Category Archives for Strategy

How to Analyze the Supply and Demand of a Niche

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s a small business owner it is imperative that you study the supply and demand of any particular niche for which you feel you want to be involved. In addition, choosing a smaller niche market can allow your business to avoid competing with huge businesses that can afford to put out less expensive items.

As a smaller business owner you can charge higher prices for specialized and differentiated products or services that you promote to smaller audiences, giving higher profitability. In contrast, a larger business isn’t going to touch the smaller niches because they want to make much larger profits than the smaller niches will allow.

The trick is to learn how to analyze the supply and demand of any particular niche to ensure that you want to enter that market.

  • Define Your Customers - How many customers are there to whom you can market any particular product or service? Knowing how many there are can give you a good idea about what the price point of the product needs to be in order to make it worth your while. Remember, you’re never going to reach every last potential customer so adjust your expectations accordingly.
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    Determine Their Needs – As you look at the customers you want to work with, it’s important that you develop an understanding of their needs so that you can create products or services that are special, differentiated, and that they’re going to be willing to pay a higher premium for than mass-produced products and services that are lower quality.
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    Provide the Right Products or Services – Knowing the customers and their needs will help you get down to work identifying several potential product ideas that you can do more research on by using keyword research, polling of the audience, and other methods to determine the supply and demand of products like yours.
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    Outline a Marketing Plan – Once you’ve figured out the product or service you want to market, you’ll be able to determine marketing strategies and tactics that will help you earn the most from your small niche. Part of profitability is to know how you can market efficiently to your customer.
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    Make a Profit – Finally, doing the research will help you determine if you can make profit. Take the number of people in the market, the average market penetration and your price point, and you can come up with the most likely number of products you’d have to sell each month, week and day to reach your goals.

In order to make all this work together it’s important to:

  • Choose Keywords – Keyword research is somewhat subjective and starts with an understanding of your audience and a few words that you think they’ll use. You can also use tools to help you do keyword research.
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    Research Other Products – Find products that claim to be answers to your audience’s issues and check them out to find out how you can differentiate yours enough to charge the price point you need.
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    Identify the Price Point – Using the information gathered, come up with a price point that works for you.
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    Determine Your Break Even Number – Using all that information, come up with how many products you’d need to sell to make the profit you need to make, and whether it’s even possible considering all the other factors.

Bringing all these points together will ensure that you understand how supply and demand relates to the profitability of your niche. If there aren’t enough customers, or enough demand, and you can’t sell at a price point that fits with your income needs, you can then know it’s time to move on to another idea.

How to Write Your Business Vision

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very business needs a vision. A vision is like the big daydream you have in the middle of the afternoon after paying all your bills. It’s about sitting on the balcony of your beach-side resort room watching the sunset while working from your laptop. It’s the fanciful but possible potential of your business dreams. It’s not going to happen today, but if you reach for the stars, and work toward it, it could happen.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your USP? – This is about your products and services now.
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    What is in your mission statement? – This is about what you will do for your customers, how and why.
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    What is your five-year vision – Where you will be, and how you’ll get there.

Use this information to figure out where you’ll be in five years from now or ten years from now. That is your business vision.

Example:

Acme VA Services will be the top grossing, premier virtual administrative providers in North America by providing reliable, consistent and knowledgeable administrative and author services to six-figure e-book authors.

Once you write a business vision, use it to take action, create a strategy, and formulate tactics to actually reach your vision. Use the vision to motivate yourself, employees and contractors. You know how they say to dress for the part you want? Well, it’s the same with your business vision. If you have the vision to be the top-selling Kindle e-book seller, then you need to act like you already are and do the things it takes to make it a reality.

Maybe money isn’t the most important thing to you. Maybe something else is important to you. If that’s the case, this should show up in your business vision as well. What’s right for one business might not be right for another. Perhaps you want to be able to donate millions of dollars to charity by giving away 10 percent of your profit each year. If that’s the case, and your dream, write it down.

Your vision can include dreams about:

  • Finances – This could be about supporting yourself, your family, retirement or supporting employees, contractors, or a community.
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    Reputation – This might be about the business’s reputation with customers, employees, contractors and other interested parties.
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    Quality – Your vision could be to provide the best of whatever it is that you make.
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    Value – You want to give your customers valuable information, products and services.
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    Growth – You may plan to double your business in two years, quadruple in five and so forth.
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    Passion – You show your customers how much you and your employees (contractors) love doing what it is that you do.
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    Charity – You want to be able to donate to and help charities.
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    Sustainability – You care about environmental issues or other long-term issues.
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    Service Oriented – You care about doing service for others.
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    Community Minded – You want to help your community, be it local or within your industry.

