Starting an online health business can seem a daunting task.
It can be riddled with overwhelm and frustration, leaving you question why you even came online in the first place.
I’ve been down this path and it’s not fun.
After struggling for the first 3 years of my online business, I eventually turned things around and have enjoyed a good degree of success that has allowed me to help over 500,000 men and women to better health, write 3 published books, become a NYT bestselling author, and be regarded as one of the most trusted and respected authorities in the health space.
Here, I want to show you what I’ve learned over the past 10 years online and give you 6 NEW rules of marketing and entrepreneurship that you must obey if you want to grow your online business to have more impact, make more money, and enjoy more freedom.
As I said, I made a lot of mistakes when I started out in business. And I learned very quickly where to focus my attention. I want to provide some of those insights with respect to where we are going with marketing.
While it’s important to remember that things are always shifting and changing online, we also have to remember that the fundamentals of human behavior will always remain the same.
The key is to honor the fundamental principles of what it takes to persuade and influence people – obviously, in a very ethical manner – and tapping into some of the trends and future developments on the Internet.
Leveraging Yourself to Help More People
At Healthpreneur, we stand against suffering and not living your BEST life. We stand against living a life of desperation, of waking up early in the morning and collapsing into bed late at night, dealing with energy-draining clients every single moment of the day.
We’re all in this field because we really care about helping people. But what I want to talk about is how to help many more people in a way that allows you to leverage yourself so you’re not struggling hour-by-hour and trading time for money every single day just to pay the bills.
I started out as a personal trainer during my second year of university to get more practical experience. During the process I started to really enjoy helping people lose weight and get fitter. It was a gratifying process.
If you’re a trainer or nutritionist or naturopathic doctor or anything else, you can relate to that feeling of being able to help people.
I worked probably 10 to 14 hours a day, waking up at the crack of dawn during the winter, when it was still dark outside, fighting to make it to my clients’ house or to the gym, and going through the day thinking, Is this it? Is there something else I should or could be doing?
Ultimately, my goal is to help 100 million people by 2040 improve their health and fitness. (I also want to help 1000 (or more) Healthpreneurs 10x their online business so we can collectively help even more people).
I realized that training people one-on-one was not going to make that happen.
I’ll make a very long story short. After training clients for a number of years, I stumbled upon the Internet. This was in 2006, when I had a client who recommended that I develop a product people could listen to on their iPod. We became one of the first companies in North America to do that.
That started to free up my time because I was able to create things I would normally be doing on an hourly basis with my clients, and I was able to deliver those in an automated format via the Internet.
Since then, we’ve created over 500 information products online. By “information products,”
I simply mean how-to types of products within the fitness and nutrition space that have helped thousands upon thousands of people.
I want to help you do the same, if you so choose.
The New Rules of Online Business
If you know me, then you probably know a little bit about how I like to do business. If you don’t know me, then what I’m about to share with you is going to give you insight into my philosophy and give you a very good picture of where things are going with respect to marketing.
What I’ll be sharing is not just me making stuff up. I’ve spent a lot of time and money surrounding myself with the leaders in not only the health/fitness/nutrition community, but also thought leaders in business and entrepreneurship.
I spent time with the CEO of Ogilvy, which is the largest ad agency in the world. I’ve surrounded myself with the top entrepreneurs and with best-selling authors. I’ve spent more than $150,000 on coaching, masterminds, and my own personal development in the past 18 months alone.
I’m constantly growing and learning how to improve myself, improve my business, and to get a cutting-edge understanding of where things are heading in the future.
Rule #1: Give People An Amazing Experience
The first new rule I want to discuss is this notion of experience versus price.
We have the luxury of being in a business that, for the most part, allows us to be personalities in our communities. We are thought leaders, we are industry transformers, and we are experts.
We are able to create a very unique personality-based business, which essentially means that we do not become commoditized.
If you sell a product, for instance, your goal is to create it so that potential customers do not compare your $99 product to another product they can buy somewhere else.
Essentially, what makes you different is you.
That’s why I’ve always firmly believed that even if there are a million people doing this thing of helping people get healthy, that means that there are a million potential awesome new businesses to develop.
Every single one of those businesses is run by an individual expert, an entrepreneur, who has their own story and can bring their own uniqueness to that brand, to that product, and create something truly magical for their clients.
We live in a unique time of abundant opportunity.
You are you. You are different than I am. What makes you unique is the way you do things.
