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Are Your Marketing Fears Real?

www.BusinessEmpires.com

It’s been over 40 years since I earned a Master’s Degree, entered the workforce, and began dealing with small businesses on a daily basis.  That’s a fair amount of time helping business owners to be profitable, to expand, and ultimately to create jobs in the local economy here in central Utah.

I only say this so you’ll know what I’m about to tell you is not a guess, or a hunch, or just something I’ve read somewhere. It comes from years of daily exposure to small business owners and the personal struggles they have had to overcome. My own challenges in Internet marketing include most or all of these same fears that they have had and that you may be experiencing right now.

Every business owner has fears!  Fears serve an important purpose.  But fears are mostly irrational.  Fears usually hold us back and they must be controlled if we are to move forward in our businesses.

Here is my list of 10 very common marketing and business owner fears:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of the unknown or the future condition of your market
  • Fear of technology
  • Fear of being ridiculed
  • Fear of being rejected
  • Fear of law suits, judgements, or legal entanglements
  • Fear that your advice, product, or service isn’t worthy or “good enough”
  • Fear of breaking rules or conventions (accepted methods and practices)
  • Fear of competition or of big business putting you out of business
  • Fear of success (yes, this is very real to some people!)

(I’m sure there are others, but these I have witnessed firsthand in many business owners!)
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Fears are simply an emotional response to a perceived threat.  They are the brain’s natural answer to warn us of potential danger in our environment.  Some fears are rational and justified.  The fear of heights, for example, is very common and serves to warn us that extra precaution may be important to our safety.

Other fears are irrational.  Fear of being struck by lightning is very common yet the National Safety Council gives the odds of a human lightning strike during your lifetime as 1 in 126,158.  (BTW, only about 20% of those struck by lightning die from it.)  The odds of death due to heart disease is 1 in 7 (that’s a fear that can motivate you to change), death by firearm is 1 in 7,059, death by hornets-wasps-bees is 1 in 71,107, and death by dog bite is 1 in 122,216.

________________

What I want to tell you is that nearly all the fears (related to doing business) that I have had myself, and that I have observed in thousands of business owners, are very real to them but nearly always no danger actually exists!

Most people react to fear in one of two ways.  We confront the fear and try to overcome it (“fight”) or we flee from the fear thinking it might go away (“flight”).  You might be familiar with the phrase “fight or flight.”

Well I’m here to tell you there’s a third reaction to fear in Internet marketing.  Let’s call it “freeze” and add it to “fight” and “flight.”  We become paralyzed by our fears (“freeze”) to the point that we simply stop moving forward and do nothing.  You know, the “deer in the headlights” syndrome.

My advice to you is that most of our business fears are unfounded.  We worry and fret and stew over the fact that we might be ridiculed if we put ourselves out there, or a few customers will reject us (ask for a refund), or that we don’t know how to do something.

I have seen, first hand, businesses being flushed down the toilet simply because the owner froze when he met a technological challenge. Others have been stopped in their tracks because they didn’t believe their product was good enough or they were afraid to write on a topic because they weren’t an expert in the field.

You are not alone in your fears.  Confront them.  Get help if you need to in order to move on.  There is no actual danger to justify your fear.  Persist.  Figure out a way around, through, or over your business obstacles including your fears.

Here are several hints on how to overcome your fears from Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).  Read them.  Put them into practice.  They will give you strength and at least a little bit of courage.

12 Thoughts to Overcoming Your Fears

  1. “Fear always springs from ignorance.”
  2. “Always do what you are afraid to do.”
  3. “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
  4. “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.”
  5. “Without ambition one starts nothing.  Without work one finishes nothing.  The prize will not be sent to you.  You have to win it.”
  6. “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.”
  7. “Whatever you do, you need courage.  Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right.  To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.”
  8. “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.”
  9. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
  10. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
  11. “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.”
  12. “Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Master your fears or they will certainly hold you back.  Internet marketing presents the business owner with a lot of new and unfamiliar tasks and procedures.  A lot of it is frightening and most of it is intimidating.  But you can do this!  Others have and so will you.

