Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bones of Your Online Business

What Will Your Product Be?
Before you start creating your first online business, it’s good to step back and decide what your actual product will be. With a bit of foresight you can plan the future of your product(s), and maximize the sales process.

If you run an offline business, think about how you may be able to apply the specialist knowledge in creating a digital product. I  will  try  to  give  some  examples  for  each  of  the  following  types.  The  trick here is to think laterally, and not focus too much on specifics, but the general concepts.

At the bottom of the scale, text products are the easiest to create, but will make you  the  least  amount  of  money. And  at  the  other  end  of  the  scale,  software products  or  services  are  the  hardest  to  create,  but  can  return  you  the  most amount of money.

Let’s have a look at the five product types...

1.  Text Products

Text  products  are  the  easiest,  fastest  and  cheapest  product  for  you  to create. Being at the bottom of the scale they will probably make you the least direct profit.

E-books  are  one  example  of  a  text  product.  They  take  almost  no investment – just your time researching your topic and then writing it. (Or the cost of having one ghost written for you.)

Or you could create an e-course. This is where you set up a simple opt- in form where customers can sign up to your course. Then you put your content into a series of e-mails that you load into an autoresponder, to send out your course automatically.

Text products are used to build your credibility and authority as well as to generate leads. When you create free products and give them away as lead generators for your other products, you’ll earn trust. They can also be low-cost leader products, to direct prospects on to higher priced products.

If you are a florist, consider a book on the art of flower arranging and how to choose the correct flowers for the correct occasion. This could also make a great e-course.

You may also want to write a free report on how to make your cut flowers last  longer,  or  the  top  ten  common  mistakes  most  florists  make  when building a bouquet.

If you are a plumber, think about writing a free report on the 10 most common shortcuts plumbers make to cut corners on a job and what to look out for as a customer.

In doing so you will build assumed trust. (People will assume that because you  are  pointing  these  out,  you  would  not  do  the  same.  Hopefully  a correct assumption.)

You   can   use   these   reports   to   build   lists   of   potential   prospects.   This can  be  useful  when  you  want  to  offer  a  promotion  at  slow  times. Essentially this gives you the ability to run almost zero cost advertising with almost instant results when you need it most.

2.  Audio Products

Audio products require a bit more effort to create than text products, but are still in the ‘easy basket’. Because audio has a higher perceived value, you can command a higher price point than text products.

Take the e-book that you’ve written and simply record yourself reading it aloud. If you don’t like the sound of your voice, or if you want a certain accent for a specific market, you can have someone else read it. It’s  easy  to  do  a  teleconference  call.  Organize  an  expert  to  come  on your  call  and  interview  them.  Have  other  listeners  ask  their  questions while you steer the conversation to access helpful information for your listeners.

You  can  conduct  interviews  over  Skype.  Ask  the  person  you  are interviewing  thought-provoking  questions  while  you  record  the  call. Later you can edit it if you need to, or transcribe it as the base for a text product.

Although I have heard this suggested many times, a lot of people ignore the idea, thinking it can’t be that easy. Yes it is. I know many products made this way in just a day or two. Once you have the system in place, audio products can be some of the fastest and easiest to create.

If you run some type of coaching program or service, then to create an audio course should be a must. If  you  run  a  natural  health  clinic,  then  interviewing  world  experts  to create an audio program could be leveraged in so many different ways.

You could use it to sell online to customers who live too far away to see you in person. You could sell it to existing clients, or use it as a giveaway on the first visit.

You could use it as a way to build credibility through association (a very simple but effective strategy for building authority).

When other people see your name or face next to a well-known celebrity or  leader  in  a  particular  niche,  then  some  of  their  authority  status  will be  transferred  to  you.  This  happens  completely  subconsciously  and  is therefore, an extremely powerful technique.

If  you  run  a  natural  health  clinic,  then  interviewing  world  experts  to create an audio program could be leveraged in so many different ways. The possibilities here are endless.

