First Things First: The FOUR Dimensions of Your Business

After having wasted precious years, energy and resources towards Business Ideas and Activities that brought poor or no results at all, the “Epiphany” came, and it was Excruciatingly Simple : I had to use my Common Sense in a Counter-Intuitive manner, and see the Forest instead of the TREE.

Well, this may not sound as new to you, but if that is the case, you are among a very tiny and priviledged minority, because almost ALL of the Clients, especially the Corporate ones, I had the honor to work with, suffer from this kind of “Blindness” to their Business’s Four Dimensions….or should I call it “unawareness”?

Exactly like a person has a PHYSICAL, an EMOTIONAL, a MENTAL and a SPIRITUAL Dimension, there is a Direct Analogue to a Business with the flame of potential and success in it.

The Physical Dimension stands for your Human Resources, your PEOPLE, your Establishments and your Technical Infrastructure. These are the “visible parts” of your Business. I would give a special degree of Gravity to your PEOPLE and separate them from the rest “physical elements” as they truly are the CORE that either makes or breaks your Model’s Backbone.

The Mental Dimension stands for the Business Plan, its Strategic Development and Effective Execution. Many think that a bright IDEA is what it takes to catapult a Business to the realms of profitability, and that as long as they carry the IDEA in their mind, things will fall together and success will come. WRONG !  You can’t go anywhere without a MAP and a concrete PLAN with a very well defined sequence of Actions and Goals.  It is essential for your TEAM, it is essential for you so you don’t lose FOCUS and keep everyone on track, always looking for more efficient ways to get there…

The Social-Emotional Dimension stands for the Customer Service, and all kinds of Relationships and Interactivity with Clients, Subscribers or Members,  your Alliances, Synergies and JV Partnerships as well as your Public Relations Policy.  Maybe the most underrated element and the one with the greatest power of all.  We humans are by default Social Beings.  The biggest part of our brain is the PRIMITIVE BRAIN which has under control the 80% of our consciousness is triggered by EMOTIONS and dominated by a gland-like structure in the core of our cerebrum  called “AMYGDALA”.  How can we EVER ignore our Clients’ emotions?  Well, sadly, most of us DO IGNORE THEM. We keep ignoring that it is way cheaper to keep and please an already established client than to acquire a new one.  ZAPPOS.COM one of E-Commerce phenomena, owes its phenomenal success to its MAIN PRINCIPLE : Making Clients Happy.  They didn’t focus on excellent shoes quality, quantity or design, etc.  They instead put themselves in their clients’ shoes and  offered them the FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE of being treated in a UNIQUE MANNER.  The result…. BILLIONS in sales, and an army of fanatic clients attracting more and more at an exponential speed through word of mouth… Think of it.

Spiritual Dimension is about your Vision and your Mission.  The Core-Belief which is depicted to your BRAND and comes from your main elements that make you UNIQUE,  as well as a constant course of  incremental improvement.  Older School of Marketing calls it USP : Unique Selling Proposition.  I call it the ROOT-CONCEPT.  It’s not easy to be understood or evaluated at first glance.  It may not be evaluated at all, but it’s of essential importance.  To help you get my point, I’ll borrow a parable I once heard from a very successful personal motivator in the US.  He spoke about the bamboo plant.  He was so glad he had just purchased  a small pot with soil and the root of bamboo in it. The joy lasted a few months while he was watering the pot and made sure it was placed on a sunny spot with plenty of fresh air around.  Soon disappointment set in as he didn’t see the slightest green sign on the soil’s surface as if the plant was NON EXISTENT or non-responsive to his daily care.  His wife started teasing him about his choice.  His friends were joking with his stubborness to keep watering a pot of soil, but a little tiny voice inside him, held resistance and didn’t let him quit.  He didn’t throw the pot to the garbage and didn’t stop watering the plant and whispering words of encouragement to the sleeping baby root.  It was after FOUR YEARS of patience and persistence, he saw the first green leave unfolding its delicacy to the open air, just above the soil’s surface.  To his glorious delight, the bamboo had just started its crazy growth at 3000-5000% per year.  It took it 4 years to build strong roots and accumulate resources.  Nobody dared to question him again.  Our Spiritual Dimension rarely sees the light -just like bamboo’s roots- and it’s hidden in dark and assumingly dirty depths, but without it there would be NO FLOWERS and NO FRUITS.  Always take care of your Business’ ROOTS and constantly feed them with the right “nutrients”.