To your online business success!

Steve Browne

www.BusinessEmpires.com

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Business in General

What Should I Sell Online?

www.BusinessEmpires.com

Many would-be entrepreneurs get stuck on the most basic of questions before they’re even out of the gate with a new business.  They know they want to make money online but they have absolutely no idea how they’re going to do it.

Often these same entrepreneurs will have a list of niches and maybe business models that they’ve been thinking about trying but they’re not sure how to narrow that list down to the top choice that they’ll eventually focus on for their new business.

When you get right down to it, this same stumbling point and resulting paralysis is actually felt by most people when they contemplate going into business for themselves.  They ask questions like:

  • Am I getting into the right niche?
  • Am I choosing the right business model?
  • Is this something I am going to enjoy?
  • What kind of income can I expect from this niche?
  • How much competition is there going to be?
  • How much time will I have to spend to reach my income goal?
  • Will I be able to establish myself as an expert in this niche?
  • How much is it going to cost to start my business?

These are fundamental questions that you’d better answer before you think about products to sell or you start building a web site or spending money on promoting your business idea.

So here are my suggestions to begin narrowing down the field if you haven’t decided on your business topic yet.  These ideas aren’t new, they’re not secrets and they are not my original ideas . . . but they are universally effective:

1- Have you visualized what kind of business you want to create?

Are you going after a million dollar business or will you be happy making $5,000/month?  Do you visualize having employees working with you or are you a committed solo entrepreneur?  Do you see yourself working 50-60 hours per week in your business or do you want a lifestyle business that takes 20 hours per week or less to run?  You see, the answers to these questions are going to allow you to cross some subject ideas off your list right now.

2- Have you done your niche research?

If you haven’t, you’re not starting in the right place.  Some niches will support the kind of business you envision; other niches won’t.  Some niches are extremely competitive and present a great challenge to entry.  Others will be easier to break into.  Again, the likelihood of success in any of the topics you’ve been considering will become more apparent as you thoroughly research the niche market.  I would think a 30-minute dive into niche research in each of your subject markets would be time well spent and you will see where the best opportunity lies.  After you’ve identified the one niche that you’re going to enter you should jump into the marketplace again and do more thorough research knowing that this is the place you’ll be setting up shop.

3- What do you really enjoy doing?

Could you be happy immersing yourself in every one of the topics you’ve included on your list?  Surely, some of these topics hold your interest better than others.  You see, entering a subject niche that you really enjoy will help you to focus on becoming an expert in that topic without feeling like it’s an agonizing drudgery.  You will look forward to working in the niche every day.  It’s critical that you keep up your spirits and enthusiasm for the subject … especially in the early lean times when the business isn’t producing much and as a new entrepreneur you are more likely to give up or question if this career is really for you!

4- Where does your past training, schooling, and work experience lead you?

One of the key elements of a great business is owner knowledge and expertise for his/her business subject.  Granted, you can learn what you need to know in most niches in order to become an expert.  But believe me, it really does help and give you a tremendous head start if you already know and understand the topic.  Do you already speak the industry jargon?  Do you have experiences and dealings in the niche that you can share with other?  Do you have friends, contacts, sources of information in the niche that could be an advantage to you as a business owner?  If so, the niche is a prime candidate for your consideration.  But don’t be blinded by your mastery of the subject because lots of people have specialized knowledge in subjects that don’t monetize well.

5- Where does your passion lie?

This is related to #3 above, but a little different.  Are you really jazzed up and excited to get going on a particular business?  Is it something you like to delve into anyway (despite wanting to create a business in the topic)?  The fact is this: business owners that really have a passion for what they do seem to be contagious.  It’s easy for prospects to get excited about something if they see the genuine love and excitement that an owner has for what he/she does!  Passion for your subject means you’ll willingly keep up with the latest news, events, changes, and happenings in the niche and want to share those with your like-minded customers and prospects.

6- What is the outlook and trend for each of your potential topics into the future?