For example, you might decide to create a very unique and “wow” experience for your customers at a higher price point for a very similar type of product or end result that somebody else might create by simply offering an e-book.
Where we’re heading in the future is really about experience as opposed to just a product.
In times of high technology, like now, there’s an increased need for high touch.
If you think about this, even though we are all connected more technology with Facebook, Google, and all this other social media platforms now, we’re disconnected interpersonally.
There’s a huge opportunity to go above and beyond by creating incredible experiential types of services attached to your products. That can really separate you from the herd on two fronts in terms of price and in terms of positioning.
Say a typical entrepreneur publishes an e-book. They charge $47 for it, their customer downloads it, and that’s it.
That’s typically the way things have been done online.
However, I believe that we’re going to see products and services that have the ability to be higher-priced because they offer consumers a higher touch point.
There are things you can do to improve the customer experience, to be more connected with them on a more personal level.
For instance, that might be doing a small-group virtual-coaching type of accountability program to help people with their initial weight-loss product they’ve purchased from you.
There’s a lot of technology now that’s allowing us to integrate our service, our personality, our human touch to those people’s lives and really give them an amazing, unique experience.
We’re in a position to create amazing opportunities for our clients and customers, and it doesn’t mean we have to spend a lot of money to develop wild new products.
Do What Fits You
I want to plant this seed in your mind of what you can do in your business, in your funnels, your buying cycle to create a great experience for your customers.
One of the things I’ve done in my personal business is use a lot of video. Video, for me, has been very natural. It’s a very seamless fit for my business and personality.
The reason I use video is because one of our core values is to connect and bring back that human touch to a digital experience.
For the most part, our websites have some type of video. Usually it’s me on camera without a script – I don’t script any of my videos – and it’s just me as a real person connecting with my potential customer, saying, “Here’s who I am. This is what it’s all about. This is how it’s going to help you.”
We’ve split-tested video versus non-video, but at the end of the day, whether or not video on the page decreases or increases sales, I haven’t found it’s a significant bump either way.
But what it does do is allow me to bond with my current and future customers, allowing them to feel that they know me.
The other thing that’s been great about using video is that YouTube, since day one, has been one of our best sources of customers and traffic.
The reason for that is because I have more than 800 videos on YouTube showing people how to lose weight, get fitter, work out properly and prepare healthy meals.
Video allows people to have a more personal experience of who Yuri is.
What we’ve found based on success stories and testimonials is that they all starts the same way: “Hey, Yuri. I saw a bunch of your videos on YouTube. I love what you’re doing. I ended up buying your Eating for Energy program,” or something else.
It just goes to show that people want to take the time to go deep with you. Video provides an awesome opportunity for creating that experience with your customers.
I’m not saying you have to do video but you do need to find your superpower and exploit to the fullest as a means of serving those you want to impact.
People Buy From People, Not Companies
I really believe that your potential customers are looking to do business with real people, not big brands.
This is your opportunity to highlight who you are as a person.
There are going to be arguments on this point, whether it’s better to build a personality-based business versus a more generic, product-based business, something you’re less attached to, so that it’s easier to sell in the future. That’s always going to be an argument.
But for me, the service (or product) my business provides is something that I love to do. I love helping people get healthier and fitter. I love helping other entrepreneurs help more people.
We’ve developed systems in the business that run on autopilot, and whether or not I touch the business doesn’t make a difference, so why would I want to sell that?
For me, my USP – unique selling proposition – in a lot of cases is me, and that’s the same with you.
You are your USP to some degree. You have the ability to now separate yourself from everyone else out there just by being yourself.
That’s why people will resonate with you, when you can say: “This is what I’m all about. This is what I believe to be true. This is what I stand against.”
People will cling to you; you’ll develop a tribe. People want to follow somebody; they don’t want to follow Dole banana or big brands like Yoplait.
There’s no personality there; there’s no human behind those names. The only humans behind those big names very often don’t have the very best of intentions in terms of health of the end consumer.
You are different; we are different; we actually care about our clients even though we may have never met them, even though we never will meet some of them.
If we can help somebody improve their life, we can improve their health, help them lose weight and get fitter through our knowledge, what a blessing.
It’s not just about the money; the money comes as a by-product of all this and first providing tremendous value to those you serve.
People do business with real people, and that’s why I really believe that if you can be yourself and be authentic, you really do put yourself in a position of power and you separate yourself from the herd.
