At this point, we hope you have tried a whole bunch of different strategies to get your first sales with your online store. It's possible that you are implementing ideas simultaneously and find it quite overwhelming, especially when you have no or few sales to show for your efforts.
Here we’re going to give you a little advice on how to make managing multiple tactics easier for you to manage, so that you can optimize both your business and your time. Ultimately, we hope by doing so, not only will you see results more quickly, but become profitable while you're at it.
Step 1 – Test, Measure and Repeat
If you engage in any marketing or sales activity, measure your results carefully. Running a business is very much like a science experiment. It’s really easy to run around and test out different strategies and tactics and assume you’ll remember how effective they were. But remember, recorded numbers don’t lie and they can’t be forgotten.
Getting into the habit of recording and measure your business experiments will really season you for growth. Often times, reviewing your business data will give you insight on what else you should try for the iterations of the same experiment. This is usually how breakthroughs are made.
Now you’re always going to feel too busy to do this tedious activity. But this is actually what business is. It’s about making informed decisions that lead to brand growth. Running around frantic all day, with a “business as usual” attitude is not entrepreneurial and doesn’t lead to growth.
To help you gain a better understanding of this crucial topic, we highly recommend that you read "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries. In the book, he not only shares his own experience building IMVU, but a tried and true methodology for building businesses that grow.
Step 2 – Picking What Works
If you’ve done your due diligence and have taken the time to record your business experiment findings, you’ll have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. It’s easy to say to yourself – let’s do all the sales and marketing activities that proved beneficial. But before you commit to that, you might want to pick the top few (maybe even the one thing) that not only worked the best for you, but seemed to work the most naturally for you.
Anything that goes with your natural “work flow” is probably the process that works best for your business. Trying to do sales and marketing activities that have caused friction to your natural work flow tend to be self-defeating.
For example, you may find calling old customers who haven’t ordered in a while financially beneficial for your business, but it's also very time consuming and sometimes upsets old customers. Alternatively, making cute photo-ops of your product and “Instagramming” them drives the same amount of business. In this case you should stick with Instagramming. Anything that creates negative energy in your organization should most likely be avoided.
With that said, double down on your best sales and marketing activities, and figure out ways to make them better.
- Is there a way to streamline or automate parts of the process?
- Can you hire people to do this work?
- What would make this process easier for you and your company?
We all know that overwhelming yourself with too many activities will get your nowhere. Keep these things in mind:
- You get the best results when you focus on one thing. All your energy and attention goes to that one process and therefore has the highest chances of success. Humans are naturally bad multitaskers.
- Employees do their best work when they focus on one thing. Trying to get them to do many things yields mediocre results.
- Your energy is limited. Respect yourself and design a business that has longevity. Don’t design a company of frantic culture and ridiculous expectations. Businesses like that “burnout” and employees leave.
Step 3 – Growing
The idea with the first two steps is that you have picked a few sales and marketing activities that are the easiest activities that drive the most revenue and gotten you your earliest sales. They come natural to you and your business and make your customers and employees happy.
Before you go back to experimenting with new strategies and tactics, try to scale your primary activities further. These activities have the most recorded data and you simply understand them the best. Your best bet is to take them as far as you can. Ask yourself these questions:
- How can I grow my business using only my primary sales and marketing activities?
- What’s the ROI (return on investment) of adding employees to help scale these activities?
- If I automate or streamline any part of the process, will I increase revenues?
The idea here is that focus and persistence is the best formula for marketing and sales success. If you know what works best for your company and you focus on scaling and improving those activities, you’ll generally end up in a better situation. Then once you've got more capital, employees and a sound method for expanding into activities, then you’re ready to move on and try new methods. Just remember, start with an experiment, note down the results, optimize what works, discard what doesn't and repeat. With that you'll be well on your way to building the business of your dreams.