Sunday, November 19, 2017
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I have recently read an article about “the right way” to start a startup. It had a list that included having a great team, sufficient financing and a plan for “monetization.” I am pretty sure it was a true eye-opener for those who were ready to launch their startup by hiring an unruly team, no financing, and no plans to make any money (sarcasm).

Yes, you can find an amazing team of developers and you can also be a step ahead of your competition by thinking “monetization” first and, in fact, you can read every major book about a startup and funding and yet, NONE of it will ever matter until you have the key component of your startup: quality audience.

But before we discuss the significance of having a quality audience for your startup and offer a few clues to your audience’s whereabouts, let’s talk about a very sensitive startup clock that makes having the quality audience a priority #1 prior to having your startup go “live.” I am talking about the ROI Clock.

 

The ROI Clock.

What many of new entrepreneurs don’t realize is that the proverbial ROI clock starts ticking as soon as the very first dollar is invested into developing a logo, making your very first set of business cards, your website and that state of the art software to run your business. At this stage, many new businesses don’t make any money and yet the business expenses begin to pile up, one charge after another.

 

Googlenomics of Today: Bidding Your Small Business CPC Against Multi-billion Corporations

It is true that Google Adwords can quickly resolve your audience problems. And yet, it is also true that in today’s Googlenomics, based on its system of more and more competitive bidding you may end up “competitively bidding” against multi-billion corporations that have no concern of whether to spend a $1 or $100 per click, as long as it puts them on that coveted front page of Google.

As your costs per click begin to add up, you may begin to wonder if the startup game was worth it (as was the case with some of the app developers I met some time ago) and if there was anything else you could have done prior to having your startup go “live.”

 

A Social Marketing Structure Designed to Save On Costs Per Click.

As I have learned from my own experience, there are at least 3 things one should do (especially prior to having a business go “live”) to save his/her company or a startup tens of thousands of dollars by building a true and engaged audience at minimal cost prior to, or while building a new business. All have to do with maximizing social media as a part of overall marketing strategy.

Start Building and “Working” a Twitter Following In Your Niche (Higher quality, free contacts)
It is  just now, after years of complete denial, I only wish I could tell you that I have started Twitter years ago and now I have tens of thousands of followers. I haven’t. I did start setting up Twitter accounts for all, myself and my clients just a few months ago and at this point, all of the accounts combined can start bragging about finally getting thousands of highly engaged followers who are noticeably contributing to our overall website registration rates and email signups at NO (or very minimal) additional cost.

Start Niche Blogging
After spending a good amount of my “younger” years in a highly regulated pharmaceutical world I was, at least initially, against blogging as a form of marketing altogether. In fact, the idea of blogging as a part of a marketing strategy for a very long time appeared to me, to put it politely, not very serious. As recently as several years ago, the idea of blogging away at a local Starbucks always appeared to be an activity more suited for someone who doesn’t really have a “real” job, or “real” marketing strategy.  If I could drive thousands of visitors to my and my clients’ websites using a proven formula of Fine-tuned SEO combined with an ironed-out adwords campaign, why bother changing things, right? Wrong. Because ironed-out Twitter+Blogging campaign has a potential to drive even more visitors at NO (or very minimal) additional cost.

Start and “Work” your YouTube Channel
Ok, unless you have an extremely engaging content, or you already have a pretty big following, trying to build your YouTube Channel from scratch my appear like a daunting task, and yet, there are 2 things to consider.

  • Properly structured video content will lead users to your website and, eventually, to your product at absolutely NO cost.
  • Even, if your content is not engaging enough to  become viral, the cost-effectiveness of YouTube AdWords ads when it comes to driving traffic to your website in my experience significantly exceeds that of using plain, non-YouTube text ads.

 

Old Model vs. New Model.

