Part 5 - How To Get New Customers

Part 5 - How To Get New Customers

Many readers are aware that I recently launched a new business and that I was having trouble enticing customers to the service. It just so happens the business is a new bird bath outside my study window and the customers are birds (the flying ones).

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Although there’s been a lot of funny anecdotes there has also been a serious thread of discussion about how to attract customers to a new business. Every new business has a vision of their ideal customer and a “full proof” plan on how to attract them. The problem is that years of experience has proved plans look great on paper and reality is something else entirely.

For example, I had a great vision of birds flocking to my wonderful bird bath and I would enjoy them singing away outside as they happily splashed away. My reality was a bird bath that was entirely ignored.

The one thing that a start-up has to their advantage is their ability to quickly change direction. If the plan isn’t working, then change the plan. Don’t burn more cash…..move!

In my case, I tried to entice the birds with bread. They loved the bread on the ground and completely ignored the bird bath. I then moved the bird bath. That still didn’t work so I moved it again. I constantly tweaked my “business” with the end goal of attracting my customers (ie. birds).

If a start-up is to succeed, then it must get customer feedback as fast as possible. There is no point in building the ultimate product that no one wants. For those people who tell you they love what you’re doing then ask them the same question with a charge attached.

I’ve seen so many businesses give their products/services away in the name of “market share” only to find that once they try to charge no one wants what they’ve built. A sale isn’t a sale unless ultimately there is a financial transaction attached. Anyone can give a service away…..it’s much harder to sell it.

So where am I at? As can be seen by the pictures I now have multiple different species of birds enjoying the bread and the bird bath. This is important as the different species indicate that I’ve now tapped into not just a single market but multiple different market segments.

Magpie

A start-up needs to quickly classify what customer segments are buying their products/services. This means really paying attention to what customers are buying versus the time wasters and then focusing your efforts to exploit the revenue opportunities.

I should say that my feathered customers are also paying customers. The other day, Roselyn and I woke up to a magpie warbling beautifully outside our bedroom window. That was payment enough for us both. For me, it was wonderful to know that I’d managed to successfully launch another little start-up business.

Battleframe

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10 Year Blogging Anniversary

10 Year Blogging Anniversary

Well, I can't believe it that today is the day of my 10 year blogging anniversary. I would like to thank all those readers that have been so encouraging across the last decade. You have inspired me to keep on writing.

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To say thank you to the entire industry I'm giving away a free downloadable copy of my book science fiction book, Battleframe, on Amazon. Click here to download your copy. Due to Amazon constraints, this giveaway is only available on the 8th and 9th April. I should mention that I wrote this book while travelling to many domain conferences and not surprisingly the central characters name is Whizzbang.

I've also recorded the above video where I share about some of  whizzbangsblog's history and why I decided to start writing. I hope you enjoy watching it and don't mind the enthusiasm I continue to have for our industry.

As a part of the 10 Year Celebrations I plan on releasing quite a number of new videos across this month that will cover a wide range of topics. So tuned tuned!

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Part 4 – Building a Business – Extending the Runway

Part 4 – Building a Business – Extending the Runway

In this article, I plan to pick up where I’d left off in the series on Building a Business. As you may have guessed from the title we will be exploring the importance of generating revenue and why it should be the fundamental goal for the vast majority of businesses. This may seem obvious, but so many entrepreneurs lose sight of the revenue in the quest for building a better widget.

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Revenue is the first part of the profit equation:

Profit = Revenue less Expenses

Many people look on this equation as being obvious without really understanding it in the context of a startup business. For a startup, the equation is all about runway. The less negative the profit is (ie. small the losses) the longer it will take a new business to run out of cash.

You can achieve this by hamstringing the business on the development side by reducing the expenses. This strategy often defeats the purpose of raising capital or being the first to market in a land grab. If you’re initially committed to your expense line, then the only other option is to generate revenue.

