The conventional path to take when your business is looking to increase sales and boost business is to find ways to expand your “platform.” People will tell you to “increase your reach” and “grow your list.” The problem with this is, unless you have a lot of money or get incredibly lucky, chances are you’re not going to get the results you want right away. It’s one of the biggest myths in the world of marketing and is holding many business owners back from taking their organization to the next level.
Why shouldn’t you focus on growing your platform as the first path to building your business? This strategy is slow, unpredictable, and expensive.
This is the theory of Angela Lauria, Founder and CEO of The Author Incubator, a multi-million dollar company she built before developing her platform of followers and audience. Today she shares some unconventional advice on what you can do to boost your sales and make an extreme impact on your business without investing time and money to your platform.
Pick something and sell it. Although it sounds incredibly simple – maybe even too simple — this is the ideal way to grow your platform because you’re closing sales and getting new customers simultaneously. “Make something sellable and SELL it,” emphasizes Angela. “Unless you have $10 million burning a hole in your pocket, there is an easier way to grow your impact and your business than building your platform.”
Angela’s lesson here is to look at the numbers that go into building a successful business a year. For example, if you are a service provider selling a $1,000 product, then you only need to sell to nine people each month to have a six-figure business. To have a seven-figure business, you need to sell to fewer than 90 people each month.
What she’s saying is when you’re building your company, only initially focus on finding the nine people each month who will buy from you, then find 19, then 29 and so on. You don’t need to spend all of your operating capital (or worse, go into debt) to grow your social media platform to one million followers. You only need nine customers to create cash flow.
In our current entrepreneurship culture, it’s actually become cooler to have millions of social media followers or millions of YouTube views than to actually make any money. The flaw with this mindset is that it makes success seem very unattainable to new businesses. And, in fact, that type of outcome is unattainable for new businesses in the beginning unless you are starting with a huge marketing budget. It takes a significant amount of time and even more money to first build a large fan base on social media or a mailing list and then even more time (and money) to dial in a model to monetize it.
Don’t worry about any of that until you have a business that has cash flow, which is what you build from the old-fashioned way of doing business: meet people and ask them to buy what you sell. It’s amazing how the personal, face-to-face way of selling is overlooked by so many. Direct selling typically has a higher conversion rate than selling to your social media following — at least until you’ve built a very strong brand and a proven model for monetizing your audience.
You Can Make Anything Sellable
Anything that solves a problem people pay for can be sold. It’s important to remember that, as long as you package something and make it sellable, you don’t need a platform if you can find people who have that problem. For most people, their list and platform are comprised primarily of non-buyers. If people learn about you and don’t buy from you within 30 days, then they probably never will.
Ask yourself, “What can you sell today?” and “What do you have the experience and knowledge about that you can help someone else with right now?” Think about how can you get that message out quickly and imperfectly in a way that creates value for others. Then, sell it to them at a fraction of the value it creates.
What Do You Have to Sell?
Now that we’ve established that you need something to sell, you need to find something to sell. Co-Founders and Co-Chairmen Bill Guthy and Greg Renker didn’t have anything to sell when they first started. Angela elaborates, “Both men had generated thousands of dollars from the ideas in Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich. Rather than grow a platform, they identified the value of the book and created a companion program.”
They thought about their experience and knowledge. Using what they knew, they got the message out into the open and framed it in the manner that created value for others. The duo grossed $10 million within their first year.
It’s much easier to make something sellable than it is to grow a platform. A bigger platform isn’t relevant in the long term. Yes, it makes new products easier to sell, but this is something that will build itself on autopilot by creating something that has real value.
Angela goes on to explain, “Making something sellable and selling it is a LOT easier than growing your platform, and here is the crazy fun side effect — when you do it, you know what you end up with? A bigger platform. At that point, it won’t even matter to you.”
How Can You Create Value?
Whatever you sell must create value. Whenever you happen upon an idea for your product, ask yourself whether it’s adding value to a customer’s life. Consider what customers are getting for their money and whether it’s going to transform their lives going forward. That’s the essence of a successful product. Nobody will care that you don’t have an established platform or brand.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.