I waited patiently. I knew the question would come up. It always does when I talk to someone who recently got the entrepreneurial “spark”. You know that moment when you realize that your passion is something you can get paid for.
So I can just put up a website and people will buy my service?
There is whole lot between “build it and they will come” and your idea. You’ve got to invest in the marketing, planning, and host of “oh my goodness this is tough” moments.
Yes, you need a website. But before you spend a DIME, consider these three ideas FIRST:
1. Build your community before you build the site
So here is the dirty little secret – the website doesn’t lead to immediate sales. Yes, it might generate sales in the long term.
But first, people have to know you exist. And then, they have to be interested. And then with a mixture of prayer, a sighting from the Holy Mother, and pixie dust, they have want to buy.
Yup. That often takes months. And doing things that make newbie entrepreneurs uncomfortable like:
- Educating your prospects on why it costs $100/hour and you can’t just “google” it.
- Celebrating victories like your first interview or an article in a local paper
- Being willing to hear “no” a hundred times before you get to “yes”.
So before you start working on what colors you want, think about how you will build your community. How are you going to find people who will give a darn about what you are offering? Who is best suited for you as a future client? And how you are going to connect with them?
Which leads us into #2
2. Find out what people want
When you start building your site, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You have to master the details like:
- What do you want on your homepage? And why?
- What’s the prettiest/most functional/most gonna get them to buy website layout?
- What do YOU want to be known for?
And that’s before you get into the technical details like hosting, security, updates, etc. Yup. That’s where your head starts exploding!
Before you spend a dime with a low cost website developer (which btw is the WORST thing you can do for your first site), start talking.
Yes. Start marketing BEFORE the website.
And yes, I know this is something that makes most trained service professionals run for the hills. Because I’m telling you do something half-assed. Basically to put the cart before the metaphorical horse of making sure you look good on paper.
But there is a key reason. You need to start LISTENING to what people want. Not what makes YOU happy.
So, how does one start marketing with out a website? It’s super easy these days. Here are a few options:
- Video – Periscope, Facebook Live, Youtube
- Email marketing – Mailchimp account – Free for the first 2k visitors
- Social media business page – Facebook page, Pinterest, Twitter
Pick one of these platforms. Any one that interests you. Start a conversation. Invite your friends and encourage them to invite their friends. Toss out ideas. See what gets likes/hearts/thumbs up vs crickets.
The genius is you’ll get answers about what to focus on when you do build your site. You’ll have specific ideas about content that interests people. You’ll get ideas about service offerings. And you’ll definitely spend less of your time worrying the small details like what color or font to pick. No, you’ll be focused on your shopping cart. And what keeps it ringing.
3. Get a plan that works for you as a newbie
I’m not talking your Momma’s old school 50 page business plan. I’m talking a quick and dirty one page plan. A plan that outlines your idea and gets you flesh out your marketing strategy and sales plan.
Yes, the stuff that is making your hurl as we speak. The stuff that is creating hives. Talkkkkking to alot of people about why you. And getting them to buy from you.
Let me help you. We’ll keep it easy. Don’t overthink it. Consider these questions:
- How frequently will you commit to reaching out to your community/tribe?
- What are the 2-3 methods that you use to will reach them? (You only need to use what you are comfortable with at this point. )
- How will you measure if you are successful?
- How many sales do you need each month? Each year? (And yes, baby steps. Don’t worry about tons of profit yet)
- What specific activities are you doing to bring in buyers?
- What are you doing to improve your selling skills?
If you answer these questions, you are ahead of 80% of small business owners. It’s pretty easy to either sit down with a business coach or start moving forward solo with this plan. You can measure what is working and what isn’t – rather than waiting for inspiration or the latest fad.
Just remember: More will NOT work than will work.
But you need to measure it regardless. This is the place most people fail. They don’t want to know the numbers. Or the real truth.
So I encourage you to use these tools before you spend a dollar building your website. You’ll be surprised at how much faster you will move to regular sales by using these ideas!