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So You Want to Make A Living Online!
Congratulations and welcome to the information age!

It's a bright new age and an entirely new business climate today where you can do exceptionally well -- or you can fall flat on your face. But if you're looking for guarantees, you're in the wrong place. 

If you believe all the hype you're reading out here in the internet -- and you're still looking to the fast road to unlimited wealth, you're in the wrong place.

If you are willing to work hard and study carefully the basic principals of marketing, you can create a reasonable income for yourself in today's market but you won't do it by buying into the hype and get-rich-quick promises.

Business is about numbers. Yes, it's true, there is some validity to the bean counters' approach. You do have to keep an eye on your return on your investment. If you keep doing the same thing you've done all your life, you will keep achieving the same outcome. So you will want to track your efforts and focus on what works for you -- and stop doing anything that doesn't return the results you want. You must learn to do the most productive thing you can with each minute of every day.

But before you do that, now's a good time to check your understanding of what business and marketing your business is all about. It's really a simple formula

+ A Person with a Need
+ You with a Solution 
+ the Method you use to provide that Solution
+ The Payment You receive for Delivering that Solution


= Business

Notice, business starts with two people: a person who needs and you.

Do you know who your buyer is? Do you understand -- really understand -- what that person wants and needs? Too many don't. Too many believe that the buyer exists strictly for the benefit of the business. But you don't, do you?

How do you know what the person needs? It's really quite simple. Ask him/her!! You can guess. You can read all the marketing magazines and demographics out there that give you a hint as to what the average person who earns $35,000 a year needs and will buy. But, don't you even believe for one minute that that means your customer wants or will pay you for that! Ask! There a lots of variables. When you do your research don't stop with that. Go right to the person you want to do business with and ask if you have your information right. 

Technology and market analysis are great tools. They do tell us a great deal. But we can't stop there. In the end, your most valuable research information comes from your customers, the ones who come to you and the ones who walked away. Find out what they like or what turned them off and you've found the secrets to what will make you successful. 

When you know what challenges your customers face and you can apply your skills, your specialized knowledge and your energy to helping them resolve those challenges, you have found the basis of your business. Then, the money will flow. But not until then.

You can use every marketing trick in the book, write the most provocative sales letters, use every sales word and every emotional-packed tool in existence -- and you'll still fail. Why? Because those tools don't work until there's a buyer who needs what you have to offer.

Remember, your business is built on people -- the people you serve. Numbers don't buy. People do. And people don't buy what they don't want and need -- especially in a tight market.

Once you understand this basic concept, you can move on to the rest of the business/marketing equation. How are you going to deliver your solution to their challenges?  It very much depends on what it is that you're delivering. Some things can be delivered well via internet. Some cannot. Mechanisms are set up now for transfer of money relatively securely. And we know that information and customer service can be delivered well on the internet. But there are some products and services that you just can't deliver online. 

Here you need to be realistic. Remember that technology is a tool for you to use. It's not your business (unless you're a programmer or a computer manufacturer). If you're a marketer, some of the things you do will be done using the tools of technology but the relationship between a customer and you must be multi-faceted...enhanced by the ability to use computers, websites, email and other such tools to strengthen the personal interaction between you and your customer. If your solution is one that requires personal attention -- you need to install carpeting, for example, that the customer might purchase from you, think carefully how you're going to handle the pre-sale and the after-sale customer service to ensure customer satisfaction. 

Don't abuse these tools. And don't use them as a club in an attempt to beat people into submission. If, when you have what they want, they will buy. But not until you've won their trust...not until you've proven to them that you really do understand their need and care about their satisfaction.

Getting Started

First step in the process -- if you're really serious about doing business online is to get your own domain name and web presence -- not just a free sub-domain. You can tap into free stores and other options but that's really not going to cut it because you need to establish your identity online - you need to show visitors that you are real and you are doing what is needed to establish your credibility and assure the public that you're here to stay. You do this work yourself fairly easily and inexpensively. Generally, you can get the entire package started for less than $50 which includes your domain registration and the website host. If you'd like help, email email j-m@creativeoptions.com

The next step is to get a website up. It can consist of a single page or a thousand pages. Everything depends on what you're trying to do. A website does not need to be complicated. We've set up basic websites and coached the owners to be able to maintain them themselves and we've simply managed the entire project for them on a monthly retainer relationship. The important thing is to understand that there's all kinds of different websites. Some are nothing more than simple brochures that tell the world how to reach the business, others are entire store fronts with shopping carts and databases, others, like this one are designed to be informational.

In all cases, it's important to remember that your website is a tool that you use to provide a product or service to your customer. You want a tool that will be easy for your customer to find and easy for them to use. You want this tool to speak well of you but always the customer and the solutions you provide for your customer are most important. That's what you need to focus on. 

Looking for more information? We can help. Email your specific questions to j-m@creativeoptions.com

Customer Service

Once you're set up and you have a plan as to what you're going to do with your business, you need quality, consistent methods for servicing your clients. There are lots of ways to do that. When you're small, personal emails and phone calls work best. Why? Because you want to build trust into your relationship with potential clients. Your focus needs to be building and growing relationships. And you will continue to do that throughout your business life, if you're really serious. But then you will start to grow and you'll find that you can't always personally stay in touch as often as you'd like. Autoreponders work very well for sending out timed messages and so do newsletters. Of course, now you're talking about investing a good deal of time and money. The biggest challenge you're going to have with these, though, is keeping a steady stream of quality content on hand to include in your mailings and remaining very balanced so that you never lose that personal touch you built your business on. One method that you might consider is a personalized newsletter service. Whatever you do, to keep the communications flowing always remember it's real live people who are your customers. People buy people and so the real key is to always strive for two-way communication with your potential clients.


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