Copyright (c) 2007 Donna Gunter
The Internet marketing industry and online business industry is fraught with fraud. There are more “get rich quick” schemes here than in almost any other industry. After all, who doesn’t want to sit on home on his rear end and make tons of money by working only a couple of hours per week? The allure of such a promise is quite appealing. However, remember the adage about promises that sound too good to be true–typically such promises will lead you to great disappointment.
Building a business online is neither easy or quick. It’s just like any other business. It takes time and dedication to generate the kind of results you desire. Here are 6 “school of hard knocks” lessons that I believe are the “real” secrets to successfully building an online business:
Lesson 1: Acknowledge your expertise. One of the great difficulties of online business owners is their inability to acknowledge their expertise in an area. I, too, suffered from that problem in the early years, thinking, “I’m not really an expert — everyone knows this stuff, don’t they?” It took me years to realize that while others did have a higher level of expertise than me, there was a very large group of people who knew less than me — and it was to those people I could become an expert! And, better yet, they would pay me to learn it so they didn’t have to do through the same trial-and-error method I did. In 2006, I decided to officially declare my expertise by crowning myself as “The Online Business Resource Queen” because I know more about running an online business than just about anybody I know. So, go ahead and crown yourself as an expert!
Lesson 2: Niche your way to riches. Finding the exact market that needs what you have to offer is one of the primary keys to success in any business, but especially when you’re trying to do business online. Taking a shotgun approach and foolishly believing that “everyone” needs your product or service is the quickest way to failure. You need to be able to identify and describe your niche market, from determining what problem the niche market is actively trying to solve and what they’ll pay for (as well as how much they will pay) to what publications they read, to what groups/associations do they belong, and where they hang out both on- and off-line. The more narrowly focused your niche, the better. So, owners of Golden Retrievers are a better defined niche than dog lovers, and executive female golfers are better than women athletes.
Lesson 3: Build relationships online. Even though an online business is virtual and you meet few of your clients and prospective clients face-to-face, it is still possible to build trusting relationships online. The most important thing to remember is that your personality needs to shine throughout all of your online ventures. So whether you share personal stories about your life or business (these will be very popular with your visitors), or write articles or website text in the same way you speak, you need to give visitors an experience of what it means to do business with you. You can also use audio and video on your website as well as photos of you in action in your business. Remember, most people need to get to know, like and respect you before they’ll decide to buy what you have to offer.
Lesson 4: Create several “stay in touch” devices. An ezine (email newsletter), blog (web log), and autoresponders (series of automated follow up emails) are the quickest and easiest ways to stay in touch with your current clients and to bring prospective clients into the fold. I think the most effective ezines are published weekly — it gives you one excuse every week to reach out to your contact database. Blogs tend to be attention hogs, so they are most effective as a marketing strategy when you post to them 3-4 times per week. Once you’ve written the content for a series of autoresponders, they can serve as a personal marketing arm for you, as they can be personalized and give prospective clients the impression that you’re writing a personal email just to them. The more “stay in touch” strategies you use, the quicker your prospective client base will get to know you and expect to regularly hear from you.
Lesson 5: Be willing to give your info away for free. Some experts will tell you never to give away your information or expertise (“why buy the cow if the milk is free” theory). I advocate that you should demonstrate what you know, as that is key in helping you build online relationships, and those who are really ready to implement your strategies will seek you out, as most won’t or can’t do it on their own.
Lesson 6: Don’t expect overnight success. Despite what the television ads might state or what the information products might claim, success in the online world doesn’t happen overnight. There will be a few who will spot a profitable trend before anyone else does, but eventually the income will fizzle and they’ll have to find another profitable trend. Just like any other business, an online business takes a great deal of time and attention. Some of the tasks can be automated, but you still have to pay attention to what’s happening so that you can effectively create your marketing and promotion strategy.
By adopting these Internet marketing mindsets into your daily marketing mantra, you’ll be well on your way to positioning your online business for many years of success!
Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at OnlineBizU.com . Ask Donna an Internet Marketing question AskDonnaGunter.com. .