If you don’t do this one important thing, you just don’t have a business

Do you remember when you were in high school and you went to a party in another town?

Once you got to the party, you looked for the friends from your own town. They were the people with whom you felt most comfortable. You knew what to expect from them, and they knew what to expect from you.

All those other kids, from the other towns… They were risky. You didn’t know if they would like you. You didn’t know if they would roll their eyes at you for something you said or did. Speaking to them meant taking a chance. It meant accepting some risk.

On the other hand, there is something to be gained by reaching out to the other kids in the room. You might meet some new friends. You could even find a whole new group of friends who like the same things you like.

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Going to a party with strangers

Unfortunately, being a marketer is pretty much like going to that party with a bunch of strangers in the room. It’s tempting to stick with warm traffic. Those are your customers – and even your prospects – who already know you, like you, and trust you. They are willing to hang around with you, and you feel pretty certain they will accept what you have to say.

If I could rely on warm traffic every day, all day, I would, because there’s some level of trust in those people. There’s something already there in the relationship. That’s why warm traffic, and your customer list, always convert best.

Returning to the party analogy, imagine one of your friends introducing you to someone new. Your friend says, “I think the two of you should meet because you have some things in common.” Of course, you would trust your friend and be more willing to talk to the new person.

It’s the same thing with JV partners. When your partner introduces you to his or her list, because they already have a relationship with each other, the people on that list are likely to trust your partner and approach what you have to share with an open mind.

If building a business were easy, everyone would do it

Look, I know reaching out to cold traffic is hard. If it were easy to start and build a business, everyone would do it! But even though it’s more challenging, and there is more risk, you need to be willing to work on getting cold traffic.

And like I’ve written about many times before, to make the most of that cold traffic, you need to know your conversion numbers, and be willing to look at using different channels.

You want to steadily and repeatedly generate ongoing traffic from cold sources, because that is the overwhelming majority of your market universe. Your warm traffic – the people who already know you – are a tiny percentage of your possible market. To neglect cold traffic leaves your entire business vulnerable.

Free traffic doesn’t work

For the majority of my time online, I made the foolish mistake of trying to get it done with “free traffic.” I can tell you, I was knee deep in search engine optimization. We even had multiple servers with different IP addresses so we weren’t getting flagged.

I’ve tried it all. From software creation, to article distribution, to video distribution… I’ve tried all those distribution programs like Traffic Geyser, and I’ve even tried news releases. I’ve done it all.

I was just never able to make it work, which is what led to a conversation many moons ago with Rich Schefren, where he simply said to me, “Look. You don’t have a business until you can afford to pay for traffic, period. Until you can afford to pay for the acquisition of your customers, you don’t have a business. You just have a promotion and you’re relying on partners – JVs and affiliates – or you’re relying on Google. And if Google decides to change their algorithm, you’re done for.”

So don’t just try to take the easy way out and keep talking to warm traffic because it’s low-risk. Real business growth and sustainability comes from courting cold traffic. And that means paying for it.

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