The Internet is 25 years old and is still really nothing more than a young adult. If you look at any other technology – for example, cars – you would see that it takes decades before the real innovation and opportunity starts to exist. As is the case with the Internet, we are only just getting started and there are crazy amounts of money to be made online if you have the right intentions.
Recently I heard a story of a guy who had a blog and sold his 45-page eBook for $20 each. Over the last two years he has sold 15,000 copies. That might sound like a lot but if you do the maths he has made $300,000 – the eBook took him two days to write!
If you have dreamed of owning some of the finer things in life then maybe you should jump into the online space see if you can create something that people love, by using your passion for a niche.
Let’s analyse this further below and find out the 3 reasons why most of you still don’t understand the opportunity that exists online.
1. Piracy is at an all time low
If you had told me that eBooks and audio would be profitable for any person to sell online I would have thought you were crazy. I am starting to see that this opportunity is becoming more and more real because piracy is becoming less and less. The average person wants to be seen to be doing the right thing, so they happily buy things from iTunes or a website if they feel there is value in it.
A few years back, even if there was value in a product, it was all about trying to get it for free and thanks to torrents this was very easy to achieve. More and more Google is blocking search results from torrent sites and the main torrent providers are being closed down. This means that the ultra savvy IT guys can still find the content you are after, but normal people are finding it harder and harder.
Where am I going with al of this? If you have something to educate people on then the time is now to offer that advice in a media form that works for your niche. Go out there and create a podcast, eBook, blog, piece of software, video or photo collection and don’t be afraid to charge a small fee for it.
The key to this is to be providing some sort of value for free first. Gary Vaynerchuk’s method of JAB, JAB, JAB, RIGHT HOOK is a great strategy to employ. This means in simple terms that you will provide advice 3 times for free and then on the fourth time you will ask for a small purchase. When you have provided someone with something they value they almost feel obligated to make a purchase with you at some point.
2. Scale, through social media, is beyond belief
You hear this in so many articles and you are going to keep hearing it on A2S, social media will help you scale your startup better than any other means. There are so many social platforms now and whilst you think the market might be getting crowded, it’s actually allowing you to be much more targeted and explore other avenues that are not Facebook or Twitter. Below are some examples of things that have happened to me that further prove this point.
- The other day I was searching for cool office layouts and I came across a few on Pinterest. I don’t typically use the platform at all, but I found it a great way to find lots of designs all in one place. I then found one I liked and when I click the picture it took me straight to the builder so I could get a quote. My experience started off as social, but it later turned into a sales process.
- If I look at some other things I have brought recently then the social journey seems to start without me even realising it. I started following “The Sugar Film” on Facebook because I am a bit of a health buff, and for the last 3 months I have been reading their content on how to be healthy and being consumed by their very provocative pictures. After 3 months of viewing their content, I finally went and watched their movie. My intention at the start of following them on Facebook had nothing to do with purchasing anything, yet I still ended up doing business with them.
- The same thing happened again on Instagram where one of the success sites I follow regularly posted up cool content that I really loved. Then one day, out of the blue, they said that one of their staff had written a book on success and I should check it out. I ended up buying the book because I found them relevant and trusted their opinion, so when I was looking for a book to read, their opinion was valued in my eyes.
- Then again, I had another experience a few weeks ago. One of the entrepreneurial events I have been following for the last 18 months had another free event. I went along to meet some cool people like I normally do, except this time around there were some products that they were selling. Having been to their events and liking what their whole vision was, I ended purchasing a few things and introduced a couple of my contacts to their brand, who later ended up purchasing as well.
My radar for being sucked into purchasing things online is higher than most and I generally am not a shopaholic, but when I see value in something its only human nature to want to know more. The key to these stories is that the sale happened much later than the first interaction. If you can hold people’s attention long enough then eventually they will be led to a sale if you make it easy and valuable for them. In each of these interactions, the businesses were authentic, real and had my best intentions at heart.
They also all had amazing customer support to back it up (in other words they could answer an email). It is no wonder that more and more millionaires are being born thanks to the online opportunities that now exist, which are being amplified by social.
3. Authenticity online doesn’t really exist
Back to my earlier point, a lot of online businesses are still not authentic. The moment you go to their social media or their website it is very obvious that they just want you to buy. The ones that do it well are the ones that spend their time educating you in authentic way. It’s easy as an entrepreneur to create a product or service, and then to put it out into the marketplace, and assume that everyone understands it and knows how to use it.
I have made this mistake many times before and what I now know is that you have to educate in a simple way if you want anyone to ever do business with you – your business is essentially an online education provider. Most of the online businesses I have seen don’t this or when they do, they educate you in a way that’s not authentic and makes you feel like you are going through a sales process.
The only reason you would ever not be authentic online is if you are not trying to provide value or don’t believe that what you have to say is important. Even if your business message has been said before, it may not have been said in the way that you communicate it, and therein lies the value you bring. If what your business does is important and shaking things up then you will naturally be authentic without even trying to be. Allow the mistakes of your business to shine through. Share things that went wrong with your business or product.