You can include any number of other issues that you find important within your business vision. Not everyone is in business only to make money. After all, this is about a vision that you have and it’s personal to you about your path in the world and with your business.

The Importance of Microtargeting Your Audience

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lmost everyone reading this has experienced microtargeting in the form of paid political “robo” calls, personal phone calls, and emails from political campaigns. This is simply taking the idea of the customer of one to new heights. While you may be bothered by the political phone calls, the truth is microtargeting works. If it did not work they would not spend billions on doing it. As a small business you can also take advantage of microtargeting, and you should.

No, you don’t need to make irritating calls at dinnertime, but you can use microtargeting in several ways as part of your overall online marketing campaigns. Probably one of the best known ways that you can engage in microtargeting is via Facebook Ads and Retargeting Ads. These types of ads are directed to you due to activity that you took, or due to the advertiser singling you out using your demographics.

Small Businesses Can Use Microtargeting Too

Your business can take advantage of microtargeting using your email marketing software too, if you send out a poll to your audience to collect more information. You can also look at their behavior to make some assumptions about future behavior. All microtargeting really is, is using the consumer’s behavior to predict future behavior, or their demographics to single them out for specific specials and sales.

Using the consumer data that you can gather to identify and influence smaller groups of people toward purchasing your products and using your services isn’t really anything new. What is new is the technology that makes this one of the most powerful forms of marketing the world has ever known. Microtargeting can improve your sales dramatically, and is not something that you should avoid.

  • Give away a white paper – You can collect more data on your customers by giving away something of value, in exchange for them answering a very short, no more than five question survey that will give more insight into their needs, behaviors, or even buying responsibility.
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    Personalization – This is a way that you are already microtargeting, if you’re using your email mailing software properly. You know your customer’s name, and you use it. You can use the same software to personalize even more if you send out surveys to get more information from your current readers and clients. If you act in small doses, they are more likely to give you the information you need.
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    Facebook Ads – You can use Facebook and their vast amount of information on their members to microtarget specific demographics. Try doing it for a campaign and see whether or not it works well for your needs. For example, if you want to teach mothers how to earn money from home, you’ll send your ad out only to mothers who stay at home, or perhaps even mothers who work outside the home.
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    LinkedIn – If you have your own group on LinkedIn, you can engage in microtargeting by creating an ad campaign that targets only members of the group. This is a great way to market a new product or service just to your group of connections. (By the way, you can also do this on Facebook.)

 Remember, if it’s good enough for political campaigns, and by the way, Visa (who also microtargets consumers), then it’s good enough for you. Imagine bringing back visitors who came to your site with an appropriate Facebook Ad, or sending ads only to a select group of people who are likely to respond positively, without wasting money on people who won’t.

Why You Should Enter a JV

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oining together in a joint venture (JV) agreement with another person or business entity is a common way to join forces without changing the structure of either business. When you join with another business temporarily, you can share resources in terms of people, technology and finances. This can make the combination stronger than each individual business.

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    Grow Your Business - By having access to your partner's connections, you can get your business known by new people and new connections that you wouldn't have access to as quickly otherwise.
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    Expand Your Brand - When you want more people to know about your brand, having someone else mention you, and you mentioning them, can create a discussion that helps expand awareness of both of your brands.
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    Build Your Email List - By giving each other access to your individual lists, telling your lists about the other, some of the people will cross over to become members of both lists. This is a great way to build your list with targeted individuals as long as you chose a partner who sells complementary goods to yours, to the same audience.
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    Enter a New Market - There are often several markets for one service or product. Finding a JV partner who deals with a portion of your audience that you've never dealt with before is a great way to get your foot in the door to the new market. 
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    Develop a New Product - Sometimes two entities can come together using all their resources and create a brand-new product that neither business could accomplish on their own. This is a wonderful reason to form a joint venture partnership. For example, two business owners could come together to create a live event which is recorded to become a new information product.
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    Improve a Current Product - If you both already have similar products but both products are lacking, you could combine the good from each product or service to make a brand-new product or service that provides more benefits.  
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    Bring in Skills You're Lacking - If you are lacking in a skill and don't want to outsource it, find a JV partner who has the skill that you don't have. Then you can each do what you do best to contribute to the JV partnership. 
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    Improve Your Authority Level - When you hang around other smart people, you become one of those smart people just by association. Surround yourself with really smart people in a JV partnership and you'll achieve more than you thought.

