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How to Validate Your New Business Idea in 2019

Strategy State’s guide to testing your business idea

What is business idea validation?

Well, it’s a fancy word for “testing your new business idea”. The concept is quite simple, you want to figure out whether an idea is worth pursuing, before driving in. In this article, when we refer to “product” this also includes “services” based businesses.

The rate of business failures is pretty high.

According to the Small Business Association (SBA). The SBA states that 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10 years (source).

So, it goes without saying that most of us would like to know if our New Idea is worth the ink on the paper!

No one wants to spend years of hard work, thousands of dollars, and the frustration and stress that comes with being a business owner, only to discover that the idea you had, didn’t have legs to start with. Problems identified are problems avoided.

The below guide is an outline of how we test our business ideas. Validating your business idea is different for everyone, and it differs from industry to industry.

Apply what works best for you.


A few points before we begin!

100 / 10 / 3 / 1 Rule!

When evaluating your business ideas, GO BIG!

What does going big mean? Well (unless you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist or otherwise) throw out as many ideas as you can.

As a rule, when I want to come up with an idea for a new business to start, I’ll make a massive list. 100 ideas are not too many. Then, I’ll narrow it down to the 10 best ideas from my original list. And from that list of 10, I’ll decide on three ideas that I’m going to test/validate. And finally, from that list of three, I’ll start the idea I feel the most pumped about.

How to get great business ideas

All too often, I see people running with the first idea that pops into their head.

When narrowing down your list of ideas for a new business, you may want to create some criteria that will help you. Here are a few examples of criteria you might use to cut your list down to 10 prospects.

  1. Can I, will I make: $50k, $100k, $500k or $1m per year in profit?
  2. Is this idea scalable?
  3. Does it offer a Recurring Revenue Model?
  4. Is the business based off my time? (hourly work/effort)
  5. Is the idea in a Growing Market (CAGR)
  6. Does this idea/industry provide Strong Margins ($)
  7. Will I require a world-class team, just to get it off the ground?

Your business idea needs to be a 2.0, not a 1.2

Your idea needs to be a 2.0 not a 1.2

 

What some entrepreneurs fail to understand is that ideas succeed or fail based on “Value”. At the end of the day, customers are buying Value. To provide more value than your competitor, you need to offer something different, better or ideally both.

I’ve often seen people come up with ideas that are the same as existing ideas, with small, insignificant changes, and they think because of this tiny change, people are going to fall over themselves trying to get your product.

In reality, most people don’t care.

Your idea needs to be a 2.0 not a 1.2

This is something to think about when analyzing your new amazing idea. Will your product be a 1.2 version of an existing product or a 2.0 version game changer? How are you going to drive value?

400 Hour Rule

Most businesses fail because of a lack of research and planning!

We can all agree that there are many reasons why businesses fail (planning, cash flow, leadership, marketing, executing etc). But if you don’t do some thorough research up front, you’re not exactly off to a great start!

If you’re thinking about starting a business and prepared to sacrifice years of hard work, significant amounts of capital, then you should be prepared to do a little research before you pull the trigger.

It’s okay to spend 400 hours gathering information and researching your idea. I know of entrepreneurs who spend significant amounts of time gathering intel on certain industries before deciding what they will do.

If at the end of your research you decide that your idea is not worth perusing, then that might be the best decision you have ever made.

Walking away from an idea is okay.

Business Idea Validation Checklist

 

Download your free Business Idea Validation Checklist:

Download Your Free Business Tool


Let’s get Started!

Research your business idea:

Google it!  YouTube it! Amazon it! eBay it! Aliexpress/Alibaba it! Google Play it! Apple Store it! Business Directories it!

The first thing you need to do is conduct some basic online research, this may seem oversimplified for most, but you would be surprised how many people neglect such a simple task.

Depending on your idea, you’re going to search from the list provided above.

The focus here is to:

  1. See if someone is already doing what your idea is?
  2. Are they established and doing it really well?
  3. Is the current offering the same as your idea? Or do you have a different angle?
  4. Does it look like they are making a success of it? (good opportunity/money – Yes/No)?
  5. Identify ways in which you can do things better or different.

