I have learned so much over the past year about creating an online presence. There is so very much to know and most people who start their own businesses really don’t know how to create, maximize and leverage their online presence.
I will give you just a summary of what I’ve learned over the past year from reading, masterminding and coaching. I know I have only scratched the surface but if I can in any way cut down on your learning curve by sharing the things I’ve already learned, then that’s what I want to do.
This is the first thing you learn when creating an online presence. It’s about narrowing your focus. It is not possible to be all things to all people and when you try, you end up watering down your message and in essence, being nothing to no one. This probably was the hardest lesson I learned. I fought the whole niche marketing idea because I believed that my niche was choice theory and I know choice theory applied to every possible life situation. While I still believe that this is true, I need to focus my marketing efforts on a much more specific and targeted niche. While I am still refining this, I have decided to market to two basic niches. The first is small to midsize companies who are interested in creating, inspiring and leveraging diversity in the workforce and the second is managers interested in learning Empowered Leadership to increase production, improve quality and reduce employee turnover.
What is your niche? You know you have a good one if you can identify how to find them. You need to know what they read, what entertainment they gravitate toward, and what groups they belong to. It is your goal to ultimately obtain a mailing list or email list to be able to market to your niche. If you can obtain a list, then you have a well-narrowed niche.
Creating a List
This is perhaps the most important asset to an online business—the email list of potential customers and prospects. When doing business online, it is critically important to capture prospects' email opt-in addresses so you can begin to market to them. The best way to get people to give you their email address is to offer them something compelling. This is intricately tied to your niche. Find out something they are looking for—create a giveaway product in exchange for getting their email address. You can see how critical it is to have correctly identified your niche market because if you offer a list of cat owner’s information on how to train their dogs, you can see how that might not entice them to provide you with their email address. It must be information they are hungry for.
The opt-in part is also important. You can’t just go add people’s email addresses to your mailing list. That is considered spamming. They must have the opportunity to opt-in, as well as the opportunity to remove their address from your database. Don’t ruin your business before it gets started by tainting your reputation unnecessarily.
Sales letters are very important. If there is one thing I’d like to outsource, it would be sales letters. They are not fun for me to do but they may be fun for you. There are several things to be considered in a sales letter. First of all, research shows that the longer a sales letter is the better. It must have a captivating title. It must be filled with information about WIIFM—What’s In It For Me, meaning your readers or potential customers. This is again tied to the first point about niche marketing. Your sales letter will be most effective when you can write as if you know the mind of the reader. You must understand their pain or speak to a goal they have. How can you be specific enough if you haven’t narrowed your niche? You can’t.
The letter should be crafted with both the skimming reader and the detail reader in mind. This means making main points subheadings so the person who skims can get the general idea of what you are talking about just by skimming the headings. However, include sufficient detail to convince the person who is interested in lots of facts and statistics. You don’t want to write your letter with only one group in mind because then you will lose out on the possibility of selling to the group you omitted.
Create products and services your niche is hungry for and then tell them why they must have your product to either solve their problem or help them become more successful.
Sales letters must have an urgent call to action. Create some type of advantage for those who act NOW. Research shows that even if a person is interested in what you are offering, if they don’t act as they are reading your letter and decide to wait for another day, they never come back to it. Get them to act now by making it worth their while. You can even offer an extra incentive for the first 20 people who respond. It’s up to you.
Writing articles is a tremendous way to get your name out there to the general public. I write at least two articles each month. I used to have my virtual assistant submit each one to online article banks individually. Now, for $100, I submit my article to I-Snare and they do the submitting for me. They will submit 100 articles for my $100 which is much more cost-effective than having to pay my assistant to do it.
The purpose of writing is to help readers get to know you and what you have to offer. When you write, you are not necessarily trying to sell something—you are basically providing useful information, just like this article does. And you get to include a bio box at the end with a link back to your website home page, a product page or a sales letter. This will help increase the traffic to your website and it will be a targeted audience, meaning those who are already interested in what you have to say.
These are just some of the things you want to give attention to as you develop your presence on the World Wide Web. My next article will focus on writing press releases, generating search engine traffic and getting listed in various online directories. Then, we will discuss writing a blog, producing an online newsletter, creating a sales funnel and embarking on joint ventures.