Have you ever heard the phrase the “busy fool”? For many business owners, this is their reality. They work all hours of the day servicing their one-to-one clients, often into the evenings. Time off is few and far between.
Those whose only revenue comes from selling their one-to-one time will always be limited by how much they can physically and mentally deliver in a day, week or month. They will never be able to break through that ceiling, unless they can charge significantly more for their time.
For me, the move to online coaching literally transformed my business overnight as one of my first product promotions resulted in $24,000 of sales, the majority of which were a passive revenue stream for me.
I am not alone in my experiences either. There are many people out there making impressive revenues by selling their services online. The great thing about it is that it applies to any type of coaching or training, not just the traditional personal or professional development coaching.
I know a personal fitness instructor who made thousands from selling an online fitness bootcamp, containing content she had created years before, but had never found a way to use properly. What I love about that particular story is that she created additional revenue from what she already had in place and it was a totally new market that opened up for her — clients that were not on her doorstep.
If you are wondering if this will work for you, I would encourage you to ask yourself one simple question. Are you limiting yourself by not thinking outside of the box and exploring new routes to market and new customer bases? Are there ways of attracting new business that you haven’t even thought of yet and if you did, what impact could they make?
It does take some thought to work out how to package up what you do into products your clients actually want to buy, but once you’ve made that first online sale, you can do it over and over again.
I still love my one-to-one coaching — it brings me great fulfilment and helps to keep me challenged to develop my skills and experience, but having more than one route to market and multiple revenue streams means I get to live life the way I want to and that is absolutely priceless.
Nicola Bird is the creator of JigsawBox, an online coaching tool for coaches, trainers and consultants.
There’s no doubt about it, the business world has woken up to marketing with valuable content as a way of attracting leads and boosting sales. But while everyone is talking about it, not everyone is getting it right.
Here are five ways I’ve seen businesses missing the content marketing bus:
Producing content left, right and centre might produce a lot of noise, but unless the content has a purpose it won’t get you very far. Businesses who win with content marketing have clear aims and objectives — new pieces of content build a library that tells a story and demonstrates expertise in a niche. Scattergun content is a waste of time and effort.
Creating content in a vacuum, without listening to clients and customers, won’t get you out of the bus terminal. Content that answers your clients’ specific questions will get found and appreciated. If they’re not looking for it, how will they find it?
Quality matters. The bar has been raised and just good enough isn’t good enough any more. Quality means content must be well-designed, well-produced and well-written. It should be easy on the eye and a joy to consume.
If you want to grab attention your content can’t be dull. Brilliant content will lurk undiscovered beneath snoozesome headlines, the most amazing articles in the world might never be read if presented in unremitting slabs of web-unfriendly fonts. And if you want to guarantee no one will ever read your blog, illustrate it with that jigsaw pieces image you’ve seen a thousand times before.
If all your content is written, you’re in danger of getting left out in the cold. Only write blogs? You’ve got to give video a go. Or podcasting. Or infographics. Or Slide Share. If you want your content to get picked up and shared, make it easy to consume in a variety of ways across a range of devices. If a sizeable chunk of your content is not mobile-friendly, it will miss the bus.
It’s impossible to talk about marketing without mentioning the social web. The social web is here and marketers are looking for ways to connect and integrate their activities in an effort to improve both efficiency and effectiveness.
Apps offer a way to achieve better integration. While many think of apps on the consumer front (Facebook, Pinterest) B2B marketers are actually using apps more than ever.
In the B2B space, marketers are using apps for webinars, managing their databases, running online communities and finding out what people are saying about their brand in social media — among other ways.
Using apps to tie all the elements of an integrated marketing campaign together can give marketers a more detailed and holistic view of their prospects and customers, and this means more leads are generated in the long term.
It has become increasingly important for apps to be more open and to "speak to one another". Without a connected system, a marketer may not know that the person who attended a webinar, the most recent Like on the company Facebook page and someone who has signed up for an event are actually one and the same person. When the B2B app eco-system becomes more connected, marketers get a much more complete view of the buyer.
Individual apps often solve one piece of the puzzle but as apps more easily connect, B2B marketers can better understand the all the pain points that may make up a potential customer.
Apps are a cost-effective way for small businesses to bolster their multi-channel marketing strategy. Social media, webinars and events are three popular parts of the marketing app ecosystem. There are marketing applications for these areas, such as plug-ins for Facebook or Pinterest and for webinar programmes, such as WebEx.
Some marketing applications even connect the on and offline worlds, with companies such as Cvent allowing marketers to manage events registration online as part of a wider marketing programme.
We recently delved into the marketing programmes of our customers and found some surprising information: the more marketing apps that marketers were using in our Eloqua AppCloud, the more leads they generated. The average number of leads for companies using no extra applications as part of their marketing programme was 171 per month, whereas companies using one or two apps generated 562 leads per month — a 230% increase.
It’s not the individual apps themselves that generate the leads but these figures demonstrate that a deeper understanding of customers and prospects provided through connected apps can be achieved.
Sylvia Jensen is the director of EMEA Marketing at Eloqua.
Responsive design is the practice of optimising digital content to be read and interacted with on any device — be that desktop, tablet or mobile. By using modern web languages such as CSS3 and fulfilling some basic best practices, email marketers can ensure their content is fit for purpose on every conceivable device.
It is estimated that 2013 will be the first year that more internet connections are made via smartphones than traditional devices. For email marketers this is a highly significant time, as brands must now consider the journey of their recipient and the variety of devices on which they will receive emails.