Rule #2: Be You And Be Authentic
When you can create an amazing experience and tap into peoples’ emotions and give them exactly what they’re looking for, price becomes less of an issue.
People use price as an excuse when they don’t see enough value in what it is you’re offering.
With that said, let’s move on to the second new rule for online marketing. That is authenticity. I just finished saying that people want to do business with people.
Our customers are very smart; they have BS detectors and they understand to a large degree whether or not we’re pulling a quick one on them or if we’re really being true to ourselves and to them.
Authenticity is hugely important in today’s world, where people trust slightly less than they used to.
They’re more apprehensive about doing business online. They don’t want to put in their credit card information. They don’t want to get scammed.
Trust is the number one obstacle for people making purchases online; they want to be able to trust who they’re doing business with. They want to be able to trust that they put their credit card online and it’s not going to be turned around and used somewhere else.
By being authentic with your customers and prospects, you allow yourself to increase that trust, that goodwill, with those who follow you.
I want to give you a couple examples with what I’ve done in my business because I can only speak about my experience.
If you know my story health-wise, that’s great. If you don’t, very quickly, when I was 17, I lost all of my hair due to an autoimmune condition.
For years leading up to that, I had really bad asthma, eczema, and other variables that would indicate possible development of an autoimmune disorder, which is what I developed, called alopecia, which attacks the hair follicles.
I lost my hair when I was 17 for about eight years, had no idea what to do, and the doctors didn’t have any solutions.
I went back to school at 24 years old to study holistic nutrition. Within about two months, I cleaned up my diet and my body, and I was able to regrow my hair. For about eight years, I was able to maintain that – I kept my head shaved because it was my claim to fame.
All the sudden, when I was about the tail end of 32, my hair started falling out again.
By this point, I had become a very well-known health, fitness, and nutrition expert. I’d done a lot of videos, done a lot of stuff to get myself out there. I started to tell myself, If I’m losing my hair again, then what will people think of me? Will they think that I’m really not this expert I’ve claimed to be?
For a while, out of shame, I was actually using my wife’s makeup to paint on my eyebrows.
I had lost all my hair – eyebrows, eyelashes, everything –and because I was ashamed, I was painting on my eyebrows with makeup. Every single morning.
It got to a point where it was pretty ridiculous.
Imagine this: the fear of going swimming with your kids because you think your eyebrows might just wash off; fear of going outside when it’s raining; fear of working out and sweating up a storm because my eyebrows might wash away.
These are all things that were in the back of my mind for a year. For the longest time, I was shooting videos and covering this up with makeup.
I didn’t tell my followers and my clients about this.
And then I was in New York at an event, and something inspired me to shoot a video to tell people exactly what was going on.
I told everyone:
“Hey guys, I want to be very honest with you. This is something that’s been happening over the past year, and I haven’t been very honest with you. I’ve been losing my hair and so forth. What you see on my face right now is makeup. I just wanted to be very honest. I feel great, I feel very healthy, but for whatever reason, this hair-loss thing has come back again.”
The support was unbelievable, from people watching my videos to clients.
The most common response was like, “Honestly, dude, I don’t care. You’re awesome just the way you are.”
It was a really good lesson for me – hopefully for you as well – that just being true to yourself and being open and vulnerable with those who follow you, who look up to you, is one of the greatest opportunities you have to connect with them on a much deeper level.
It went even a step further because several months later, I decided that enough was enough. I’m going to get rid of this makeup altogether, and I’m just going to be myself in the raw. No eyebrows, no eyelashes, no makeup anymore.
Several months later I shot what I called my coming-out video part two.
“Hey guys, you probably notice something different about this video. I have no eyebrows. Here’s the deal. Many of you noticed that my eyebrows have been a little bit weird, and it’s because I’ve been using makeup, as I mentioned in one of my previous videos on this.”
“You know what? I had some really amazing conversations with some colleagues and friends, and they gave me the courage to just screw it and be myself. I’m on this video and I’m myself: no eyebrows, no makeup.”
What I wanted to get across to them is that I’m not perfect; I don’t want them to put me on this pedestal thinking I never have a cheat meal or I work out every single day without fail. Believe me, I don’t.
I’m human; I err. We all do. I do my best to let my followers and clients know about this.
People don’t care about those sorts of things. They want us to be authentic.
Don’t Worry About What You Think People Are Thinking
Often, we end up worrying more about what we think other people are thinking than what they’re really thinking.
