Categories : Online Business Strategy, Planning and Structure

This is the text of an email from Sean Mize.
One of the biggest challenges I see when working with folks who are trying to build something from scratch but they keep spinning their wheels is that they aren’t real clear on who they are going to help, and how they are going to charge . . .
And last night I thought of a 5-question process that can help you do that . . .so here it is, I hope it’s helpful to you!
Take out a sheet of paper (yes, do this old-school)
Write down the answers to each:
1) What is the thing that you teach (for example, how to use youtube, how to quilt, how to blog, how to think confidently, etc)?
2) Who is your target market (aka, in normal spoken English, who NEEDS what you teach? for example, people who want to use youtube for traffic, people who want to quilt, people who want to blog, people who want to think confidently)
3) How will you teach them? For example: write books (like on Amazon), record videos (like on youtube), create pictorial manuals (like pdfs with pictures)
4) How will you sell your teachings? (for example, on Amazon [books], udemy or similar new sites [videos], from your site (pictorial manuals)
5) How much will you charge? For example, $10 per book, or $97 per video course or $50 per pictorial manual, or something like $30 a month for membership access or $97 a month for coaching?
This might take some time, to drill deep and figure out what you want to do , . . but once you have it, it’s like it drives your business
Because right now you may not even know what you are supposed to be working on, you are just working on a part here, a part there.
BUT . . . once you have taken the time to determine the answers to these questions . . it’s like you have a compass point to point towards, and you have something solid you can build, instead of some ethereal concept of an “im business”
Seriously . . . take the time to dig deep and find the answers to these questions for YOU and you will be amazed at your new-found clarity!
I did this exercise and here are my answers:
1) What is the thing you teach?
A: How to make money online, working from home.  I am seeking to simplify and systemise systems and processes that lead to the goal of generating a reliable income for those seeking financial freedom.
2) Who is your target market?
A: People who want to quit their job or who simply want to supplement their income.
3) How will you teach them?
A: I will use all modalities including text, audio, video and coaching/consulting
4) How will you sell your teachings?
A: I will build a list and seek to create a relationship of trust with that list .  I will use paid advertising, the warrior Forum and JV Zoo to build my list
5) How much will you charge?
A: I will have a variety of product offerings including, free, low ticket ($4.95 -$17), mid-ticket ($27-$97) and higher ticket ($97 – $4,997)
In answering question 2, it may help to write out an ‘avatar’ of your perfect customer.  This is what I wrote:

Customer Avatar

George is in a job that is stressful but reasonably well paid. He commutes to work every day and the commute is getting more and more difficult as the amount of traffic on the roads increases.

He cannot afford to just give up his work because he has commitments such as a house mortgage and all the usual monthly bills to pay.

Whilst his job is reasonably secure, he realizes that he is now only going through the motions to earn money. He has lost his initial passion for his work and he now looks forward to the weekends so he can get away from the stress of work.

He often works long hours and even takes work home in the evening, sometimes just so that he can keep on top of his heavy workload.

Whilst he would like more holidays, holidays are really a problem because he has to work hard to get away on holiday and there is a huge backlog of work to go through when he returns from holiday. This means that any good the holiday could do him in terms of relaxation is soon dissipated by the stress on both ends of his holiday dates.

Just booking holidays is difficult because he has to fit in with the holiday dates of his colleagues at work and often George finds that he is taking holidays on dates where holiday prices are at their peak.

Sometimes George wonders if he will live long enough to reach the retirement he is saving for, particularly as retirement dates seem to be extending as pension funds realise that people are living longer than before and investment returns and interest rates have reduced.

His long hours at work means that he is physically and mentally unfit. He often has headaches from stress and, because he forgets to look after himself, and so does not drink enough water, this gives rise to chronic constipation.

He is over-weight and generally unfit.

There is an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach – he knows that he needs to change the way he lives his life but he is trapped by his commitments and the fear of not having enough money to pay his bills.

He is often given to bouts of worry because his thoughts are unhealthy.

He thinks about the fact that his life is gradually ebbing away and he has not fulfilled all the dreams that he had when he was younger and full of hope.

Whilst he can afford some of the material things that he dreamed of, like a good car and a nice house, somehow these have not satisfied him spiritually. He feels trapped on a treadmill that is gradually grinding his life down.

Perhaps he set the wrong goals in life for himself?

Perhaps he is in the wrong job?

George asks himself how long can he hang-on in his current job given that he is finding it increasingly difficult to motivate himself to achieve the work goals that are set by his employer who always want more than was achieved last year?

Whilst George is getting no younger, there seems to be a well of youthful up and coming talent in his business who could soon replace him if he doesn’t perform to expectations.

In an over-crowded work market, George knows it would be difficult to find another job. The competition for jobs is fierce and George is not as young, confident and energetic as he once was.

