Every person who has ever thought of starting a start-up and hasn’t seen it through has started with an idea and somewhere along the line stopped at the idea. What makes a business idea work is the persistence to see that idea be converted into a sellable product.
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
It takes time and hard work to bring an idea to fruition. Growing a business will need more work than a job ever would, which many people transitioning do not realize. You will need to sacrifice more than you bothered to consider, you will have to work more hours, you will lose sleep, but in the end, it will be all worth it.
If you plan everything properly and keep your vision set on the goal, it becomes easier. Keep moving forward and keep taking baby steps. Here are a few things you can do to finally make your dreams see the light of the day without you feeling overwhelmed and ditching your ideas before they even take their first breath.
1. Document Everything
Whenever an idea strikes, putting it all on paper is the best way to go. Having everything laid out will give you a clear idea as to what is needed to make that idea become a reality. You will get to see all the pre-requisites right in front of you and it will give you a pretty good clue of the amount of effort you will need to put in.
“Documentation is like sex: when it is good, it is very, very good; and when it is bad, it is better than nothing.”
You will not be moving forward with an unrealistic approach toward the project. Making a mission statement or writing down your vision in a document and keeping on visiting it from time to time will help you stay true to your dream. Whenever you feel like you are losing track of things, you can revisit this document to remind yourself what your goal was.
2. Research Your Idea
Once you know what all you are going to need or want to get to the starting point of the action sequence, to get the ball rolling, pull all stops to gather information. Information gathering is a crucial phase of any project.
A preliminary check on your target market, manufacturing and distribution costs, comparing the costs of similar products, studying the demand, etc. is a no-brainer. This is important to know that there is a profit to be made before you invest a great deal of time and money developing your dream into reality.
3. Find a Mentor
Now you have an idea and you have spent considerable time researching the market and the product, but you don’t know where to go from there. If it is a field that is completely foreign to you then the hurdles are at every corner and even if you are quite familiar with the technicalities of the field, the experiences of someone can give you invaluable insight.
“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.”
-John C. Maxwell
Find a mentor who can help you guide through the process, someone who has been there and done that, or someone who has bright ideas as to how you can proceed and can provide you with a logical argument to whatever you have at your disposal.
4. Design a Prototype/Working Model
Having a real-life example of how your product is going to work or how it is going to be received in the market makes you ready to deal with the real deal before it even becomes a reality.
It also helps you make a more informed pitch to your investors. Having everything ready to be explained and showing how much thought and research has been put into every decision is a great way to show investors how serious you are. It also helps you discover all the flaws or kinks before your idea can be patented or the production can be started.
5. Find the Right Investors
If you do not have the capital to invest, chances are you don’t, then you will have to find an investor who believes in your vision and is willing to invest in it. This is where thorough research and having adequate documentation comes in.
Knowing the market of your product inside out will help you sell your idea to investors. Finding the right investor is important because when both the parties are on board with the idea and have the same vision, working becomes that much easier and there are fewer decision clashes.
6. Marketing and Distribution
Marketing is when you create a business plan and figure out how you would bring your product to the market. It includes decisions like whether you want to manufacture and sell the product all by yourself or you want to license another company for sale.
Distribution channels need to be figured out. Comparisons need to be made to decide what option will help you make the most profit and what fits in with the vision of your product, of your company.
7. Marketing Channels and Advertising
You might have a great product but if people don’t know it exists then there is no point of it existing. You have to put your product out there for people to discover it and try it. You have to figure out what channels are the best for the product you are planning to launch.
“Whether B2B or B2C, I believe passionately that good marketing essentials are the same. We all are emotional beings looking for relevance, context and connection.”
Learn about the tools at your disposal. Use social media to create a brand presence and to generate leads. Social media channels are also great to track customer feedback and get suggestions. It helps you make a direct connection with the customers and reach out to potential customers.
Having an idea is just not enough if you want to see your dream turn into reality. Steps are meant to be taken not stared at. No matter how good your idea is, if you don’t do anything about it, it is as good as not existing.
