So you want to build a business; a new brand, a small business, online business, or any sort of business. Where do you start? There are plenty of ways to start building a business, but if you do not keep some key fundamentals in mind, your new venture may not excel the way you thought it might.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and most people that get anywhere fail immensely along the way. The key differences between success and failure for these individuals are: A. They never give up and B. They have implemented many important fundamentals into their business.
The following are key fundamentals that I have learned throughout the years, although not just in the online world, they apply to any business venture or brand you can think of. Perhaps there are some things that you aren’t taking into account?
As well, this is just scratching the surface, there is so much more in this rabbit hole. But keep this is mind and you will have a solid foundation to build your business from.
TRAFFIC + VALUE = SALES + MONETARY GAIN
Since most of us, and my audience, are concerned with building a business online, I will refer mostly to situations dealing with blogging and digital products.
The heading above states the very equation that turns our efforts into cash. You are building your business to make money right? I would hope so, unless you just enjoy it, which is totally fine, but how much of your time can you put into something that is not providing for you? So we want revenue, sales, moolah!
A lot of online courses that I have encountered often use this very basic equation as a ‘mind-blowing’ theory; while very important to understand, this is simply not the case as this interaction has existed forever in our marketplace.
You need to attract people to your value proposition. Your value proposition is a statement which explains, “this is what I have to offer, and it is valuable to my audience because…”
Your value might be a digital product, a blog post, a funny picture or a video. Creating value does not necessarily mean immediate monetization. It refers to attracting people to business or brand because you have something they ‘want’ or find valuable. This will help you to grow your brand organically, which will bring many monetization advantages in the long run.
You want to remember you are building a business organically, not simply trying to sell or promote whatever product (well you can do this for short-term results). We are marketers first, not salespeople. We attract audiences first, not sales. When you build your audience, sales & monetization happen naturally.
Stuart Walker of NicheHacks.com is notoriously known for speaking his mind, and doing what feels natural. He was never focused on selling or making money first, he just wanted to educate people on how to build a successful niche blog, so that’s what he set out to do, and now has an incredibly large following.
He only has a couple digital products, and banks huge off them, you know why? He provides so much value on his blog, that people want to buy his products sight-unseen. His value proposition is very powerful, and very focused on his audience.
You may be direct-selling a product, in which case you can probably buy your target audience through PPC or other direct marketing method. Or you may be building a great blog, in which case you will have to put leg-work in to grow your target audience organically.
What was the theme of that last paragraph? You need to have/grow an audience relevant to your value proposition.
SO HOW DO I GET TRAFFIC?
Traffic is the life-blood of any business (for the millionth time this has ever been said online). Without traffic you can have the most amazing value proposition, but it will never be seen.
What I love about the being online is the ability to reach any audience in any niche pretty much instantly. There are many ways to get traffic, some paid methods and some free methods, not to mention the growing amount of platforms available to reach your target audience.
My favorite ways to get traffic are SEO and PPC, which are the main topics that Niche Marketing Authority covers. Social Media is also great, and supports PPC as well to turbo-charge your organic growth.
TRAFFIC WITH SEO
The basis of SEO traffic is to target low competition areas of your niche (keyword strings or long-tail keywords). Search engines favour the content of some sites more than others because of domain and site metrics, as well as a host of other factors including page-speed, on-page optimization and social media presence. SEO is the all-in-one, all encapsulating traffic method that you can apply almost any tidbit of knowledge or marketing tactic.
That is why I like SEO so much, it’s a home-base for all of your other business activity online. If you are ranking in search engines, they must see what you have to offer as valuable, or they wouldn’t want to share it. They more you build your brand and value proposition through different channels, the larger your audience will be, and more cash in your pockets.
TRAFFIC WITH PPC
PPC is great because when you don’t have time, you can replace it with money. Instead of targeting keywords on your page to generate traffic, you can target keywords and buy ad placement for them. This equals instant traffic, data collection and testing. Sure it takes time to set up campaigns correctly, but once you have it dialed in you can let it run by itself. From that point on you just collect data and optimize your campaign by tweaking things here and there.