George has a friend called Mark who lives locally…

Mark works from home and is an internet marketer. Whilst George doesn’t know exactly what Mark does, he knows that he regularly sees Mark walking his dog in the morning, usually when George is waiting impatiently at the bottom of the road in his car in a long queue of traffic!

Mark looks like he has all the time in the world, whilst George only has a feeling of rising impatience to get on his way to work.

Mark works from home, so George knows that he doesn’t waste time and money every day trying to battle through the traffic to work.

For George that would be at least 2 hours per day commuting – across a working year of say 240 days that amounts to 480 hours or 20 x 24-hour days simply spent trying to get too and from work. Assuming George works 10 hours a day that amounts to 48 working days commuting!

George wonders what he could do with the time if he had 48 free working days in a year available simply by not commuting to work!

Mark has also told George that one of the things he discovered was that his monthly budget reduced a lot when he stopped going to a job. He saved on petrol/fares, lunches, expensive suits and his car mileage dropped to a couple of thousand miles a year. This reduced the depreciation and maintenance costs on his car.

Because Mark works from home, he could also carry out most home maintenance jobs himself without the need to call in expensive contractors. Tasks like looking after the garden, painting the house etc are easy to do when so much time is saved from the daily commute.

Mark is always available for his family to help out with things like looking after his grandchildren when his daughter needs some help or simply picking them up from school.

Mark and his family can go on holiday when they want to – he is not constrained by fitting into the holiday dates of others. In fact Mark says that because every day is like a holiday now he doesn’t feel the need for holidays much – in fact he prefers to take time out to explore his local area and really have quality time enjoying nature, tending the garden and his hobby of photography.

Mark has confided to George that he threw his mobile phone away when he quit his corporate job. In his former job he was always at the beck and call of customers, staff and his boss, who would leave messages if he did not answer immediately. This was another cause of stress as Mark felt that he was constantly at everyone else’s beck and call according to their agenda.

The same held true for his email inbox. As soon as he answered an email, it seemed like two new ones had arrived. He could never get ahead of the game.

Since leaving his job, Mark looks at his inbox for just 30 minutes each day and his help desk is outsourced to a virtual assistant.

Marks health has improved dramatically since he left his job – he has much less stress, no worries, he is kept fit by walking his dog 2 hours a day – time when he can also take pictures with his camera to indulge his hobby.

Mark has time now to really connect with his family and friends because he is not pressed for time.

As far as his work is concerned, Mark works around 4 hours a day. He says that since he set up his initial business, he spends most of that time writing emails, creating content and driving traffic – no onerous deadlines. He is simply building and maintaining his business one step at a time.

He has no stock-holding cost, no creditors to keep sweet, no premises costs, no transport costs, no staffing costs (although he occasionally uses freelance contractors who get paid only when he is satisfied by their output) – his overheads are low compared to a standard bricks and mortar business.

Mark originally realized that, if he could grow his internet marketing business to a position where he could simply cover his adjusted monthly personal spending budget, he was effectively free from his job.

Mark tells George that to do that he worked evenings and weekends to establish his internet marketing business and it took him about 6 months to get accumulate the skills and get to a position where he was earning enough money to safely quit his job without worrying too much about whether or not he would make it.

Of course, he was worried about making the leap but he also realized that when he quit his full-time job he would have more time to grow his online business. Mark also said that he had around the equivalent of 3 months personal expenditure as a safety net in his savings in case things didn’t work as expected.

Overall, Mark never regretted the decision to leave his corporate job – he soon appreciated that the decision could extend the length of his natural life and the quality of his life experience had also increased dramatically.

Mark quickly realised that many of the material trappings that most people think are important are actually more of a burden. We simply desire them because marketers tell us that we need them. The satisfaction of owning stuff soon fades after purchase and we are quickly yearning for the next shiny object.

By distancing himself from ‘normal’ society Mark’s common-sense soon returned and he set himself on a course that would give himself peace of mind and deep satisfaction from things that are essentially free – nature, knowledge via the internet, doing things with his hands, creating information products using text, audio and video – a small legacy of work that was tangibly his small way of making a positive difference to other people’s lives.

Mark now simply shows other people what he did to replace his income and they reward him well for his knowledge.

After all, Mark asked, what price would George put on gaining his freedom from his stressful and unsatisfying job?

I hope these 5 internet marketing planning questions will help you to plan your business.


Mark Salmon is an internet marketing consultant. Mark creates digital information products about starting and building an online business. Prior to starting his online business, Mark was a corporate banker based in the UK, then ran a business consultancy for around 8 years before deciding that his future was internet marketing. You can connect with Mark at: Mark's Google Plus Page Mark's Facebook Fan Page Mark's YouTube Channel Mark's Blog

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