This first step is basic, and it’s designed to immediately quality or more importantly disqualify any ideas you may have.

Read the reviews of actual customers

Read the reviews of actual customers

What are the customer reviews telling you? Where are the opportunities to improve or create a better product/service?

If your idea is a physical product, you may want to identify similar products that already exist. Then read the feedback and reviews. You can find an enormous amount of information about products from the reviews section.

Competitor Analysis

Competitor Analysis

Competitor Analysis Tool

 

Who are the top 10 competitors in your space/area?  

This is important as these are the companies you’re going to be potentially competing with. Create a list of the 10 or so direct competitors that you’ll be going up against. Use a competitor analysis template – click here to download.

This will help you get a feel for the market and what’s going on.

Sign up to all their newsletters and find out what’s happening. This will keep you in the loop with what products they are offering, and how they are marketing them.

Talk to actual customers

Talk to actual customers

People who have already brought a similar product or are “in-market” for your product idea. Rather than pitching them your idea, ask them WHY they brought this product? What is the value they receive when they make a purchase?

Get to the core root of what the value proposition is.

Buy one of your competitor’s Products / Services

Buy one of your competitors Products

Try out what your (potential) competitors are already offering?

You’ll gain great insight into their practices.

  • Do they have a good selection of products?
  • What was the service like when you emailed them inquiries?
  • Was the payment process easy?
  • What was the delivery/scheduling time like?
  • What was the packaging like?
  • What was the quality/finished product like?
  • Are they amazing at what they do? Can you do better? If so how?
  • Is the industry “Soft” or “Super Competitive”?

Keyword and Web Research

The idea of keyword research is to analyze the top keywords for your product. This helps you gain a better understanding of the key phrases used to search your product, along with the search volumes and difficulty to rank on Google.

  1. Start by identifying the top 10 keywords for your business idea.
  2. Use the following tools to estimate the monthly search volume and competition level.
  3. Search for related/similar keywords.
  4. Generic terms vs long-tail keywords.

What’s the difference between generic terms and long-tail keywords: Generic terms are keywords and phrases that are shorter and more general. Long-tail keywords are longer keyword phrases, usually containing three or more words and more specific.

It’s important to research for both generic terms and long-tail keywords because it’ll give you a better idea of how many people searched for your potential product, this is because generic terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often much more competitive and harder to rank for than long-tail terms. However, long-tail keywords, may show lower search volumes, but can be more effective and provide “easy wins”.

Example:

Generic Term: Arborist

Long-tail Keyword 1: Price to trim a palm tree.

Long-tail Keyword 2: Tree trimming services near me.

Google Keyword Planner

A free tool by Google that helps you estimate the search volumes. You can filter by language and location. It also offers you keyword ideas related to the keywords you have inserted.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner

Google Trends

Is another free tool by Google. This helps you look at the trends of the search volumes for specific words and industries over a period of time.

Google Trends

Google Trends

Ubersuggest

A free tool that enables you to explore and analyze keywords by search volumes. It also tells you how difficult it will be to rank and provide suggestions for similar keywords.

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest

Keywords Everywhere

This tool is similar to Ubersuggest, in that it helps you to analyze a list of keywords and discover keywords ideas. This tool also comes as a Chrome Extension that can work directly with Google search results.

Keywords everywhere

Keywords Everywhere

Ahrefs

A paid tool that offers a wide range of SEO features. Ahrefs allows you to research a list of keywords and analyze it by using a verity of keyword metrics such as search volume, click rate, organic and paid difficulty. This tool also helps you to explore competitors and understand how challenging it will be to outrank them.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs

SEMrush

SEMrush is a great tool that offers a wide range of keyword research functions, as well as competitor analysis features.

SEMRush

SEMrush

SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is a tool that allows you to analyze a certain website and shows you data such as traffic volumes, traffic source, main keywords while providing graphs that show trends over time.

SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb

Regarding the above Keyword and Web Research tools, you don’t have to use all of them, just use the tools that will be the most useful to you and you’re comfortable using.

Online Analysis

Online analysis is focused on your target audience and market size based on demographic metrics such as locations, age, gender, interests, etc.

Facebook Manager

Use Facebook Manager to get a better understanding of your target demographic. You can drill down to specific segments such as: marital status, family size, life events, etc.

Facebook Audience Definition

Facebook Manager

LinkedIn Business

Use LinkedIn Business to research professional related segments, such as job title, company size, industry, etc.

LinkedIn Business

LinkedIn Business

Based on the information you have gathered from the tools above; this should give you more detailed information on your potential audiences size and demographics.

Industry Benchmarking

What is industry benchmarking?

Industry benchmarking is the process of comparing what the industry averages are for a particular industry.

They look at things like cost of sales, expenses, average rent, labor costs, etc.

The idea here is to see how the industry is performing, and what you might need to do, or not do, in order to achieve certain targets.

By looking at the charts/images below, you can see that the Hairdressing benchmarking has been broken up into three turnover categories. ($50k – $150K, $150k – $300k, and $300k +).

Industry Benchmarking

Use this as a guide to see where your sales might fall.

The next axes are the key benchmark matrices.

After deciding on a particular sales range, you can then see what the industry average performance is for each matric.

Industry Benchmarking

Benchmarking from an idea validation perspective is a great way to eyeball the industry, and decide what the lay of the land looks like before you jump in.

If you want to do better than the industry average (in any particular area), you’ll need to have a clear understanding of how you’re going to do this.

Benchmarking is another tool we use to help us analyze our business ideas.

Industry Benchmarking

Industry Benchmarking

Industry Associations

Industry Associations

Industry associations can be a great place to find information on a particular industry. They often have resources, tools and useful articles that can provide tons of great data.

Because industry associations are passionate about their particular industry, they’ll know when all the conferences and workshops will be held.

Be sure to sign up for their newsletters and notifications.

Google Alerts

When researching an idea you may want to keep an eye on what is happening within the industry, and what your potential competitors are doing.

Google Alerts is a tool that helps you keep your finger on the pulse by sending you notifications when new results are found (based off your key search terms). It automatically finds and sends you an email when new articles, webpages, blogs or research that matches your search terms.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts

Financial Analysis

This is one of the more important aspects to look at when validating an idea.

At the end of the day, however amazing an idea may sound, and no matter how passionate you are about something, it has to make sense financially.

Here are a few basic things you should consider from a financial aspect.

  • What are the Start-up/Set up costs? How long will it take to get set up to an operational level?
  • Are you charging by the hour? Or a fixed price?
  • What is the Average Sale Price per unit? Job? Project?
  • What will your Fixed, Variable or Unit Costs be?
  • What is your Unit Contribution Margin?
  • How long will it take you to Break Even? (free Break Even Calculator)
  • How much Working Capital will this business require?
  • Have you set up a working budget for the first 12 months?

Another financial factor you could consider is, is your business idea suitable for crowdfunding? Could you utilize platforms such as Kickstarter?

Learning Curve

 

  • With this new fancy idea you have for a business, what does the learning curve look like?
  • Does this idea require special skills, experience or network and connections?
  • If so, do you possess them?
  • If not, can you acquire them in a short period of time? Or hire talent to fill these gaps?
  • What will it cost to hire talent to fill these skill gaps?

If it’s going to take you a long period of time to learn all the ins and outs of an industry, then this will play a factor as to whether or not you will pursue this idea.

Learning Curve

An example could be an Antique Dealer. Although the idea of running an antique business may sound romantic and exciting to some, in reality. Many people who are antique dealers have decades of experience within the industry and have deep relationships with estate agents and alike that keep the stock coming.

If someone was to start an antique business from scratch, they would have to have a solid plan as to how they would solve this challenge.

If your business idea is one where information is more freely available, then you need to ask yourself, how can I gain 20+ years worth of experience in the shortest time possible? What resources, programs, courses, books, and mentors can I utilize to shorten the learning curve?

