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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

 

addtocart-amazon2

 Contents:

Listed below are the actual chapters of “Authentic SPIN: 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.

Content is business. Let’s treat it as such.

We all have read it a million times. Put out relevant content. Use relevant images. Search for what’s trending and try to replicate it. Use content curation. Repurpose popular topics. Occupy a popular niche or no one will ever notice.

Now, here is the bad news.

Last time I checked it’s 2015.

This means that right now, at this very moment all of the above can be increasingly done either through drag and drop applications or through a service such as curationsoft.com, curata.com, repubhub.com or by using any number of similar applications which make the job of a content “curator,” blog “repurpose-or” and post “recycler” increasingly meaningless.

Content is business. Business is about trust. Can you really build it by copying other people’s stuff?

What I find fascinating is that most of the blog posts telling you how to write an effective blog post today are mere copies of some other posts on the subject.

Now let’s take an imaginary trip to, let’s say 2016 at which point dragging and dropping popular content in order to “repost,” “repurpose” and “curate” would be the thing of the past and your presence won’t even be needed. At all.

What would it mean for your “curated” blog, your website or your business?

How will you be able to “compete” for quality content then?

Short answer: you won’t be able to.

So what is there to do? And yes, there is an answer:

Stop Wasting Time on Blogging. Focus on Developing Your “Voice” Instead.

The key word here, of course, is “wasting,” not “blogging.”

So, how do you stop the waste? You do so by focusing on developing your voice.

  1. Don’t Waste Your Time On Blogging Tip #1.

    Start by realizing that by constantly chasing the popular “voices” on the internet, you are losing the only one that matters: your own. And if you don’t spend time developing your own voice you are wasting your time by blogging. Moreover, if you are on the path of copying, organizing, reorganizing and curating content that already exists, you are probably on the path of being replaced by a content curation software in a very, very near future.

  1. Don’t Waste Your Time On Blogging Tip #2.
    Realize that if you are a true entrepreneur (business owner, investor, developer), you will never run out of difficulties, trials and serious obstacles to overcome. And this, in turn, means that you will never run out of quality content to write about. Funny how you can always detect if a person who writes a particular post is really a business person or a free-lance, pay-as-you-go copywriter who knows very little about running a business but tries to make it sound as if he does. Focus on writing about a particular fix in your business, as opposed to chasing the “trend” on how someone else did something for theirs.
  1. Don’t Waste Your Time On Blogging Tip #3.
    Realize that your own content (the one you actually paid for with your own trial and errors) is much more valuable than any content that is currently trending. Especially because chances are, the only reason “trending” content is trending is because it was recycled over and over by a great number of those who cannot come up with any original ideas.
  1. Don’t Waste Your Time On Blogging Tip #4.
    Don’t panic over your next content topic by spending your precious time searching for that next big thing to write about. Next time you are frustrated with something, or whenever something goes wrong in your business, chances are, it will make for a topic others would actually want to read. In addition, if you are a true author of your authentic content, one topic, can easily be expanded to another, which is a difficult task when you spend your day simply copying or “curating” content. In my case, by the time I am done with one post, I already have several new topics to write about. Since I am writing all of the posts myself, my biggest issue has never been about coming up with topics for content, but rather with having enough time to put all the content ideas up on my blog (which will probably be my next topic :)).
  1. Don’t Waste Your Time Blogging Tip #5.
    Don’t sell out. Write for yourself. Build your own business toolbox of concepts, ideas and shortcuts. Understand that even if it takes a bit of extra time to put together content that’s relevant to YOU, the time you spend on it is never wasted, simply because:
    a)      This would be something you can use over and over again for yourself in the future.
    b)      Preparing and posting your own, authentic content is part of your personal and business growth process. It is that “experience” coin (the one I talk about in my book) which can be cashed in for real money as soon as you earn the trust of your readers.

Truly yours,

Max Azarov
Authentic Spin, Author
YoloStartup.com Project Founder

On Google, a cost of 1(!) click for a word “startup” in my geographical preference is $10.

No, this is not a typo it is $10, yes, American, yes, dollars.

