It must be about ten years ago that I started a little website collecting people’s email addresses in exchange for providing lists of “sales in the city”.
We ended up collecting about 1,000 email addresses in a very short amount of time before deciding to close it down.
It wasn’t very fun organizing all the sales going on in the Greater Toronto Area and after a few weeks, it made me downright miserable.
And more importantly, I couldn’t figure out how to make money from it. I hadn’t figured out to get retailers to pay for placement in our little email newsletter.
Thinking back it literally just occurred to me that “Groupon.com” just did an IPO for a gazillion dollars … so there was some opportunity in providing local “sales in the city” for sure!
Oh well, there are tons of million dollar ideas waiting to be acted upon 😉
So although SalesInTheCity.com, which I don’t even own the domain for any longer, didn’t work out as planned … I did learn a lot of important business principles in the process.
And since then Nick and I have gone on to grow a business from literally nothing, using a money borrowed from our family and money on a line of credit, to over seven figures in revenues. So we’re no Groupon … but we’re not done and it does put us in a position now where we can share a few things we’ve learned along the way.
1. When building a business don’t confuse a single type of “new media” with a complete marketing plan.
Ten years ago when search engine optimization tricks were all the rage there were a TON of experts in that space promising you first-page placement on Google using techniques that were sure to get you the “Google Slap” sooner or later.
We recall getting pitched on the idea of having a computer program create literally a hundred iterations of a website for us that would generate us endless amounts of traffic.
But the only problem with trying to outsmart the guys at Google with these techniques is that Google has smart guys and gals too … they eventually catch on. You end up playing a never-ending game of beat the clock.
Today, the talk isn’t as much around Search Engine Optimization any longer as it is around Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. Social Media is today’s “search engine optimization”.
2. Don’t discount new media either though.
When we got past all the search engine optimization noise and sat down to do search engine optimization properly – we got lasting results and web traffic that we were able to monetize and profit from.
Instead of getting a computer program to spit out hundreds of template-based websites … we sat down and create good, search engine friendly, CONTENT. And Google responded by sending us steady traffic every day. We studied search engine optimization, implemented good principles, did some hard work and were rewarded for it.
If we had just blown off search engine optimization because of all the initial confusing hype around it we wouldn’t be reaping its benefits still today. It plays an important part in our marketing efforts.
Same goes for social media today. Don’t be tempted to blow it off because everyone and their brother is now a social media guru.
Instead, look for the people with successful businesses who are using it as one piece of their marketing toolkit. A good example is the Crossfit gym Nick goes to. They’re using social media in a really savvy way to build community and increase retention of their customers.
They have a “brick and mortar” business that they’re establishing a community around. Very smart. It reminds us of the 1,000 True Fans concept by Kevin Kelly posted here.
When it comes to today’s new social media keep this in mind: don’t confuse making friends with making money … there’s a difference.
3. Nothing matters except for ROI.
We’ve been approached several times by PR firms wanted to brand “Rock Star”.
We’re not at that stage – yet. In our own marketing efforts, we use websites, email, books, reports, video or “social media”, Google Adwords, Facebook advertising, blog posts, direct mail, postcards, phone calls, live classes, teleseminars, MP3 downloads as marketing tools.
Each plays a role in our marketing systems. And we measure them.
For example, if we were to ask you this…right now where can you get more leads for your business, from Facebook or Google? What would you choose?
Many would choose Facebook because it’s in the spotlight right now.
Want to know the answer?
For a very specific campaign, with the same money spent in both places, we get more leads from Google.
How do we know? We measure it.
That doesn’t mean Google is always better but for this particular campaign it was … and we only know that because we tracked it.
The cool part about all this technology is we’re now able to measure responses on almost everything.
Want to get the most amount of people out to an event? Maybe a Twitter post to your community is going to out pull an announcement on your website. You can measure it and let the results dictate where you’re getting the best return on your time and your money.
Building a community that supports your business is super cool and it’s even cooler when you can measure your results.
When we first started marketing we were spending money on ads that were placed on the back of a truck that drove along the 401 every day and hoping it would generate business. We couldn’t measure the results and to this day we have no idea if it was worth the investment in time and money or not.
When we began Rock Star if we weren’t measuring the results of our marketing efforts we would have never survived. We would have spent money in places that an ad rep believed to be valuable but actually returned little in results. By measuring your ROI you can zero in your efforts on the places that provide the biggest return.
ROI rules. Measure, track, rinse, repeat.
There’s so much opportunity available to all of us it’s amazing.
And with today’s new choices of media to leverage the possibilities for you and your business are endless. Providing value and communicating your message has never been easier.
Hopefully, some of our own experiences can be insightful as you go down your own business building journey.
And we’ll be toasting your gazillion dollar Groupon-like IPO soon enough!
To Your Life on Your Terms!