What are the 25 best books on this subject that will help me?

If the learning curve is too high, then you may decide to move on from your idea. If not, you’ll have a better understanding of what you may need to do in order to shorten your learning curve and become successful in your new venture.

Established Industries

Established Industries

Who has been in this industry for 20+ years?

If your idea in an industry that is well established, why not talk to someone who is already operating in that industry. There is a good chance you won’t be directly competing with them (the world is a big place).

Example

If you’re looking to get into a retail store, why not reach out to someone who has been in the industry for 30+years and pick their brain?

These people have seen the highs and lows of the industry. They have been through thick and thin. They have pushed through recessions, high-interest rates, booms and busts. You name it.

You’ll discover all kinds of things you never thought about, and most of the time this information will cost you nothing.

Who was in this industry, but has now left?

Who can you talk to that WAS in your chosen industry, but has now left?

What was their experience like? What did they learn? What mistakes did they make? What would they do differently? What advice can they give you to make your business a raging success?

What will you need to do to make $100k, $500k or $1m in profit each year?

And also ask them,

Who else do you need to talk to that would be useful to you?

Legal

Depending on the product, service, industry or sector you’re looking to target. There will be specific legalities, licenses, permits or certifications that will need to be met. Before even thinking about contemplating a new venture, you should always fully understand the legal requirements.

What might seem like a straight forward business from the outside, may be a legal minefield in reality. This step is something that cannot be overlooked.

Usually, basic information from trade and industry associations can easily be found, but it is recommended that you consult with a commercial lawyer before making a final decision.

Another important factor that is related to risk mitigation is Insurance. Does your proposed venture require insurance coverage that falls outside the norm? Are there any other forms of risk that need to be identified?

For Sale?

Business for sale

If you’re looking at an idea for a business that is in a well-established industry, then ask yourself, are these businesses for sale?

You can often obtain a bunch of information on an industry you’re interested in by searching for those businesses that are listed for sale.

Start by creating a list of businesses within your chosen industry, then break them up into size, location, years in operation, etc (whatever criteria works for you).

Then analyze the multiples (prices) based off that. You’ll get a feeling for what businesses in this industry are being offered for, and how some of the businesses are being run.

Example:

Often Cafés when being sold will tell you how many lbs of coffee they sell each week. They will also tell you what the turnover is.

You’ll easily be able to find out what they are paying for the coffee per lbs, and how many customers they serve each week. This will give you a gauge as to what the profitability is.

You can then compare this information to every café you look at. This is a basic first step, from here you can drill down on more specific details.

Example:

How many tables and chairs do they have, size of the café, foot traffic, parking, public transport, competition near by, google reviews, selection of food, etc.

This is all useful information when validating your new idea.

When looking for bricks and mortar type businesses, you can google search to find local listings.

But if your idea is website related, you can use sites such as Flippa.

Flippa

Flippa

Seek feedback

Seeking feedback is another crucial step in the validation process. The feedback stage can give us unique and detailed insight into our product or service.

It’s much more important what others think about our idea than ourselves, after all, they are going to be the customer.

Surveys  

SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey

Surveys are a great way to collect quick feedback on an idea. They are easy and fast to set up.

You can use tools such as SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to collect the data.

Keep your surveys short, specific and easy to understand. Use pictures where appropriate.

Surveys work best with a little motivation like running a competition for those who fill out the survey.

Reddit

Reddit

Reddit, which is known as the front page of the internet, is another great tool to help you gain feedback. You can create a post whereby you seek feedback on your idea.

Popular subreddits that can help you do this include:

Before posting on a subreddit, do some hunting around to see if you’re in the right subreddit, there may be some useful information that has already been posted.

Redditors are notorious for being brutally honest. Be prepared to receive feedback that is more honest than what you may be used to. Remember, the feedback is based on your idea, not you personally.

Social Media (Facebook and LinkedIn Groups)

Social Media Groups

Depending on your business idea, social media could be a great place to seek feedback.

The major social platforms for business include Facebook and LinkedIn.