This then raises one of the largest challenges for a startup business. Short-term revenue versus long-term success. It’s often the leadership of the founder that empowers the business to achieve both.

For instance, should you go to the market with a half-baked product when you know customers won’t be enamored with the offering? If you launch into the market will competitors see what you’re doing and eventually eat your lunch? What is the PR implications of going to market now? These are just a few of the questions then plague founders.

On top of all this, focusing on revenue can be a complete distraction from the core objective. As a founder, you’ll suddenly find yourself managing a sales team (their often not that fun) who bring nasty things called clients that demand a level of quality from your half-built solution. This will then cause you to think about bringing onboard support staff. In the meantime, the core team wants to know where you are because you’ve been buried in all the noise.

So what gives first? I can tell you that it’s going to be your personal time which is quickly followed by waving good-bye to loved ones as you spend increasingly more time at work. On top of all this, the next board meeting with your investors will make you acutely aware of your shortcomings and the fact that you’re not hitting targets for what they invested in.

Does this sound like fun still? Remember the dreams you had in the bar with a few friends about building something great? Hang on to them and don’t let go as they are often the only way you’ll get through this patch.

What’s the solution to revenue? A number of years ago I watched an episode of the political drama “The West Wing” and the president of the USA was talking to one of his staff members.

President Josiah Bartlet: You got a best friend?
Staff Member: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: Is he smarter than you?
Staff Member: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: Would you trust him with your life?
Staff Member: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: That's your chief of staff.

It’s a really good job interview for the conditions in building a team and most notably the crucial role of your second in command. Every successful business that I know has been built not by an individual but by a high-powered team.

As the founder of the start-up you can’t be expected to do everything. If you try to then you’ll fail. Get good people around you and delegate the revenue task as the focus of your second in charge. I’ve found that in most start-ups there is low hanging fruit that will unlock some revenue without distracting the core.

Remember, the purpose of doing this is to lower the business’s cash-burn and extend the runway so the core product/service can be released. The danger with this approach is if the founder gets distracted by the revenue and loses focus on the vision….so keep your vision firmly in sight.

In the next article I will continue the discussion on revenue.

Battleframe

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Saturday Musings – What Goals Do and Don't Do…

Saturday Musings – What Goals Do and Don't Do…

Having a goal to aim for can be one of the most motivating things to keep you going during the good and bad times. How many of us have made a New Year’s resolution only to give up a week later?

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I was speaking to a person this past week that was so excited about what they were trying to achieve. As the conversation progressed I watched as their shoulders slumped forward as they despondently recounted that they didn’t expected to have to do so much work.

The first thing that goals don’t do is the work. If you expect that once you’ve set a goal that everything will just magically happen then you’re going to be in for a surprise.

Roselyn and I have had a goal to go away for our thirtieth anniversary. If we didn’t book the plane tickets, accommodation and work out some semblance of an itinerary then I can guarantee it isn’t going to be much fun. It’s taken a lot of time and effort to do these things…..and in our case, it’s for something fun!

If you’re constantly hitting your goals, then challenge yourself to dream bigger. Make your goals big and audacious! The whole point of a goal is to stretch you and inspire you to move into places where you haven’t been before. Having a goal is not the end game, it’s the start of a journey so make it a worthwhile journey.

Roselyn and I have a dream of completing the Milford Sound walking track. It’s a five-day hike through the mountains of southern New Zealand (think Lord of the Rings) and it’s a fairly challenging trek. Due to other commitments, we can’t do the hike for just under two years. Despite this, we’re already training and focusing on our overall fitness.

Having our goal doesn’t take away the pain of hunger from a sensible diet nor does it take away aching muscles after a weekend’s walk. What it does do is keep us centered on why we are doing what we are doing and along the way we feel a lot better 😊

Goals don’t inspire you if you don’t feed them. Every time we go walking, put on our hiking boots or pick up some new equipment from a hiking store we are reaffirming our goal and getting a little excited. Sitting on a side table in our family room is a photographic book of the Milford Sound trek and every now and then we pick it up to feed our goal.