This means that if I needed to launch a test version of my marketing campaign in my niche and run it for 1,000 clicks (as I used to back in the days when a click didn’t cost nearly as much), I will have to spend $10,000, yes, American, yes dollars.

Let’s let it sink in: that’s probably enough money to jumpstart a brand new business.

If you are, let’s say legalzoom.com (sorry, guys, for spending your hard earned $10 on frivolous research) that looks to capitalize on incorporating startups, $10 (may) make sense (I cannot tell for sure, since I don’t know their sales funnel). But one thing I can tell for sure, is that a company trying to promote any product for which it will receive less than $10 is,well, out of luck.

How High Does The Cost Per Click Go?

So how high does Google’s price per click go? According to a recent article on wordstream.com it goes as high as $54.91 (for insurance related keywords). The lowest cost per click on their Top 20 list is for the word “cord blood” at $27.80, which makes my “lousy” $10 per click seem almost laughable.

Below is the infographic chart you can find on wordstream’s website.

where-does-google-make-its-money

Now Let’s Take a Look At The Top 4 Most Horrific Places Where Your Clicks May End Up

Yes, of course your Google clicks may end in the right hands clicking on your link moments before reaching for their very special American Express Black card and become your customers. That’s the ideal scenario and yes it can happen. Very often, however, it is far from being the case.

#1. I’ll admit, my heart skips a beat every time I see a 3 year old chasing a digital frog on a free app (with AdWords’ clickable ads at the bottom) her Daddy downloaded last night onto her tablet. Sometimes she catches a frog. Sometimes she catches an ad costing an advertiser more and more of his marketing dollars.

To a little girl clicking on an ad is a minor disturbance in a fun game. To you, it may be a cost of a long awaited pizza dinner after hours of work. Now, imagine not one, but thousands of those little cute 3 year old kids with their cute 3 year old hands clicking your business all the way into the ground, one $54.91 click at a time. Insert  a track to your favorite horror movie music and fade into black.

#2. Let’s think of those “Top 20,” or “Top 30” anything lists i.e. (Top “Photoshop Fails” and the like), where in order to move to the next “Photoshop fail” you have to click on a tiny arrow, surrounded by Google ads. While someone accidentally clicks on a link and quickly backs out of it, to you it may be another $10 dollar expense you simply cannot afford.

#3. Your 2 year old decides to spend Saturday watching funny kittens on YouTube. Non-stop. No one has taught him how to skip or how to not click on ads. Thus, in a matter of just a couple of hours he “earned” $100s of dollars for Google while costing you as an owner more and more resources.

#4.  AdSense scams. While Google claimed at some point that they are looking into the problem, but I do, personally, believe that AdWord scams are out in full force. This happens when a person who signs up for AdSense clicks away on ads AdSense places on his/her websites.

Fine. Some of it, of course is an exaggeration. The 3 year olds, the no-good fraudsters that click their way into riches at your own expense, it may all not be as bad, but the question remains: at what point the risk associated with paid advertisement outweigh the returns?

Content Marketing vs. Pay-Per-Click Marketing

Content Marketing vs. Pay-Per-Click Marketing

This weekend Google “suggested” I spend $2.75 per click for keyword “fashion” for my clothing startup. I said sure, let’s give this another shot. AdWords gives me a pretty good data on traffic I get to my site and that’s great. And yet, when it came down to what mattered most, i.e. signups, the outcome was very much comparable to what our Twitter account brought to us just one week ago for exactly $0.

Yes, of course, you may say that I am not providing you with enough data and that, of course, the number of users I added with Twitter last week ultimately reflected the amount of followers on my specific Twitter account. Sure. But this goes beyond the point I will attempt to make here.

 

Content Marketing + Social Media Clicks vs. Paid Clicks

It is year 2015 and pay-per-click by large search engines become less and less affordable, while their clicks become more and more questionable. Google’s 35 allowable letters for $1-$54 per click in 2015 cannot compare with Twitter’s 140 letters for $0. The idea that your Google dollars can go to a click-happy toddler with no interest in your product may seem to be okay at $.10 per click as it was in the good ol’ days.  At $10 per click, it is no longer reasonable. And just like 10 years ago, when it took everyone to realize that Google was a much more profitable model over, let’s say Excite or Yahoo when it came to ROI, today everything looks completely different and paid clicks today gradually become what billboards became to businesses 10 years ago – an exceedingly losing proposition.

