April 26, 2011
I’m a giver by nature. It’s hardwired into my DNA. I much prefer giving rather than receiving. As such, I truly enjoy helping people. Over the years, I’ve dispensed thousands of marketing tips through the many syndicated articles I’ve written, on my blog, through my marketing consulting service, and on a variety of Internet Marketing/Small Business Forums.
Yet, despite the quality marketing information myself and other marketing experts have dispensed over the Internet, I continue to see newbies making the same mistakes year after year after year. So, I decided to create a 10-Step Success Blueprint For Newbies.
1. Don’t Rush the Process
You’re excited about starting your new business, as well you should be. I understand that. But what’s the hurry? Does it really matter whether you start your business now, or a few months from now when you’ll be much more prepared? It’s sort of like studying before you take an important test. Being prepared will reduce your chance of failure and increase your chances for success… as well as reduce the number of mistakes you’ll make.
So, take your time, and do it right the first time. It will save you a great deal of heartache and frustration – not to mention money. Learn as much as you possibly can about starting and running a business, before you actually start a business. In that regard, I highly recommend you purchase the book, Starting Your Own Business, by Entrepreneur magazine’s Rieva Lesonsky. Yes, Entrepreneur magazine. Need I say more?
2. Have a Plan
You need to have some sort of business plan, or plan of action before you start a business. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an elaborate business plan unless, of course, you are seeking financial backing. But you do need some sort of business plan nonetheless. Why? Because a business plan is like a road map to your goals – a GPS if you will.
Instead of wandering aimlessly, with a map and a clear plan of action, you not only increase your odds of getting to your destination, you’ll get there a whole lot faster.
3. Become Competent at Self-Promotion
If you want to make money online, you have to become competent at self-promotion. If you become competent at self-promotion, it really doesn’t matter what you sell. You will make money with it, regardless.
Marketing expert Ilise Benum has written an excellent book titled, The Art of Self-Promotion. If you’re serious about making money online, do yourself a favor, and buy the book.
4. Put Aside Some Money for Advertising
Free advertising methods such as article marketing, forum marketing, social media marketing, etc. are all proven traffic generators. But it’s also important to have a sufficient amount of money set aside for paid advertising. If you want to make sales, you will need to be able to generate traffic to your website in the short term. The best way to do that is to combine proven, free advertising methods like the aforementioned, with paid advertising. For example, pay-per-click, ezine advertising, text link advertising, etc.
5. Have a Trustworthy Website
One of the most important things you can do is instill confidence in your website. That starts with making sure your site doesn’t have any blatant spelling or grammatical errors. Also, let visitors know who’s behind the site. I highly recommend using your picture. But absent that, at least let visitors know who’s running the business and what their exact role is. Also, make sure all transactions are secure, and be sure to spell out your guarantee and refund policy in detail.
If you use PayPal, display your “PayPal Verified” logo. In addition, make sure your contact information, as well as all testimonials are conspicuous. If you are a member of the Better Business Bureau, link directly to your BBR report from your site.
Finally, purchase your own domain name. Having the names Homestead, WordPress, or Blogger in your domain name gives the appearance you’re not serious about your business. If you aren’t serious, that’s fine. No harm, no foul. But if you are serious, spend a few dollars and purchase your own domain name.
6. Make a Good First Impression
If you’ve never built a website from scratch before, don’t experiment with your first website. You don’t want visitors first impression of your business to be a poorly designed, non-user friendly website. Either use a professional-looking template, or hire a professional website designer to build your website for you.
Remember the old adage: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!” How true that is.
7. Understand Why People Buy
Convincing people to buy what you’re selling is one thing. Understanding why people buy is something else entirely. If you want to take your business to the next level, learn as much as you can about marketing psychology. And when it comes to marketing psychology, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini is as good as it gets.
8. Develop a Unique Selling Proposition
Here’s what master copywriter, Michel Fortin had to say about a USP in his article, How to Hook (More) Copywriting Prospects:
“A USP is what distinguishes you from the pack. It increases perceived value, expertise, and credibility – without needing to state it outright. Just by being 10% different, unique, original, or special is enough to make you stand out like a sore thumb in an overcrowded, hyper-competitive marketplace.”
You simply can’t say it any more succinctly than that. Be smart. Get an edge on your competition, and develop a USP.
9. Practice the Law of Diminishing Returns
Many newbies fall into the trap of jumping from one program to another. They’re like bees pollinating flowers – darting all over the place. They never settle on any one program for any length of time, and as a result, they never make any money.
When it comes to marketing, you have to be disciplined enough to be patient. You have to give programs a chance to work. It’s often necessary to make multiple adjustments to get a program to work. It’s part of the process. But when you do find something that works, stick with it and milk it. Milk it for all it’s worth. Milk it to the point of diminishing returns, before you move onto something else.
10. Solicit Feedback from Your Customers
At least once a year, you should survey your customers and ask them what you can do to improve your products and/or service. A customer survey serves five purposes:
1. It invites customer interaction and participation.
2. It shows your customers that you care what they think.
3. It will spark dormant customers.
4. It allows you to conduct necessary market research.
5. It allows you to communicate with your customers without the usual sales pitch – which could, in fact, create more sales.
David Jackson is a marketing consultant, and the owner of Free-Marketing-Tips-Blog.com – Powerful, free marketing tips to help grow your business! http://free-marketing-tips-blog.com