If you're just starting out in Internet Marketing, beware: There are lessons you'll need to learn one way or the other. The easier way is find an old marketer like me and pick my brain. The hard way is the method I've used many times in my 14+ years as a marketer – making the mistake and THEN learning the lesson. But it's been worth it. Here 33 things I wish I'd known when I started in online marketing:
1. Your most valuable asset is your customer list. Not your prospect list, your customer list – people who have spent at least a dollar with you. Do everything you can to grow this list, because once someone trusts you enough to hand you a dollar, they'll hand you $50. And once they hand you $50, they'll hand you $500, but only if you treat them right.
2. Your second most valuable asset is your affiliates and JV partners. I'm talking about the affiliates who promote your products time and again, the ones that stick by you because A) They believe in you B) They believe in your products C) You treat them like the royalty they are. Your affiliates can make you more money in one day than most people earn in a year. Find them, nurture them, be amazing to them and take care of them.
3. Your third most valuable asset is really your most valuable, but until you've been in this business for awhile I'm afraid you won't believe it, so I placed it here at number 3. But think about this – if you don't treat your customers right and your affiliates right, what happens? You get a bad reputation. And once you have that, you might has well hang it up and go get a job at Walmart. Your reputation is EVERYTHING online. Protect it the way you would protect your own child, because you only get one chance to do it right. This goes for your brand as well.
4. Other valuable assets in no particular order are: Your prospect list, your outsourcers and your products. Focus on moving people off of your prospect list and onto your buyers list, even if it's only a $1 purchase. Treat your best outsourcers well – you don't want to have to find and train new ones every 6 weeks. And products, well...
5. Your products speak for you. Make them awesome and be sure they deliver on every promise you make. And do create products – lots of them. The more the merrier, so long as each one is filling a real customer want. It's much easier to break into the 6 figure realm when you're creating your own products. My most prosperous years are the ones where I'm creating the most solutions and products.
6. Keep things simple. I see aspiring marketers trying to over-complicate things all the time. Find a want, create the product, sell it to those who want it. Simple. As Steve Jobs said, "That's been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains." When you reduce the clutter and noise, you can do less and get more from it.
7. Focus. Pick a niche and focus on that niche. Let nothing distract you, including all the other niches. Make a list of things to do. Do each one. This sounds so simple, yet people try to go in several different directions at once and of course wind up going absolutely nowhere. This is one I got right from the start – I chose the IM niche and never looked back, and I've never regretted it.
8. Use systems. With a finely tuned system you can do anything. When they build a car, do they reinvent the engine each time? No. When you start an IM business, you don't have to reinvent the mechanics of how to run it, either. Get a system like my Delavo and you'll be free to focus on making money while the system runs your business.
9. Do 15 minutes of concentrated, positive thinking every morning. Do affirmations in the mirror, read something inspiring, look over and read aloud your goals, etc. Whatever it is that lights your fire, do it first thing in the morning and it will fuel you for the rest of the day.
10. Send out ships. Thinking positive is the first step, but it's not enough. You've got to climb those stairs, not just look up at them and hope you somehow get to the top. So each day, send out ships. Make contact with someone in your niche. Build alliances. Email a dozen prospective affiliates. Skype with your best prospects. Whatever it is that brings in the business and makes you money, do it daily.
11. Use deadlines. Work inevitably expands to fill the time allowed, so only allow enough time to get it done. Then cut that time in half. You'll be astonished at how fast you can work and what you can achieve.
12. Screw perfection. Really. You've got to take that attitude or you'll be working six months on a product trying to get it perfect. When you finally do launch it, the window has passed and the desires of the community have moved on.
13. Build a real business. A blog is not a business, nor is a list. Those are components of a business. Decide what business you're in and then treat it as seriously as any brick and mortar business.
14. You are the CEO of your business. Act like it. Outsource as much as possible so you don't get bogged down. You can't captain a ship while you're swabbing decks. Focus on the big picture and outsource the details.