There are many reasons to enter a JV agreement with the right person. But, before you get started, know why you want to do it so that you understand, based on your goals, who you should work with. Remember - join with someone who has a complementary business to yours, not your direct competition, and not when it has to do with your main source of bread and butter.

What Is Passive Income?

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hen people see the term “passive” income, they often think of earning money with no work. However, nothing can be further from the truth. The fact is, it does require work to make passive income. However, the work you do is done once, and then you keep making money later on the work you did before. It’s different from service-based work where you must do the work each time to produce income. With passive income you create something today that keeps earning money later.

 Examples of Passive Income

Some examples of passive income that you may be aware of are savings accounts, investments, and real estate; all of these enable you to spend money one time, or spend some money one time, and keep earning income into infinity. But, you can also earn passive income online today. Some examples are information products, membership websites, eCourses, and eBook sales.

The Benefits of Passive Income

People who want to earn money from passive income understand how trading hours for dollars can be limiting. They want to put their time and money to use one time and keep earning from those efforts. It's the way insurance sales people have made money for years. They earn a little commission from each person that buys and keeps paying for insurance; then the more people they sell the insurance to, the bigger and bigger their monthly income becomes. It might take a lot of work to get there, but eventually through momentum it seems like everything becomes a lot easier.

The Two Types of Passive Income

If you would like to earn an income via passive income, there are several ways to do so online. However, mostly you can break it down to two different ways.

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    Promote Other People's Products - This is one of the fastest ways to get started. Figure out who you want to sell to, know the audience well, and then find products and solutions for them to promote. There are even membership websites where you can promote to them so that you can earn a monthly residual income that grows.
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    Create Your Own Products - This is another way that you can get involved with making passive income online. At first, creating the product is a lot of work, but once you get a number of affiliates promoting the product, the income will grow exponentially, month after month and year after year.

The main question now is who your audience is, and which way you'll go. Most people actually choose both methods. They sell other people's products, and they create their own. Most people start with selling other people's products, then eventually create their own after they get some experience with building a list and other marketing methods.

How to Turn Picky Shoppers into Buyers

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ost shoppers are picky these days. People are turned off by the hard sale and by many of the tactics used by professional sellers. But, the fact is that some of the tactics work. If they did not work, people wouldn’t do them. Here are a few tried-and-true practices you can use to turn shoppers into buyers.

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    Nurture the Relationship - Get them to sign up for an email list to receive news about your products and or services. This works for bricks-and-mortar businesses and digital businesses alike. People like feeling special and getting special notice of sales and events happening surrounding the products they like.
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    Automate Your Processes - Thankfully, you can put things on autopilot with the right email marketing software like AWeber.com or MailChimp.com. These systems allow you to send people information automatically, leading them through the buying cycle with information that they long for.
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    Consider Pop-Ups - Yes, some people hate them, but the truth is they DO work. They increase sales by more than 20% in some cases. You can make beautiful pop-ups using software like Thrive Themes, which helps you create converting sales pages and pop-ups.
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    Retarget Website Visitors - A really useful feature of online marketing today is the ability to put a cookie on your web site that any visitors automatically receive on their computer. Then when they go to Facebook or Google, the things they left in their cart, or the things they looked at, are shown to them again.
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    Always Include a CTA - You'd be surprised at how many people forget the CTA. This includes actual bricks-and-mortar stores. If a sales person doesn't ask for the sale, or you don't send them a reminder of what they want, you may not make the sale. 
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    Incentivize Your Sales Process - Give your customers incentives to buy. The more they buy, the larger the discount. Let them have an opportunity with each purchase to win their purchase. Give the 1000th buyer a prize!
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    Encourage Referrals - Ask current customers to recommend and refer their friends and family and earn incentives. You can do it by points, by monetary reward or any number of ways, but make sure they want to refer you and that they're real customers. 
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    Add a Live Chat - When you sell high-priced items, it's a good idea to have a live chat open at least part of the day to help people with questions that they have. A live chat can push shoppers over the edge to purchasing.

Turning picky shoppers into buyers will work on all your customers and future customers. It's important to know your audience and then leave no stone unturned to make those sales effortless.