Within each of these social platforms, there are a large number of groups that can be specific to your niche. Target your niche for the most relevant feedback.

Be sure to also search for groups on social media that are dedicated to entrepreneurs and business owners.

Facebook Groups LinkedIn Groups

Helpful links to seek feedback:

Facebook Business Groups

LinkedIn Business Groups

Create an early feedback group

Feedback Group

Create a list of people who can give you some quality early feedback.

These could be friends, family, people you have worked with, customers, suppliers, employees etc. It really depends on the idea you’re researching.

Go through your phone and emails and create a list in Excel of those who will be suitable.

This is where you can get creative.

You can write an email, or create a video, use images, your options are endless.

All you’re trying to do is get some early constructive feedback on your idea.

Tell people you’re looking for feedback on your idea and that you’re not emotionally invested in it. This will ensure you get the most honest feedback possible.

The Lean Canvas

Lean Canvas Template

The Lean Canvas is another tool that you can use in your idea validation process.

The Lean Canvas is a tool that is specifically designed for entrepreneurs, especially those who are looking to test the potential of an idea. It helps people focus on problems, solutions, key metrics, suppliers, must-wins and competitive advantage.

If you have never used the Lean Canvas business model before, then you should definitely check it out.

It is simple, easy and straight forward to use. Click here to download the Lean Canvas Template.

Government Stats

Government Stats

When researching your business idea, there is a multitude of information that can be gathered from government statistics sites.

Governments regularly collect information on industries and business-related data.

This information can include areas such as:

Key Economic Indicators, Business Indicators, Industry Overviews, Price Indexes, etc.

With this data, you can better analyze the landscape in which you plan to operate in.

Helpful sites:

US:

https://www.data.gov

https://www.census.gov

UK:

https://www.gov.uk

https://www.ons.gov.uk

CAD:

https://www.ic.gc.ca

AUS:

https://www.abs.gov.au

Competitive Advantage

Competitive Advantage

When thinking about your business idea, ask yourself, how will you create a competitive advantage? I.e. What advantage will you have over your competitors?

Note: Even if you don’t have competitors straight away, you will in the future.

Will you compete on quality/differentiation? Or will you compete on price and be a low-cost provider?

Examples of competitive advantage could be something like:

Compete on Price: Selling a standard Gym membership

Compete on Differentiation: Specialized unique new fitness training system

 

Compete on Price: Selling generic canvas prints

Compete on Differentiation: Creating one-off unique art for sale

So when thinking about your new business idea, and you have an understanding of what your competitor’s pricing points are, ask yourself, how will you gain a competitive advantage?

Will you offer an amazing product with world-class service? Or will you come in at a lower price point to go for volume?

Barriers to Entry

Barriers to Entry

Barriers to entry is something that is often overlooked. Barriers to entry is, how hard or difficult is it to enter the market.

Example:

Setting up a dog walking business is easy, there are no licenses, certifications or permits that are required. You don’t need degrees or special education to start this business.

Whereas, starting a company that builds bridges is hard. The barriers to entry are high. To start a company like this you would need tens of millions of dollars, a team of highly experienced and skilled engineers, strong networks and a proven track record.

The idea behind barriers to entry is, (generally speaking). The higher the barrier to entry, the less competition there will be.

If the barriers are too low, then competitors will be fierce, thus, it could put pressure on your profit margins.

I.e. (often), the lower the barriers to get into a business, the lower the profit margins.

Google Ads/Facebook Ads (+Others)

Google Ads

Google Ads

Facebook Ads 

Facebook Ads

If you have gotten this far through the validation process, and your idea looks like it might have some potential, then it may be the right time to spend a little money on testing your idea.

A great way of testing your idea is to run a mini online ad campaign.

You can set up an advertising campaign (with a small budget) and see how it performs. This will tell you if there is any interest at all in your idea. It’s an effective way to test your idea, before jumping all-in.

An example:

Say your idea is to sell workshops (classes) to self-employed retirees, who are in your area.