15. When you receive payment for a product, that's when your work begins. Remember, it's easier to keep a customer than to get one, but if you don't continually take care of your customers, you'll lose them.
16. Stand for something. No successful business has ever been all things to all people.
17. Pre-sell your products. This way you know for fact if there's a market for it, PLUS you have a huge incentive to get that product out the door FAST. And if there's no interest in the product, you've just saved yourself the work of creating what would have been a loser anyway.
18. Make connections. Every day make one new connection and then maintain that connection forever. Yes, forever. Or until you retire. You can never have too many connections, too many friends in the business, too many customers, too many affiliates and JV partners, etc.
19. Be an idea magnet. What's an idea? Often it's a combination of two old things into something new. Look for ideas everywhere and write them down. WRITE THEM DOWN. Writing them ensures you don't forget them, it frees your mind to think of more ideas, and it trains your mind to be ever watchful for the next big idea.
20. You can't email your list too often. There's a belief that if you send out an email everyday to your list, you'll burn the list. And this is true if all you're sending is ads. But if you're also sending tidbits of good information or even just something to brighten their day, they will welcome your messages. In fact, emailing everyday ensures you stay in their memory. Email once a week and they'll forget who you are.
21. Grow your confidence. This will happen naturally as you experience success in your business, but you need to be confident from Day 1 that you can do the business in the first place.
22. Use to-do lists. Write down goals big and small. Write down what needs to be done this month, this week and today. Prioritize your list. Then do it.
23. Get an accountability partner. Tell each other or email each other each morning with your to-do list. Then tell each other in the evening what you accomplished.
24. Join a mastermind group. If you can't find one, start one.
25. Don't blog everyday. In fact, you should spend only 20% of your time creating content and products. Better still, outsource the bulk of your content and product creation. Then focus 80% or more of your time on marketing and building your business. This boils down to 'Working ON your business rather than IN your business.'
26. Ask for the sale. That's right, ASK for the sale. I once went to a car dealer and the guy helping me was brand new. I found the car I wanted, but he couldn't screw up the courage to ask for the sale. Finally another salesperson came over and asked if I was ready to buy. "Yes!" I said. The young sales person looked astonished, but when he had to split his commission with the sales person who asked for the sale, I could see the new guy had learned his lesson.
27. Always have an upsell. If you're selling a $7 product, offer a $27 on the backend. If your product is $97, offer a $1997 on the backend. If you don't, you're robbing your customers who want more and you're robbing yourself.
28. Continuity rules. Always look for ways to introduce continuity into your business, from the $7 a month membership to the $5000 a month coaching program.
29. Passive income is the result of hard work, not passively sitting on your butt. How many rich couch potatoes do you know?
30. Hire a business coach. You'll get a fresh perspective you sorely need, as well as good advice and someone to push you to new levels. For every dollar you spend on coaching, you can expect to make $10 or more in just the first year.
31. Invest your profits, don't spend them. Buy real estate, good stocks or anything of lasting value. Don't squander your money on ridiculous cars and nights out – there could come a day when you'll deeply regret it.
32. Think of your mother. Would you be embarrassed to show her your marketing methods? If not, you might want to rethink your strategy. Another thing: Would she tell you that despite how busy you are, you should still eat right, exercise and take a little time off each day? Then be smart and do it. Mom does know best.
33. Have fun. If you're miserable, you're not doing it right. Yes there are going to be challenges, but half the fun is overcoming those challenges and persevering. If you hate what you're doing, you've already failed. Do something else. I learned this in my previous profession prior to the Internet, but it holds true no matter what your business.
There you have it – 33 things I wish I'd known when I started. Some of these would have been handy five years into my Internet Marketing career as well. I hope it helps.
One word of advice – when you do learn a lesson, either the hard way or the easy way – make a note of it. It's best not to repeat the same mistakes any more than you have to.