You don’t want to sign on as the captain of the Titanic in your chosen niche!  You don’t want to invest you time, energy, and resources into creating and running a business in a niche that is dying or even slowly drying up.  If you’re really in business for the long haul, you need to understand that your efforts are going to be rewarded for years to come.  Some niches are evergreen.  Subjects like health, exercise, travel, relationships, dating and marriage, small business, self improvement, making money, etc, are always on people’s minds.  A great resource for determining subject appeal to the masses is Google Trends.

7- What are the barriers to entry in these niches?

Finally, it’s critical to be aware of barriers that could potentially thwart your business creation hopes in particular niches.  Are there licenses that need to be gained in order to become respected or qualified in the niche?  Is the cost of entry for needed software or product creation going to be more than I can comfortably handle?  Is the niche already saturated to the point that I can’t identify a unique position in which to place my business?  Is the business subject seasonal, limited in any way (geographic, cultural, etc), or not socially acceptable?  Is the business subject something that is blackhat, underground, sleazy, hateful, discriminatory or of bad taste?  (I would caution everyone to stay far away from subjects like porn, gambling, lotteries, anything illegal, immoral, or in any way in poor taste.)

So I’ve given you seven “filters” to run your ideas through.  If you are serious about starting a real business, apply each of these filters to your list of potential subjects and it will soon become quite apparent which topics you should eliminate and which you can confidently move to the top of your list.

After you finish this little exercise, you may still have two or three ideas that have risen to the top and pass all the tests.  Don’t fret.  It may be that any of them that you choose will lead you into a nice profitable business.  What you’ll have confirmed is that any of these remaining topics can serve you well.  Just choose one and be on with doing some detailed market research!

A word of caution:  Don’t try to juggle two or more new businesses at the same time.  Sure, you can add multiple streams of income later, but only focus on one until it is running profitably and giving you the income you want.  Don’t dilute or water down your efforts at the outset.  It’s very difficult to divide your attention and become profitable when you’re trying to figure out how online business works!

To your online business success!

Steve Browne

www.BusinessEmpires.com

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Backend Products

Customers vs. Clients – Do You Know the Difference?

www.BusinessEmpires.com

I’d like to talk about a way to conduct your solo business online that will bring you all the profits and business that you can handle.

What I’m speaking about has as much to do with your mindset as it does about your strategy or business system of operating.

If you will adopt an “MO” (a method of operating) that includes what I’m going to describe here, your business will automatically be differentiated from your marketplace competitors.

You will have a unique and wholly creative business that your clients will love and clamor for.

What I’m talking about has nothing to do with your chosen business niche, per se.

This model can be implemented in any niche market, with any product or any service.

In addition, anyone can adopt this business mindset as it is totally age, gender, culture, education, and experience independent.

Have you guessed yet what I’m talking about? Yes, the title of this post should have given the secret away.

First, let’s go to my huge Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and look up the definition of a customer.

Here it is:
cus-tom-er, n. 1. a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron. 2. a person one has to deal with; a tough customer; a cool customer.

It’s pretty easy to gain customers for your goods and services.

All you have to do is sell something – that’s it!

Once a person buys from you, they are automatically your customer.

Nothing else is needed.

No relationship exists, other than they have given money in exchange for a good they wanted.

Anyone can do this! Most businesses would prefer to have as many customers as they can generate.

It’s a simple and easy business principle.

Really nothing further is expected of customers.

Yes, your customer can buy from you over again if he decides to, but there are no further expectations or contracts to continue your relationship at this point.

Every one of your customers is free to keep purchasing from you or look elsewhere if he/she desires.

There are no strings attached.

Now, let’s focus on clients.

What is a client?

Here is Webster’s definition:
cli-ent, n. 1. a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc. 2. a person who is receiving the benefits, services, etc., of a social welfare agency, a government bureau, etc. 3. anyone under the patronage of another; a dependent. 4. a person seeking the protection, guidance or influence of another more prosperous or powerful.

