The Internet business is no different to the offline businesses we talked about in the last blogpost. There’s this idea that we can just jump online and in 24hrs we can have our business up and have all our answers. It’s just not true! It’s just as hard to start an online business as it is to start an offline business.
Now, there may be lower barriers to entry. It may be something you can do from home, instead of going somewhere. It may be something you don’t have to invest $100k in a brick and mortar building and a lease. But, it’s just as hard, if not harder to build that online business. People talk a lot about the failure rate of offline businesses. Have you looked at the failure rate of online businesses? Why is it so much higher? Well, because it’s difficult! And, it’s not as easy as so many folks make it out to be. [As I have stated previously, the high failure rate is down to people trying to do everything themselves. This is true online as it is offline. Running a McDonald’s franchise is much easier than setting up Bob’s Burger Bar and much more likely to succeed].
Don’t miss this next step off. Don’t say you’ll just buy someone else’s report. Get the results yourself. I genuinely believe that. It’s really easy, you go over to Google AdWords or Facebook ads and you run 3k visitors that are interested in my topic to an ask page. And that ask page is going to ask them a few questions. And it’s going to get their name and e-mail address. And, in exchange, you’re going to give them a cheat sheet or something, in your niche.
If you are looking for a free version then you can seek out Facebook Groups. Enter the topic name in the search bar and ask to join any suitable groups. Looking through the posts will be great research in itself. After making yourself known you can tell people about your survey and direct them to your question form.
Setting Up Your “Ask Page”
So, you’re going to have to create some kind of a cheat sheet. This training’s not about giveaway’s and cheat sheets, so I won’t go any deeper into that. And, you’re going to run what we call an ask page. And, by the way, give credit where credit’s due, Alex Mandossian taught me this; I think he invented the concept.
At the top of the page you either offer a cheat sheet, or you offer to solve somebody’s problem for them. And you just do it for free. You’ll solve their problem for them for free. Or, you give them a cheat sheet. And, what you’re going to do on that page, you’re going to ask them for a name and e-mail address so you can put them on your e-mail list so you can communicate with them a few times back and forth. And then you’re going to ask 3 questions.
I like to use Glen Livingston’s questions, and Perry Marshal also uses them. They’re printed in Perry Marshal’s book 80/20 Marketing. I’m going to give you kind of a reduced, boiled down version of these 3 questions. You’ll ask these 3 questions on your ask page.
Question 1 is – What is your single biggest challenge in … whatever the topic is.
For instance if you’re looking for people in the dog training niche you want to find out if there are any unmet needs. You’re going to run an ask page that says download, and folks, this isn’t about giving you the highest level, highest quality copy writing headlines right now. This is conceptual here, download free cheat sheet, on “how to potty train your dog in 3 days”. To download it, please fill out the form below.
Name, e-mail, question 1. What is your single biggest challenge in potty training your dog?
Question 2 is, how difficult has it been to find an answer to this problem? This is the Glen Livingston twist.
Question 3 is, What would it mean for you if you could solve this problem?
And, what’s going to happen is, if you run this traffic from AdWords or Facebook ads, you may get 500 subscribers. And, 170 of them will fill this out.
So, you’re going to get 170 people that are going to tell you what their biggest problem is. You’ll probably find that 90 of them have a very similar problem. 50 of them have another problem. And the rest of them have some scattered problems. This tells you the unmet needs of the marketplace – start building out your products on these.
This is why your questions need to be open-ended not multiple choices or yes/no. This way you will get issues you never even knew people had.
You can also send out your survey form to existing subscribers. Why would you do that? Answer, because you don’t yet know your subscriber’s needs in depth.
You create a product that solves their problem. Then create one to solve the next problem. And the next. And so on – and you have built a business that sells because you’re solving people’s problems.
Send an email asking simple questions, and write back to the people who respond. Ask them something a little deeper – like “why do you think you have a problem with that?” Or “what’s the hardest thing about overcoming the problem.”
You’re digging deeper. Some people won’t give a good response. They’ll say it’s not that bad. Don’t worry about that. Some people might say “I’ve been having trouble finding an answer to this problem.”
