’ hammer!”), you’re gonna have trouble competing, to say the least.
The unique promise – well, now, that’s kind of a given. We’re competing globally now… so how will you stand out from the other BEST 20 guys/gals on the first page of Google?
Overwhelming Proof – when I scan all the markets I’ve entered profitably, the ones which REALLY produced were those in which I had overwhelming proof.
And no wonder, with all the scammers and competition online.
Prove your claims or don’t make them. (And if you’re left with NO claims to prove, pick another project).
- Action Question #1: What’s the desperate problem your offer solves? How can you highlight the prospect’s pain to make them more desperate to buy from you today?
- Action Question #2: Look at your sales page or site. How many of your claims have you provided proof for? How else can you overwhelm them with proof?
- Action Question #3: Why did you gloss over the previous two questions?
#2: Plan for Capacity Problems:
This will sound crazy to most of you but bear with me please…
My friend Jonathan Mizel once told me “Glenn, there are about a dozen critical pieces in your sales system, and if even ONE of them goes wrong, you’re not going to make ANY sales”
He was right.
Here are several practical implications.
First, if you want this internet thing then don’t give up. Ever. Decide to be successful and make it happen.
Second, be careful about pre-judging media, techniques, and methods.
Because ALL of them have to come together to create your first profitable project, most people tend to conclude they ALL don’t work.
Or they start “praying to the internet Gods”, or they walk around feeling befuddled.
That’s why 95% of people who start an internet business crap out of the game entirely (a sad but true statistic)
There IS hope, there IS a well traveled path. But it’s a longer and riskier road than most people make it out to be.
Study research, study conversion, study traffic.
Keep managing your resources, put your head down to do the work, and keep going. There’s a good chance you’ll make it.
But it’s the last practical implication which is idea #2 for 2011… plan for capacity.
Because what happens to many people when you get the 12th piece of the marketing pipeline in place is a FLOOD they’re in no way prepared to handle.
This is NOT a linear game.
It’s a game of debugging the bits and pieces of your system until money flows through it…
And you need to be ready when it does.
Because of the difficulty of the learning/debugging process, we all tend to feel the sales system is EVERYTHING in our business.
But it’s NOT.
Marketing and Sales are necessary but not sufficient pieces of your business puzzle if you’re striving towards a 7 or 8 figure business.
Take the time to think through exactly how much business you WANT to create, and create a plan for controlled growth once your sales system is functioning smoothly. Because growing too quickly will kill your business faster than poor salesmanship (seriously).
- Action Question: How much business are you prepared to take on when you finally get your sales system humming? At what rate? How much in 1Q, 2Q, 3Q, 4Q this year?
#3 – Put REAL GUTS Behind Your Guarantees:
We’re reaching the end of an era … the power of the simple guarantee is fading.
Everyone and their dog gives money back for 90 days on an info product.
Most prospects realize this guarantee is standard and, well… wimpy. (They know your costs of goods are relatively low)
If your product or service really produces results (and it should or else why bother selling it), then grow a pair and put your money where your mouth is.
For example, how about … ”We’ll build you a business that makes money and teach you how to grow it… if you don’t want to keep it 12 months later, we’ll buy it back at an agreed upon price”
The only way to make such a guarantee is to BE “that good”
The pressure is on for us all to BE stellar… reliably.
The pressure is also on to know the math in your business inside and out, or these guarantees will kill you.
But I firmly believe this is what it’s going to take to sell high ticket items going forward.
Be stellar and guarantee it, or get out of the game.
- Action Question: “What level of guarantee in your business would make you so nervous you would literally throw up? Now… can you carefully examine the mathematics and structure of your business so you actually CAN make that guarantee?”
#4: Understand Emerging Media Environments
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but a good part of my early success was fueled by cheap prices when PPC was emerging as a media in 2003 to 2005.
Sure, I stood out amongst the crowd because of my research and marketing abilities (not one in 10,000 marketers claims the same accomplishments even during those easier times), but it was a LOT easier to profit in 17 markets when clicks cost 1/3rd what they do now.
The reason this is important is because you’ve gotta place your “start up” media in perspective if you’re going to judge the success of your project correctly. (It’s also important because there are always additional media popping up, and if you learn how to watch for the signs, you’ll know how to leverage the “money at a discount” opportunities in emerging media when they inevitably arise)
For example, I’ve had several students who’ve developed a funnel which aggressively builds a list of BUYERS (and thousands of opt ins) at break even in PPC.
It’s somewhat disheartening at first because if they had a time machine and could go back just 2 or 3 short years, these businesses would be earning 2 to 1 on the advertising on the front end.
But now, MOST successful ppc systems operate at or near break even ON THE FRONT END!
Which is why Terry Dean says “I never want to be in a business where I’ve got to make money on the front end”
Here’s another point in this light…
A break-even system in PPC today will often perform quite profitably in a joint venture arena. Why? Because to reach break even in PPC requires a very good knowledge of the market, a decent product, a good offer, etc. And JV traffic LACKS the competition of PPC while GAINING an implied endorsement.
#5: Relentlessly Pursue Reality!
This is the hardest one for most people, but I think the most important.
Because we all had fantasies about this game.
We all thought it was going to be a LOT easier than it really is.
We’re all reluctant to admit that building a business on the internet is just as difficult, if not more so, than building a brick and mortar in the old days.
That we’ve got long days ahead.
With lots to do.
And sometimes months long or years long plateaus before we “jump” to the next level (and that IS how it happens, in my extensive experience and observation)
But you know what…
I LOVE this game, don’t you?
Sure, I work a lot more than I thought I would.
But I’m working on MY projects.
I might be writing copy, doing research, building website, supervising designers, managing advertising, dealing with $@*&#*& Google, developing systems, supervising outsourcers, talking to attorneys, negotiating deals, making presentations, getting graphics designed, recording products all day on Sundays, forming corporations, dealing with customer service issues, studying new marketing media and techniques, going to seminars, speaking at seminars, coaching my students, talking to mastermind buddies, reading the endless FTC rules, making videos, recording audios, building new scripts, brainstorming products and services, writing a promotion, programming a database, fighting with my web host, managing my domain names, registering trademarks, editing an ebook, recording my marketing club, planning a campaign, doing a webinar, uploading podcasts, writing a blog post (like this one), or just watching the latest internet marketing video.
But you know what?
I’m doing what I want, when I want, where I want.
I wouldn’t trade this life for any other.
Food for thought…
PS – Here’s a bonus idea for 2011… don’t check your email until after you’ve had 20 minutes to journal about your goals, frustrations, and dreams every morning.
Here’s a psychologist’s explanation of why this is critical…
We compulsively go to our email looking for nurturing. It’s true. We’re hoping to find money (orders in our inbox), love (notes from friends and loved ones), and inspiration.
Now, there IS money, love, and inspiration in our inbox most days, at least some of it.
But the problem is, there’s also POISON.
LOTS of poison.
The way we marketers use email, virtually every PROBLEM we have to deal with comes at us through email.
And then there’s spam.
So don’t start your day with poison. Start out by clearing your mind and nurturing yourself. I’ll bet anything you’ll make more money if you do!
(I actually start my days by first making vegetable juice, taking my vitamins, and doing a little stretching… no matter what I’m expecting in my email. THEN I do 20 minutes of journaling, before finally pressing send and receive)