|I did a survey this week while applying to a program sponsored by Jay Abraham. The very detailed survey/questionnaire got me to thinking more about my business model. It's changed over the years as on-line and email marketing have changed.
Since I test constantly, and adjust to my test results, I thought I'd share parts of my business model... but not my numbers... with you ;-) Maybe it will give you some ideas you can use.
Like many "Internet marketers" I believe that the money is in the list. The only problem is that it's getting harder and harder to maintain contact with that list. Still, I publish a number of ezines and courses as a way of building relationships with my lists.
When I first started publishing in 1997, it was fairly easy to get new subscribers just by asking them to join your list. There are so many lists today... many of them nothing more than advertising... that you have to really sell people on the "value" of your list. That's the biggest change I've noticed for people just starting to build a list.
Over the years, I went from leading with my free ezine, to leading with my free Internet marketing course. This is a 20-lesson course, offered via email from my homepage at http://williecrawford.com/ I lead with the course because it has a higher perceived value and actually sells many people on joining my ezine list later. They're prompted in the lessons to sign up for the ezine :-)
I'll let you in on a secret here. About 2 years ago, one of my mentors suggested that not everyone wanted to wait 10 weeks to get all of the lessons in my course. He suggested also offering the course in ebook format, and charging a nominal fee. I implement that... and went one better, offering the deluxe and super-deluxe versions of the course (on CD and in print format). Naturally, I piled on a few bonuses with the upgrades. That worked great creating a revenue stream from something I had previously been GIVING away.
I still offer the free, email version of the course, but a major percentage go for the upgrade. That has a secondary benefit of not only providing name and email address but full contact information on those clients since that's required to verify the credit card purchase.
You can study how I implemented using a course as a list-building tool, and lead generator, at http://williecrawford.com/
If you're familiar with the funnel system of marketing, you understand that you use lots of different tools to attract new prospects. Then over time, you develop a relationship with them. They gradually go from prospects, to subscribers, to customers/clients. Then, theoretically you just offer your clients the products and services they want and they'll buy from you forever. It's a little more complicated than that but not too much more.
Let me share with you several more pieces of my funnel system:
Given the challenges of getting email through, I've now gone to offering podcasts. With podcasts, your clients subscribe to an RSS feed, and software such as iPodder downloads your audio message to their computer or listening device. Tools such as iPodder check for updates at a specified interval, download the updates, and your subscribers listen to the recorded broadcasts at their convenience.
I started out offering "Premium Podcasts." These are podcasts that contain such useful information that subscribers will actually pay you to listen to them. This takes more work that just putting out a regular podcast since you really do have to work at providing tremendous value, or you lose your subscribers very quickly.
I use an old marketing tool (the free sample) to get new subscribers to my paid podcasts. They get the first 2 weeks free. In that time I need to deliver enough value that they'll want to stay subscribed. After the two week period, I charge only $10 per month for the subscription. The price is low enough that I should have a very high retention rate. I've not been doing this long enough to know what that rate will be long-term.
If you'd like to check out how I've implemented my premium podcasting model, you can check it out at: http://williecrawford.com/premium-podcast.html This very simple webpage shows you how I've set it up.
If you'd like to know more about the premium podcasting service I use to run the whole thing, check out: http://williecrawford.com/profitable-podcasting.html
If you aren't listening to podcasts yet, you're missing a lot of good stuff. You can download tons of recorded broadcasts and then listen to the MP3 at your convenience. I mentioned iPodder earlier because it's the free software that I downloaded and installed on my laptop. It works beautifully. You can grab it at:
A big part of my business model is setting up things that offer recurring income. That way, you do the work once and get paid for a long time. That's the idea behind the premium podcasting service... although I do have to continuously create new recordings. However, I don't need to constantly chase after new customers. The service that I use will actually drive customers to me. Word of mouth also generates a lot of new customers.
Other low-cost tools I use to build relationships with my customers include my discussion board, and my blogs. The blogs are an excellent way to get information out without having to contend with email. The blog posts are syndicated as RSS feeds. Lots of visitors have subscribed to my RSS feed. Just as important, lots of websites have subscribed to my RSS feeds and integrated my content right into their websites. This is a great way of getting new customers by having other webmasters indirectly endorse you. If you'd like to see how I've implemented my blogs, you can check out the "Internet marketing" one at http://williecrawford.com/blog/
While we're on getting endorsements from others, writing articles and allowing them to be published on others websites, in their ezines, and in their ebooks works great at attracting customers. Getting your articles on others websites is also a GREAT way to get one-way links pointing to your website. That's why I've written over 350 articles over the years. They can be as simple as this one, which will undoubtedly appear on hundreds of websites eventually.
Back to the recurring income... another proven part of my model is a membership site. Membership sites can be low maintenance, and produce tremendous customer loyalty. Mine is fairly simple. It's a collection of software, ebooks, and MP3 recordings relevant to internet marketing. Many of the recordings and ebooks are one of a kind, and that's my edge over other membership sites. That's the secret... the easiest way to distinguish your membership site is to make it unique. The easiest way to do that is to produce, or have produced, your own unique content.
So there's a quick "down and dirty" on the revenue model that has proven to work for me. On the backend I do upsell from inexpensive ebooks, to course, to video products, to live seminars, to personal coaching and consulting. It's really fairly simple.
I'll end by pointing out that one success factor most struggling Internet marketers seem to miss is that exclusivity or uniqueness is often what makes an item sell. Even if you're marketing something sold by tens of thousands of others, find a way to make it unique and you'll do well.
About the author:
Willie Crawford is a veteran Internet marketer who's been
running successful online businesses since 1996. You
can learn from Willie in-person at numerous upcoming
seminars in London, New York, Miami, Denver, Orlando,
Atlanta, and Phoenix. Much of Willie's schedule is posted
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