I personally use Bing Ads for PPC traffic. The CPC is much lower than Google Adwords and they are much more tolerant of your practices, they have also built a massive advertising network so you can reach a huge audience.
PPC is great for data collection and conversion (more on this below). When you can pump traffic at your value proposition, you can instantly test different audiences to see who gets the most value from your business, or if anyone determines any value in it at all.
TRAFFIC WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
At this point in time, if you are not using social media, you are missing out on a huge audience and a ton of traffic. To name a few of the top platforms, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube (although it’s more of a video search engine) and Instagram. These are just the main ones; there are endless amounts of sharing platforms and free social activity platforms that you can use to expose your brand to the masses.
The essence of social media traffic is quite simple, you have to share content that people (your audience) will enjoy or derive value from. This way you have a chance to go ‘viral’ and have a flood of traffic come in from one post.
People are instinctually a sharing being, they love to see other people enjoy what they enjoy, and love to make others feel great and engaged with them (I mean some people don’t fall into this category, but they are likely not the personality types to start a business).
This is where social media trumps all other traffic methods, the ability for content to be shared at a rapid pace with like-minded people (people in the SAME audience). Can you see how powerful this can become if applied effectively?
Another great thing about social media platforms now is that they have integrated paid advertising. Like I said before, without time, replace it with money; you can buy engagement from these platforms and reach the people you want to reach faster, grow organically, and increase the virality (Did I just coin that term?) of your posts and content.
Unlike SEM (Search Engine Marketing PPC) you can target people based on interests, who they follow and what kind of content they like. This is a very powerful tool for traffic, so use it!
NOW THAT I HAVE TRAFFIC, WHAT NEXT?
Great work! Now you have traffic flooding towards your value proposition. This is where you have to get a bit technical to really ramp things up. Depending on how well you have targeted your audience, or created the right content to attract the right people (also targeting I suppose), you will experience a proportion of your audience that wants to pay for your value proposition.
Before I was mostly referring to front-end value to attract your audience, now I am going to refer to back-end value. Whatever you have decided; be it affiliate products, your own product, a course, coaching, physical goods, your audience wants it, and you have it. Again, depending on how you have targeted your audience, they will spend money to get your back-end value. The rate at which you can provide back-end value as a proportion of your total audience is referred to as “Conversion Rate”.
Conversion rate can refer to a lot of things at many different stages of your value funnel, but I like to use it as, “how much money am I making as a proportion of the traffic I’m generating”. Getting traffic takes work or money, so you want that traffic to convert into a monetary value that either reflects how much work you’ve put in, or how much money you’ve spent on advertising.
All the traffic that you receive will have a variable amount of interest or attachment to your content. There are also other factors, external and internal, that effect a person’s decision to invest time or money in what you have to offer. The metrics of the traffic you send need to be collected and analyzed so you can optimize your campaigns and content to reach the most relevant audience.
The more data you collect, they more informed decisions you can make, and this is true for any business. Don’t ask me what data I choose to include and exclude, every little thing counts, trust me! Just type in, “what colours mean” in Google, to see different reactions people are psychologically predisposed to. Colour, who would have thought the colour of your website makes a difference to how much money you can make, it does (I know this is old news, but just an example).
They are many different ways to increase the conversion rate or your value proposition, and there is plenty of info around the net about it. I will cover this topic more thoroughly, but not for now, you’ll have to check back.
HOW TO GO ABOUT DEVELOPING YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION (PRODUCT)
CREATING YOUR PRODUCT
I’m going to refer to your value proposition as a product for the remainder of this article. Your product is your brand, your content, the affiliate products you promote, or products of your own; it is everything you do to give value to your audience.
This is of key importance, and I don’t think a lot of people starting out in IM get it, I know I didn’t. Your product extends from the moment you reach an individual, throughout your follow-up, until the customer leaves your business (this can happen under a minute, or over the course of years).
DO NOT just focus on one part of your business and do only that to your best efforts. I know I’m a hypocrite to say such a thing, because they are plenty of parts of my business that are lackluster, but I am aware of them and doing what I can to improve my overall “product”.