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The 5 Deadly Mistakes That Keep You From Making Money Online Today.

Since the day I realized the tremendous opportunities Internet represents to the world, I strongly believe that making money online today should be a universal and indisputable norm. Nobody should be poor or broke in the era of World Wide Web, but this dream seems too good to be true and certainly the lack of common sense has contributed tremendously to this direction.

I’m a big fan of the saying “the more personal, the more universal”, so I’ll try to reflect my opinions -which are backed up by hard data- based on my own first hand experience.

And here I am, almost twelve years after my first reluctant experimentations, countless e-books, reports, webinars, teleseminars, courses and workshops, with a solid conclusion in my mind. There is a huge misconception about making money online. Maybe the experts deliberately teach you about the “shell” of Internet Marketing leaving the “core” dark and unknown to you. Maybe they don’t do it on purpose. Still the fact remains that if you don’t understand the importance of these five mistakes, you’ll never make it to the “holy grail” of online success.

Mistake #1: Market, keywords and competition research alone, will not be enough for you to find the “sweet spot” and see bankable results.  You have to check the trends and you certainly have to delve into the  deeper layers of the particular “industry”.  Having a direct knowledge or affinity to this Market, or hiring an expert to write a report – or help you with a Video presented interview on the topic- sometimes is not enough.  It is a jungle out there, and this jungle keeps getting bigger and wilder everyday.  You’ve got to study your market from many angles, and this is something you can’t outsource 100% most of the times.

Mistake #2: There are two processes you’ll have to consider carefully while planning your actions and setting up your strategy. Knowing only the one of the two, will not be enough. You will be left exhausted, ripped off and frustrated wondering why all the thousands of visitors that hit your website, clicked away without giving you a single dollar.  Most Web-Internet Marketers and Gurus focus on the OUTER Process directly related to the sequence of tasks you have to execute in order to bring your OFFER in front of your target audience.  Many others talk about Conversions and the magic tricks associated with inflated numbers, but very few  talk about the essence of Client’s Experience and how you set the perfect scenery towards capturing your potential Client’s attention, focus and preference.

Mistake #3: You shouldn’t pick your “niche” and your marketing style according to facts and data collected for you by certain tools alone. Tools are great but there is a missing element which will break you or make you, and you can’t afford ignoring it.  Not all Online Business Models fit all personalities.  OK, maybe in time you’ll get to develop all main Online Business Models, but when starting you should pick the one that fits you better and feels more natural to you.  This way your productivity and enthusiasm, will speed up your effectiveness and the rest will be a matter of time.

Mistake #4: Once you get things going, automated procedures and systems are not enough to give you the results you’re after, at least not in this wildly competitive environment which is called Web. The missing element is what keeps silently eating up like a slowly expanding cancer, the “soft tissues” of the giant called GOOGLE, while strengthens enormously its big opponent: FACEBOOK.  The more personal you are, the better and more durable results you’ll get.  GOOGLE brings to mind robots and spiders and algorithms.   FACEBOOK brings to mind friends, and groups and communities.  Talking about light-years of distance in terms of conceptual positioning to the Internet User’s mind.  Which one do you prefer?  Being as important to your clients or members, as your auto-responder’s series, or being a trustworthy and valuable friend they feel connected with?  No matter if your main asset is a list or a blog or a static website, rapport with people is KEY.