If you touch people in a way that gives them hope and supports them, it goes far beyond a specific product you developed or a specific blog post you’ve written. People see whether or not you have amazing, positive intentions.
If you’re really true to yourself and you’re just being your authentic self, not living under some kind of false pretense or something other people want you to be, just being who you naturally are, flaws and all, people get that.
I think we owe it to the individuals following us to be that unique person. There’s only one you and if you can bring that into your business, you create a category of one.
Being authentic is massively, massively powerful, and I think, as I mentioned before, moving forward, authenticity is going to be a huge ace up your sleeve.
That doesn’t mean you have to disclose the most personal issues in your life, but whatever you’re comfortable with is fine.
Tell Your Story
First and foremost, use your story. Your story is so critical to your success. Be authentic, help people bond with you.
If you just come out and say, “I’m this expert and I’m going to show you how to lose weight,” you’ll fall flat on your face. People don’t like perfection. We don’t like a show offs. We don’t want to follow people who are chiseled and have no flaws; it’s hard to relate to someone like that.
That might be where you’re at now, but it’s probably wasn’t where you were at when you started.
Share your story. Share your struggles with them. They need to be able to relate to you at some level. Unless they relate to you, unless you create that initial bond, it’s going to be very tough to do business with you. People will do business with people they know, like, and trust.
If you think about your best friends, these are people you know, like, and trust.
How do you develop those friendships? It takes a lot of time together. Also, you tend to have the deepest relationships with those whom you’ve shared deep, emotional experiences with and you’ve done stuff together with.
If you can open up to people, they will bond to you; you will have connected with them on a deep level.
I think sharing your story needs to be a fundamental component of your business positioning because that’s what’s going to separate you from the next person because they have a different story.
For instance, you may have started off with IBS and that led you down the path of digestive health and now you’re a digestive-health expert and so forth.
Share that story because that’s going to allow people to connect with you.
Let Them See Behind The Curtain
My second tip is that, on a regular basis, allow people into your life.
Show them when you’re on a vacation. Show them where you’re staying, and some cool things you’re doing. That’s where social media can be such a great platform.
It doesn’t have to be professionally done; it can be on your iPhone, raw, authentic.
Here’s a great one people love, especially if you’re in the diet-and-weight-loss space: Share with your followers that you fell off the wagon the other night.
You went out with some friends, and you completely went off the rails and you had way too much to eat, then you had chocolate cake for dessert and felt like crap. People have gone through that as well.
It’s not about lying to them; it’s not about doing this in a manipulative manner. If this is actually happening in your life and you think that it may be of value for people to know that you’re a real human being, then share that with them.
That’s going to go a long way.
I’ll give you one final tip, and this has to do with video.
As I mentioned before, I’ve bene using YouTube for quite a bit. If you’ve seen any of my YouTube videos, you’ll notice that they’re not fancy. There’s no professional editing. I have an editor who trims either side, throws in a title slide, and that’s it.
The reason for that is because – this is my belief – the more produced it is, the less real it is.
If you shoot a video from your iPhone and it’s a little bit shaky, like The Blair Witch Project, that’s a very real type of experience versus some movie that’s shot on a green screen with all sorts of cool 3G animation.
There is a time and place for a higher-quality video. It may be in selling environments in some cases. But in terms of connecting with your audience on a routine basis, just create real, authentic videos.
The Importance of Direct Response Marketing
The next new rule for building a successful online health business is actually three components combined, and I’ll talk separately about each one of them, but these ones go back to the basics of direct-response marketing.
By direct-response marketing, I essentially mean marketing in which you can measure a response directly from some type of call to action.
Seeing a billboard on the side of the road as you’re driving is not direct response unless there’s some kind of phone number and coupon code that you’re magically going to write down as you’re driving past. That way, the company would somehow be able to attribute your call or purchase from that billboard ad.
However, in most cases, there’s no way of them measuring the response of that billboard. They’re paying a fixed fee for a certain number of impressions and that’s it; they’re hoping for the best.
You and I are not in the business of brand advertising.
The billboard-advertiser companies have millions of dollars to throw into TV commercials, radio ads, billboards, and magazine ads just for simple brand awareness. The hope is that by us seeing those brands over and over again, we will think of them as superior and will want to do business with them.
In fact, I believe these businesses (or forms of media) are dying very quickly.