3.  Video Products

Video products are once again another perceived notch up the scale in difficulty from audio products.

Until  you  are  familiar  with  how  to  create  video  products,  it  can  be more  time  consuming  (unless  you  outsource  the  work).  But  it’s  more a  psychological  barrier  that  stops  many  people  from  attempting  video products.

With the easy-to-use tools that are available these days, using video can be a fast and easy way to create a digital product that you can sell for a lot more money. Because video has a higher perceived value than text or audio products, you can ask for a much higher price.

When you create short video clips, you can then use them to build traffic. With good video you can quickly build up your e-mail list by generating leads from YouTube or other online video networks.

Video interviews are easy to do. Just as with audio interviews, you can have a guest come in who is an expert in your niche. Just record your video  call  on  Skype,  or  in  person  with  some  relatively  inexpensive equipment.

Webinars  are  another  way  to  create  video  content  (as  is  filming  a  live event).  Just  present  your  content  and  record.  Some  basic  editing  after you finish and your product is ready to go.

The great thing about video is, it can be another powerful way to build trust. People get a real feel for you in video and so building rapport can be much easier.

If  you  are  a  car  mechanic  consider  making  a YouTube  series  on  basic home repair tips. Truth is, most people will be too lazy to fix their car themselves; but for those who do, will still remember you when something more difficult comes along.

Used car salesmen could create a video series on what to look out for when buying a used car. Again this will build assumed trust. You can then offer this information for free from your online or newspaper advertising.

If you do a good job, people will share the videos and you will generate a lot more leads through word of mouth. Music or martial arts teachers could easily create video courses to sell to students for extra home study, or to make money from students who live too far away for in-person lessons.

Remember,  this  not  only  builds  additional  passive  income,  but  builds authority  too  and  therefore  increases  the  rates  you  can  charge  for lessons.

4.  Membership Sites

Membership sites can provide recurring income. Though not usually for as long as most people would like.  The reality with membership sites is that people drop out after only 3-4 months on average. Using the micro continuity model instead, is highly recommended.

This is where the program is a fixed length, for example 6 months. By doing this, you increase the average length of time someone remains with your program and you only need to create a fixed amount of content. (The main problem with membership sites with no end date, is coming up with new content every month.)

If you run a financial advice service you could easily provide an ongoing membership service that kept people up-to-date on the latest currency or stock exchange information.

Taking the previous example of a music or martial arts teacher, the same video course could be cut up into sections and drip-fed over time. The best value membership sites will contain a mixture of video, text and perhaps audio, along with resource links and industry updates.

5.  Software Products

It is more difficult to create a software product than video, audio or text products. There is high risk involved in creating software. But if you can make it work you can enjoy a high return and even be set up for life.

If you want to go down this route, it’s best to at least have some experience developing  some  of  the  other  types  of  product  first. Too  many  people lose all their money just getting started with software development.

Subscription-based  software  is  a  great  model  if  you  can  find  a  way  to make it work. Autoresponder services are a great example of subscription- based software.  Every single month you have to pay to use their service. Many people rely  on  an  autoresponder  and  are  willing  to  pay  for  this  service  for  as long as their online business lives.

Some software also chooses to use advertising as a monetization model. This can work well if you have a large audience, and can be distributed through many of the free software networks.

Also known as adware, software that uses this monetization method will display some form of advertising either when it starts, when it’s closed down or in the interface while it is being used. Ads may be privately sold to customers, or provided by an ad distribution network.

If you have a really good idea for a software product, but do not have any experience, consider partnering with someone who has. It will help save  a  hard  learning  curve,  and  will  likely  save  you  a  lot  of  time  and money. (Plus your project is much more likely to succeed and actually make money.)

One  idea  though  for  small  businesses  is  have  some  small,  simple  but useful software written for you as a free giveaway. This could be used to acquire leads, and/or thank current customers.