Mistake #5: Collecting and analyzing data, split-testing and optimizing, loses a big part of its effectiveness unless you are aware of the factor which focuses on your strengths and puts your weaknesses aside.  It is true that you can’t improve what you can’t measure.  But it’s also true that you should choose WHAT you measure carefully so it is associated with your strengths, you should choose HOW you measure your strengths and be very savvy with your EVALUATION system.  You can’t filter flour with a filter made for beans and vice versa.

To me, these five mistakes are the only big monsters I consider disastrous for my efforts to make money online through any of my activities ranging from affiliate marketing to info marketing and business consulting. Of course these monsters may take various names and definitions, but learning to identify them and cope with their parameters effectively is what will make the big difference in your online business. A difference measurable with hard cash.

Eat That Competitor

Lets talk about some common-sense and value things.   First of all, before we talk about any Market and its nitty gritty details, we should agree on the basics.

  • We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
  • We don’t have to reach perfection, just go a tad further than our #1 Competitor.
  • We have to have a plan.
  • We have to stick to our plan.
  • Success is the result of a set of very boring and repeating tasks.  The secret of success is consistent repetition.  Did I say Consistent?  Let’s say it again :  C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-T  R-E-P-E-T-I-T-I-O-N.
  • Competitive advantage is whatever makes us stand out of our Competition not in general but IN OUR TARGET CLIENT’S MIND.

Now I feel a lot better, because I let this out of my chest.  I haven’t been good with more than one of these points quite often in my business life, but when I was, the results were TREMENDOUS !  My main problem has been to stay focused and not get distracted by silly or seemingly lucrative options.   Yes, I know that Opportunity Cost has been one of Waren Buffet’s  key thought- elements towards defining his position in regards to an investment strategy, but when you have set a plan and are out there to execute it, JUST EXECUTE the damn thing !  Forget anything else even exists.
[cbmage]competition analysis[/cbmage]

Ok, I became a bitch and I apologize, but my intentions are the best, and to prove it, I have a simple TWO STEPS  tactic to show you when you want to start promoting your Online Business and feel “lost”.   FIRST you need to find out WHO ARE THE BEST in your industry.  Go to ALEXA and choose the right category or sub-category and …’ll get what you need.  SECOND you need to see their “numbers” and get an idea of your “client’s” profile , since by the way, you appeal to the same target group.  Some nice Competition Analysis can be done if you visit  QUANTCAST.COM  and start putting one by one your TOP ALEXA Competitors in their search-box.  Just keep notes, make comparisons and… can thank me later 🙂

Now you know your TOP COMPETITORS, their sites’ DEMOGRAPHICS, and you need to decode their Linking Strategy and their SEO Strategy so you can locate their strengths and copy them, as well as their weaknesses and beat them.   I won’t go any further through this article.  Just keep your eyes “peeled” for my REPORT on the  “MAP TO ONLINE RICHES”  and I’m sure you’ll have the chance to find out EXACTLY what you need to do for YOUR online business so you can Eat Your Competitors Alive.

How Mine Is My Client? Improving Client’s Experience.

Who said that Internet Marketing is a walk in the park?   And how many have promised you to master it in a couple of weeks or months?  For God’s sake, use your common sense.

With a bit of common sense, and a lot of mistakes in my portfolio – I guess they give me a touch of an expert-  lets burst a few “bubbles” here.

The most important mistake I’ve seen many of my clients making,  – which is very common to see allover the web I admit-  is to build their Website  (corporate or non corporate) around their “EGO” and reflecting a deliberately magnified or twisted image, for image’s sake.  The next big mistake I see them making  –  I know cause I had been doing it myself for years-  is basing their Marketing Strategy on guessing.  The third  big mistake  – maybe this is the BIGGEST one-  is that they have NO STRATEGY, in place before building their Web-Presence.

BUBBLE #1. The Bigger my Company seems to be, the better results I’m going to have.

BUBBLE #2. The more flash animated graphics, colors,  whistles’ and bells’ sounds and things happening on my Website’s pages, the more knowledgeable, acceptable, admirable and authoritative I’ll look.

