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

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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5 Comments
  • Pete Renzulli
    Posted at 06:21h, 29 March Reply

    Great post Todd. Have to admit I got caught up in the free traffic black hole myself. A lot of wasted time.

    • Todd Brown
      Posted at 14:56h, 29 March Reply

      Yes Pete, it’s easy to think it will solve problems. The key is to have a diversified traffic strategy…

  • Aylon
    Posted at 04:39h, 04 April Reply

    So it’s official, keyword long tail marketing does not work as good as many other marketers like us to believe?
    If the funnel laid out the right way does it matter where the traffic comes from, free or not?

    • Todd Brown
      Posted at 18:22h, 05 April Reply

      Aylon, it’s not that long-tail SEO doesn’t “work”, it’s just that it is a really long game to play. Everyone needs to have some core content that is keyword-friendly, written for Google search. But to get REAL traffic to your site, efficiently, you have to pay for it. Try it and see.

  • Russel Future
    Posted at 13:26h, 08 February Reply

    I am a neophyte/newbie here. Marketing has always been a weird black art to me. I remember back in my consultant-days, I would finish a project, have a happy client, and decline their offer to become an employee. Then, I would have to start the cold-calls, to get a new project. I had a rule about remaining independent.

    But cold-calling was hard. Actually those calls were the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Calling people who did *not* want to talk to you. (This is “cold traffic” in your lexicon? ) But for some reason I never really understood, I would eventually get a bite or a nibble, make an offer to chat for free, and see where it could go. After or during the meeting, the prospect would morph into a client, and we would begin a new project.

    I was reseaching a stock-market trading phenomenon called “tripwire”, and stumbled upon your site. It is interesting. But what I don’t see, is any mention of *product*. What is your product? (Heck, what is a Funnel?) I am guessing a funnel is somekind of payment-vectored digital product? (Actually, I just did a google-search, and read a bunch of pages on the “marketing funnel”, so I understand what is meant by the term, now.)

    See, to me, product quality and personal integrity – that was 99%, and the marketing stuff was a 1% background effort with wildly random, completely unpredictable payoffs. So, I did not spend enough time on it. Because I was independent, (a real one-man band kind of thing – custom software+system design, then eventually, technology/business analysis, data-driven analytic products, technical audits, etc… ), marketing was always secondary. But I tried things…

    I tried website stuff early on – tried to get clients for an automated portfolio product, sought business for analytic work – but never got enough interest to cover costs. Cold calling with a telephone brought me just *buckets* of more business than anything on the internet ever did. But this was before Google. The search engine de-jour then was Alta-Vista, from DEC, and it worked pretty good. Poor DEC, they had no idea what they had.

    Have you written a book, Todd? I read a lot, and find physical, hard-copy books still seem to work, because you hold the thing in your hand, you scan it visually, and you can write notes in the margins – a real total NLP experience, all the modality vectors covered (or at least visual + kinesthetic..)

    But eventually, we have to find stuff that actually works. And that is where it gets difficult.

    And for me, that basic problem always meant PRODUCT. What is your PRODUCT??? What have you got? For consulting/systems-development work, I would often whip up a quick prototype. But it was then a one-off.

    Seems to me, if you have something real – something that is actually good and useful – it does not even have to be unique or special or even better. It just has to actually work, and not mislead the client and only take his money. If you have a product, then marketing becomes just an exercise in finding a client who has a need sitting on his desk, and being the guy who calls (or gets in front of his face), on that particular day when he has budget, need, and a willingness to make a decision.

    Product has to be what drives a marketing process, at least so it seems to me.
    So, should the marketing plan not be primarily driven by the characteristics of the product?? Or am I just not getting it? I just never had any success with monetizing any activity on the web at all, but lots of success, using direct channels. (This is probably why we all get those annoying phone calls, eh?) It seems the direct route – old fashioned cold-calling cold prospects – just works so much better than any thing else…
    Has this been your experience, also? Can the marketing process really be automated successfully, if you are not Amazon? Or are we talking a digital-content product, which just involves credit-card sales of files and/or DVD’s? I suppose there is a big difference between B2C and B2B marketing methods.
    – Rus

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