You and I are in the business of spending $1 and hopefully making $2 or more in return. We can only do that if we can measure the response of that initial investment, so a billboard is not a good idea.
On the flip side, a Facebook ad, where you spend $10 and you can directly measure the response of that $10 – it might be $5, $12, or $50. That is what we’re talking about by direct response: where you put out some type of call to action, and you can measure it immediately.
With that said, the fundamentals boil down to these three components: market, message, and media.
Rule #3: Know Your Market
It’s really important to hone in on your market.
Most people get it backward – and I was guilty of this initially as well. We come up with an amazing idea for a product without thinking about who would be the ideal target market or demographic for this specific solution.
It’s great to have an idea and it’s great to be innovative, but you always have to think about who your product is going to serve.
What solution does it provide? How are you easing somebody’s pain with this specific product?
You should always think from the consumer side: Who is the single-focused target market for this product, what is their major pain point (or desire), and what you can offer them to solve that pain (or reach that desire).
Unless you can define that, I guarantee you’re going to waste a lot of energy, a lot of time, and a lot of money chasing people down the rabbit hole.
If you have a product, and you say your target market is everyone, then you’re really speaking to nobody.
People will respond to you when they know that you are speaking to them.
When you know more about your prospect than they know about themselves, you will be able to influence them all day long. (Obviously we’re talking about influence in a very positive, ethical manner; we’re not having them do stuff that isn’t in their own best interest).
But if it’s in their best interest to know about and purchase your product, you have to be able to communicate to them. In order for you to communicate to them, you have to know exactly whom you’re speaking to.
Let me give you an example:
One of our products is called the Defeating Diabetes Kit. When I created the program, I wasn’t really 100% sure about who I was targeting. I had a video on YouTube that talked about type two diabetes, and that video led to a funnel that brought those people in who were interested in learning about and defeating type two diabetes.
I didn’t specifically know if that was people who had been suffering with type two diabetes for a number of years, who had just been diagnosed, whether they wanted to learn more about it so they could prevent it, whether it was a family member who had it. I could’ve gotten a lot more narrowly focused in the messaging, and obviously the market, for that specific offer.
So this is what we did: after people opted in to learn more about it, we asked them in a survey: Where are you with respect to type two diabetes? Are you just recently diagnosed? Have you been suffering for a long time? and so forth.
We found that it was a 50-50 split between who had just been diagnosed and people who had been suffering for a long period of time.
We then asked them a question – this is after a couple weeks of having not purchased the program – we asked them, among other questions: Why have you not purchased the Defeating Diabetes Kit? At the time, it was only $17, not a huge investment for the life-changing results it would obviously create.
The number one answer was: I don’t believe I can get better.
That was very alarming to me. What that meant was that maybe targeting diabetics who’ve been suffering for a long time was perhaps not the best target market, at least now and for this offer.
What we looked at doing was how to target people who’ve just been diagnosed with type two diabetes. If you think about it, their motivation to overcome it is probably a little bit higher.
Put yourself in their shoes. You go to your doctor, have a routine blood test. Your doctor comes back and says, “You know, Joe, apparently, your A1C levels in your blood sugar are a little bit high. I’m sorry to say this, but I think you’ve got type two diabetes.”
There’s really no greater motivation than hearing those words.
Think about this: You just get diagnosed. What’s the first thing you probably do?
You’re thinking, There’s no way this is going to happen to me. I’m going to figure out a way to get over this. You go online, do some searching around, and figure out a solution. That level of motivation is highest upon diagnosis—in most cases.
What happens if things don’t get better after a couple weeks, couple months?
You kind of lose motivation, lose hope, you don’t feel as motivated, the things you’re doing aren’t working. Ten years later, you don’t even believe that diabetes can be reversed. That’s a very different clientele. See that?
With that said, being able to identify the single-focus target market you are dealing with is very important because that will directly lead into the second piece of this puzzle, which is the message.
How you speak – I’ll just use the diabetes example – to somebody who’s just been diagnosed with diabetes versus somebody who’s been suffering for years can be very different.
How you communicate to somebody whose family members have diabetes is also very different than somebody who has diabetes themselves. You have to know who you’re speaking with.
You might be able to serve all three of those target markets but maybe have specific messages or landing pages or informational material for either one of them or all three of them, with slightly different messaging.