BUBBLE #3. The more scientific, corporate, technical and sophisticated language I use on my Website, the more credible to the degree of “incredible” I will be perceived as.

BUBBLE #4. The more we focus on our Internal System Politics, and the more automation we add to our Web-Presence, the better.   Besides, isn’t that part of the Internet’s Magic ?

BUBBLE #5. The more multi-layered and schematic the navigation, the more likable the aesthetic result will be.

BUBBLE #6. What Sales?  When Sales? Why Sales?  Where Sales?  We don’t want to pitch to the visitor.

BUBBLE #7. I know what is important to my visitor and I’m going to arrange the information in a  way I guess that would keep him more satisfied.

BUBBLE #8. Capture Form?  Won’t it spoil my page’s layout ?

BUBBLE #9. List Building?  What on earth am I going to use it for?  Who is going to manage the List?  What are we going to send to the List?

BUBBLE #10. Upsell ?  Are you serious?  We just got them paying.  They’ll simply get pissed off.

BUBBLE #11. Thank You Page with a masked sales copy?  Out of question.

BUBBLE #12. Follow up?  They bought what they bought.  We refunded the ones we should.  Do we actually have to marry them too ?

BUBBLE  #13. Selling more products and more frequently to my clients?  It’s impossible.  I only have one product to sell.

BUBBLE #14. Why should I build a relationship with my clients if I have nothing to earn from it?   FREE GIFTS ?  No way.   We’re in the Selling Business, we’re not doing Charity.

BUBBLE #15. We’re not going to actively search for the clients where clients are hanging out.  We’d better bring them to us through advertising.

BUBBLE #16. Why should I give too much information to my Website’s visitor anyway?  They can always email me for more, or buy my product so they can enjoy a more privileged treatment.

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The BUBBLES’ list could go on and on , and we promise we’ll update it periodically so we cover more and more of the myths surrounding the setting up of an online business and the Experience we should create for our Client.

But lets start from the BASICS.  Online visitor’s profile.

Do you think your online visitor is any different from you in your pyjamas infront of your pc  at home, or taking your lunch-break at the office,  or surfing around the net while waiting to catch your flight at the airport, or chatting in facebook with your pals?  What makes you think your online visitors are the new Nobel Prizes holders,  the nearly inaccessible FORTUNE top 100 Companies’ CEO’s or some sort of an allien species?   Of course, Nobel Prize holders, CEO’s and alliens ARE too your visitors, but in their pyjamas most possibly, with their defenses down, aware of their clicks’ incredible power and value, and allergic to ADS and pitches, unless they “TALK” to their inner core.

So, lets take the BUBBLES one by one and start bursting them, so you can see how sensible common sense can be.

BURSTING BUBBLE #1. Do you think your visitor cares about how Big your Company or your EGO is?   Honestly, he doesn’t give a dime.  All your Website’s visitor cares for, is “WHAT IS IN IT FOR ME?”.  If he doesn’t find at one glance the info he’s looking for,  he’ll click away in seconds.   In Internet Marketing “argo” we call it BOUNCH RATE.  Google Analytics seem to have incorporated in their Website Scoring and Ranking algorithm, the BOUNCH RATE, which actually shows “how happy” a visitor is with a Website’s information.   On a Newsletter I received recently,  you’ll find an actual Reply of Google’s Web Analytics evangelist, regarding how much time does a visitor have to spend minimum on a site’s page in order NOT to be considered a BOUNCH when he clicks away.

BURSTING BUBBLE #2. I like to call it the “LUNA-PARK” phenomenon.  What I really can’t understand is why should a visitor enjoy staying at a site with all kinds of distractions on it, instead of a crisp clean and simple one, giving him right away the info he’s looking for.  As if there wasn’t already enough noise and distraction in our life where everyone is bombarded by messages every minute.   Ask any Web-Professional and you’ll get to know that Flash is a Search Engine Spiders Repeller.  Is that what you want?   Of course, there are very creative and well positioned ways of implementing Flash on a site, and also using VIDEO or AUDIO  is a MUST, but you must keep your mind FOCUSED on your Website’s Purpose, and your visitor’s attention focused on the desired process of actions.