Examples include: a mortgage calculator for a mortgage broker; software to  help  calculate  renovation  costs  for  builders,  real  estate  agents  or property  investors.  In  the  example  of  a  weight-loss  specialist  it  could be software to help track your weight loss, calculate your BMI and/or estimate calories for different meals.

Be sure to brand it with your company logo. Also contain a link to your website  to  maximize  credibility,  and  help  spread  the  message  should people share the software with their friends.

How to Understand Your Competitive Position: 3 Ways

You need to consider which factors are going to influence your business. On which levels can you compete on? And if you can’t compete on those levels, can you compete on a different level? (And if not, perhaps you need to consider another business model or niche.)

Here  are  three  aspects  to  consider  in  helping  you  decide  whether  you  can compete or not…

1.  Pricing Influence
Perhaps the most common way for businesses to compete is on price. Undercutting works, but may not be the best tactic. Although this may sound counter intuitive, sometimes increasing the price can also increase the number of sales.

Take a look at not only how much your product costs, but what influence your product has on your customers. If your product can save your customers a lot of time and effort in doing something, what value are you going to price that?

You  must  educate  your  customers  about  why  your  product  costs  the amount  it  does.  Break  it  down  and  spell  out  exactly  what  the  benefits are. Being the cheapest may just give you low profit margins and poor quality customers. By charging a premium, you can give a better quality product and/or service as well as make a better product.

With a higher profit margin you will have more to spend on marketing and advertising, allowing you to dominate more easily. You  will  also  attract  better  quality  customers  and  leave  them  much happier for having done business with you.

Remember, one simple way to increase your price point is to create an authority status for you or your company. Alternatively,  maybe  you  have  found  a  way  to  undercut  the  current competition. Many business have succeeded by finding ways to out price their competition while still providing a quality product or service.

If  so,  make  sure  you  explain  why,  so  that  people  will  understand  how you are able to beat everyone else and not cut corners. (Otherwise they may be skeptical.)

2.  Quality

How easy is it for another company to come in and copy what you have done—to  replicate  your  business  model? You  must  think  about  this  in the beginning, and assume other companies will copy you.

How  can  you  differentiate  yourself  and  make  yourself  stand  out  from future copy cats? Your  brand  plays  a  big  part  in  this.  If  your  customers  believe  the experience they have with your product has certain benefits, they’ll be more likely to stick around when new players come in. Think about how you can dominate the industry.

As well as copy cats, be aware of companies who come in with alternative products. Yes, price will be important for a percentage of customers, but not all. The features and/or quality will become more important here.

(And a quality product is more likely to stand the test of time against a cheap and cheerful product.) What  type  of  position  do  you  wish  to  hold  in  your  market?  Which strategic  benefit  will  your  product  have? And  which  strategic  benefits will other companies have, that you won’t?

3.  Marketing
In business you need customers. Your ability to get customers will be largely dependent on your marketing ability. Good marketing will not only help generate new prospects, but also to pre-sell them. Ironically this pre-selling is best done through education, not selling.

Teach prospects through your marketing why your product or service is best. For offline businesses this is where the internet can provide huge potential.  It  is  also  where  information  products  can  provide  a  lot  of opportunity for backend products or services.

The sad truth is there are many great products out there that never make a cent. They are well priced, offer great value and are even in demand. Yet they fail to thrive simply due to poor marketing.

On the opposite side there are plenty of average or poor quality products that  do  well  simply  because  of  a  good  marketing  department.  (Don’t become one of these.) Think about the power each of these factors has. How can you structure and  improve  your  business  so  you  maximize  the  potential  of  each  of these key areas?

Forward Thinking Will Make You More Money!

Before  you  get  started  on  your  online  business  it’s  helpful  to  sit  back  and consider what exactly you want to achieve, and why.  A bit of foresight can save you a lot of time, effort and money further down the track.

It’s wise not to rush in eager without some form of preparation. Instead position and plan your business from the very beginning.