Be honest with yourself and manipulate your own emotions (yes, I said manipulate) by feeding your goals. Talk about them with friends (not too much) and have things lying around that remind you why you’re on the journey. If you don’t do these things, then your goal will die and you will wonder why you’re looking at a documentary of someone doing a hike rather than experiencing it yourself.

Many people believe that goals should be inspirational and yet they feel burdened by them. How many times have you said that you’ll lose an amount of weight and it never happened? You end up using your goal as a whip to chastise yourself after you eat yet another cream puff. For me, these types of goals are really bad…..I just start to feel crushed by them.

Rather than talking about losing weight, have a goal of the type of lifestyle you would like to achieve. For example, it could be that you want to run around the backyard with your kids without puffing and panting. Now ask yourself, what needs to happen to achieve this goal? Losing weight is boring but playing with the kids is awesome!

As you may have guessed, I’m not a big fan of diets. The problem I see with them is people go on and off them and their weight goes up and down like a yoyo. Rather than going on a diet, quite some time ago I decided to make a lifestyle change for the better.

When I turned fifty it suddenly dawned on me that if I kept abusing my body the way I was with no exercise, bad diet and working crazy hours then I wouldn’t be around for Roselyn much longer. My first journey was to my doctor to get a physical to ensure there wasn’t any problems. The next was regular exercise and a complete dietary change.

Does it mean I don’t eat chocolate or anything like that? Not at all…..but I look on it as a special treat rather than a nightly munch. I’m well on my journey and my goal is not to lose weight (although that is nice) but as I said before, to trek the Milford Sound hike with Roselyn. We also have a lot more adventures lined up.

My goal would be meaningless unless I did something about it…..it’s also good to add a little spice every now and then on the journey. In my case, in a few minutes we’re off to the local hiking store to check out some gear.

So remember what goals do and in many respects that they don’t do.

Have a great weekend.

Battleframe

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A Simple Way To Sell More Domains

A Simple Way To Sell More Domains

Domain marketplaces are rewarded on a commission basis for bringing buyers and sellers together and doing whatever they can to ensure a transaction occurs. What domain investors need to appreciate is that a marketplace gets paid a commission on a sale transaction, whether it’s the individual investor’s domains or not.

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What am I getting at here. One of the most valuable assets that a domain has is traffic. In fact, there is a whole business model of monetization that is based upon the fact that advertisers love the traffic so much they are willing to pay a lot for it.

Ask yourself this question, “How much did a marketplace pay for your domains traffic?” Each day you are sending red hot leads into the marketplaces and yet most of those leads go to buying other people’s domains. My second question is, “What commission did you received on those sales?” Here’s the answer, zero.

The counter argument to this is the commission levels are set by taking into account the traffic. I don’t buy into this argument because if that was the case there would be differing commission levels based upon traffic and this does not happen.

So how do you get around this problem? The best solution would be to add all your domains to the various marketplaces so that they can receive offers via everyone else’s traffic. Then build a website that features your own domains.

On the individual domain pages have links that allows the buyer to purchase via each of the various marketplaces or via an Escrow buy link (then you'll be protected in the sales transaction).

All the sales links on your domain parked pages should then point to a page that features the domain inside your own website. This will then give the buyer the scope to easily view your other domains you have for sale that they may wish to purchase.

What you’re trying to do here is leverage your own traffic to help sell more of your own assets. If you don’t have any traffic then I wouldn’t bother with this strategy but if you do then you’d be crazy not to try it out.

I should state that I don’t have anything against the domain marketplaces…..in fact, I think that on the whole they do a good job. If they have created a large opportunity in their business models that can be exploited, then why wouldn’t you take it?

On the other hand, there is an opportunity for one of the marketplaces to break ranks and to pay a referral commission to the domain owner that originated the lead. Now that would shake things up a bit!

Battleframe

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