Early this morning I had the pleasure of working with Emma. Emma is a small business owner from Sussex, England.
She contacted me because she wanted to learn techniques for effective stress management. After a car accident and three back surgeries, Emma has trouble walking. She decided to start an online business.
Emma has always been passionate about food and cooking so she decided to start a food blog. Only a few months later, thousands of visitors come to her website daily. What stresses her out is that she hardly makes any money. A few AdSense pennies here and there.
Bottom line: people love her blog but they don't spend any money there.
Sales is the relevant key figure
I cannot stress enough that I have no knowledge about SEO and related topics. Before I could work in my dream job, as a coach, I was in B2B sales. That is a totally different story than online marketing.
You could teach me about SEO any time of the day.
That said, nearly 90% of new online businesses fail. The ones I know about didn't fail for a lack of SEO. They failed because they had no sales.
You can be on page 1 of Google all you want, have tons of traffic and the deepest SEO knowledge-if you don't make money you don't have a business.
Does your niche sell?
Emma was totally right to choose a topic in an area she is knowledgeable and passionate about. But she didn't do her homework. The first step has to be to define your target client.
You also have to know what you are going to sell to them. Emma was focused on SEO. And she was very successful at that. She ranks well for hundreds of cooking related keywords.
Had Emma sat down to define who her ideal client is, she would have known that it's hard to make money with a cooking blog.
People love to go there and look for recipes or exchange comments. They don't go there to buy a kitchen. And even if: The few cents from Google AdSense do not make up for the time and money needed to maintain her blog.
Some niches don't sell
Perhaps if Emma had tried for a more specific topic like, for instance, vegetarians or something like that it would have worked a little bit better.
That doesn't change the fact that she could have made a lot of money with hundreds of other topics.
Yes, you have to be passionate about what you're doing. As a self-employed person or small business owner, you also have to have the healthy amount of greed. Or else you don't run a business you run a charity.
Don't get me wrong: I am all for helping people. I don't have one but two blogs that are not for profit (this one and http://empowermentalist.biz).
Price sensitive clients
Another example would be sites targeted at people who are looking for freebies, cheap stuff and similar. You'd have to have a serious amount of traffic to make this profitable.
It's more difficult to deal with price sensitive clients. If their main reason to go to your site, buy your products/services is that you're the cheapest, they'll switch to the next as soon as something even more inexpensive pops up.
Some people are in a difficult spot and have to act price sensitive. They are also harder to deal with. Buying a cheap thing from or via you might be a huge investment for them. They might have desperate or even unrealistic hopes that you cannot fulfill.
Drowning people are busy surviving and don't have a lot of room for anything else.
That might sound cold hearted. But the truth is: The more successful your business is, the more you can afford to give back and help others. You can only help others if your business survives.
The basic rule of sales is that you have to fulfill a desire even more than a need. If you're really good, you're able to create a need. In any way, you have to know who your client is to be able to decide if your business idea makes sense.
Defining your target client
The million $$$ question is: Who is supposed to buy your service or product? Defining your target audience will enable you to define the size of your (niche)market and which approach is suitable to appeal to your dream customers.
You can't market to me if you don't know who I am. What are my typical problems and desires? Which social media sites do I use for which purpose?
I might be influenced to buy a coat via Instagram - I will not be open to finding a Management Consultant there.
How to define your target client
Let's start with your product/service:
- What are you really good at?
- What do you stand for as a person or company?
- What expertise can you offer and what are you better at than others?
- Which value can you deliver to readers/clients
- Which visions (not just needs) can you fulfill?
In the process, you will also learn which target groups you don't want to go after.
The next step is defining socioeconomic and demographic criteria. Classic.
Gender, age, region, marital status ... and so on. If you are in B2B: industry, job roles.
By itself those features are irrelevant because they don't say anything about psychographic characteristics:
- Interests and beliefs
- Needs and challenges
- Buying behaviour
- Price orientation
You have to basically crawl into the head of your ideal client to fully understand how he feels and how you can make his life better. Where is he? Is he in online communities, charity events or at the golf court? Go there and learn as much as you can about how you can serve them best.
It's not enough that he knows you have a product that fulfills his need. He also has to trust that you are able to help him to achieve the change he desires. That's only indirectly connected to the product.
Winning the trust of someone and creating connection might be harder on the internet than in person.
This might sound over the top and like a lot of work. But look at all the online businesses, small businesses and self-employed people around you:
Did they fail because they were not on page 1 of Google? Even if you just had 10 visitors per day. If you can convert, you're good.
How do you even decide what you want to rank for if you never considered whom you want to attract?
Your target audience should not be too wide spread. There is no such thing as a message that would appeal to everyone.
Bottom line: When you are on page 1 of Google-what are you going to do with it?
A manager I looked up to once said: "The most time gets lost by not thinking things through to the end"