 

An Exceedingly Winning Proposition: Building Your Own Superior Resource of Niche-Specific Valuable Information via a Niche-Specific Blog, One User at a Time 

Google didn’t have AdWords to market itself. It built its customer/user base one visitor at a time, by providing a superior product.

Back in the early 2000s Google won everyone over by being an efficient “content broker” and a hub for all things valuable on the internet. It was better than Yahoo, Excite, HotBot and whatever else we were using back in the days as a search engine. It re-defined the internet by giving us what we wanted when we wanted instantaneously though its unique algorithm of prioritizing more popular websites over less popular ones. It made sense. The AdSense.

However it is 2015 and users are going more and more beyond popular and into a content that is more and more useful within a specific nicheFor example, a particular piece of information may be extremely useful, but not particularly popular outside of its niche and, as a result, Google will not make it readily available on its search pages.

Users Looking For More Useful Content Tend To Find It Outside of Search Engine Results

Today, the technology allows us to exceedingly do away with various non-niche “content brokers” and non-niche resources (i.e. big name search engines). In the past decade or so, we’ve all learned our way around the internet and we now tend to hangout on what I would like to call “tribal platforms,” i.e. twitters, wordpress blogs, and various quality online communities we have learned to love and enjoy. It is those “tribal” blogs, sites and platforms that are gradually taking more and more bites out of Google’s main function of a superior “content broker.”

There lies and opportunity for all of us.

Today, using blogs and community-based platform we have the ability to “build tribes” of like-minded individuals, one user, one fan at a time using WordPress or whatever other content hosting platform of your choosing. Today, anyone can, if you will, become an efficient content hub, as well as content “broker” with a website or a blog  that can provide exceedingly more useful (not just more popular) content for its visitors within a specific niche.

If you are reading this post today, chances are you came here either from another blog, a social media post, or any number of other tribal platforms that have nothing to do with a typical search engine as we know it. Those “mini-content-broker” blogs and social platforms are here to stay for many years to come and I see the advertisers in a very near future moving away from search engines and into individual blogs and social communities within targeted niches.

High volume, high quality blogs in a specific “niche” do not have to pay a penny to search engines and at the same time charge thousands of dollars for ads and blogposts as their audience within their niche keeps expanding independent of any non-niche search engines.

One user, one fan, one blog subscriber at a time. This means that if you woke up this morning thinking that the 1 blog fan you gained on your company’s blog (after spending 2 nights putting together a useful article) is not worth the effort, think again. This is the future.

 

Truly yours,

Max Azarov
Authentic Spin, Author
YoloStartup.com Project Founder

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

 

addtocart-amazon2

 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.

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.

There was a point when I became an addict.

A “hashtag-contentmarketing” addict.

A “hashtag-contentmarketing” addict who became convinced that in this day and age building a business without content marketing is all but a mute point.

I became an addict who I tried to read all about content marketing on Twitter. I paid my “hashtag-contentmarketing” and “hashtag-marketing” dues by scrolling up and down through various blogs with “marketing” tags while occupying that coveted table next to the only outlet at my Barnes & Noble bookstore.

I did all of this to accomplish one thing. To be a better “hashtag-contentmarketing” person. And to do this I needed a “hashtag-perfect-content-formula” that works.

 

The “Perfect Content” Formula. The 4 Elements.

By the time I was done, I have ended up with content creation formula that consisted of 4 elements:

combined

 

handThe Links:

(For convenience sake the links are here):

Fact browsing:
www.factbrowser.com

Images:
www.shutterstock.com,
www.dollarphotoclub.com
www.clker.com

Infographics:
www.infogr.am or www.easel.ly

 

The Dilemma

Now, after figuring out the “perfect content,” 4-element formula I had a dilemma. It appeared to me that a pretty heavy percentage of blogs I have encountered already, more or less, followed a similar formula and yet, their content seemed dull, not very useful and, quite frankly, not particularly interesting.