You could either set up a Google Ad campaign based on your keywords. Or create a Facebook Ad campaign based on your demographics.

Ideally, you want to set up a landing page to redirect traffic from this campaign. This page should include an email capture form for people to register their interest.

Another great tool you can use to gain insights is Google Analytics. This will enable you to see the source and behavior of traffic.

Note:

In order to succeed with paid online campaigns, its best to try different titles, headings, keywords, and creatives to make sure it is as effective as possible.

Passion

Validating and testing your business idea is one thing, actually starting it, setting it up and operating it is another thing entirely.

Ask yourself, do you have Passion for this idea? Be 100% honest.

Passion is really important and can’t be underrated. It’s one of the single biggest factors that will determine your business’s success.

When starting a business (especially in the early stages), you’re more than likely going to have to do a large amount of work that you will not get paid for. You may have to give up evenings, weekends and family time.

  • Are you prepared to go without holidays? No more takeout dinners, no online shopping, no cable tv?
  • Are you prepared to use your savings to build this business?
  • What are you prepared to sacrifice in order to make your business idea a reality?

If you’re not 100% in love with your idea, it might not be the right time to kick things off.

Ranging from 1 through to 10, how passionate are you about this idea?

If your idea gets this far, then you may look to build an MVP (Minimum viable product) or prototype

When thinking about building your MVP, think Speed!

You want to build a cut-down version of your product. The key thing here is to go through the iterations (variations of your product) as quickly as possible and gain early feedback while keeping the budget low.

You want your MVP to be just good enough so that people can have an understanding of what the offering is, without you having to go overboard on product development.

The idea that you have, may change drastically after you have received feedback from others. The goal is to use this feedback to make the necessary adjustments to your product.

Some ideas that could help you with your MVP development:

  • 3D Printer/Paper prototypes to create mockups
  • Have people test/use the product
  • Demonstrate the product to people
  • Creating content and seeking feedback – Explainer videos
  • Create molds for prototypes
  • Digital prototypes/Virtual Reality
  • Ordering sample products
  • Set up A/B Tests

Did your MVP pass the test?


Download our Checklist to validate your business idea:

Download Your Free Business Tool

Read more about how to use our Free Business Idea Validation Checklist, including a short instructional video on how to validate your business idea using our simple checklist.

Recap

The below infographic covers key areas of the validation process:

Testing your idea infographic

How you validate and test your business idea will be largely determined by the idea, criteria and what you’re looking to achieve.

What some may view as an opportunity, will be overlooked by others. Timing too plays a big factor. What looks like an opportunity at one point in time, can be eroded over time due to any number of factors.

The main thing is to collect and analyze the required information for your specific idea, so you can make a better-informed decision moving forward. Gaining information about an idea, sector or industry is vital for success.

 

What do you do when validating a business idea? Share your knowledge.

Strategy State’s Power 9 Growth Hacking Tactic

We know that marketing activities can sometimes be a drag. It can often be hit and miss, all over the place and you occasionally don’t know what you’re doing.

It’s really important that you have a “Marketing Process” that is simple, effective and most importantly streamlined for efficiency.

This is even more important if you have a small business that doesn’t have its own marketing department or dedicated marketing person.

In a previous article, we’ve put together a guide to the best marketing tactics for 2019 – click to read.

To shed more light on how to improve your marketing efforts, let us tell you one of the marketing tactics we recommend at Strategy State.

Today we’re going to show you a VERY effective growth hacking marketing tactic.

It’s called the Power 9 Growth Hacking Tactic.

The goal of this marketing tactic is to spread your message as far and wide as possible and to squeeze as much value as possible from your marketing efforts.

Strategy State’s Power 9:

The power 9 growth hacking tactic

1. Create a Resource / Free Tool

This could be a chart, template, white paper, checklist, eBook, how to video, etc.

2. Create a “Free Download” landing page of the Resource/tool you have created

Insert an email opt-in to collect email addresses.

3. Write an article about it

In that article, you need to add a link to the free tool or resource.

4. Email Marketing – Add the links to your article and free resource

This helps drive traffic to your website.