BURSTING BUBBLE #3. The “language” of your Website should be the exact “language” of your potential client.  Every Market or Subset of Market or Niche, has its own “language” and you’d better use it allover your Website for two main reasons :

  • Search Engine Optimization is based on KEYWORDS.  There is no way around it.   So, your KEYWORDS must be the exact ones your potential clients are searching for.

BURSTING BUBBLE #4. Automation is great, but don’t fool yourself about being impersonal in a Web heading towards more and more live, interactive and social oriented communication platforms.   Show your visitor who you are, and how much you care about their satisfaction through any transaction they may have with you, your products, your systems and your people.

BURSTING BUBBLE #5. Sorry for being “unladylike” but……BULLSHIT.  Who cares about your fancy buttons and your sophisticated color combinations, if they can’t find what they’re looking for? Make navigation as easy as possible, with additional text links in footer-bars if necessary, and neatly categorized content.  You’re doing to your visitor a great favor and you’ll be rewarded with faster indexing, better ranking and more sales, which is your ultimate goal after all.

BURSTING BUBBLE #6. Of course you want to make sales damn it !  Every day, every hour, every minute !  People will always need physical or info products.  It’s up to you to “wrap” them in the proper info-material and put them right under their nose in a distance as closer as it gets to their credit card.  Sales is what makes the world go round.  Sales means cash-flow, and cash-flow means revenue, and with revenue you can be the King of the World, or even a maverick, but it doesn’t really matter as long as you are FREE.

BURSTING BUBBLE #7. You couldn’t be more wrong.   Nothing on online or offline business should be based on “lucky guessing”.  But if it is difficult to overcome in offline business, you have a huge arsenal of tools and methods to find out EXACTLY what works by split-testing, and measuring, and collecting data and analyzing data.   I was so overwhelmed when I watched the presentation about this part of online business which is related to data-collecting and data-analyzing, when I attended  Eben Pagan’s “GET ALTITUDE” Program in LA  (October 2007), that I thought this rocket science suahili language definitely wasn’t for me or any of my online business models, and that only online multimillionaires can properly implement it and monitor it.   My God how stupid I was !   Today I’m in love with GOOGLE ANALYTICS tool, and I would love to include to my arsenal any tool I can put my hands on, regarding data research, collection,  and analysis.  It is not about how much I like my homepage’s layout background being purple because I guess this is the nicest color to go with my product.  I know for sure, thanks to my  split-testing and metrics, that  light-green  color has 3 times up higher Conversion Rate.  (a fictional example)  So test and measure EVERYTHING, and plan your Business’ Strategy based on facts and figures and solid metrics, instead of lucky guessing.

BURSTING BUBBLE #8. Have you noticed how “nude” and simple world’s BIGGEST WEBSITES are?  GOOGLE, EBAY, YAHOO, TWITTER,  FACEBOOK, AMAZON… to name a few.   Have you seen how user-experience oriented they are?  What?  You didn’t notice?  Well, go check again.  They pay huge attention on user-friendliness and on building lists.  You see “login here”  “login there”  “welcome back Sofia!”  etc   How can you ever imagine having a site without an optin form on your homepage’s most visible spot, pushing your visitor to join your list, even if you have to ethically bribe them to do it  (by giving away a free report, sample etc when they join).

BURSTING BUBBLE #9. List Building is really HUGE.  I can’t describe how HUGE.  Words are not enough.  There are people who have lists of thousands of subscribers or tenths of thousands, or hundreds of thousands.  And there are people who are making BIG MONEY by small lists of a few hundreds of responsive and loyal subscribers, with whom they have cultivated exceptionally good relationships.  Jason Moffat is an example of web-marketer who has mastered that.   So your LIST is where your online-business’s money really is.   People are hungry for information.  You can setup your autoresponder series of messages with useful info snippets, reviews (you may be an affiliate of the products you’re reviewing) , or even friendly updates emails.  A few messages later, and in just a couple of months, your name will be so familiar to your list members,  seeing it coming up again and again in their mailbox, they will subconsciously feel closer to you and tend to buy from you over and over again.

