Updated: May 10, 2019
When you begin to input the numbers into your spreadsheet for your fledgeling business plan, how do you estimate yearly sales revenue? Unless you have prior experience of the industry, have worked for a competitor in a similar market or have access to someone else's sales data then you are merely plucking numbers out of thin air.
Sales budget forecasts always tend to be overly optimistic as any financial adviser will testify so how do you come up with some viable numbers? Without goals to aim for there can be no game.
For a start-up business, relying on revenues from a new website design can be particularly haphazard. It takes consistent effort over time (12 months or so) to begin making a dent in the search engine rankings and that in turn depends on many factors like the amount of competition you have and how healthy margins are in your niche. Predicting any kind of sales revenue in this environment is very much hit and miss.
Pay per click (PPC) is one way of generating fast revenue, but unless you are good at conversion optimisation AND have a great product, it is also a way to lose money quickly. You'll need to be adept at crafting winning landing pages, writing great headlines and building a super sales funnel using analytics tools. You can quickly make a PPC model on someone else's established practice, but you won't know that it works until you have spent the money and eliminated the poor performing keywords.
For any startup, trying to make sense of what can be achieved and in what time scale can be befuddling but here is a Phial of Galadriel to help you see your way in the dark.
Concentrate On Local Markets All the social media guru's tell you to think big and go for the big idea. This is the wrong way to approach internet marketing unless you are backed with deep pockets or heading for an IPO. For the rest of us, this means concentrating on local markets first and establishing a base from which all future expansion can take place.
Local marketing is a lot less expensive than trying to take on significant search terms from the outset. You can use Google my business as your first outpost and utilise local search engine listings which will have far less competition. They won't bring a horde of consumers all armed with smartphones and Samsung Pay banging on your door but it is a start and the links gained will serve you well.
Add your site to Brightlocal and Yell but don't let them talk you into expensive advertising campaigns that won't produce a return on your money in the beginning. I have blocked Yell numbers in the past for persistently calling me about their SEO plans.
Add your site to the niche search engines in your field. Here are some great places to get your site listed quickly and for free:
Optimising For Global Reach
The way to streamline your website for the best possible global reach is through on-page search engine optimisation (SEO). This involves the use of a spreadsheet to track every page on your website and keep a record of every page title, article heading and meta description.
If this seems like a lot of work, then it is! Particularly if you have a big product site but keeping track of all your pages in a spreadsheet is the way to generate excellent search engine traffic. Success on the SEO battlefield is hard-won, and nothing is easily gained. It takes a lot of patience and discipline to see results from SEO and this is something most people don't have time for.
Here is my spreadsheet for webuildstores.co.uk where you can see the level of detail a good SEO expert goes into. Not only does this ensure that every page on your site has unique page titles and descriptions but it also serves as a roadmap for your internal linking plan.
Internal linking is often overlooked as a tool in the SEO arsenal, but it is one of the most cost effective methods of moving your site up the search engine rankings. My good friend Andy at IQSEO has a brilliant resource dedicated to internal linking for SEO which will serve as your guide if you are doing this yourself.
Building Your Universal Brand
Your business is going to be a lot different from mine, but mostly we have the same aims and goals. Gain customers, provide them with a great product or service and make a profit.
Building a universal brand is an extension of building on your local business success. But you can also use subtle imagery and slogans designed to help broaden your appeal to broader markets from the outset.
For example, this logo design would be perfect for a roving photographer or writer. Changing the slogan alters the perception of the business.
Instead of using the same cliched imagery as every other photographer (think wedding photographers), by using unique imagery you can elevate your brand above the usual dull and insipid designs that proliferate on most websites.