I am often asked what I think of long sales letters and web pages, as opposed to a very punchy, Web 2.0 type of Web site? Here’s my opinion—and I think this opinion has been backed by the top direct-response marketers – whether it be Dan Kennedy, Frank Kern, anyone else in this space – people will read the smallest of fine print if it is something they’re interested in.
Let me repeat that…
People will go to great lengths to read every single word if they are reading something that is going to tremendously benefit them.
A Web site that looks like a brochure with a “here’s who we are and here’s who we serve” might look punchy but it is not going to do as well as a piece of sales copy that goes into detail about your story, where you came from, how you can help the person reading it, why they need to take action now, what’s going to happen if they don’t.
You can write for 10 pages, 20 pages, or 30 pages. But if you do it in a compelling manner and you get down to the emotion people are experiencing, they will stick with you word by word.
Don’t worry about going too long with your copy. However long is needed to make them take action is all that matters.
Generally, the higher the price point, the longer the sales copy because there is obviously going to be more justification and obstacle overcoming in terms of justifying why you’re charging so much for what it is you’re selling.
Rule #4: Craft Your Unique Message
Your message is very important. You need to always be thinking:
What is my promise? How am my positioning myself to be better than what’s out there already? What’s my big idea?
Think about all this as your USP – your unique selling proposition.
Remember: People are going to look at your product, and they’re going to think, “This is another workout/diet program. Why is it any different than the next one?”
In fact, people are going to be asking this question every single time you propose something to them.
Why should your prospective customer do business with you, give you money, as opposed to any other option available to them – which also includes doing nothing?
You need to be able to answer that question. If someone were to ask you on the spot, “Why should I give you money for this product? What makes this different or better than the next product?” you need to be very clear on what that is.
If you’re not, then you essentially become a commodity, as we talked about before.
It’s experience versus price.
You don’t want to get into the competing-on-price game because that’s not a very profitable space to be in, unless you’re Walmart, of course. Basically, you’re either the cheapest or the most expensive. There’s no competitive advantage to being caught in the middle of the pack.
Even if you’re selling a physical product, even if you’re selling a physical widget, which could essentially be sold on Amazon or e-Bay or found in Costco or Walmart, how can you create a story, a message, a unique idea around that specific product that is going to separate it from everything else in the category? When you can do that, people will buy into it … assuming it helps them alleviate a problem they want solved.
Let’s quickly look at the importance of story (as we’ve already spoken about earlier).
Stories are compelling and they’re the ultimate path to bonding with your prospective customers.
For example, take a look at natural food companies. Many have a story about how they started written on their Web site or cereal box.
What that does is relates to people on a more human level, once again, and that’s part of their messaging.
We are now, as Michael Drew says, in a “we” economy, which essentially means that we are in a time where people want to feel like they are part of a community, a group of people who stand for something similar, who work together toward a common goal.
Sharing stories and common experiences are a great way to bond people with your messaging.
Once again, you need to be able to clearly identify what it is about your product or your service that is unique and different and better than everything else out there.
You need to be able to communicate that USP in a very clear and succinct manner so people get it in a second.
Rule #5: Dominate ONE Media Platform
We’ve talked about market, we talked about message, and we’re going to talk about “media” right now.
Media simply refers to the platform you’re using to communicate your message to your target market.
Is it via the web? Is it via Facebook ads? Is it via Google ads? Is it via banner ads? Is it via TV commercials? Is it through YouTube videos or podcasts?
Every single one of those media has a benefit, a pro and con, and requires slightly different tactics in terms of how you communicate with your audience. Each medium (ie. social channel or ad platform) has a specific context which you need to be aware (and obey) for maximum effectiveness.
Whichever you resonate with most, just understand that you can be successful on any of them so long as you FOCUS on one at a time. Please refrain from doing all of them. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Remember, he who does all is a master of none.
Pick the one platform you most resonate with and spend all of your time on dominating that. Then, you can move on to the next one. I’ve made this mistake in the past and it’s also why I no longer have my own podcast, do Instagram, or use Periscope.
It’s also given me the permission to say NO to things like Snapchat.
I know my strengths lie in live events/workshops, webinars, and video. So that’s where I’m spending my time.
There are a thousand path to Mecca. The route you choose should be congruent with your inherent strengths and passion.
Rule #6: Be Willing to Acquire Your Own Customers
I’ll admit that once you have an e-mail list, it’s actually very easy to make money; it’s actually too easy to make money, and that’s part of the problem.