BURSTING BUBBLE #10. Absolutely WRONG ! There’s not hotter and more responsive buyer, than the buyer who just gave you money.   It’s the  “do you want fries with your Mac ?”  thing, McDonalds and other Fast Food Industry giants apply all the time.  GODADDY.COM  is the perfect example of an online business that upsells a ton of products right at the moment you just registered a Domain Name.  You end up having paid more than $100.00 while you only wanted to register a domain, but you are happy with all the extras you got, and you get even happier with their excellent follow-up and customer service.

BURSTING BUBBLE #11. In Japan, client’s experience is so extraordinary that the clients don’t really mind paying an EXTRA PREMIUM for that.   Everybody smiles and welcomes client to a store forgetting about anything else they might think or do.  Making their client’s experience UNIQUE is their  top priority.  And when the client leaves, they say “Thank You” all the way escorting him out.  “Welcome”  is very important because you want to make a new client, but “Thank You” is far more important, because you say it to someone who just  gave you his precious hard earned money, and it’s totally up to you to keep them coming back and buying again, which by the way, will cost you 5 times less than bringing in new clients.

BURSTING BUBBLE #12. Mediocre and ordinary businesses, offer a mediocre and ordinary service to their clients, and have a mediocre level of relationship with them.  Extraordinary and TOP Businesses, “marry” their clients.  They get paid for a lifetime for their products, just because of the excellent follow-up system they have in place, and the extraordinary rapport they have built with their clients.  Think about that.

BURSTING BUBBLE #13. I loved ADIDAS’ campaign moto “Impossible Is Nothing”  because it centralized semantics’ focus on the unimportance of obstacles infront of determination.  So think again about how many pproducts you can really offer to your online clients, and work on creating your products portfolio.

BURSTING BUBBLE #14. It’s all about trust.  To your website’s visitors, you are a total stranger.  Nomatter how well set your sales pitch is, the fact remains that they don’t know you and they don’t feel like they could trust you.  There is no better way to break the ice that giving away a piece of your work, a sample of your product.  Just make sure it’s of TOP QUALITY.  This way, they’ll feel you know your business, you’re confident about your products, they already have made the first step towards approaching you.  From that point on, it’s up to you and your Marketing to make them buy.   The best expected Conversion Rate from first-time visitors, is estimated to be 2%.  That means 2% cold sales !  But it’s really hard to reach that point of excellence on your landing page, so you make 2 out of 100 first-time visitors give you their money.   But if you make them optin to your list, with the ethical bribe of a FREE gift, you’ve got a list you can market to again and again increasing your conversion rate and making sales.

BURSTING BUBBLE #15. You can’t be monolithic at WEB 2.0 era of the Social Media explosion.  Part of getting to know your client better, is becoming familiar with the websites your client visits and the communities or forums he’s a member of.  It’s not about bringing any kind of traffic to your website.  It’s about bringing targeted hot quality traffic that converts.

BURSTING BUBBLE #16. This is the information era we’re living in, and it’s here for good.  The better info-management you do,  the wealthier you get.  The more information you produce and offer to your visitors, the sooner you’ll be established as an authority in your Market.  It is essential that you OVER-DELIVER with your products, but it’s also important that every tiny little piece of information you give away is of high value to your visitors.

Again,  you can visualize of your Client’s Experience in your Website, as an imaginary tour you are taking being in his/her shoes.  Double checking step by step, you can make sure this experience gets better and better and becomes a reason why your client will give you more business again and again in the future.

  • By using your Market’s language – instead of a wooden one- you earn credibility points, and you are perceived as an “insider” .   Your website’s visitor can identify with you,  therefore, he gets closer to buying from you, because buying from a friend comes more naturally than buying from a total stranger.