We have already discussed a number of important marketing strategies for success; but there are two more that we need to cover. Both are complex, but depending on where you on in building your online business, the first may be something you can consider fairly soon. The second will probably be more long-term.
Seek Out Joint Venture Partnerships
If you are off to a slow start, you may want to consider (and seek out) Joint Venture Partners. It is a good way to jump-start your business. Pay attention to the emails you are receiving and look for an active marketer with a big list who is a perfect match for your product. One option would be to approach the marketer with an offer of advance copies for his/her list. It could be a “freebie” or a “deal” rate for his/her subscribers.
Make sure your agreement includes the following:
- The “deal” should be for a limited time, preferably just before you offer it to the general public at the full price. The commission for this kind of agreement is usually 75% to 100%. This is not about sales for you. It is about building your list. You want good leads and more subscribers.
- Depending on your product, you may want to consider allowing the marketer to brand your product with his/her business name. This is not required and not always a good idea, but sometimes it is appropriate and can be a strong incentive.
- Make sure that your product is a great fit for his/her target audience.
- Be sure that your affiliate resources are in place before you send the offer. You should have an affiliate page and a FAQ page. You also want to send a download page that contains banner ads, buttons, graphics, any promotional articles affiliates can use, and affiliate link information. You may want to review Building Your Affiliate Program.
Create Your Team
In the beginning you will probably do everything yourself, mainly because you think you must. Eventually, you will reach a point where you will have to get help or the business will stall – and possibly fail altogether. Obviously, growing your business is your primary goal. In order to do that your business plan should include the intent to increase your staff. This will be a “make or break” point for your business and is vital in order for your business to really fly. So, get the help you need – and don’t wait too long.
Choosing the right staff members or outsourced contractors will add great value. You may be smart, business savvy, and a workaholic, but you are still just one person with specific strengths and weaknesses. You may have already discovered while working on your own that you are “incredible” in one (maybe two) facets of the business, probably “proficient” in three or four more areas, “questionable at two or three, absolutely a “dunce” at one and all over the place in a number of others. With a staff you can make sure that all areas are covered by experts.
Take it slow. Don’t try to add several people at once. Add one person or contractor at a time. You need to train each person, and have him/her up and running before you hire the next person. If you do it right when you are finished, you will have a well-trained, efficient team than can coordinate activities to the full advantage of the business. Each specialist should be continuously fine-tuning his/her area of expertise and handling or circumventing glitches. Be sure to treat them well and pay them what they are worth.
Another plus for having a staff is that they become your sounding board. Working in isolation can be very lonely, plus your creativity may stagnate. In order to be at your creative best, it is important to have people in your corner that will brainstorm with you and bounce ideas around.
Be careful . . . don’t fall into the trap of hiring in desperation – grabbing a person here – and another one there. Take the time to find talented people who are a good fit. Be sure that you are prepared to put forth the effort to create a strong, compatible team.
Communication is Key
Clear expectations should be set from the very beginning. A fleshed-out company manual will help with this. Hopefully you have been adding pages to your binder as we worked through the business-building process step-by-step. Now is the time to pull it out and use it. Carefully review all the pages you have collected. Sort them into categories of work that must be done and identify the tasks/responsibilities that someone else can handle (in other words, work you can delegate). Then identify the ideal candidate for each job. Use that information to develop your training materials and to guide you in the hiring process for both staff and contractors. Voila! You have just set up your first human resource manual.
My suggestion for the first hire is a virtual assistant. After you have done your research, found several candidates, interviewed them, and made your decision, you are ready to begin.
E-mail or physically mail the training packet (job requirements/information/guidelines) to him/her and set up your first training session. (You can do this via SKYPE or through a Google+ Hangout.) Encourage the individual to ask questions and offer suggestions. (A good VA may understand what you need better than you do at this point, so be willing to listen.)
NOTE: A good relationship with a talented VA can lighten your workload dramatically and make your life so much easier.
The first hire will be the most difficult, so take your time. If you choose well, the VA can help you with the process of hiring more people or outsourcing various segments of the business. A strong support team is the key to financial success. Once you make the transition from solo entrepreneur to a team, you will reach a level of success that you can only dream about when working alone.
I am sure that you have already run into a number of online business people who have established an online empire. It is probably apparent when you deal with them that they have a dedicated team of specialists working behind the scenes to make it all happen. Your goal should be to do the same.
Even if you are not quite ready to take this step, have it in your business plan, and make it happen as soon as you can. Some areas for which you may want to consider hiring staff or outsourcing the work are: editors, copywriters, web design, shopping cart management, and a graphic artist. My first two “hires” were a graphic designer and an editor. I encourage you to include this vital marketing strategy in your business plan.
Want all of the information? Begin at the beginning: Building an Online Business.
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