That’s where we start getting into a lot of the douchebag type of affiliate marketing, where you probably have seen – and I’m guilty of this, as well – “Hey, send me over the swipe copy for your promotion. I’m going to send it out to my list, and we’ll make some money.”
That’s all fine and good, assuming it’s something you believe in, but it’s very easy to simply copy, paste, and click send and make a couple thousand dollars.
I think that the world of online marketing is slowly but surely changing, and I hope I can impart some wisdom on this. More and more people are looking to move away from the affiliate model to the model of being able to acquire their own customers (be that from paid traffic, SEO, or whatever else).
Here’s why I say this:
It’s a lot easier to build relationships with others and set up a “reciprocal mailing” partnership, where you say to a potential joint venture partner, “Listen, I’m going to send out to my list for your stuff if you send out to your list for my stuff.”
That’s essentially what happens; you send a couple e-mails for their product, they send a couple e-mails for your product, you make some money, they make money, and, hopefully, you’ve served your customers in the process.
I say “hopefully” served your customers in the process because I think a lot of times, that part of the equation gets lost in translation, where we’re always looking to get more people to “promote” our stuff, so what do we do in return? We promote their stuff. If you think about it, it’s actually pretty ridiculous.
If you love somebody’s product and you think it will be valuable to your list, then, by all means, promote it to your list. Make some money off it, great; it’s going to help your followers, your clients.
But to expect that individual or business will reciprocate is a little bit ridiculous. What if their list does not resonate with what you have to offer?
I think this is where we start to get into some really murky territory. More and more customers are picking up on this. They’re on a number of different mailing lists and they’re following different people, but when they see the same e-mails from five, six, ten different people, they smart to pick up on what’s going on.
People are not idiots; they’re very smart and we should treat them as such. We shouldn’t look to pull a fast one over on our customers to make a couple bucks.
The affiliate model is a great way to make some cash, but it gets to a point where it’s not sustainable. You cannot keep promoting everybody under the sun. It dilutes your brand, it dilutes what you stand for, it confuses your customers, and, if you think about it, it’s actually not a very sustainable way of building a business.
Unless you can go out and acquire your own customers without relying on other people, you don’t have a business.
Let me give you an example. Earlier in 2013, we sent a survey out to our customers – people paying us money.
What’s one thing we should stop doing, one thing we should start doing, and one thing we should continue doing to meet and exceed your expectations?
I’ll just talk about the stop-doing question. Seventy percent of our customers said – and I quote: “Stop promoting other people’s shit.”
When you see thousands of responses saying the same thing, it becomes very clear that that’s probably not something you want to continue doing.
I’ve had discussions with friends and colleagues about this and they say people always complain if you promote other people’s stuff, and that’s fine, maybe they do.
This comes back to you and how you want to run your business. I can tell you that unless you’re able to go out and acquire your own customers, you will always be reliant on other people. when you do that, you give away your power; you give away control over how your business expands and grows.
Believe me, building relationships and your network is very important, and I’m very blessed to be connected with pretty much the top people in our space and most other entrepreneurial spaces as well.
Having said that, though, I’m very cautious now about how I utilize those relationships because I realize that the people I serve – my customers –come first.
I’m guilty of playing in this affiliate space for far too long, of promoting everyone under the sun because they would promote us in return. It’s not a good feeling to send out an e-mail not fully being 100 percent behind that and thinking, “Oh my God, is this really what I’m going to be sending out to my list? Are they really going to enjoy this?”
With that response from the surveys, we said decided to only align with strategic partners or trusted advisors.”
A lot of them are actually not in our direct fitness-and-nutrition space.
We’ve partnered with people in personal development, in rehabilitative services, and a lot of other cool things that are complementary that people would be looking for anyways.
Even though somebody’s on my list to lose weight, they probably want to know some other things as well, whether it be financial stuff or whatever. We don’t go into how to trade stocks, but there are some complementary offers we’ve been able to partner with that I do believe it would be of benefit to my list.
Here’s the acid test: I personally must be using or must have used that specific product before I recommend it to anybody.
And yet people are asking me these questions about affiliate marketing: What is the conversion rate? What are the earnings per click? How much money can I make promoting this?
It’s completely backward. I understand we all have to run a business, we all have to make money, but the real questions should be: Is this product kickass? Will my clients love me for recommending it to them? Can I make some good money in the process?