“Pull out your smartphone as much as possible and share videos and photos with your audience”
A recent interview I did with Grammarly really highlighted this for me. Their whole marketing revolves around making funny jokes about Grammar and sharing them with the world. Their hope is that you will read a few of their jokes and then ask yourself “who is this company Grammarly that post up all of these jokes?” When I first saw their product I didn’t believe in it and never ended up purchasing it. When I started to research some content on grammar, their brand popped up everywhere and they gradually started to build trust with me. After a while, I tried their product and it actually ended up being what I was looking for.
This is the power of being authentic online and building credibility with an audience!
If you know of some other cool online stories please share them with me below in the comments section or message me on LinkedIn.
The Problem Is Not Your Website Or Your Product.
I spend a lot of my time talking to business owners. They focus on their product, their marketing channels and trying to make more profit.
I met one such business owner who was in the plastic surgery business. Their product (boob jobs and nose jobs) was not working. Their website sucked and people clicked off as soon as they visited it.
People would call their office, get put on hold, listen to the on hold message and hang up.
This business didn’t seem all that special. I’ve talked to many businesses and didn’t think for a microsecond that a plastic surgery clinic could ever teach me anything valuable.
I’ve been to Hollywood on holidays and the issues of body image are all too apparent to me. Anyway, this post is not about body image.
I ended up losing this business as a customer — not that I would ever have sold anything to them if it were up to me. I sat down one afternoon and thought about why we no longer did business with them.
That’s when I realized it’s not about your product or your website. All the issues with this plastic surgery clinic and a lot of other businesses I’ve dealt with stem from one thing. Let me explain in more detail.
Your Google Reviews say you’re an piece of work.
I looked up their Google Reviews and their customers said they were assholes.
They spoke down to clients, they didn’t deliver their clients what they wanted, they argued with their staff in front of customers and they treated people like they were nothing more than a dollar sign.
All I had to do was read their Google reviews to see that the problem wasn’t their product or their website.
Your clients tell you every day that you suck.
I asked the plastic surgery what their clients said.
Many of their clients told them that their services sucked and they would prefer to go to places like Thailand where they could get a better product at a much lower price.
The business owner made the mistake of thinking it was their product that was the problem and that a new website will tell clients a different message.
That wasn’t it.
You abuse your staff and they consistently leave.
I spoke with many staff that worked for this business.
Every single one of them hated the company and were not afraid to say what they thought of the business owner.
The business owner would sit outside on a nice sunny day and look across the street at all the yachts and the people boarding them.
They’d sit there and think that every lead they got was going to take them one step closer to owning their very own yacht.
“If only I could deliver more boob jobs, maybe I could have one of those,” they thought quietly to themselves hoping that no one else could hear how ridiculous this sounded.
I can remember multiple times being on the phone to the business owner and having one of their staff burst into tears halfway through the call.
The first time it happened I didn’t think much. After the third time, I got the message. During the short time I dealt with this business, people consistently left. If you made it to the six-month mark, you were some sort of hero and would probably be given a free surgery to say thank you for your work and make you feel worse about your own body at the same time.
It was free noses and boobs in return for daily abuse.
The problem still wasn’t the website all the product.
You don’t solve real problems; you solve your own problem.
A good business solves a problem.
That problem typically affects human beings and solving it is how you make money in business. Solving problems can start out with a problem that affects you, but at some point, you’ve got to start solving that same problem for other people/businesses.
This owner of this plastic surgery clinic was only trying to solve their own problem which was making more money to buy fancy items like yachts.
Only solving your own problem is not just selfish but bad business.
Good business is solving a big problem or lots of small problems for entire strangers who you don’t know thus doing something valuable for the human race.
Solving only your problem will make you poor.
The problem still wasn’t their website or product.
Creating more problems.
Everything this business owner sold created more problems.
They’d film videos to purposely make people feel like their body wasn’t perfect.
They’d write articles suggesting that everyone needs botox to feel young.
They’d take photos of men and women who were supposed to be perfect so that young people would dream of looking like them.
Not only was their business not solving a real problem; it was also creating more problems every day that it existed.
If your business creates more problems than it solves, you’re in real trouble.You need to take a long hard look at the business and become obsessed with doing everything you can to change it — and do so damn fast to limit the whirlwind of problems you’re creating behind you.
The heart of the problem.
It’s the business owner.
The business I mentioned will fail. That part is certain. The problem with the business is not the website or the product.
The problem is the business has no heart because the business owner has no heart.
You cannot focus on your own selfish desires, create really bad problems in the world, treat other human beings like garbage and expect to go buy a yacht and live happily ever after. It just doesn’t happen like that.
Whether you are a plastic surgery clinic like the one I described or a solo entrepreneur, the problem with your business is you.
Fix the problem of YOU. You can’t get away with being horrible forever.
Being horrible is bad business.
Being respectful, kind and valuable is the final answer to the problem with your business.
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Everyone Wants Sales Leads But No One Wants To Sell
Sales leads are the lifeblood of any business.
