15. Sales and Marketing
15.1 Affiliate Network Marketing
The idea of affiliate network marketing does not require a huge leap in innovation. In its pure form network marketing revolves around the sale of resale rights to sell products. Multiple levels of marketers are supported by the fact that the product provides value at a high price while having a negligible variable cost of production. Affiliate marketing is a one level system in which the marketer earns a success fee upon introducing a buyer to a seller.
Take a group of products such as health and wellness products and create an online destination for say fifty products ( it may be more or less) and have the site marketed by a multi- level group of marketers within an MLM hierarchy. In this way, an individual can create a sustainable income from a multi- product affiliate site that others promote and earn residual commissions from their successful lead conversions. With this approach, the opportunity for creating a sustainable income is an exciting prospect that you may decide to research, test and focus upon.
15.2 Multi- Level Marketing
The concept of multi- level distribution hierarchies is not new. Classically, the idea originator & owner of the intellectual property may focus on research and development, and they may outsource manufacture. This approach is common for big international brand names that focus on design and marketing rather than on the manufacture of their products. Distribution may be by international distributors who distribute to manufacturers or to wholesale distributors around the globe who service defined regions. The wholesale distributors may deliver to retailers who may sell to the public.
Each level in the above hierarchy may be owned by one company. Some international companies distribute by way of granting rights to the use of a patented “how to” system or recipe by way of a multi- level franchise system.
Instead of ending in the retail sale of goods, companies may elect to distribute by way of direct sales through a multi- level hierarchy of agents.
In considering a multi- level approach to distribution or marketing, you need to ensure that your product has sufficient margin to afford multi- level commissions or royalties while offering value to the end user.
Often the variable cost of the contents of a bottle of perfume, the variable cost of the tablets in a bottle, the variable cost of a greeting card and the variable cost of an online training course are negligible, and this opens the way to a variety of owned and outsourced marketing and distribution methods. Also, the evaluation of retail and direct sales methods are options; that may be viable, and these assessments should be considered.
15.3 The Sales Funnel
The dissatisfaction of small businesses with not being found on the Internet is widespread. Should you ask these firms about their online sales funnel and the promotion, thereof you will find that most do not have one. The need for actively working a sales funnel is key to success.
The following illustration is an example of a customised sales funnel.
Marketing, presenting and enticing are steps that fall under the identification banner. These are the initial steps taken to get prospects into the sales funnel. Before people can opt-in to your website or other online sales pages, these destinations must exist. However, you can get lost in content creation. Building more and more content without promoting the content is, at best, a self-indulgence. As an example, create content and then use it to take it to your Facebook fan page. When it is on the Facebook fan page, use 80% of your time to promote the content. Get accustomed to asking yourself to report, to yourself, on what revenue producing activities you have undertaken.
Success is delivered by sticking to a simple three-step daily routine. Create popular niche content, and then spend four times the effort in promoting it so as to sit back and track the effectiveness of what you did, by counting the money in the bank that it generated. Every day try something different until you find the formula that works for you.
The most powerful promotional tool that you have at your disposal is you. In a small business, no matter the type, you need to network. A network building activity may be joining a Facebook group and building a reputation for adding relevant comments. Instead of trying to get them to your site go to theirs. On the group, forge relationships via comment. Your aim is to socialise to create curiosity, and they will then link to your site. It is not enough for you to play the game; you need to be genuine, or your guise will be uncovered in a flash! It is a two-step approach rather than a direct approach. Done right and with honesty, the link to your site after you have built a relationship will be a “rich connection.”
Strategic and creative thought leads to strategically creative marketing campaigns. QED. Ok, but for many of us you need to make the conscious effort to be strategic and creative. You need to standardise the way in which you share knowledge, help and build relationships; it’s about structuring the marketing engagement process. If you are weak in this area, then you need to link with someone who has the skills needed.
Many see advertising as the direct presentation of an offer or brand in a way that entices commercial activity. Marketing, on the other hand, is often viewed as the promotion of a variety of initiatives that promote the building of relationships or the understanding needed to realise and appreciate the benefits or solutions that your offer. Thus, the goal is to share knowledge and to build relationships.