What does that tell you? There may be competition online in this niche, or this particular sub-niche, but they’re not doing a good job of marketing because the person who just gave you their name and e-mail address doesn’t know they exist or they would have bought their training and left you alone. They’d have gotten the other guy’s product.
You have an opportunity in this market.
Pulling Out the Best Product Ideas
Now take a look at those responses – most people will just write a few words. Some people will write a sentence or two. Some people will write you a book.
The ones that write you a book are the ones that really need help. NOW!
They’re the ones that have real problems, they tend to be in that difficult category, and if you read their responses, they’ll tell you almost everything you need to know to create your first training program and sell it. You’ve discovered the unmet needs in the marketplace.
Getting Qualified Subscribers to Survey
That is the recommended way to get this information. You can get subscribers on your list using Facebook ads or AdWords ads. You’ll have it in a few days by running ads to your landing page.
If you’re low budget and you’re willing to spend time instead of money, you can do this: write articles, or blog posts, or forum posts, on your topic, and then at the end of the article, blog post, forum post, you have a call to action that says “Download a free cheat sheet” on this particular topic. Then they’re sent to the same landing page and get that same initial question email.
That method takes time because you go and write, 1, 2, 3 or whatever articles a day, and each article is only going to get you 1 or 2 people to fill out the information. So it’s going to take you 90 – 100 – 200 days to get enough information to feel like you’ve got something. Maybe you just do everything just right, and you’re fast and you pick the right niche the first time maybe 30 days.
But, Google AdWords or Facebook ads will give you the answer in 3, 4, or 5 days. In exchange for an investment (at the time of this writing, Facebook is probably lower).
Regardless of which method you choose, once you have the subscribers they’ll tell you exactly what products you need to create, so you’ll get a return on your investment and build a business that lasts.
Still confused about what niche you should pick for your online business? That’s OK. You can do some initial research on topics of interest and narrow it down. Here’s how:
Let’s say you have four main interests you’re considering – 4 choices. Run this test on all 4 choices. And then, choose the one that you like the results best.
Which one shows folks having the most difficulty?
Which market shows the most intensity for needing a solution?
Which one shows the most promise?
And, now, remember if we had done a survey, we’d just stop right there because you’ve added them to an e-mail list. You could personally write the 20 people that had a difficulty and gave you a book to tell you all about their problem. You write them back:
“Hey John, I was just reading your survey response from yesterday, and boy, you’ve really been through thick and thin trying to figure this thing out. Would it be okay with you if you and I jumped on the telephone and we could chat for a little while?”
OK! Moving with the times now. Suggest a face-to-face Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp or other media that’s in use with a video call function.
Now, you know I don’t want to talk to anybody, that’s why I’m an online business. Well, this is going to give you the information you need. Would you rather do 3 months’ worth of online surveys, or talk to 10 human beings with a real problem? I’ll take 10 human beings over 3 months of surveys anytime. Unless I don’t want to take the time, and I just want to automate something, so I’m just going to pay for it.
Make those 10 phone calls, especially if you’re just starting out. Find 10 people to get on the phone with. And just ask them:
“Why are you struggling so hard? What are you trying to figure out?”
Take notes. All you’ve got to do is create the training that answers the problems that you just had on that ask page. And, they’ll sell like hotcakes. They’ll sell like hotcakes!
In fact, you could always recommend someone else’s product if it really meets the current needs of your respondents. Being an affiliate marketer is a very quick way to getting money coming in. Then you can also see where the gaps are in these products and fill them in with your own product. This opens up the possibility of joint ventures or e-mail swops which can very quickly boost your subscriber list.
Now you’ve got the data and can get some quick traffic from AdWords or Facebook ads. Or you can get the traffic from articles. You send the traffic to a regular opt-in page. It’ll work, just continue to run the ask page, and then as soon as they opt-in, you give them an opportunity to buy your training program that, voila, has the exact same needs on it that prior people that answered the same ad on Google were likely to have, and the future ones are going to be likely to be the same way.
Do that in your potential niches and see which one gets the most response, or that seems promising and you feel most comfortable with. Then you choose a niche.