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June 2009
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6 Steps To Take Your Internet Business To The Next Level

If you’ve got an Internet business, or run a website to promote your local business, but you’re  ready to go beyond the newbie stage and take it to the next level, then these easy steps will help you to build a stable, consistent income.

1. Whatever your products or services are, you’ve got to learn to SELL them.

Many people feel that “sell” is a bad word, and no one likes to feel like they’re being sold.  You can be a cheerleader for your products without having to do a hard sell.  Learn to create sales messages that make people WANT to buy your products.  Instead of “selling” them, you should be helping your customers make sound buying decisions by showing them the benefits of your products and how they can improve your customer’s lives.

Newbies tend to focus on building blogs and websites, search engine optimization and social media.  Although these are great ways to build traffic, and these activities are terrific for market research, they don’t really involve SELLING, so they won’t make you “real” money. 

Switch your focus to selling, in a way that helps your customers, and it will take your business to the next level. 

2.  The real money is in your customer list.

Collect email addresses however possible.  Ask customers in your store to fill out cards with their email address so you can send them coupons or specials.  Add a checkbox to your online order forms asking your buyers for permission to email them occasionally.  Put a subscription box on your home page so that it’s convenient for people to sign up for your mailing list. 

It costs four to seven times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to sell to an old one, so focus on building a relationship with your customers.  This will not only save you money and increase sales; it will help turn your customers into raving fans!

3.  Learn to test your messages.

Once you’ve got a mailing list of email addresses you’ll need to keep in touch with your list to keep them “warm”.  In general you should plan to email them at least once a month, but not more often than once a week. 

The best marketers perform lots of “split tests”, where they create two different messages and send one message to half the list and a different message to the rest of the list.  This technique is extremely useful for figuring out what your customers really want so you can give it to them.

For example, you could send out two different coupons to see which pulls the best response.  Send half your list a 50% off coupon, and send the other half a “buy one, get one free” offer, then keep track of how many coupons of each type people actually use.  This knowledge will help you create offers that encourage your customers to buy more.

4.  Automate your processes.

When you’re running a small business, your staff is typically pretty limited.  In fact, many of us are on our own, doing all the chores necessary to get the business off the ground or keep it running.  If you find yourself spending 10-12 hours a day taking care of all the various minor activities that are required, then there are only two ways to create more time in your day – either hire some help, or automate your processes.

You could enlist some family members for help if needed, or hire a temporary employee from an agency during peak business periods, but the most cost effective way to carve more time out for yourself is to automate as many processes as you can.

If you’ve got an eBay store be sure to setup personalized automatic notification emails so you don’t have to respond to each buyer personally.  Use your email program to send automatic responses to customers that say something like “thanks for writing in, we will respond within 24-48 hours”.  Manage your schedule online and even share it with others for free if you’d like with Google Calendar.

Once your email list grows beyond 50 to 100 people, we highly recommend using a professional email service such as AWeber to take control of the list so you don’t have to manually take care of things like adding and removing subscribers and scheduling emails.  There are a number of terrific services out there, but we’ve used AWeber for years and think they’re the best because they make it so easy to do split tests and track clicks on the links within emails.

5.  Create a follow up sales machine.

Now that you’ve learned how to sell without “selling” and you’ve got your email list started, you need to create a series of informational emails to send to your list.  Gather together any free reports, project tutorials, patterns or designs that you may have available, then load them up in your mailing service’s autoresponder  to be sent out to people at set intervals once they sign on to your list.

Marketing studies show that consumers must see a product or sales message 5 to 7 times before they decide to buy.  On the other hand, most marketers only send 2 to 3 messages to a prospective buyer before they quit.  So all they’re doing is warming up the prospect for the next seller that comes along!

Don’t give away your sales by neglecting to follow up.  Making the follow up process automatic can have a tremendous impact on your business’ bottom line, and you only have to do the work of setting it up once.  Be sure to track the links in the automatic emails so you know which are most effective.

6.  Outsource anything you’re not comfortable doing.

You don’t have to be a techy to take your online business up a notch!  Think about what components or services you could add that might benefit your customers, and then go to, or even CraigsList to find someone with the skills to set it up for you.

For example, if you’d like to setup a free WordPress blog but don’t have a clue how to do it, then post a free ad on Craigslist or visit a freelance site like those listed above to get someone to set it up for you.  You should expect to pay from $20 to $40 for the service, but be sure your agreement is that you pay either nothing up front, or only a deposit of say 25-50%, until the job is complete and you’re happy.

All of these are quick and easy methods to help you really ramp up your business in a short amount of time.

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Author, Instructor & Pattern Designer


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