1. Determine who your ideal client is & get to know them REALLY, REALLY well
Until you know who your ideal client is you are going to really struggle in business. The first step is to identify a market that has a big god-awful obvious problem OR is irrationally passionate about something.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway as so many people miss this obvious point) that your ideal client should be easily able to afford the things you are going to sell them.
Next you need to work out the following; what age are they, what sex are they, how do they earn their living, how much do they earn, what do they do for fun, what pain do they feel, what aspirations do they have, where do they hang out online, what do they read, what do they watch, what is your name for your ideal client?
Until you get a really good handle on who your ideal clients is and what they want (rather then what they need) your marketing is going to suck (in the words of our friends across the pond!). You need to be able to talk their language, using their words to describe their situation, as if you were sitting in a pub, sharing a pint.
2. Work out what they want rather than what they need
You need to do some key word research here because I guarantee you will be surprised! You need to imagine your ideal customer sitting in front of their computer, on a Friday night, glass of wine in hand. Put yourself in their shoes, and imagine what you would type into Google if you were them.
They will either be typing in their problem ….Or their percieved solution to their pain.
And you need to be aware that people buy on emotion not logic, so if you have a product or service that provides a solution to a problem, your customer will be more likely to buy what they want (a great outcome) than what they need (a solution to their problem).
You also need to know what your customer is typing into Google on a Friday night, so that you can name your company (and therefore your website) something that will give you a search engine advantage over your competitors.
I’ll give you an example:
I was working with a new internet marketing mentoring client recently, who had bought his domain name and already started setting up his website. He had previously chosen a domain name which he thought would “speak” to his target market – he works with high level executives who were either looking for a new position, or had been made redundant and were looking for their next position.
First up, his site was going to be a commercial site and therefore the .info domain he had chosen was inappropriate for his site, he really needed a .com and the .co.uk.
We checked out the word “executive” and it turns out the actual phrases that over 27,000 of his potential future customers are typing into Google is “executive jobs”, “senior executive” and “executive search”. That’s over 27,000 searches EACH MONTH on Google UK alone, on EACH of those phases. What a marketplace!
So it stands to reason, that in order to get in front of that ravening crowd of hungry customers, he needs a domain name that a) says what he does on his tin and b) contains the key phrase that everyone is actually using to search for him by!
Sadly the domain name he had chosen contained a phrase that did not appear anywhere on the list of words that people are actually typing in the search engines and so it had to go.
We went looking and my cleint was able to secure a domain name that contained not just one, but three of the actual words people are looking for.
You can use the free Google Keyword Tool to get a feel for the key phrases your customers are searching for here: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
3. Work out what you are going to GIVE them first
When visitors arrive at your company website, they are not going to buy straight away – no matter how good your sales copy is. They want to check you out first.
So you need to make an impact with your headline, your strapline, and the friendlyness of your site.
Your “first most wanted action” is for your potential future customer to give you their name and email, along with permission to contact them again in the future.
For this to work, you need a GREAT free gift. This can be anything you like and you should test different offerings for effectiveness. You could give away a Free Report, a “how to” Video, an Audio interview with a percieved expert and all of these can be created quickly and for free, most of the time.
You can write your own report, or outsource the job to someone on Elance.com or ODesk.com. You can interview an expert on Skype from anywhere in the world, and use the Pamela recording software that comes with Skype. Edit this interview on Windows Movie Maker or iMovie, and upload it to YouTube so that you can then embed it on a “thank you”
page on your website. You could get that transcribed for as little as 80p per minute, to create a report to give away with the audio or video interview. You could create a “how to” video with Camtasia software or Jing.
4. Work out what you are going to SELL them first & what you are going to charge them for it
This is really getting into the nitty gritty of where most businesses go wrong. They don’t work out their “lead product” is and really focus on selling that to their ideal customer, until they can do that profitably.
Consequently they muddle their marketing message horribly and try and sell too many things, all of them unsuccessfully.