I hope the distinction between customers and clients is becoming abundantly clear.

If you take on clients, there is the expectation (understood by both parties or not) that you are going to develop a relationship with them that will be in their best interest. You are committing to protect, guide and influence them in whatever subject you are teaching.

So what does this distinction mean for the business owner?

Here is my take on it:

I want people who come to my business to see themselves as clients rather than customers.

I want my clients to know that I will do my best to give them advice, counsel, products and services that will be in their best interest – not necessarily mine.

I welcome my clients to open a dialogue with me – to enter into a personal relationship which includes open and frank discussions about the subject of my business.

I welcome their suggestions, ideas, experiences, and especially feedback in the niche.

I will give them my personality, wisdom, and experience as it applies to the subject so they can understand my passion and qualification for being their teacher, coach, and mentor.

I will never purposefully lead them astray and I will always give them the guidance that I feel will best help them become successful in the niche.

Can you understand how the customer/business owner model of small business is so different from the client/mentor (coach) model?

Now I’m not going to get caught up in semantics. You can call clients “customers” if you want.

Some will call them “friends of my business.” Clients could be called “students” or “pupils.”

The important point is, the folks that come to your business for help can be treated like faceless customers who buy and are never seen again . . . OR . . . you can use your effort and influence to treat them as clients – people who are there for tutoring, guidance, and coaching by one who has great influence, power, or experience in the niche.

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have or what you sell – you can develop the mindset that everyone who walks through your business door will be treated as a valued client.

One more thing . . . if you decide to take on clients, there is an expectation that you can deliver something to them that the general public doesn’t have – specialized knowledge and skill in the niche.

Yes, you can learn this quickly, you can find it in other people that you work with, or you can organize and present the accumulated knowledge of other experts on the subject.

But somehow, you have to be able to give credible guidance and advice to people that rely upon you for direction.

As the owner of a business, you have the choice to go after one time customers or loyal clients.

Certainly, the client/mentor model demands much more from the business owner – that’s why very, very few owners ever accept this role and business model.

But think about the significant advantages of this type of business:

– Wouldn’t this kind of “TLC” really set your business apart from every other competitor in your niche? Truthfully, how many businesses can you think of that are personally concerned with the customer/client?

– Wouldn’t you be able to charge much more for your products and time if you give this type of personalized assistance? By all means.

– Wouldn’t your clients be much more likely to buy your products without a lot of hard selling on your part? Of course they would.

– Wouldn’t it take far fewer clients in order to keep your business humming? Yes, most definitely!

The decision is yours, and yours alone. I would seriously encourage you to step outside the norm and consider this unique and fulfilling business strategy.

To your online business success,

Steve Browne

www.BusinessEmpires.com

www.BusinessEmpires.com

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Backend Products

PLR Sales and Uses – Pros and Cons

Like many of my fellow Internet marketers, there was a time when I was very enamored with the thought of owning and operating a large PLR vending business.  It seemed like a great way to make money.

Other people did the work of creating products (mostly ebooks, audios, and videos) and all I had to do was gather them up, feature them on a large “catalog” type e-commerce site, and sell them to a hungry crowd of business owners looking for content.

Or so I thought …

I purchased my share of digital resale rights products, licensed to sell products, and private label rights products; and to this day, most sit on my hard drive collecting pixel dust because I never did get around to using them.  In addition, a large percentage of these products that I purchased proved to fall way short of the desired level of content quality that I wanted.

There are some notable exceptions, mind you, but that is a discussion for another day.

Still, I love the PLR model of selling digital information.  Think about how perfect it is . . .

  • You don’t have to create products
  • You don’t have to make graphics (typically)
  • You don’t have to write a lengthy sales letter (sometimes)
  • You don’t have to identify a hungry market (usually)
  • Everything is basically done for you … all that’s left is for you to do the selling of the product
  • It’s easy to come up with many related products if you want to “bundle” several together
  • You can set your own price point and you can claim incredible “total value”

I didn’t really think much about the negatives of this PLR business model … but I learned over time that there are several big ones which are substantial drawbacks to using PLR.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though.  Let me explain …

In case you don’t know, “PLR” stands for Private Label Rights.  It is a phrase that has come to be quite popular among Internet marketers.