If it feels overwhelming, take one thing at a time. Go through the process one step at a time. Focus on developing your idea, then focus on researching – not everyone can multitask and manage different phases of the process together. It is okay to work a phase in isolation – as long as you don’t stop working toward your goal, it is okay to go as slow as you like.
Ways to Improve Marketing Results Using Data from Social Channels
Marketing is aimed at making a product or service look as desirable as possible so that people feel a need to buy and use it. While there are many tactics that can be used to boost marketing and increase sales, ‘social proof’ is one of the most underused tactics by many marketers.
And honestly, this is quite unfortunate since social proof can be used to create a huge positive impact on how the public perceives your product and service. Here are some simple methods of using social proof to improve the results of your marketing campaign.
One of the easiest ways to use social proof in marketing is to use statistics that display the standing of your business, product, or service.
For example, if you manufacture baby talcum powder, find out how many people buy them, its market share, how many people prefer it over other brands, and so on. You can then publish such statistics which will act as social proof that the product or service you offer is indeed of high-quality and in good demand.
When people see statistics like “2 in 3 mothers use our talcum powder for their kids” or “60% of first-time buyers prefer to buy our brand for the next time,” they tend to have a positive impression about the business. This makes the customers feel more comfortable because it sways them to think that they are making an informed decision.
Another simple tactic you can use to boost sales through social proof is by publishing testimonials. A testimonial is simply a statement from the users of your product or service on how they benefited from it, how the product or service produced much better results compared to those of other similar brands, and so on.
The effect such testimonials have on people is tremendous. People generally end up developing a favorable view of something that is viewed positively by numerous other people. And this will make them try out that specific product or service. This is also why influencers are becoming far more valuable to marketing.
Visual proof is one of the most potent tactics out there. Visuals can be such a strong social proof that the audience may even go out and buy the product being promoted solely on the basis of these pictures and videos.
For example, imagine that you conduct a weight loss workshop that guarantees a person will lose almost 20 kilos in just about 3 months. Now, you can publish a detailed text on how the regimen works, what results to expect, etc., but they will have far less impact than a few pictures that show the participants of the program before and after joining it. When the audience sees the visuals of people having lost belly fat, it will act as a strong reconfirmation in their minds that the program is worthy of their investment.
Visual cues are easier for people to remember and act upon. It makes sense to make the launch or advert of your product as visually appealing as possible so that people actually take time out to look at it.
There are also companies that use expert opinions in order to boost sales. This is also the use of social proof, which in this case are the opinions of a few respectable intellectuals from a particular field.
A business that sells anti-virus software can use the expert opinion of tech experts and professionals from the field of safety and security. Positive reviews about your software will let the audience know that what you offer is a completely secure anti-virus software that has been approved for purchase by some of the best people in the industry. This will obviously boost the sales figures for your product.
While expert opinions are good social proof, a much stronger source of social proof is consumer reviews. Expert opinions are about people who just test your product for a few days and state their observations. In contrast, consumer reviews are created by people who have already bought your product because of their interest it, used it and then stating their observations about it.
People generally tend to trust consumer reviews a lot more than expert opinions. This is mostly because of the understanding that such reviews are written by people who are just like them.
So, ensure that you get as many positive reviews about your product or service and publish them on websites and social media to show potential customers that you have a strong existing consumer base.
Yet another form of social proof is a survey. You can conduct surveys on subjects relating to your product or service and publish the positive results online.
For example, if you manufacture shampoo that guarantees to reduce hair fall and strengthening the strands of hair, you can set up an online poll on social media asking your followers as to how many of them experienced an improvement in their hair quality after using the product for three weeks.
Once the survey is finished and the results come out positive, you can publish it and let them know that a good majority of users have benefitted immensely from the hair shampoo.
The positive results from the live survey will surely influence the people who have not used your product to at least consider buying and trying it out.
In the social media space, there are people who are known as ‘influencers.’ These are basically people who have a large following and are therefore in a position to influence how their followers feel about something.