5. Create a short video (up to 5mins) about your free resource

Show people the benefits and how to use it. Add this to your YouTube channel and other platforms.

6. Post your free Tool / Resource in Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest & other social platforms you’re on.

7. Repost your content 4 – 6 times per year.

This will give your content the maximum amount of exposure.

8. Post it on other people’s sites/platforms

Identify as many other sites and platforms where you can share your content

9. Continue to create multiple free resources and repeat

I.e. 1 X Free tool + 1 X Free Download + 1 X article + 1 X Email Marketing + 1 X Video + Post on Social Accounts + Post 4 – 6 times per year+ Post on other platforms + Create additional resources

This is how it works:

1. Create a Free Resource / Free Tool

Your free tool can be a chart, template, white paper, checklist, eBook, how to video, etc.

Time Analysis Exercise

Free Tool example: Time Efficiency Tracking Tool

Now, what is the point in giving away free resources? Isn’t that what you are meant to be selling?

Well yes and no. Firstly, it’s important to know that you need to give away A LOT of value in order to receive value in return.

One of the goals of creating free content is that it helps brands you as an authority within the industry. If prospects go to your website or social page and see you have dozens of posts, content, articles, freebies, etc. They’re typically going to view you as someone who knows what they’re talking about. Especially if the content is good.

Additionally,

Many people think that if they give “free stuff” away, then prospects won’t buy their products or services. This is not true.

The people that just use your free tools and don’t convert, will most likely never be your customers. They may be time rich and cash poor. While those who are cash rich and time poor will consume your products.

What free resources should I create?

Well, that really depends on the type of business you have.

The best way to find out what free tools to use would be by conducting keyword research. You can do this by using software such as Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, and Keywords Everywhere.

This will tell you how popular certain keywords are.

You’ll then know what free tools and resources people are searching for within your industry.

Here are a few examples of free resources that have worked well for others.

  • Lighting and ceiling fan shop = How to switch your fan to winter mode.
  • Marketing Agency = Free website audit tool.
  • Beauty Salon = 10 x DIY hairstyles you can do at home.
  • Car mechanic = How to maintain your care video/checklist.

 2. Create a “Free Download” of the Resource

As discussed earlier in step 1 this tactic involves creating a free downloadable resource for prospects.

For this to work, we need to Insert an email opt-in to collect email addresses.

Time Analysis Opt-in Form

Email opt-in form example: Free download the Time Efficiency Tracking Tool

Once you have created your free downloadable resource and uploaded it to your website.

You can add a simple feature to your website that enables prospects to download the resource once they have entered their email and contact details.

The goal of this step in the process is to increase your email subscribers list. The reason being is that the backbone of many marketing initiatives revolves around email marketing, as email marketing can get the highest return on investment compared to other marketing initiatives.

3. Write an article about your resource

When writing an article, you want to describe the issue and the solution you are offering with your free tool.

In that article, you’ll add a link to the free tool or resource.

Blog articleBlog article example: The 5 Deadly Sins of Business

The benefits of writing an article are multifold.

Firstly, an article supports your SEO efforts. This helps you rank higher and makes it easier for prospects to find your products and services.

Secondly, an article will help educate your prospects on the benefits of your free tool and push them further down the sales funnel. It also helps build trust and your relationship.

For best results articles should be around 2,000 words in length, contain your main keywords and 3-5 high-quality images. Make sure you keep your paragraphs short and add subtitles and lists to make it more readable. Be sure to add a clear call to action.

For more details on how to write amazing articles, check out Neil Patel’s guide here.

4. Email Marketing – Add the free tool to your email marketing campaign

We have now completed steps 1 through 3:

Step 1. You have created a free resource.

Step 2. You have added the free resource to your website.

Step 3. You have written an article that supports the resource.

Now we can move on to combining it with email marketing.

Email marketing

Email Marketing example

If you don’t use email marketing, it’s a good idea to consider it. As discussed, earlier, email marketing can be really effective and have a high return on investment. It’s a great way to keep prospects informed and help business owners and consumers stay connected.