Do everything the best that you can with the resources that you have! I’m not saying it’s going to be perfect, but your audience can tell when you have put in minimal effort and your conversion will suffer in the long-run.
Also as a Segway into the next part of the article, I want to talk about focus. You must focus your business on a certain topic, or range of topics, so as to not spread yourself too thin, and to create a targeted, engaged audience. This means you have to select a niche to build your product around.
SELECTING A NICHE
There are a number of ways to go about selecting your niche. You can get really specific and target a niche with zero competition so you can get all of the traffic from it. Or you can pick a hungry niche with lots of interest and pick away at the huge customer base, taking traffic from your competitors and providing the best information available.
Another aspect of selecting a niche is the spectrum you want to cover. For example, you can select the health niche, and provide all sorts of articles to appeal to a wide range, general audience, OR you can ‘niche down’ and find a more specific audience to target, such as “Women’s Health”. Niche down again, “Breast Cancer & Women”, and again, well you get the idea.
Look at every niche as part of a hierarchy, “EVERYTHING” being at the top. As the hierarchy branches out, insert your business somewhere into it, then keep filling out the hierarchy as you build your business, going deeper and deeper into the niche with your content and becoming very much targeted along the way.
This is a huge part of starting your business, you must select a niche that has room for you to make some money. You can do this by choosing hungry markets, or niching up until you have a range of enough topics to attract an audience.
Some things just don’t make money, as you progress they will become obvious to you. But for now, you can use search volume as a benchmark to indicate the amount of interest in a niche. I will explain much more on this in future articles, it is of HUGE importance.
CREATE CONSISTENT VALUE FOR YOUR AUDIENCE
As I’ve mentioned before, the key to a successful business is creating value for your audience. How do you know what your audience finds valuable? This is where testing and aggregated data comes in; you will have to show your audience content and examine their responses.
There are ways to remove uncertainty in the content you create, but no audience is exactly the same so there will be some variance in results; using data that is available to you can give you a general starting point though.
There are a few different indicators for this. You can search for the most popular content on BuzzSumo.com and re-create it. You can mine your PPC data to see what converts best or is most popular. You can use best-selling indicators from different retailers. Or you can just duplicate what the competition is doing, and do it better.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE AND APPEAL TO THEM
The best way to provide value, know your audience. The better you know your audience the better you can provide them with content they will love.
Either you know what they want when they reach your product because you’ve taken the right steps to find a targeted audience, or you have built and audience without much targeting, and will have to survey them to find out what they are most interested in.
Then moving forward, based on their responses or the response to your product, you can keep creating content that your audience likes, and cut back on the stuff that people don’t respond to or want.
So keep this in mind as you are creating content for your blog, or putting information into a new digital product. You should be creating content for your audience, not just pumping out stuff that you think people might like. Do some research first, base your content strategy around solid data, always analyze your results and think about your audience.
GET TO KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE BY ASSESSING THE COMPETITION
Since you are likely not the first fish in the sea to want to build a business in a certain niche, you can use this a huge advantage. It’s great to enter a niche with very little or no competition, of course, but you can use data from your competitors to expedite the success of your business as well.
I’ve mentioned data collection previously; guess what? You can get all the data you need from your competitors. You can see what keywords they target, where they are getting links from, and how they are generating traffic (ie social media, SEO, PPC, etc.).
With this information you can be informed as you take your next steps. They have collected all the data for you, you just need to analyze it and draw your own conclusions on the marketplace and how you can be a part of it.
There are a variety of tools available for you to examine your competitors.
GO, START YOUR NEW VENTURE
Let’s go back to where we started: Traffic + VALUE = Sales + Monetization
Take a look at that equation after reading the article, and put what you’ve learned into (Traffic + Value). I hope this will help you to maximize the second part (Sales + Monetization) because this is the end goal; you can’t make money unless you focus on the first half of the equation, especially value.
The more you contribute the more you will get back. I would like to refer to Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ theory, “It is not by the benevolence of the baker that we receive our bread, but with regard to his own interest”. The baker creates value so that he can receive value in return to care for his own needs. Care for someone else’s needs, and you will receive yours in return.