You can use such influencer marketing tactics to create a positive image of your business by enticing the influencers to post a few lines that say good things about you and your products. Using multiple influencers in multiple time periods is the best way to ensure that a constant stream of social proof about your product keeps appearing in social media.
Keep in mind, the influencers you choose to represent your product must have a strong base of followers that come within your ideal target consumer group.
This is one of the most expensive social proof tactics on the list. But this can also be the most impactful.
Big businesses always use celebrities to promote products and services. The status and positive image of the celebrity makes the product look trustworthy in the eyes of the audience. Your business can try out the simple tactic by hiring a popular celebrity if you can afford one.
Although, the influencer market is getting so big in the current space that you won’t be missing out on much if you can’t afford celebrity endorsement.
Social media has given businesses a valuable tool to understand their customer base and to tap into their target audience market. Approaching potential customers was never easier. To quote myself from when I wrote an article about making the most of social channels –
We have so many amazing channels available to us to reach out to the customers and making the best use of these channels to cultivate a loyal customer base directly correlates to the success of the business moving forward.
Understanding your customer base and attracting the right customer base is important to start a business and keep it running. Social media provides valuable feedback from real users and also helps you lead your target audience back to your products. It helps your business make a one-on-one connection that has a huge impact on the overall standing a brand has in the market.
How to Build a Thriving Community on the World’s Largest Social Media Platform
Facebook is the world’s biggest social media platform. And if you have a community page on the site, then you have limitless potential to grow it into an active meeting place for people who are interested in the same things as you.
But even though starting an online community on Facebook is an easy process, attracting new members and keeping them interested in the community can be difficult since there will be many competing pages that cover interests similar to yours.
If you have just started a community and are unsure of the steps to take next, then the following tips will definitely help you in building a thriving community on the world’s biggest social media platform.
Always Publish Relevant, Informative Content
When publishing content to your Facebook community, you have to focus on two core areas – relevance and information.
Firstly, only publish posts that are completely relevant to the members of your community. For example, if you have started the community with a description which states that it will deal with superhero movies, then you must only publish content in that specific genre. You should also only encourage discussions within the topic.
Just because you saw a meme of a cat that got a million likes, it does not mean you share it with the members. Never do such a thing. Although you might benefit from such a move in the short term, you will dilute the focus of the community by sharing unrelated stuff.
And other members might stop being active in the community since they are not always getting what they expected – superhero updates.
“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
Secondly, always make sure that most of the posts you share within your community have information which the members find valuable, unique and interesting. For example, if your community is focused on topics like home care, then you can share content that helps them rectify air filter problems in the air conditioning.
The tips that are immediately effective, while remaining unique and not shared a million times before, will be valued.
The methods you share should be workable enough that the member can implement the tips and correct air filter issues. If your methods do not produce desired results, then too, the members will start losing interest in the community.
So, as long as the material you share is both relevant and informative, your community is guaranteed to grow.
Use Facebook Live
If you have been avoiding using Facebook Live, then it is time you rethink your decision. Facebook Live is one of the fastest-growing aspects of the platform. And the reason for its growth lies in the fact that people like to see other people live on-screen rather than read their ideas through a post on the community page.
And in certain subject matters, having a regular Facebook Live session can bring about greater bonding among community members, while also attracting newer users.
For example, if you have a community page dedicated to the NBA, then you can use Facebook Live to stream your reaction and viewpoints about a game in real-time. And if you are really good at presenting fresh insights into the game in a way that interests the audience, then the members will definitely wait to watch your live reaction to the next game.
Share Member Questions and Suggestions
Try to let the members know that you care about them and value their opinions. A good way to do this will be to answer some of the member questions and discuss suggestions. You can do this through a regular text-based post, but a video post is ideal since your audience will see you and are more likely to connect with what you express.
For example, if you run a community that focuses on hair care, and someone raises a question as to how hair can be made shinier, then be sure to cover the topic in your next post while mentioning the name of the person who brought it up.