Most people don’t do this; and then, most fail. Be honest with yourself and your goals. What  would  you  really  like  to  achieve? What  outcome  would  you  like  your business to have? There’s no pressure to create the next Google.

Would you like to own a small business? Perhaps you want to keep your day job, but earn some extra money on the side. If so how much profit will your business need to make?

Maybe you would like to create a quick flood of money and then move on to a new business? When you take time out to set yourself up for success and long-term profit, you can plan what to do in your business to ensure that happens.

The ideal position to be in, is where your product holds authority over your niche—where you lead in one powerful aspect, where no one else can threaten or touch you.

As  well  as  setting  yourself  up  for  profit  you  have  to  be  aware  of  your weaknesses. What are the main challenges that will impact your profitability and your journey getting there?

For many internet marketers it may be a fear your website simply disappears into Google’s ‘sandbox’. Is Google the main barrier to your business succeeding or not?

If so, what will you do to minimize the risk of this happening, and what are you doing to prevent this being the death of your project if it were to happen? Some things  may  be  beyond  your  control,  but  planning  for  alternative  solutions  is not.

Is There Demand for Your Product?

Demand is needed for the success of any business. Without demand for your product,  your  business  will  never  get  off  the  ground.  Unless  of  course  you can  create  demand,  but  this  is  not  for  the  light  hearted,  nor  advised  for  the beginner.

For  example  if  you  sell  food,  people  need  to  eat. That  said,  a  lot  of  food  is luxurious and not strictly needed, so it becomes a want. And it is often food that is ‘wanted’ that sells better than food that is ‘needed’.

Using  Mark  Joyner’s  analogy…  if  you  find  a  thirsty  crowd,  you’ll  instantly have customers if you sell them water. If you‘re the only person selling water, you don’t need to create a sales letter. They’ll buy from you the moment they know you have what they want. This makes business a whole lot easier!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015



 It’s not as sexy as the latest diet craze sweeping through Hollywood, but in the search for a slimmer figure,  slow  and  steady  weight  loss  (one  or  two  pounds  a  week)  really  does  win  the  race.  Whether you want to lose five pounds to fit into your clothes better or need to lose fifty to protect your health as you get older, losing weight boils down to a simple equation: The number of calories you take in must  be  less  than  calories  out.  In  fact,  diet  plans  that  claim  you  don’t  need  to  count  calories  usually reduce  your  calorie  intake  anyway  because  you  eat  smaller  portions  or  cut  out  certain  foods  (or  in some cases, entire food groups).  Even if you choose not to count calories, it’s worth understanding a few key points about them.

Know Your Calorie Needs As You Age

Everyone has a baseline number of calories they need to maintain their current weight, but the number differs according to your gender, weight, activity level—and your age. It isn’t just your imagination; your calorie needs do decline as you get older. Your metabolism slows about 5 percent each decade, so at age forty, women burn about 100 calories fewer per day and men burn about 50 calories fewer than  they  did  at  age  thirty.  That  may  not  seem  like  much,  but  over  a  year  it  can  translate  to  an  extra five  or  ten  pounds.  The  dip  in  your  metabolism  is  mostly  due  to  a  decrease  in  muscle  mass  and  a corresponding increase in body fat , but your organs also use fewer calories as you age.

The best way to determine your calorie quota is by measuring your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the number  of  calories  your  body  requires  for  the  daily  tasks  of  living,  such  as  breathing,  blood circulation,  and  forming  and  repairing  cells.  Your  gym  may  have  a  handheld  device  called  a calorimeter that can measure your RMR pretty precisely. If you don’t have access to a calorimeter, a 2005  review  of  studies  in  the Journal  of  the  American  Dietetic  Association  discovered  that  a  tool called the Mifflin-St Jeor equation is the next most reliable way to estimate a person’s RMR. You’ll need to translate your weight from pounds to kilograms and height to centimeters; the formulas are as follows: 1 pound = 0.45 kg; 1 inch = 2.54 cm