Make sure that any business resolutions you make form part of a well-constructed business plan
In the spirit of the season, with people making -- and breaking ;-) -- their resolutions, I wanted to stress the importance of making sure that any business resolutions you make form part of a well-constructed business plan.
And it can't be just a sample business plan and a static plan. It should be one that you review regularly along with a close examination of your web site's traffic stats and sales figures. This approach will allow you to spot new profitable opportunities, identify and help solve problems... and incorporate new goals and strategies into your business -- like the three we're going to cover in just a minute.
A thorough review of your business is really THE best way to ensure that you accomplish your main business objective for the year -- whether that is generating a certain amount of profits or launching a new product.
At this point I should say that if you don't have a sample business plan, please go make one now! Seriously, right now! Check out our sample business plan for details on how to plan for your success.
Here's an example of the importance of a plan... Many people buy themselves a gym membership at this time of year with the objective to "get fit." Well, I'm no fitness guru, but to have any chance at all of accomplishing this goal, it's vital to create a fitness plan containing other smaller goals -- like lose 5 pounds by March, 10 pounds by June, and so on.
Not only does ticking off these smaller goals within your sample business plan and overall plan keep you motivated, but keeping track of progress in this way lets you see how close -- or far -- you are from achieving your main objective. Not having a plan means many people who join gyms use their membership twice in January and then never again... with the only thing getting leaner being their bank balance!
That's why it's so important to go for a sample business plan and make a business plan and set achievable goals -- it's your road map to success and a beefier bank balance!
You should always be planning different ways to improve your success and get more profits in your pocket... So with that said, let's jump right into the three killer strategies that are hands-down the best sample business plan for making 2005 your most profitable year yet.
Key strategy #1:
Improve your sales process and convert more traffic into sales
Do you get regular traffic to your site? Once your visitors get to your site, how long do they stay? How many of them buy?
The best way to improve your sales process is to start by looking at your web site stats. These are a goldmine containing priceless nuggets of information, like how much traffic your site is getting, how people travel through your site, which pages are the most popular, and where your visitors are coming from.
By analyzing these stats, and looking at them alongside your sales figures and online promotions, you can work out things like what proportion of your traffic is being converted into sales, and which promotions or online campaigns are working better than others.
You'll then find yourself with a much clearer picture of your sample business plan and your business overall, and a good idea of what you need to change, improve, or build on.
If your web stats show good traffic levels but low sales figures, then you need to tighten up your sales process. Review both your salesletter and your order form -- even just a few tweaks can make a HUGE difference.
If people are leaving your web site from the sales page without clicking through to the order-form, then the salesletter is simply not doing its job in convincing visitors to buy your product or service.
In this case, it's time for a salesletter tune-up. First stop -- your headline. Make sure that it's compelling, will resonate with your target market, and contains the main benefit of your product or service.
ensure that your body copy builds your credibility, focuses on the BENEFITS (not the features) of your product or service, and includes testimonials and a strong guarantee.
Another quick fix is to make sure that your P.S. reinforces the main sales messages. (Remember, many people ONLY read the headline and P.S.)
And, of course, the call to action is very important in the sales process. It should state EXACTLY what you want the person to do next, how they can do it, and that you want them to do it NOW! It's the bridge between the salesletter and the order form.
Your order form:
If your web site stats show that people are abandoning your site at the order form stage without placing an order, then there may be something wrong with it. Is it too complicated? Does it have a different "look" from the rest of your web site? Are there links on the order page to other web sites or other pages on your site?
First, you must make sure that your order process and the form itself are easy to understand. To help people follow the process, provide a step-by-step guide that leads buyers through the ordering process, spelling out things like how to fill the form out, how the product will be shipped, when their credit card will be charged, and so on.
This could be on the order form itself -- allowing a buyer to read it as they complete the relevant steps. The form itself should have a simple layout with all the information fields arranged in a logical, easy-to-follow sequence. Use the "KISS" principle -- "Keep It Simple, Stupid!"
As far as possible, the order form page should have the same "look" as the rest of your web site. Keep it clear and uncluttered -- there should never be other distractions on the page like images, irrelevant copy, advertising, or links to other sites that take the buyer away from your site. You want them to focus on filling out the relevant information.
It's a good idea to reassure people that they are making a safe, secure purchase when they access your order form, by saying something like, "Welcome to our secure online order form."
Key strategy #2:
Offer a "backend" product that's an easy sell to your existing customers
Statistics show that 30% of your existing customers are guaranteed to buy from you again. It makes sense... you've already done a lot of the hard work establishing your credibility and proving that you run a reputable business that gives your customers what they want.
So, offering another "backend" product to your existing customers can be a great way to boost your profits without eating into your marketing budget.
A backend product can be any one of a number of things. For example, if your site sells cameras, new products could include:
- An add-on to your existing product, such as a new lens for a camera
- A relevant information product, like an eBook containing photography tips
- A complementary product, like a bag for the camera
... And so on. Sit down and come up with a list of products related to yours that you think your market might be interested in.
Remember that the key to finding any new product is to identify a problem that your customers have and then come up with a product or service that solves it for them. Always read and keep any feedback or comments you receive from your customers -- positive and negative. You can also solicit feedback through a customer survey or questionnaire.
In addition, you should also be constantly assessing the needs of your target market by reading the publications that they read, and visiting the web sites, online forums, and blogs that they visit. And don't forget to check out your competitors' sites!
When you've found a suitable product, launching it to existing customers is easy. You already have their contact information, so you can simply e-mail them a promotion highlighting the problem they have, and explaining how your new product or service will solve it.
You can even use your customer feedback as a selling point, saying something like, "I've listened to feedback and comments from my customers, and can now offer you a product I just KNOW you're going to love..."
Key strategy #3:
Set up an affiliate program to drive tons more traffic to your site and boost your sales
How would you like to have a network of other people to do your selling for you? Well, in a nutshell, that's what an affiliate program is. An affiliate is someone who promotes your product on their web site in return for a commission on every sale that they send your way.
There are a number of reasons why you should consider this top-notch strategy for your business:
- It can drive TONS more traffic to your site
- There are ZERO advertising costs -- affiliates do all of their own marketing
- There is no risk to you, since you only pay your affiliates after they've made the sale
- You gain exposure to new target markets through the e-mail lists and web sites of your affiliates
The fact is that affiliate programs are one of the most powerful ways to market online, and almost every product or service will be MUCH more successful if you offer an affiliate program for it.
You can find affiliates by putting a page on your web site inviting people to apply, and by approaching sites that you think have a similar target audience.
Starting and managing an affiliate program can be done one of two ways -- you can go through a provider or do it yourself. Using a provider like Commission Junction, or Linkshare can be very expensive, so it's well worth looking into managing the program yourself.
An affiliate program is a highly effective strategy for generating swarms of new traffic and multiplying your sales -- with minimal effort and cost on your part.
It doesn't matter whether you're making $100,000 or $10,000 a year from your Internet business, or whether you sell kettles or sports cars -- all three of these strategies will work for your business. I know, because I've used them all and continue to use them, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that they work.
But they will always be even more effective if you spend some time every so often reviewing your sample business plan, setting new business goals, and taking a close look at your web stats and other areas of your business where you could make improvements.
Carrying out a regular business review in this way is just like giving your car a regular check-up -- you just need to stick your head under the hood of your sample business plan now and then to make sure everything's running smoothly.
And whether it's adding some new parts or just making a few tweaks here and there, you can always find ways to make it run even better!
Look into our sample business plan for details
on how to plan for your success.