Overall, to me this blog is personal. The formula for  building an engaged audience for my businesses and businesses that work with us has been irreversibly changed. While just several years ago, most of our efforts were focused on SEO and Google AdWords with minimal efforts put into blogging and Social Media, today our strategy had a 180 degree turnaround:

OldModelvsNewModel

 

What Was Your Experience?

Are you on Twitter? LinkedIn? Instagram? How did it help (or not help) your business and your marketing/sales strategy?

Look forward to hearing about your experience.

Authentically yours,

Max Azarov, “Authentic Spin”  Author

 

 

When I came to America with just a few hundred dollars in my pocket, I didn’t yet understand the full potential of what it means to build an American dream from scratch. I didn’t know that an average Joe like myself had the capacity to make thousands, and later, tens of thousands of dollars in a single day as a part of my journey of consistently learning from, and building on both positive and negative experiences.

So, How Much Money Do You Need To Start a Startup?

Is it $5,000? $10,000? 100,000? 100 million?

What if I told that the amount of money you need to start your own business equals to, precisely, whatever you have in your bank account + however creative you can be to get the rest of what you need to get your startup going  ($0 in additional costs) + whatever experience you can bring to your business ($0 in additional costs), plus the cost of knowledge you will gain in the process.

I will explain.

A startup with $100MM does not have to be nearly as creative as a startup with only $1,000 to play with.
Similarly, a person with $1,000 in startup money will have to bring a lot more experience to, and be willing to learn a lot more from running a brand new startup:

before

 

10 Startup Courses (and Lessons I have Learned) at My True Alma Mater, “The Experience University”

Of course, the “knowledge” part can be a tricky one. During just the first few years of my startups I racked up a pretty hefty tuition fee payable to my true Alma Mater I call “The Experience University” (disclaimer: “Experience University” is not an actual university :)) The following is a short list of some of my pretty expensive “courses” I took at the “E.U.” while paying to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue and unnecessary business expenses (while the lessons below are real, course numbers, of course, are not :)).

1. Being Authentic 101 
A real life lesson where I found out that selling unique, authentic product(s) is the best way to maintain control of my pricing and profit margins. Startup that is founded on a unique/authentic product is, generally speaking, much more likely to succeed. Selling a high priced, unique product is much more rewarding and keeps your anxiety level within the normal range :). In addition, whenever you sell a product that is neither unique nor authentic you run a risk of competing with others over increasingly slimmer profit margins, thus automatically running a risk of losing your business.

2. Don’t Start a Business Just Because Someone Thinks You Should Start A Business 101
You can easily get yourself in a total disaster of a situation by jumping into, let’s say, a social networking project, or a brand new coffee shop business, expecting it to work just because it worked for someone else. Or perhaps because your friend told you that coffee shops in general make a lot of money.

3. Your Product Does Not Have To Be “Disruptive” to be Unique 101
Most of the billion dollar ideas (i.e. Facebook, Amazon.com, Google.com, Chobani Yogurt) are not all that “new” and not all that “unique.” All of them are slightly modified versions of products/services which already existed in the market at the time they were introduced. And yes, it took me a lot of valuable time to determine how much modification is needed for my product to be in demand.

4. Not Waiting On Others 105
Another real life course where I learned not to spend so much valuable time waiting on others instead of taking a lead and proactively doing a lot of the things (sales, etc) on my own.

5. Just Because You Have A Business It Does Not Mean It Will Make Money 201
Strange, but true. Going to work early and staying up late while working on your business does not equate to making money. What I have learned was the fact that one type of businesses is more likely to succeed and make more money than others and, ironically enough, the businesses that are likely to make more (a lot more) money, typically, require less (a lot less) work.

6. Being Your Own Boss Does Not Always Make You Free 205
Pick a business that does not tie you up to one geographical location. If you do not follow this advice, say good-bye to your travel plans and vacations. When planning a business, choose one that can be eventually managed via your phone and a laptop. I call it “The Agency Model.”