Michael Masterson, author of “Ready Fire Aim” one of the finest business books of all time, in my opinion, says brutally honestly “Until you can sell your lead product to your ideal customer profitably, you don’t have a business”.
Deciding what to charge for your “lead product” is easy – you split test by sending one third of your customers / site visitors to one sales page with one price on, the second lot to a second page with a second price, and the third lot to a third page with a third price on. The page that sells the most products the most profitably, is the winner.
In an ideal world, you will eventually end up with a whole array of “lead products” just like you could have differnt branches of a retail chain, but each “lead product” will have their own sales website, attracting just one kind of ideal customer and selling just one thing to the customer visiting at the time.
5. Work out HOW you are going to convince them to buy it
This is where you need to step into the shoes of your ideal customer again. Brainstorm a list of reasons why your customer would NOT buy your product and then get a couple of other people to play too.
When you have that list, work out what would most effectively resolve their objections.
Do you have letters from happy customers you could reproduce on your page? Case studies or stories that you could tell (with the permission of the folks involved)?
Do you have a video of a happy customer (or even a few!) raving about the difference your product or service has made to their life?
Do you have a picture of a large cheque you have been sent as a result of YOU using your own produc or service?
These are all very powerful proof that your product or service can deliver, and the more like your ideal customer the examples on the page are, the more it will work to overcome the objections of your customer.
Another way to convince customers to buy is to offer a great guarantee – totally reversing the risk or even putting the risk onto you!
Or you could even let your customer have the use of your product or service for a 30 day trial period and they only pay if satisfied.
6. What are you going to sell them NEXT?
After you are succesfully selling your “lead product” or even a range of lead products successfully and profitably, you need to think about your upsell or cross-sell. What would complement the original product in some way, or lead on from it and enhance the customers enjoyment of the original product?
Ideally, you would work out an entire product funnel and concentrate on moving as many people as possible through that funnel, one product at a time. Don’t confuse them by bombarding them with offers, just offer the next product in the funnel and concentrate on getting as many people in the front end as possible.
It apparently costs six times as much to acquire a new customer, so it makes sense to create loyal happy customers and sell them more stuff! Each product should be roughly 10 times the investment of the previous one, so you could move from a $17.95 product to a $179.50 product to a $1795 product to £17950 over the year, or $1495 per month for example.
7. Keep your overheads very low and your cash management very tight
You may have noticed that the previous 6 tips are all about your customer, marketing and products. That is because this is where most new businesses go totally wrong!
However, when I asked my bank manager once, just after I’d bought my half million pound hotel “no money down” what it was that I needed to know, that I didn’t know, in order to succeed in business….
And after he’d rather wittly answered “Well Nicola, I don’t know what you don’t know!” he said….
“I’ve seen more profitable businesses go bust from lack of cashflow management than anything else”
So my final tip is about that. Get some lessons about how to use Excel if you can’t already, and forget all the fancy accounting packages on the market. Let your accountant use those – you need a simple powerful tool to manage your money and Excel is perfect for the job and cheap.
Create an eighteen month cashflow forecast that has weeks rather than months on it and add in all your expected income and expenditure on the WEEK it happens not the month.
Reconcile that cashflow forecast to your bank account each week, bold the stuff that happened, move the stuff that didn’t and work out when it’s likely to happen.
Create another worksheet with the same entries down the side, and use that to add up, automatically, all the entries for one month in one catagory. As you amend the cashflow, your summary sheet should automatically update itself. This is a rough but effective form of management accounts and will enable you to keep your finger on the pulse of your business at all times, updated weekly.
Add in lines to calculate VAT received and payable, and due to the VAT office.
Add in other lines for tax provision, based on profit from the previous month.
Add in other lines for your drawings, taken out of profit and after your tax provision is removed. Then see if your business can support you!
If not, it’s back to Tip 1, your market and your ideal customer, and what you are going to sell them first.
Nicola Cairncross is passionate about enabling business owners to be more successful and make money online from what they do, know about or love. You and your business can enjoy internet marketing mentoring with Nicola from just £97 per month and you can find out more here >>>>