Think about it this way. If you go see a movie and it sucks, would you recommend going to see that movie to your friends? No, right? Even if the studio of the movie called you up and said, “We have a new movie coming out. We spent a lot of money on it; it’s awesome. Do you mind tweeting about it on your Twitter feed or Facebook and letting your followers know about it?”
Well, if the movie sucks, you’re not going to want to do that, but if the movie is awesome, even without the studio recommending you promote it, you will tell your friends about how awesome that movie is. That’s what I believe a referral should be.
It should be something you truly believe in and are happy to share with people you think would benefit from it. And if you can make some money in the process, cool.
2 Important Skills ALL Online Healthpreneurs Need to Develop
I believe there are two important skills every healthpreneur must develop.
One is copywriting because if you outsource your copywriting and your copywriter leaves, you’ve lost the most important element of influencing your potential customers. If you can’t communicate your sales message to your prospects, you can’t sell anything, and you don’t have a business.
Copywriting is the skill of being able to sell (or influence) in print. Instead of you selling over the phone or door-to-door, you write a sales letter, an email, a blog post, etc… that does all the selling for you.
If you can’t do that at some level, then you are greatly handicapped. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a copy writer on your team, but you have to know how to write persuasive copy, whether it be in an e-mail, sales letter, or whatever.
The second critical skill to develop is learning how to acquire customers. Here, I’m going to talk specifically about advertising.
Advertising is this daunting space of “Oh my God, I have to spend money. God forbid I should have to do that.”
But if you could make $2 (or more) for every $1 you spend, would you be ok doing that? Of course you would!
However, most people are not willing to put in the time and effort to make that happen. And their business suffers as a result.
Spending money to acquire people who have no idea who you are and learn how to build those relationships into paying customers is an art and a science.
I believe it’s a very important science and art to learn to master. At the end of the day, if you can do that, you can go into any market and build a viable business.
You can go in and buy Google AdWords or Facebook ads or banner ads or whatever else, and, based on your skills in that space of developing how to use the right copy in the ad, the right images, the right landing pages, the right message, the right offer, the right funnel, the right follow-up sequence.
It’s obviously not as sexy as sending an e-mail about an affiliate offer, but in the long-term, the biggest and most successful business are those that can acquire their own customers.
But also note that “acquiring” your customers could mean having people find you from blogging, podcasting, youtube, or other channels. Whatever focus I still think it’s very important to at least have ONE funnel that can predictably spend $1 and $2+ in return, and build your customer base in the process.
The easiest place to start is with Facebook ads.
Let’s say you wanted to target 35-year-old men who live in California to help them lose that extra 10 percent of body fat they want to get to.
You can target those people on Facebook.
It’s incredible what you can do with Facebook, and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot. You can start with a daily budget of $5 just to test out, see what’s working and what’s not, and then adjust from there.
I’m not going to go into detail about how to buy media right here, but I want to plant the seed to inspire and encourage you to focus on the big rocks, not the tiny pebbles.
I believe the biggest of all rocks in terms of really building an impact online health business and helping a lot of people is being able to acquire your customers, instead of relying on “favors” from joint partners or affiliates.
And remember this…
The profit is made on the back end, not necessarily on the front end.
Get comfortable with your numbers. Know your customer value and be willing to spend close to that amount to acquire them. Over time, you will make that investment back (and then some) as you continue providing value and building relationships with your audience.
I know we’ve covered a lot here, so let’s recap of the 6 new rules to starting (and building) a successful online health business we’ve discussed in this post.
- Give people an amazing experience and price becomes less of an issue
- Be you and be authentic
- Know your market
- Craft your unique message
- Dominate one platform
- Be willing to acquire your own customers
I hope this has given you some ideas to think about.
Remember: as we move forward over the next couple years, the landscape is going to change a lot. There are always going to be new things coming out: the newest plugin, newest widget, newest social media site, and who knows what else.
You don’t have to jump on the bandwagon. As an entrepreneur, I actually encourage you not to.
Shiny-object syndrome – or SOD – is a disease we need to put to rest.
Focus on the fundamentals. Focus on what matters, those elements we talked about: Who are you targeting? How can you help them? What makes you and your message unique?
Learn the skills of copywriting, which is salesmanship and print.
Start to develop skills for learning how to acquire your own customers.
Spend some time and money on Facebook ads.
Focus on those things on a daily basis, and in a year from now, six months from now, ten years from now, you will be laughing while most other entrepreneurs are still chasing the latest shiny object to come out and still wasting time on other things that don’t make a difference.