The idea is simple.  Someone else (not you) creates a digital product, for example, an ebook.  The product could also be a video, an audio recording, a set of images, or just about anything else that is delivered digitally online.

The creator then sells that product for whatever he chooses, not once, but over and over again to PLR buyers.  The purchaser gets a “license” to turn that product into his/her own (private label) product(s) and sell or use it however he chooses.

The buyer of the product is sold a “non-exclusive right” to basically do whatever he wants with the product.  He can sell it “as is”, modify it, split it up into parts, add his own name as the author, change the title, add his own affiliate links, pretty much do whatever he wants with the original product.  Usually the creator will spell out the license rights in a separate document that is sent to the buyer along with the “source” copy the product itself.

Resale or resell rights (people use these terms interchangeably) is a similar concept except that you can’t usually change or modify the product – you agree to sell it “as is.”  Everything remains in the “label” of the product creator.  Thus PLR is a more flexible solution – you can make it your own private label (some call it “white label”) and differentiate the product from everyone else’s version.

It is a novel idea and one that appeals to a lot of folks simply because it gives them something to sell without having to go through the effort and time of creating the product themselves.

Product creators do well (usually) with a top quality product.  Imagine creating an ebook over the course of a week’s time, then selling the license to use it (PLR) to 250 buyers.

If the product sells for $19, that gives the creator a nice payday of $4,750 (less expenses of course).

Some smart marketers have learned that they don’t even need to do the labor of writing the ebook themselves since it can be outsourced to a ghost writer for a few hundred dollars.

So, why didn’t I follow through with implementing this business model?

I learned (over time) that there are some major disadvantages to PLR products:

  • Once sold, you can’t control the distribution or sales price of the product – which means it typically gets devalued almost immediately.  Why? Because everyone selling the same product tries to undercut all the other sellers in order to make a sale.  What you sold for $19, you will now see selling online for $17, or $15, $11.95, $9.97, $5.97, $2 or even being given away without cost.  The point is, you have no control of the future value of your creation.  Often a PLR seller will state in the product license something to the effect that “In order to maintain the value of your purchase, please do not sell this product for less than $14.95.”  That’s what the creator hopes … but in reality … he can not police or force the issue once the product has been sent to a purchaser.
  • Almost no one modifies the product.  Most PLR sellers are only interested in adding the product to their ebook line-up as quickly as possible.  Very few, in my experience, like to rework PLR ebooks or other products (even though that’s really what they are meant for and it’s the best way to make money with them.)
  • Digital products have a typically short shelf life.  That is something I learned quickly online.  New products are surfacing all the time and PLR creations don’t seem to have a very long life in most niches.  That means you must get them “live” and selling fast as they will be flooding the market very soon.  There are some exceptions of course when the PLR creator purposefully designs the product to be “evergreen” (timeless) and it has not been sold extensively.  Some PLR creators will only release a limited number of copies of a product in order to keep the value high.  Others sell PLR with a high price tag which can also have the effect of limiting the number of copies of the product in the marketplace.  If you join the mailing list of someone specializing in creating PLR products you will probably notice that the creator releases one product after another after another in order to keep the cash flowing in.
  • Everyone is competing selling the same thing.  Remember, very few sellers will modify a PLR work – not even to change the title and add a new e-cover.  Since there are so many competing sellers, the price drops and drops and drops.  Soon you will see folks giving the PLR product away freely (or as a bonus for another product.)
  • Finally (and this is the biggest disadvantage I have seen with PLR creations), the majority of the PLR products I have seen are poorly  researched, hastily written, and without unique and cutting edge information!  Sure, there are some great products coming out every once in a while, but for the most part, the industry is full of re-hashed, copied, or already available material.  I have seen PLR products that are nothing more than a compilation of other PLR products – PLR from PLR!  Is that what you want from a PLR product?

