Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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marketing tips

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

 

 

The Old Sales Funnel: “Tell Me What I Need and I Will Buy It From You”

First time I’ve heard a term “sales funnel” was back in my days when I got a job as a financial advisor for a major corporation.

After passing my “Series 7” exam and becoming a licensed broker for NYSE, I had to become intimately familiar with our corporate sales funnel for selling our main product, individualized financial plans. For those of us working in the front lines of this financial sales machine, a simplified version of our sales funnel looked something like this:

  1. Endlessly “cold call” outdated sales leads for hours at a time.
  2. Upon successful contact, invite a lead to visit the office for a “cup of coffee.”
  3. Then, there came a “sales pitch,” culminated with a sale of a firm’s “financial plan” as a form of initial engagement.
  4. If the lead liked the financial plan we put together, he or she would, often, decide to transfer a large bulk of his/her funds to be placed under our firm’s management.
  5. If the client was not willing to transfer his or her money to us, the sale was considered unsuccessful, but as a minimum, we got paid for a financial plan we put together.

Whether it was my work as a financial advisor or most of my other sales jobs, essentially, it all came down to this: you start with a sales pitch, you “close,” you charge a fee, and you hope that the client keeps buying more and more products from you:

Old Model

 

Death of a “Sales Pitch”

With time, however, a very interesting trend began to occur: more and more consumers stopped caring about a “sales pitch.” They stopped answering telemarketing phone calls and stopped paying attention to TV ads.

Today, for the most part, if a consumer has a need for something, he/she can get it by searching the internet.

Need a traffic attorney in Chicago? How about a hundred of them? Just keep hitting the “Next” button of your search engine.

Need a wedding planner? Here is another hundred showing up right on the first few pages of Google.

Need a financial planner? Not a problem. Google will give you a long list you wouldn’t know what to do with.

Counting on the old sales funnel in order to survive, over time, became a loser’s game. Something had to be done.

 

The New Sales Funnel: “I Know What I Need, Use Your Blog to Tell Me Why I Should Choose You.

Today, when it comes to sales, my approach is this: customers already have a pretty good general idea of what they are looking for, and it is now my job to showcase my product and build enough of a relationship with them to help them choose my product over my competition. And there is simply no better way to do it than using a blog as a part of your overall online strategy.

Today’s sales funnel looks much different from what it was years ago. Somehow, over time, that annoying outbound telemarketing phone call gradually transformed into something completely unexpected: a click (or a touch, if you are using your phone). And that cup of coffee when you get to learn about the company and start developing a relationship with your client turned into something even more unexpected: a website with a blog.  

New Model-1

 

A Click (Formerly Known as a “Cold Lead”)

Today, it doesn’t matter where your click comes from. It can come from your online ad, your twitter account, or your Facebook page. What matters is your ability to get the click.

A Blog (Formerly Known as a “Free Cup Of Coffee”)

Unlike the “good old days” of selling, now you get to have an endless metaphorical cup of coffee with your potential audience in the form of a blog. Blog for a business is, first and foremost, a real-time relationship builder. Secondly, it is a showcase of your work. Thirdly, it is a lead generator. 

blogdefinition

 

Here I am talking about a blog that does not revolve around “Buy my product now!” message, but rather contains valuable information that allows you to build trust between you and your future customer. The goal of your blog is to not “pitch,” but rather let others know that you are an “ok” guy or a girl to work with. Your second goal is to give your visitors an opportunity to learn and interact with you in order to build even more trust.


Let’s look at it this way. Once your blog is established, the visitors of your blog will typically be divided into 3 categories:

1. The Non-Buyers :/  (typically around 90%) who will never buy anything from you no matter what you say or offer. Some of those visitors are still getting to know you, some are there by mistake, some don’t have the money and others are there for all the wrong reasons altogether.

2. Occasional Buyers 🙂  (or skeptics like myself) who enjoy reading and learning, but are willing to pay for a product as long as they see value in it. Those will be the majority of your buying visitors.

3. Fan-Buyers 🙂 🙂 who will buy anything you have for sale on your website, no matter what it is. They sign up for your seminars, buy your books and try your products.

While you will not be able to tell which one of the 3 categories a particular visitor of your website belongs to until they decide to spend money on your website, it is important to continue using your blog as a relationship builder with 100% of your visitors, buyers, fans and non-buyers alike.

Technology will change. Sales funnels will evolve. And yet your need to build a true human relationship in order to connect with others and grow your fan base will remain.

 

Authentically yours,

Max Azarov, Authentic Spin, Author

 

What Was Your Experience?

What was your experience of adding a blog feature to your business website? Did it help your customer interaction, or did it make it worse? Please feel free to comment below.