You decided to become a digital marketing entrepreneur. You heard it’s one of the fastest growing niches. You (hopefully) created a business plan. You chose a niche. You targeted your Avatar. You designed a website. You wrote content. You uploaded videos. You broadcasted emails. You placed ads and now you’re wondering why you’re not flooded with leads and sales? Slow down a little. While your learning curve has been a very steep one up to this point, these were just the beginning steps. What’s next? Here’s a list of 8 things to expect after starting an online business.

LONG TERM RESULTS

As with any other venture, it takes time to garner a consistent following. Your audience needs to feel comfortable and believe in you and your offering.

Be distinct. Engage viewers in your own unique way so they look forward to what else you have to say. Don’t be afraid to express yourself and convey your passion in your videos and content. This will differentiate you. Be enthusiastic, honest and candid. Speak from the heart.

When researching which niche is best to serve, target an audience that you can relate to. Internet buyers want to resonate with peers and you need to be more of a confidant than a marketer. As such, and while it’s  possible to be successful, it may be more difficult and it may take longer for a twenty-year old to understand and address the needs of a baby boomer than it is for another baby boomer and vice versa.

Provide your Avatar a solution to their problem. Offer valuable content repeatedly without asking for anything in return. When they’re ready and after you’ve earned their trust, they will buy.

Until then, keep them engaged, informed and interested. You’re the voice of expertise. You’re no longer just a marketer but an influencer. Your audience will turn to you for advice and look to others for reviews and recommendations. It could take a while before they purchase and hopefully you’ve put aside a healthy budget to see you through until you become profitable.

Offering value without expecting something in return seems counter-intuitive in today’s business environment where standards are sometimes compromised in favor of profit. If you’re serious about building your business, continue to offer significant information to your market. Your efforts will pay off.

When customers like you, they keep coming back. Repeat buyers are the foundation of your business and they’re also your best source of recommendations. Online marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

GROW YOUR BRAND

Now that you’ve given serious thought to your buyer, turn the attention to yourself. What are you all about?

Building a business of any kind requires brand recognition. Grow your brand by telling your story. Share your journey with your audience. Here are some ideas.

  • How did you get here?
  • Why did you decide on this career?
  • What made it so attractive?
  • Did you transition any previously acquired skills?
  • What challenges have you faced?
  • How did you overcome them?

Story telling is one way to bridge the gap with your buyers and the best way to resonate with them.

To build your brand, you must be regularly visible on social media and join groups with common interests. The best marketers limit themselves to two or three venues and they’re consistent with posting content. Don’t compromise quality by engaging in too many platforms. You will exhaust yourself trying to keep up with too many. My favorites are YouTube, Facebook and Instagram

Your brand should convey the message that you are a person of integrity, value and service.

EMBRACE CHANGE

This industry is continuously changing. It’s important to stay current on compliancy issues especially when advertising on Facebook, YouTube and AdWords because their policies change regularly. Be informed to avoid getting your accounts shut down.

This is an aggressive industry with a very fast pace. You need to act quickly and be flexible. Having the power to make your own decisions is essential. If you need to stop an ad campaign instantly because it’s spending too much too quickly without results, it could be very costly if you wait for a meeting to take place or to reach a consensus.

Keep up with consumer demand as it’s constantly changing. In this decade alone, marketers have addressed the needs of baby boomers and generation X, the “me” generation. Generation Y is about the benefits to the cooperative, what is best for the whole. Now comes Generation Z, which wants everything instantly. This population grew up with live communication and expects things immediately. They use Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook Live because they won’t wait. Their attention span is very short. They want things now, now, now.

INFORMATION CURATOR

When you decided to become an online marketer, you became an information provider and curator. This role comes with social responsibility.

We’re overwhelmed with the amount of information that’s available. A lot of time constrained individuals, therefore, are resorting to the “experts” or “curators” to summarize what they want to know. Be accurate and responsible in what you’re presenting. You’re educating and influencing people’s lives.

Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder of Influence-Central shares her insight on today’s consumer. “We find ourselves awash with more information than has ever been available to us as humans, and we simply can’t process it. As a result, we’ve increasingly come to rely not just on curated information, but on the people we most trust to curate this information for us in a way that resonates with our lifestyle, interests, and values. In 2017, consumers will be on a mission to find peer specialists with niche expertise to filter recommendations that meet their needs in a customized way.”

SETBACKS

All businesses have setbacks and growth rarely happens in a straight line. Problems are indicators telling us to go in a different direction.

You may have days with no subscribers and, worse, leads who unsubscribe. It’s not always a reflection on what you’re doing or what you’re missing. People have lives and challenges of their own. They may be going through circumstances that prevent them from staying on your list.

To minimize the number of un-subscribers, set your audience’s expectations early on. Be clear with what you’re providing and why, and there will be few.

When you get a new subscriber, ask them to check their spam folders and make sure your email is unblocked. While this has not happened to me, I have colleagues who spent months and thousands of dollars re-marketing to learn that their emails were going into junk folders.

Use your time wisely. Educate yourself on the rules before advertising on a new platform to avoid your ads from being disapproved. It takes many hours, thought and research to create a successful ad.

COMPETITION

Track what your competition is doing. There are numerous tools to gather information on your competitors.

If you know where your opponent is, you can confidently go in a different direction. Recently I learned that a segment of the market I was trying to capture is saturated with too many marketers within my community.  The majority are using the same search keyword on in stream video advertising, making it more costly for everyone and difficult for entry-level marketers to compete. Knowing this, I changed my keywords and are now getting good results.

Look for trends. If the majority is advertising one way, go in the opposite direction.

FINANCIAL BACKUP

In the early stages, competition is fierce. You’re up against marketers who can outbid you and spend thousands of dollars a day in advertising.

The pros have funds to invest heavily in remarketing which, for many starting up, is not available. In your first year, you may need to secure an additional source of income to keep your business moving forward until you become profitable.

One difference that I see between a brick and mortar business with an online one is that, for the latter, it’s harder to come up with an accurate projected break-even analysis. This is because digital is evolving all the time and it moves quickly.

Keeping this in mind, I would recommend becoming proficient at digital marketing before quitting your day job. However, if you’re inclined to drop everything and give all your attention to growing your business, be well informed ahead of time and financially prepared.

TIME AND MONEY

Have realistic expectations. It takes an average of 3 years to turn a profit.  And, even though the purpose of building an automated business is to have more time and money, it’s important to know that, in the start up phase, these will be in the greatest demand.

I love that this is not a get rich quick business nor is it for the faint of heart. It’s for the intrepid and highly driven individual, one who has little concern for how long it will take to make a success of it. Digital entrepreneurship is for problem solvers. It’s survival of the fittest and the kind of environment that I love!

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Photo courtesy of:  Olu Eletu on Unsplash

 

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