Without leads, your business doesn’t make money. That’s why many businesses treat leads like the most valuable resource in existence. Leads are a topic that never goes away and you can never have enough.
Sales leads are the cause of so many disputes in business.
We have it all wrong, though.
Having something to sell is the real answer.
Knowing what you’re selling.
Many companies don’t know what they are selling.
They think they’re selling products or services that magically turn into revenue and light up your accounting software with lots of green, shiny graphs.
Until you know what you’re selling, sales leads won’t help. Getting more sales leads, increasing your Adwords spend, buying more Facebook ads, doing more networking events, printing more t-shirts and producing more ‘content’ for your blog will not help.
You’re not getting enough leads or closing the leads you have because you’re not sure what you’re selling.
Are you selling to humans?
Go and Google ten company websites. Pick any ten.
You’ll notice one thing: more than half the websites don’t sound like they are selling to humans.
There’s no human language, very little content created by the people that work at the company, zero compassion and not a lot of humility.
Most websites are designed to sell to robots that can’t stop looking at their smartphone. That’s not us. We’re human despite our phones changing the way we live.
Humans look for thoughtful businesses.
Humans look for solutions to problems that are not being solved.
Humans like a business to stand for something human.
How you sell matters.
Selling like you’re in the office with The Wolf Of Wall Street Jordan Belfort will not help you sell.
How you sell matters just as much as what you sell.
The process you put a client through has to be simple, thoughtful and in their best interests (not yours).
That last point is crucial. Many businesses exist to serve the board or shareholders, but they do very little to help people like you and I live a better life and do our best work.
The values of your company and what you stand for effect the leads. Before anyone ever becomes a lead in your sales funnel they are a person or a group of persons (a business) with a problem.
Many people never make it into your sales funnel because how you sell what you do is wrong.
Paying for more leads is not nearly as powerful as changing how you sell to the leads you have.
Loving the people who do the selling.
Leads are only half the puzzle.
The bigger question is who is selling to the leads? Does your business treat those people who call your leads well? Do the people who call your leads even care or are they after nothing more than a pay cheque?
These are the unanswered questions that get lost in conversations about why your business needs more leads.
More leads won’t help if your salespeople burn them or don’t know how to convert each lead into a customer that becomes a raving fan and introduces more people (leads) for free.
Treat one lead really well.
I had a sales guy that used to work for me. He treated one lead in Queensland, Australia really well. He spoke to him every day. He knew a lot about the persons family. He even went to the leads barbecue.
That lead was so impressed that he referred several hundred (that we could track) leads to our business. Treating one lead really well is far more powerful than buying more leads who don’t care about what you do.
Digital marketing has become a drug that every business thinks they need.
If only the business world knew the power of one lead.
The good cause factor.
Your business may do something simple like mow lawns.
That may not sound like a life-changing business that can take this lead advice I’m giving onboard. “My business is simple,” you say to me.
Well, I’d challenge that. Any business can have what I call the ‘Good Cause Factor.”
Let be give you an example. The local butcher down the road from me has a BBQ every Saturday afternoon where they invite the community to come and eat some food for free. Everyone is welcome including the few homeless people in the area that never buy any meat from their business.
People stand out the front of that butcher and talk about things that are happening in the community. This Saturday ritual has become a place where business ideas have flourished, homeless issues have been discussed and people who were lonely and possibly suicidal, decided to live for a bit longer.
The last part is the most interesting. In my community here in suburban Melbourne, there is a large group of people that suffer from mental illness. When I went through my own battle with mental illness, I went to the local town hall where people gathered who suffered from the same condition.
It was that event every Wednesday that helped me become a different person.The loneliness and the isolation I felt were cured by the simple act of connecting with other people and having the guts to talk about the demons I was facing.
These same people go to our local butcher on Saturday and eat at the free BBQ. The butcher is thoughtful and they know that they are doing something far more important than selling meat; they’re selling connection to the community, and a possible solution for isolation and loneliness that leads to mental illness.
So back to the point of this post, the community butcher is selling a good cause — an X Factor as some people would call it.
What your business does with its resources to help a worthy cause that affects humans like you and I is just as important as sales funnels, lead generation and your product roadmap.
Link your business to a worthy cause no matter how simple it is.
I lose my mind when people talk about lead quality.
The quality of leads comes down to the quality of people talking to those leads and what you have to offer. Even the coldest lead can buy from you if you know how to find their problem — which they may not know they have — and use your product or service to enhance their life.
Quality of leads is a myth. All leads are equal.
No matter what stage of the sales funnel someone is in, they can be converted by the right business, with the right message and the right intentions to serve rather than take.
More leads are not the answer.
I know you want more leads. We all do.
I’m telling you to think much wider and deeper than that. If all we had to do was get more leads and we’d become the next Bill Gates, we’d be all billionaires.
I could go and set up a business that does nothing more than generate leads and call my business the ‘Billionaire Factory.’ One, two, lead, wham, bam and now you’re rich.
Refine your business down to helping one lead.
Make that lead believe in you.
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