If you beat up the path to the door of your initial list of tolerant friends and family and try to get them to buy, all that you are likely to do, is to get them to avoid you. If however, you visit with the intention of helping them to understand what it is that you do you are more likely to spark curiosity and be invited back. Given their interest, they will be more likely to promote your business to their contacts.
Here we look to two major categories of securing traffic; paid traffic and free traffic. No matter the source of the traffic; free or paid, you need to track the traffic origins and the conversion statistics. Doing this will build your knowledge base on what does and what does not work. This will allow you to maintain a suite of measurably profitable marketing initiatives.
One of the destinations that can attract traffic is blogging. It falls into the above definition of marketing as it seeks to engage, educate, inform, debate, solicit opinion, etc. It is not a direct offer to buy.
You will learn that you have to take action; you must invite people to a variety of destinations where you entice them to opt-in to your list. A powerful tool is a webinar. A webinar is an internet web based audio or video conference call where a number of people can lead a discussion with many group members that participate by way of typing comments. It brings technology to marketing and peer pressure to decision-making. It can become a hype forum and maintaining a balance is important.
Next, you have to present your products effectively. The marketing and presentation of content should take 20% of your time, and it must be analysed to ensure that it offers an awesome user experience.
Go to popular Twitter sites and add their followers as your followers. Tweet content that is relevant to their niche and make sure that you have a listed image of you so that they can see that you are a real person. Do this, and they are more likely to follow you back. Build your brand with the photo that you use and with a branded #hashtag.
Presenting content without a call to action should be carefully considered to find the value in the strategy. Where possible, offer more information in a non-threatening way, e.g., linking to a video or audio message.
Enticing entails offering answers to questions that are being posed by the internet search engines.
Research what is sought and supply the answers.
Enticing is about executing income producing activities. These activities should take 80% of your time and need not be direct selling activities. These activities can be helping and encouraging rather than selling.
Enticing can be done on paid and on free platforms. Set out below are a number of PowerPoint platforms for your consideration.
Pinterest is the third most popular site searched for content. Pinterest is dominated by women who are looking for information on what to buy. On your blog take the trouble to build an infographic or a customised image with a quote on it. Remember that images on Pinterest do not have short-term obsolescence as do posts on Facebook and Twitter.
Google+ is seen to be a search result ranking enhancer because Google is behind Google+.
Professionals and headhunters dominate Linkedin. Your rich B2B blog content should be shared in Linkedin groups. Join about 20 groups and use the same strategy to build credibility by adding relevant comment. Once a Linkedin group admin is aware of your profile via the relationships that you have built by your comments you will enjoy follow through visits to your sites.
YouTube is the second biggest search engine. If you are not there, you will not be found! This is logical but uncommonly acted upon. When you post a YouTube video, be sure to share it on your blog, on Facebook, on Linkedin, etc. In the YouTube description place your links ( Your blog, website and #hashtag, etc.) as these will build you credible backlinks.
Slideshare is a destination that is connected to Linkedin. When you have spent the time to research content, then you can activate a multiplier by making aPower Point version of your blog post. Again, build a button link on the Power Point presentation back to your sites.
Quora aims to be the easiest place to write new content and share content from the web. Quora organizes people and their interests so you can find, collect and share the information most valuable to you.
Reddit is an entertainment, social networking service and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links. Registered users can then vote submissions “up” or “down” to organize the posts and determine their position on the site’s pages. Content entries are organized by areas of interest called “subReddits”.
In all your content: Educate. Keep it positive. Keep it passionate and inspire. Help, Innovate and Promote understanding. Seek success, share it and celebrate.
Prospects are often confirmed in the following stages or phases; Capturing, Prospecting, Cultivating, and Pursuing.
Capturing relates to adding opt-in subscribers to your Hot Leads List; These are visitors who have expressed an interest in your offerings.
Prospecting is about responding and following up to identify customer needs and problems. Adopt a bold mind-set. Cold calling customers require a mind-set that does not take rejection personally. Follow up with, conference calls, webinars, Skype conversations, and events. Promoting by way of the inclusion of people that have succeeded builds credibility, peaks interest, effectively promotes and converts people to being customers.