The increasing importance of smartphones means that brands and marketers are substantially reducing their chances of customers opening their emails or browsing their website if they do not consider the mobile user experience.
Sending an email to a device that has not been optimised to render properly on it is the equivalent of sending somebody a letter that they can’t open. Perhaps a couple of years ago, mobile-optimised emails were a relative luxury. Now, it’s fair to say that they are essential, and not making allowances for mobile users can cause significant damage to the image of your brand.
But don’t take my word for it. Analytics is a fundamental part of email marketing and brands must scrutinise their open rate and click-through data. That way, email marketers can see the true power of mobile; learn more about the journey of their recipients and find out what works and what doesn’t on different devices.
Mobile-optimised emails are not created using a completely different template. It’s simply a case of using some extra code to make the content and layout responsive — to ensure that it is fit for purpose on all devices.
Responsive email design uses the same mark-up languages that email marketers have always used — HTML and CSS. The key difference lies with media queries; one of the latest CSS modules that allows email designers more flexibility. Media queries tell an email client or browser to flexibly control layouts and content according to the device or screen size it’s viewed on.
Here are a few basic tips to make sure your email is designed responsively and make it easier for your recipients to read and engage with:
Over 44% of businesses fail within three years. Elbert Hubbard, an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher, once said that there is no failure except in no longer trying.
I recently saw a video of a speech by Frans Johansson entitled, The secret truth about executing great ideas, which explores the topic of failure within business and is the inspiration behind this article.
I have been working at Fasthosts for the past four and half years, and I have seen a lot of businesses come and go, many websites and blogs being launched and unfortunately many others that have closed.
These days there are thousands of new businesses being launched online each week and with crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, the growth is on the up.
However, the unsavoury truth is that most of these ideas will fail. What is it that separates the likes of Steve Jobs and Richard Branson from the rest of us?
Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines
There is a common path for almost all breakthrough ideas. When we look at a successful idea, we look at the person and think they are brilliant, a genius and visionary. But when you look at how they made the idea happen it was really about taking risks and having lots of failures.
Muhammad Yunus is one such example of these geniuses. Muhammed is a Bangladeshi banker, economist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. He is the man who developed the concept of microcredit and microfinance, something that is revolutionising the third world.
He realised that most people who are poor have very little debt, but enough to keep them poor. They do have some small assets and if someone can give credit to that asset we can create a micro loan.
When Muhammed first came up with the idea he went to the banks to ask if they would provide the small loans for these people in the third world. But that failed. He then tried to use his own assets to back these microloans but that also failed. He went back to the banks and said why don’t we try it on an experimental basis. That failed as well.
He then goes to International Foundation and has some success there. But the key was to make it into a company mostly owned by its customers. This was a great success and led to the growth of the whole industry.
If you look back through history it is a story that repeats itself.
Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, a man who co-founded the Cubist movement, made over 20,000 works of art in his lifetime — most of which are in someone’s basement gathering dust. Do you know why? Because they were rubbish!
Albert Einstein, the most famous physicist of all time, published over 240 papers. Many of these have zero citations. No-one references them.
Does this diminish their brilliance? Absolutely not.
All of the greatest movie directors have made films that are duds. The Beatles wrote some songs that were terrible. Wikipedia started out as Nupedia and failed. Sweden’s biggest tourist attraction, the Ice Hotel, started out as a sculpture and failed to bring in visitors.
The point is that history suggests your first attempt at reaching your goal will not be the success you’d envisaged. It is just as likely that the goal will change from the one you have right now.
Failing is not a bad thing. It often teaches you far more than succeeding ever does.
However, this point of view does raise a valid question: “So why do we need strategy?”
The purpose of strategy is to convince yourself that it is going to work. It is not to come up with the right answer straight away. The purpose of strategy is to enable you to act.
Take the smallest executable step. Invest a small amount of resource (time, money, help from friends, scale back, locally first) and try lots of different ideas.
James Hay is the editor of the Fast Hosts blog.
The Business Model Innovation Factory (BMIF) is the book we often use to explain and show why innovation does not work. Why this book and what can you learn from it?
First of all, it takes a fundamental approach to innovation, using the business model at its core. The premise of the book is that every business model can and will be “Netflixed”. Blockbuster, HMV, Sony, Kodak have all seen their business model destroyed. All business models are vulnerable. Your business model will be destroyed too.
Tweaking is not enough. Incremental change is not enough. Innovation in the context of your current business model is not enough. You have to go radical.
BMIF gives a few reasons why innovation does not work. Starting with the word “innovation” itself. The word is polluted and means too many things to too may people.
So why doesn’t innovation work?:
The book uses the analogy of builders refurbishing your house. People who have done that and decided to stay in the house with the builders, know it is near impossible. You are camping in the kitchen, the heat does not work, the internet is down, and it is full disruption. The same goes for innovation.
Real innovation needs full and unequivocal support from the senior management team. It needs to be kept independent from line managers. It needs to be a separate business unit (the Amazon Kindle is a shining example of how that can work), reporting directly to the CEO. The unit will need to ignore the current business model, ignore the legacy systems and hang out and collaborate on the edges.
Staffed by external people as well as internal staff who are willing to experiment and learn and operate as a lean start up.
In between this very solid advice the book also investigates the way that just as business life cycles are speeding up, so are career life cycles. During your career, you will need to reinvent yourself regularly.