7. Many Already Have A Best Selling Product Or Service To Sell. They Just Don’t Know It Yet 305
Most of your business and life experiences can be packaged and sold by turning it into a new innovative service (consulting, graphic design, brokerage, a book, etc) or an innovative product (actual physical or software product). The problem for so many is not the lack of experience, it is the inability to turn experience into sellable packages and eventually into actual dollars. (Read my book, Authentic Spin, to find out more).

8. You Don’t Always Have To Spend Money To Make Money 401
Marketing can be very costly. Or it can be very cheap. It all depends on whether you are willing to spend some time learning how to do it. If you do it properly, you can get unlimited leads at very little cost. Yes, I am talking about online marketing.

9. Nuclear Sales Funnel 405
Don’t spend another dollar on advertisement until you can be sure that the sale of your product to just 1 customer will bring 2 more to your doorsteps.

10. Life Goes By Fast: The “Now” Method 410
From the time we are born util the time we die, only one moment matters. This moment is called “now.” Yesterday cannot be changed and tomorrow is not guaranteed. So if you want to start something. Start now.

 

Authentic Startup: The Concept

Or, Don’t Overthink, Stick To The Model That Works

“Authentic Startup” is a way of creating profitable startups from scratch using personal and business experience you already have, or can easily obtain. It took several years for “Authentic Startup” to be transformed into a system in its present form.  It started as a “cheat sheet” I intended to use to “cheat” on any future exams at my “Experience University.”

In my own example, I was able to launch/co-launch several startups, including graphic design startup, a healthcare startup, a pharmacy (recently acquired by a chain), and even an EMR medical records startup by progressively building on each one of my business and life experiences.

“Authentic Startup” is founded on a concept that all of our experiences have a real cash value and it is up to us to “unlock” it using proper “packaging,” pricing and marketing tools while taking advantage of S.P.I.N. model at its core.

 

Authentic Startup: The Book

Eventually, “Authentic Startup” turned into a book with 40+ illustrations, graphs and inspirational content that takes a mystery out of launching a startup by setting up theoretical and practical frameworks to make your startup (or existing business) successful by keeping you away from overthinking and re-inventing the wheel by focusing on:

  1. How To Become a True Leader Of Your Own Startup and Stop Waiting on Others To Believe In Your Project

  2. How to Be Excited About Your Product

  3. How to Determine When is the Best Time to Seek Financing While Avoiding Traps

  4. How to Define an Authentic Product

  5. How to Package Your Product and Properly Price It.

  6. How to Properly Build a Website and Landing Pages with Conversion in Mind

  7. How to Achieve Explosive Sales Using Online Marketing and “The Nuclear Marketing” Concept

 

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 Contents:

Listed below are the actual chapters of “Authentic Startup: How To Turn Your Unique Experiences Into a Profitable Startup”:
  1. Authenticity as a Starting Point of Your Startup

  2. The Three Words That Will Make All The Difference

  3. The “Experience Game” Strategy

  4. The Omega Mission Principle & The Two Types of Startups

  5. The Startup Capital Trap 101

  6. “SPIN” Packaging Your Experience Into a Sellable Product or Service

  7. How To Create an Authentic Product or Service The Smart Way: Marginal Authenticity Principle

  8. How to “Tweak” Your Product and Improve Conversion Using 7SP Authenticity Test

  9. SPIN Packages and Pricing

  10. Internet Sales 101: 8 Elements Of a SPIN Website

  11. Internet Marketing: Search Engine Timbuktu Dilemma

  12. Unlimited Customer Leads: Adding SPIN Copywriting and Social Media Components To Your Sales Funnel

  13. Even More Customer Leads: Google Bus Scenario

  14. The Nuclear Sales Funnel

  15. The Spin Gravity Theory

 

addtocart-amazon2

Download it now! I look forward to your reviews and feedback.

“Landing Pages Don’t Work!” Argument

A few days ago I became a witness to a discussion, where an “expert” claimed that landing pages and free giveaways in exchange for emails are not working nearly as good as they used to just one year ago and that we live in a period where something else has to be invented in order to generate leads.