It’s typical that a buyer will not get to read the copy of the product until after making a purchase … so you can’t determine before hand what is good and what is useless dribble.  Sometimes a seller will reveal the table of contents or a single chapter as an example of the work.  What I have learned to do is to keep track of the PLR creators that produce top quality work – usually they will produce that same quality again and again.

It is a lucrative business to create products, devise a motivating sales pitch, maybe add a bonus report or two, and a copy of the license, then sell the PLR rights very quickly without further commitment for follow-up, customer service, etc.  Some PLR creators have a number of affiliates on board who are waiting to promote whatever the creator releases.  Then it’s on to the next PLR product.

But this lucrative business has led to a lot of outsourcing of authorship to people who don’t even have command of the English language and certainly aren’t experts in the niche they are writing about.  It usually shows in their writing.

Let me ask you … who is going to review the content in these PLR books – both in terms of the grammar and language, but also for sound and usable advice in the niche?  Who is going to assure that only quality niche content is published?  No one.  Compounding the problem is the fact that even though a PLR creator advertises the product as “top quality” it is a very subjective thing – judging the quality of a written work with regard for both grammar and content – and in my experience (I was an English minor in college) many folks really don’t have a good sense of what is quality writing and content and what is not!

I believe that most PLR buyers and Internet marketers that take action with their purchase immediately try to market their PLR products without even reading the content first before they offer it to others for sale.  Remember, speed to the marketplace is often an important selling advantage.

So, junk content flies under the radar while sellers and their affiliates push this garbage on to their customers without a clue about how good or bad the content may be.

Here are my “take-aways” if you want to get into the PLR game:

  1. Only buy top quality PLR products if you possibly can.  It comes with experience and knowing who the best PLR creators are at any given time and in specific markets.
  2. Look for “evergreen” products – those whose information will stay current for a long time to come.
  3. It’s best if the number of licenses available is controlled and small.  If you’re 1 of 25 – 50 others that can sell a product, that would be great.  Since many buyers won’t do anything serious with their product, you may actually be competing against only 10 or fewer other sellers.
  4. Don’t delay in getting your product to market – being the first to offer it is sometimes a real advantage.
  5. By all means, modify the product, especially the title, chapter headings, introduction and summary, and cover graphic so that it looks unique and no one will be competing with your branding of it.  It’s a good idea to modify the chapter order (if it doesn’t hurt the “flow” of the book), the transitions from section to section, and add at least some original content.  Add your own graphics and formatting style if you can.
  6. Think of a way to target your product to a specific crowd, a subset of the overall market.  If, for instance, you have a product about how to get traffic to a web site, put a twist on the product and make it specific to a subset of the larger universe … like how to get traffic to a real estate agent’s site.  You will lose all or most of your competition that way, those in the target audience will feel that the product was designed specifically for “me,” and you will then be able to easily “repurpose” the material for other specific market audiences as well.
  7. Combine a number of similar or related PLR products into a bundle or into a larger composite product.  All the original products will lose their identity and you will come away with a more comprehensive and valuable “bang for the buck” single offering.

I will tell you that there are a few marketers that make a very good living selling PLR products.  But there is a much greater pool of sellers that can’t figure out why their PLR site doesn’t do a good business.  Often, the best PLR sellers have a subscriber list of PLR buyers just waiting for the next product release.

If you stick to the suggestions I have given you, and try to avoid the disadvantages we spoke of, you may be able to make a nice living with PLR – either as a creator, a PLR marketer, or both.  Some product creators make good money selling their own creation for awhile then they release it later to the marketers and business owners as a licensed PLR “white label” product that can be sold by a niche business.

If the idea of PLR or content licensing appeals to you in your business, be sure to keep in mind that you are in control and it is up to you to understand and maintain the quality and type of content that your business releases!  Junk products will brand your business in a very negative light!

To your online business success!

Steve Browne

www.BusinessEmpires.com

www.BusinessEmpires.com

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