Cultivate relationships by exploring, listening and responding to prospective stakeholders.First, listen to stakeholder aspirations and needs. What kind of involvement do they seek and why. Build relationships and explore business opportunities by listening and then by promoting the prospects for earning income by promoting your products.
People seeking a second income are drawn from all walks of life; students, employed people, unemployed people, and retired people. Running an online e-commerce store can be set up without a large investment. The key skill required is knowing how to drive traffic to your site. The great thing is that anybody can do it, and you can earn while you learn.
When seeking to attract affiliate or network markers to promote your site consider presenting it as a dream lifestyle opportunity. Earning big will allow the choice of many lifestyles,e.g. as parents, you could both work from home; as retirees, you could travel and attend to your business from anywhere.
Alternatively, when seeking marketers to market your business at their own risk, you could present your offering as a life changing opportunity. People with disabilities, people seeking to bounce back from financial difficulties, people living in areas with few income opportunities could be attracted to your offerings. Remember that person whose interest you peak will be seeking income, and your offer is the solution to this need.
Explore solutions: Identify & innovate solutions that offer benefits and value to the customer.
15.3.3 Closing, Selling and Networking
While closing and selling are common practices to most businesses a focus on after sales networking is uncommon. Encouraging satisfied customers to provide you with testimonials that you use to build credibility is highly beneficial as customers derive comfort from knowing that customer satisfaction is the norm. Showing an after sales interest in establishing that the customer harvests the value that you promised builds customer loyalty which will result in the customer being happy to promote your business to their network. Getting referrals and following up on them will often result in you visiting presold prospects who will be aware of the benefits to your existing customer base.
15.4 The Playing Field
There was a time when consensus reigned on the fact that the Internet levelled the playing field between big and small businesses. Start-up entrepreneurs were seen to have an opportunity to compete like never before. In the world of “bricks” vs. “clicks,” the online business opportunity open to all was at a relatively low cost. All that you needed was to be in the market to be in business; you needed to get started, then refine and redirect along the path of continuous improvement.
With the growth of the Internet, the above still applies however far more planning, research and cost is involved in ensuring that your website is found and that your online business grows.
A small local business strategy built around a focus upon starting small and building from a satisfied local customer base has much merit. It should be remembered that the keys to success are the people, the products, and services plus the markets. Do the people have the skills to create the products and services that are needed by the markets that they address? Is the user experience actively monitored for improvement ideas? Are market share and market size actively monitored to ensure that the team is not perfecting something for which there is no or not enough demand? The most focus should be on knowing the market. Sure, people plus products and services are important but identifying markets that pull the product via active demand (which is a key to success) versus those that have to be continuously pushed into markets) where they are not needed because of a lack of demand (which is often a key to failure) is a risk that deserves much attention so as to be avoided.
It is thus very important that time is taken to focus on finding markets for products that have sustainable demand for products that can be created and supplied. This is offered as a guideline and not as a rule as there are times when a revolutionary new product will be a runaway success in new markets. This said, the most important key to success is ensuring that the products and services fit the market demand. It’s about product market fit. As an analogy, selling swimming caps and hockey balls on a rugby playing field will sink the company even though in different markets selling the hockey balls and swimming caps may be a great success story. It’s about matching the product to the playing field!
This guideline unpacks the major elements of the online business playing field. One’s attitude and enthusiasm for online business will be as important to your success as will be the knowledge and ability to trade effectively in the online marketplace.
It is important for local business to understand the nature of the online business playing field. This said we have addressed the matter of focus and work and the options open to outsourcing specialist online e-Marketing services. Outsourcing specialist work requirements is not new. Most brick and mortar businesses do not do their own shop fitting, plumbing, sign writing, glazing and a host of other services that they outsource to others. They do however fully understand the need for these services, and all too often they know what it is that they want. Achieving this level of understanding on the online playing field is an objective of this e-Book. Another is to get you in a position to make money online. You can go it alone and open an online shop, or you can become an independent online network marketer. Alternatively, you can launch an online network marketing business with the aid of a system where the tools required to get the internet to work for you are all aligned and ready to get your business growing.
In short: Set your goals, make it happen and enjoy every moment of the journey to success.