The reality was, I came to conclude, there is a definite threshold  to how many articles titled “7 Reasons You Should Add Images To Your Blog,” and “5 Reasons You Should Use Captivating Headlines” one can scroll through until thoughts such as “What am I doing here?” begin to creep in and a Starbucks girl washing floors under the table next to your politely tells you that it is already after 10 p.m and it’s time for you to leave the premises.

For the sake of my time and my own sanity, I concluded, when it came to most of such blogs, reading the headlines was sufficient.

And yet, the dilemma remained. How do I adjust the “perfect content” formula so that the content I write does not appear dull, not very useful and, quite frankly, not particularly interesting to anyone, myself included?

 

The Fifth Element

Over time, the revelation I eventually came to, was that just like any good formula, my “perfect content” formula was lacking a key variable.

I call this variable, the “authenticity variable.”

Since I have already spent a great amount of time defining “authenticity” in my book, I will say only that one of the definitions of authenticity has to do with being able to trace an item (tangible or intangible) to its original source (the author).

When it comes to writing or blogging, staying authentic means that your content should be unique enough for your repeat reader to be able to determine you as an author prior to scrolling down to see your name, whether by developing a distinct point of view on a niche subject, attaching your blog (or a video blog) to your life story,  a unique manner of writing, or a unique visual representation of your blog, etc.

No matter what you are trying to promote or share,  and no matter how many images and how much infographic content you use, content marketing should revolve around what I now call “The Fifth Element:” incorporating your unique and authentic take on a particular subject in each post, independent of how popular or unpopular it is.

And no, I am not talking about you being the center of the universe, I am merely talking about your viewpoint, your own (not someone else’s) trials and errors and your own experiences being the center of your blog. Thus, a blogger who never ran a business should never write about “7 Steps To Run a Business,” just like a blogger who never had to hire employees should never write about “7 Steps To Hire A Great Team.” This is unauthentic, laughable, always obvious, and always detrimental to blog’s credibility.

Yes, you can follow the 4-element formula to enhance your content with facts, infographic and images, however, the idea that you should blindly use factbrowser.com to search for something interesting to write about (just because you yourself have nothing to write about), or the idea that you should be using infographic  just for the sake of infographic to be successful at content marketing is, essentially, a virtual equivalent of trying to use vague titles, complex plots and never-ending sentences to replicate, let’s say, the success of Dostoyevsky’s novels.

handThe Takeaway.

Do tell your story. Do reveal who you are. Do share your mistakes and what you have learned from them.

Do use images. Do use captivating headlines. Do use facts.

Do NOT create content that does not have your own take on a subject.

Do NOT attempt to replicate other blogs as by the time you start thinking about copying someone else’s content, it has already been copied many times over.

If you have something to say – say it. If you don’t have anything to say – don’t. If you like what you see on someone else’s blog – retweet, like, and move on, don’t clutter the internet by trying to create more and  more copies of what is already out there.

And finally, stay true to yourself and your don’t get sidetracked by what others are up to.

 

What Was Your Experience With Posts that are Authentic (offer a unique point of view of an author) vs. Non-Authentic (re-written version of someone else’s blog)? Please let me know by commenting below.

Authentically yours,

Max Azarov, “Authentic Spin,” Author

You get overwhelmed. You start spinning in circles. The website development is delayed. Business cards are not being printed on time. Jeff, the designer guy does not answer to his phone. Or email. Or texts. The landing pages are in disarray. Another meeting with your teammate is put off because of other commitments.There seems to be so many things to keep track of and there are days you get so frustrated that begin to wonder whether that startup idea was really worth it to begin with.

Calm down.  In the business of running a business, dealing with being overwhelmed should become your second nature. Just like being able to quickly prioritize what matters to you TODAY and what  doesn’t.

Find a comfortable space. Clear your mind. Relax. Close your eyes. Imagine a serene place (maybe even a fantasy place) where you feel safe and think of just one word that matters to you at this present time.

Think of LTP-100 C O N V E R S I O N.

LTP-what?! What the…?! Is there another thing I need to put on my to do list?

LTP-100 is not as much about adding another thing on your to do list as it is about setting the right priorities. If you are a startup that does not have a system for tracking your conversion, you need to continue reading, as not many things in your business matter more than your CONVERSION and if whatever you plan on doing today is not related to CONVERSION, you are probably wasting your time.