Why Product Launches Begin Weeks in Advance

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aunching a product doesn’t start on the actual day of the product launch. It starts weeks in advance, building up to the day of the launch – sometimes even before the actual product is actually ready for prime time. Shoot for starting 8 to 12 weeks prior to the date you’ve chosen for your product launch and you’ll have that much more of a successful launch day.

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    Invite Influencers Early – Send anyone who can influence your audience review copies or partial review copies and information about your product that you’re planning to launch. Ask them if they can talk about it, announce it to their lists or do a review on the product.
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    Seed Your Social Networks – Every now and then you should mention the exiting new product that you’re creating. Getting your audience involved in some way helps, too, such as asking them to pick names of products and even prices.
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    Seed Your Blog – Like with social media, you want to tease your audience with mentions of the new product that is coming soon.
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    Submit Press Releases – When you have any event related to your new product launch, send out a press release.
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    Create Sneak Peak Videos – At some point during product creation, the bones of the product are good enough to offer some sneak peeks via video to your audience to get them super excited. If you show excitement, they will too.
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    Create Interesting Infographics – If your product is solving a problem, make infographics that depict the problems to get your audience aware of these problems and salivating for the solution to the problems.
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    Plan a Launch Event – A great way to launch the product is with a series of webinars with limited entry. Get your affiliates involved in having branded webinars to talk about and give early, limited access to your product.
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    Create Bonuses – Early purchases by early adopters often include bonuses and discounts that no one else will get. It’s a great way to entice people to buy your product early.

Aside from creating the product, you have to plan and organize all the events surrounding the product. These activities can take some time to create, and it’s always better to build up to the big launch date. To start, choose a launch date based on how long you think it’ll take you to create and finalize your product. Next, organize the creation of all the content, reviews, webinars and bonus products that will accompany your product launch.

Move through your calendar, creating the dates that each item must be finalized. Some things will be done simultaneously but others have to be done in a particular order. You’ll need to organize all the parties involved including your vendors, affiliates, and reviewers. What’s more, things don’t end with the launch date. Keep producing more content about your product or service and keep the buzz going for the best results in the days, weeks and months to come.

Why a Lack of Integration Can Cost Sales

All parts of a business work together.  I like to break it down into People, Process, and Technology.  They need to do more than co-exist, in such a way that it is seamless.  Whether it is planning, marketing, sales, delivery, or customer service, it all needs to work together so that you can please customers and make more sales.  All businesses must figure out the following for themselves.

  • Put Your Customers Needs First – Everything you do must be thought of and seen from your customer’s perspectives, not yours or your workers’.  If your workers are not on the same page they might accidentally insult your customer.  Create a mission statement that you can use to share your vision with your team.  Using a customer relationship management (CRM) service that works with your shopping cart will help.
  • Be Able to Explain How Your Solution Is Different – Everyone in your industry is marketing to your customers, often offering the same things that you are.  But, if you can explain how you are different you will win the sale.  The only way to do that is to continuously watch the competition, incorporating the lessons learned into your product development and delivery.
  • Distribute Your Products/Services How Your Customers Want Them – The channels you use to sell your products or services are important, too.  If you are not selling where your customer is, you will not succeed.  You may need to invest in professional shopping cart software or have something built especially, but it should work with your CRM system so that sales and customer service can communicate.
  • Know How you will Advertise and Market – When you put all the above together, which ways will work best to advertise and market your business? Will you use a website, a blog, video, pay-per-click marketing, email lists or something else? Can your CRM help better segment your market?
  • Understand Your Budget Inside and Out – Everything comes down to money.  You can only do what is within your budget to do.  If you are on a shoestring right now, do not waste time looking at solutions outside that budget
  • Ensure Strategies Are Doable – Each part of your business will start with a strategy, the big idea, and you may have to tone these down based on your budget and resources.
  • Know What Tactics you will Use to Reach Your Goals – Tactics are based on strategy and what consumers will respond to.
  • Understand How It All Works Together – Finally, you need to know how all these activities will work together effortlessly.  How People, Process, and Technolgy works is that you define your process based on your strategy and tactics, then you select the right technology, and then train your people to follow the process and use the technology.

The aim is to put together the strategy, operations, finance and marketing of your business in a way that each works together seamlessly.  When you make a list of everything you need to do in your business, it is important to then seek out solutions that help these items work together.  Remember, it’s all People, Process, and Technology.

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