Similarly, if someone suggests an effective method of removing dandruff from hair, their solution should also be shared with the community. When the members see that their questions and suggestions are being valued, they are more likely to remain active in the community.
Another good way to build a thriving community is by conducting exclusive interviews. The interview need not be with a big shot. Instead, you can conduct a video interview with someone who has achieved some success in the particular field that you are interested in.
If the interviews are informative and useful to the members, they will continue to actively participate in the community.
For example, imagine that you have a Facebook community covering, ‘Counter-Strike Global Offensive.’ You can conduct weekly or bi-monthly interviews with people who have jumped in the rankings, inquiring how they did it and discussing tips and tricks that can help other players.
If your interview makes the members more knowledgeable about the game, then you will definitely succeed in keeping the community active and growing.
If your community page mostly consists of members who are concentrated in specific geographic areas, then you can consider setting up special meet-up events as well.
For example, if your community is focused on Photoshop Tips, and you are an expert when it comes to the software, then you can conduct special training seminars at a few cities for free or a nominal amount.
This will bring members together at a physical location and will likely increase their commitment to the community. And if you are solid on the business side, you can even conduct such events at zero cost and turn in a profit by soliciting sponsorship and selling Photoshop add-ons and relevant software as an affiliate.
In addition to the above, there is one more important thing that you have to remember – always treat your members with respect. Just because you own the community does not mean that you go about rejecting differing viewpoints of the members and behave negatively with them.
Work up your leadership skills when you manage a community. People need to know they can trust you and count on you. If you’re respected, what you say and do becomes more valuable.
Whatever suggestions they provide, accept them if right, and politely reject if not. If you remain fair with the members, then they will see you as a good administrator, which will ensure that the community remains active for a long time.
Facebook is a very powerful tool that comprises of a widespread audience. You should be dedicated to creating a community because you want to bond with people not because you want to push your business. If you keep pushing your business, chances are that people won’t stay around long. Build a relationship first, and it will automatically convert into business.
9 Tips to Develop a Successful Brand Website for Entrepreneurs
If you are planning on launching a new blog or website, then one of your main concerns will be to attract as large a number of visitors as possible in the first go. After all, without getting ample visitors, your blog won’t turn profitable.
A good way to streamline your thought process regarding this will be to view blogs like products and imagine the changes in the launch sequence. Small changes often bring about big changes that have a huge impact on your success.
Now, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on blog launches. Instead, if you follow the tips given below, then these small tactics can actually make a big difference to the success of your blog launch.
1. Focus On Killer Content
Prepare some killer content in advance of the launch. What do we mean by killer content? If a piece of write up can make a reader impressed so much that they share it on social media or comment on it, then that is definitely a killer content, something that will easily attract a lot of visitors.
And to write such content, you need to focus on four things – topic, content, headline, and image. Firstly, decide on the topics you are going to write. It must be something that generates immediate interest and is right on the mind of your target market – their most relevant pain at the moment.
Next, decide on the content of the article. The content should flow smoothly and must make sense moving from one paragraph to another. You could make use of interactive content and add an element of fun to ensure they keep reading.
Once the write up is done, you have to decide on the headline. And this is one of the most important parts. The headline has to capture the attention of the reader. So, when you have written a couple of headlines, look at them and ask yourself whether you feel like clicking through them or not.
Finally, pick up a suitable image to go with the article. Just like the headline, the image should also generate sufficient interest and a sense of intrigue in the reader’s mind that they are motivated to read on. Follow these four points, and you will easily have a set of killer articles ready by the time your blog is launched.
2. How to Work Your Niche
When choosing a niche for your blog, focus on the narrowest niche of the niche. For example, don’t talk on the stock markets. Instead, when starting your blog, go for tips on investing options. The further down you go, the better response you will get.
The prospects who visit your blog are truly someone passionate about the topic, and who love your content. Build a relationship with them, and besides other benefits, you can also get ideas for your next set of content from these folks.
As narrowed down your niche becomes, the easier it gets to sell whatever you are trying to. If you plan on starting a course or podcast or if you plan to market an ebook – having an audience with core interest in the niche will equal to more success than having a big following with not strong enough interest in your genre.