Here are the two reasons offered:

Reason #1. As more and more people become aware of landing pages, whenever they see the sign up form, they simply click away from the page.

Reason #2. When people do decide to sign up for a free offer, they sign up with emails that is not their primary email and there is no way to get in touch with those people anyways.

Those were seemingly valid points and it got me thinking if this was really the case. Of course I, myself, have come across hundreds of landing pages and, of course, I x’d out of most of them. But I did leave my email on a few that I thought were interesting. I signed up with my “other” email, of course.

Have people like me been signing up for things less and less? Have people become desensitized to time-tested lead generation techniques?

Landing Page

Landing Page

All of this got me thinking about the people who typically leave their information in a form in exchange for free content.

Type #1. There are people who sign up for just about anything free. And, at first glance, I am a perfect example. Yes, I am that crazy guy who signed for 3 trial versions of landing page building software, downloaded (almost) all free books that suddenly popped up on my screen and currently being harrassed by a CRM sales person, just because I left my email in one of their sign up forms. Heck, I even created a separate email for downloading free ebooks, free giveaways and CRM signups, so that they don’t interfere with my important, day-to-day emails. You see, I have created that email to make sure that after I get the free stuff, I don’t have to “hear” from anyone about anything!

You see, I will sign up for whatever, just don’t bother me after I do. Get it, ridiculous sales people? Oh, I almost forgot, I am one of them, of course. More on that later.

Type #2. There are also people who would not sign up for anything, no matter what it is, even if it is free. They would not sign up for a free trial or get a free book. One of my “friends” is a perfect example. For him, it seems incomprehensible to give out personal email in exchange for, well, anything that is being pushed by those internet “knuckle heads.” Among the people that surround me, most of the people belong to this category.

Type #3. There is, also, the third type of people who would sign up for everything AND buy some of those things as they, with time, become convinced that they really need a particular product or service. Oh, wait a minute, I am also a perfect example of this third type as well.

So what about the 2 arguments? What about those guys who click away every time the see a landing page?
Well, for every few of those guys who will get scared away by a book and a form next to it, there would always be one person like myself, who will enter his email and get that book on “7 Steps To Increase Conversion Rates” or a free webinar on “How To Increase Your Traffic in 24 hours” (both are made up titles, of course) and will have no choice but to become a part of someone’s sales funnel.

But what about that “fake” email I enter every time I sign up? 
The truth is, I use my fake email for free stuff so much that on some days I check it more often than my real email. So, go figure. After all, I guess my “fake” email isn’t nearly as fake as I thought it was.

But… But… People like you are just a small percentage. Does it really make sense to invest into a strategy where only small percentage of people actually participate?
Good question. Really. But I am NOT going to give you a cliche answer that 1% of one million is, really, all you need because, truthfully, I have not yet reached a million of clicks on, well, any of my landing pages. And when this day happens I will probably rent a limo with a full bar of drinks and a stong wi-fi signal (for my celebratory wordpress blogging event) to drive around Chicago and celebrate. However, my answer is much more simple than that.

I have clients. Just like many of the people that download information in exchange of email have clients. And that means that whenever I am buying something or, more precisely, buying into something, all of my clients (some of whom don’t even know what a landing page is) get to hear about it. And the conversion ratio of my clients who get to hear about something I bought into is, well, probably close to 100%.

This means that if just 1 person in 1000 will download your content in exchange for his or her email and simply will happen to be someone in a position of working with several clients, suddenly you multiply that 1 by however many clients that person has, as well as however many clients their clients have and so on.

blackboard

 

So to those who keep complaining about landing pages that do not work my answer would be: “Improve the content your offer to target precisely the clients you are trying to get. Make it awesome. Make it relevant.”

Oh, and one more thing.

Landing pages do work!

 

Authentically yours,

Max Azarov

Authentic Startup, Author

 

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