There is a wide range of email marketing platforms available. Many of them are free up to a set number of subscribers. These free accounts will be more than enough to get you going if you’re starting out.

Some of the most popular include: MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, ConvertKit and GetResponse to name a few.

Keep your email marketing clean simple and to the point.

People are constantly bombarded with emails and are reluctant to read long-winded newsletters. To increase your open rates, use a title that will entice people to open the email. Like: “Free Tool”.

For this tactic to work, we suggest you make the email about the free tool.

Here is an example of one we have created.

Always ensure that it is super easy for your subscribers to share the free resource and or articles.

5. Create a short video (up to 5mins) about your free resource.

The next step is to create a video that will help you reach potential customers and drive traffic to your website. A video is a highly-engaged form of media that works well with your social initiatives.

Short Video example: Time Analysis Exercise Instructional Video 

According to Animoto Video was consumers’ #1 favorite type of content to see from brands on social media in 2018.

Animoto

To read the full article click on the link below: https://animoto.com

The video you create can be in a format of a “How to” video. It can showcase the article you’ve written about and introduce the benefits of your free tool.

Add your video to YouTube or any other video platform you use. You can also add the video to your website, as additional content to your landing page or article.

The goal of creating the short video is to use another form of media to help drive awareness and leads for your business.

6. Post your free Tool / Resource on Social Media platforms

Now it’s time to post your free tool or article on social accounts. The most popular platforms are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.

instagram

Social Media example: Instagram

Again,

The goal here is to spread your content as far and wide as possible and to engage with as many people across different platforms. You may not know which platforms your ideal customers are on, so you’ll need to test and measure to see which platforms work best.

When posting on social platforms, take into consideration: When you post, what day of the week and how you can create content that people want to engage with.

When posting on social platforms, quality and consistency is the key.

7. Post your content 4 – 6 times per year.

To maximize the effectiveness of this strategy, we recommend that you post your content 4 to 6 times per year.

This will give you the best chance for all your potential prospects to consume your content. Often people may need to see your content a number of times before they engage with you. Always ensure you’re adding value with your content. Don’t post for the sake of it. Quality is king!

For more information on this specific tactic check out your Neil Patel’s video here.

This should run in conjunction with your content marketing plan.

If you would like a free social content plan template – Click here.

Ideally, you should automate your content marketing by using tools such as Hootsuite. This will enable you to preschedule and organize your social media in advance.

8. Post your content on other people’s social accounts/sites/blogs.

In this step, we will talk about two ways to create leverage using other people’s social accounts, sites, blogs.

The first way is to leverage your contents exposure is to use guest blogging. As the name suggests, you publish your content on other websites. It’s a common practice in digital marketing and is very helpful for SEO.

This involves identifying relevant sites and blogs where you can share your content. You need to find other sites that have a similar target audience to your own. Your content will need to compliment what that website is focused on.

Another way to leverage your content is to use social influencers. Influencers have a dedicated niche of followers who are passionate about a particular interest.

Influencers have built up trust and authority with their follows. If your product or service aligns with the influencer’s audience, it can be a great way to start a conversation and build a relationship with your brand.

To find influencers that might be useful to your business, try using tools like:

Social Blade.com. This tool enables you to search for popular influencers across many different platforms.

9. Create multiple Free tools and repeat

I.e. 1 X Free tool + 1 X article + 1 X Free Download + 1 X Email Marketing + 1 X Video + Post on Social Accounts + Post 4 – 6 times per year.

Now that you’ve gotten to the stage, you’re starting to become a real marketing Pro.

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To make this marketing strategy fly you need to consistently create additional free tools, articles, email marketing, videos, etc. Then post them across all your different platforms, while leveraging off other platforms that get lots of traffic.

As time goes on, you’ll get much quicker at creating an organizing content.

This strategy does take effort but is designed to squeeze every last drop out of your marketing efforts. Over time you’ll see great results as your influence and brand grows.

Your ranking will improve, your inquiries will increase, and you’ll gain authority which will lead to additional sales.