3. Get In Touch With an Influencer
So, you now have a few high-quality articles ready to be published. But how do you get the initial momentum and attract a ton of visitors to the website? This is where influencer marketing comes in.
An influencer simply refers to a person who has a large number of followers on social media or by virtue of their content. Find an influencer in your niche and set up an agreement with them to share your articles. Often, you’ll have to give something in return. This varies from similar exposure in future to sharing profits.
Take for example that you have prepared content that explores the Marvel cinematic universe. Look for influencers who have the largest number of followers in the movie niche and are known to be open to influencer partnerships.
Get in touch with them, and ask for their requirements for sharing your link. Find the best value-for-money influencers and schedule your posts. This will ensure that your blog receives a massive amount of traffic right from the launch date.
4. Conduct a Giveaway Contest
Now that you are guaranteed to receive huge initial traffic from influencer marketers, it is time to take your blog to greater levels and attract more new visitors. And one of the popular ways to get this done will be to conduct a giveaway contest.
For example, you can set up a Facebook contest wherein a person who shares your articles on their social media profile will be eligible for a special prize. This need not be a big prize. But as long as people find the reward attractive, they will share your article.
As such, more of their friends will see your article and go through the process yet again. This can easily get your blog thousands of new visitors.
5. Don’t Focus Too Much On Publishing Every Day
When you start out with blogging, you might have a notion to write long posts every single day. This is a misconception. Such a piece of advice would make sense for an experienced blogger who gets thousands of hits on their blog every day.
But since you are just starting out, it is likely that it will take some months before your website starts generating thousands of views on a regular basis. And until then, you need not worry about wasting time publishing posts every single day. Instead, ensure that the articles you publish are of the highest quality.
6. Do Guest Posts
Now, if you are strictly going to have a very limited budget for your blog launch, then you may not be able to spend too much on promotions and using influencer marketing. An alternative way for you will be to use guest posting.
Check out similar blogs in your niche, and see if they are willing to publish your articles on the condition that your blog link is shown prominently in the blog post. For example, if you are planning a blog on middle cap stock investments, check out the top investment websites.
List them by the estimated number of visitors they receive each month and their search engine rank. Then, send them an email with your article proposal. That’s it. Once they accept you as a guest blogger, you can start posting your content.
And if you are able to come to terms with blogs with a large reach, you will likely get thousands of visitors to your blog right from day one.
7. Choose Function Over Looks
How a blog looks is definitely important for its success. But something much more important is its functionality. So many blog owners put too much importance on the design rather than the usability.
As a result, though the blog may look visually appealing, the user may find it too difficult to navigate. This can turn them away from the blog. You should never make this mistake. The ease of using the blog should always come first.
The design should only complement the usability. As such, if the users are visiting your blog for the first time, see to it that they get great content in an easily navigable manner, then you will have a higher chance of retaining them as regular visitors.
8. Have an Awesome Lead Magnet
Always, always make a list. Prepare an awesome lead magnet and get readers’ email addresses, and start building your own list of prospects. Lead magnets are something that captures their attention, and incentives the prospects to exchange email address with your offering. Make it so good they can’t ignore.
The advantage of having your own list is that these are people who already know and trust you, so, if you plan on selling something in future, you don’t need to depend on external sources to market or test the product.
9. Interact – Build a Relation!
I can’t stress enough on how important it is to build a relationship with your audience. When your audience feels a personal connection, they are more likely to return. You will always go to someone who makes you feel welcome and is relatable.
Research the current trends in your niche and start discussions. Focus on adding value to your readers’ lives and you will soon build a loyal reader base.
While knowing the stats and researching numbers is important. Knowing when to post and what to post is the baseline. The real magic lies in your brand being relatable to the audience. The more to can provide a custom-tailored experience. The easier it will be to succeed.
Make sure that you implement some or all of the above suggestions in your blog launch strategy and you will definitely see a good result, both in terms of viewership and in generating loyalty.
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