So what in the world is LTP-100 conversion? It has to do with being able to measure 3 very important parameters related to how a market sample of at least 100 of your potential consumers responds to your product, your sales and your marketing efforts. The higher your overall LTP-100 conversion, the higher the chances of your startup being a success. Specifically, the three parameters we are talking about are:

L) Leads (how many leads did a particular sales/marketing campaign generate, per 100 potential consumers)
T) Trial users and (how many trial users came from a particular campaign
P) Paying customers (how many actual paying customers did a particular sales campaign generate).

Stop. Ask yourself a question.

At this very moment, do you know your LTP-100 Conversion ratio?

If you don’t, you are not alone. Most likely the reason for that is because you are, like so many startups:

a) have never attempted to present your product in front of 100 actual living customers.

b) stuck “perfecting” your product, website etc. and live in denial of the fact that you HAVE to know your LTP-100 number as a pre-requisite to your business moving forward

c) you believe that as long as you make a good product, someone will miraculously discover it and buy it and you will be profitable as long as you have faith in your product.

 

A “Trick” Question.

Assume you have presented your product to 20 potential customers (leads), out of which 0 customers tried it and 0 later paid for your product. What is your LTP-100 ratio?

At this point the only correct answer is: I don’t have enough data to give you the correct answer. You see, LTP-100 assumes having a minimum of 100(!) actual potential customers who have clicked on your ad, visited your website or your store, were contacted by you personally, or called your toll free phone  number, etc.

This means in order to find out your LTP-100 conversion ratio, you have to do whatever it takes to get and, subsequently, measure an actual response from at least 100 potential consumers!

Why do I need to know my LTP-100 ratio?

Remember the 1-1-1 Technique we talked about earlier? Remember how Product Development, Marketing and Sales cannot exist without each other in a startup? Well how do you know where is the problem: is it your product, or is it your marketing and sales?

Your LTP-100 ratio is a unique tool that gives you the ability to pinpoint a particular weakness in either your sales/marketing or your product development (more on this later).

Work on your Product Development, Marketing and, most importantly, Sales (see the 1-1-1 Technique) to hit higher LTP-100 conversion numbers week after week, month after month, or quarter after quarter, depending on a how your beta-product launch periods are set up.

And whatever it is, start working on it today!

Authentically Yours,
Max Azarov “Authentic Spin,” Author

Launching Your Product As Soon As Humanly Possible

You see, if you are an entrepreneur, chances are by nature you are a creative person. And it’s awesome. However, this also means that you, as a creative person, are likely to have a very serious disease.

It is called Perfection. And when your startup is still in its beginning stages, it may be deadly.

Let me explain. Kind of like an artist who steps away from his or her canvas over and over to make sure the painting is perfect, we tend to spend a lot of time trying to quote/unquote “perfect our product.”  The problem is, when we are trying to make our product quote/ unquote perfect, we make it so in our own mind only. That is, without realizing that our potential consumer may have a completely different definition of “perfect,” when it comes to our product.

What often happens is while one startup (Alpha), will spend years perfecting their product, we will call it Product A, another startup (Beta)company will launch a series of competitive products A1, product B1, and product C1, put it out in front of actual customers (or users) and let them vote for their favorite one with their actual wallets, subscriptions, product trials and so forth.

Suppose that Beta’s product launch determined that Product A1 has a conversion rate of 0%, meaning that no one out of 100 viewers of their ad had any interest in buying it, Product B has a conversion rate of 4% and Product C, which they  never thought of as a perfect product, has a conversion rate of 8%, meaning that twice as many people considered their least likely product, Product C, to be “perfect.”

In short, put your product out in front of at least 100 actual people as soon as it’s humanly possible. It is not your feelings, not your emotions, but solid data on how many sales, subscriptions or signups you were able to generate per 100 potential consumers of your product―i.e. people who will be the true users of your product―who will determine the direction of your product development.

And, as any successful startup entrepreneur will tell you, if Product A, B, C and D fail to generate enough conversions, no need for drama. And when the alphabet runs out, simply start over.

Remember―it is your dream and YOU are the only one that can make it happen.

Max Azarov

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