Get Sold (Guest Post by Drew Badger from EnglishAnyone.com)
When talking with Drew Badger, it is soon obvious just how knowledgeable he is about marketing.
He has built a successful online course that solves a big problem for English learners: becoming conversationally fluent. He also has a very successful Youtube channel with over 200 videos.
In this post he shares what he believes to be the most important skill in business. This is great stuff for anyone looking to get into the world of online teaching and product creation.
Take it away Drew!
Why Most Businesses Fail
Aspiring entrepreneurs usually fail because they build businesses backwards. They spend time coding websites, printing business cards, thinking up killer company names, designing products and a thousand other things that, while potentially helpful in the long term, just aren’t necessary when starting and proving a business.
Not all businesses need websites. Not all businesses need physical stores. What all of them do need, however, is paying customers. So why not focus all of your attention on getting those first?
I know the story of business failure intimately because I lived it when I first ventured online. I had this great idea for a book that could help Japanese children learn the alphabet in a few hours. I was convinced it was genius and spent the next year and a half designing the book, creating its illustrations, and even founding a company to get the book into online stores. In the end, I had a beautiful book available on Amazon.com, but very few sales.
The odd thing is that I thought this failure meant I was doing everything right. I was incredibly frustrated, but undeterred because I assumed I was supposed to fail many times before I found success. If I could just work harder and come up with a better idea, I believed, I’d eventually reach the Promised Land.
Follow (Only) the Leaders
It took another two years – and many more failures – before I finally questioned the assumptions of the path I was on and decided to do something different: follow only the advice of those who’d actually built successful businesses.
Money is a funny thing. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it, so it’s easy to be lead astray by well-meaning individuals who’ve never built successful businesses. I know I certainly had been. It made perfect sense to visit a baker if I had questions about bread, or consult a doctor if I had concerns about health, but, until only recently, that same logic never transferred to the realm of things financial.
What I had begun to learn while studying great entrepreneurs was that the source of this disconnect in my brain was the mythology of business in popular culture. I take full responsibility for my failures, of course, but I was finally uncovering the foundation of the paradigm that stacked the odds of success heavily against me.
The Dangerous Myth of Success
The story of the dreamer who created something in a garage/basement/dorm room and turned it into a wildly successful business, though inspirational, carries with it two hidden, and extremely dangerous, messages. The first is that a clever individual created something independent of a problem requiring a solution people were willing to pay for. The second is that people should sell a product or service after creating it. (Yes, you read that right.) Together, these messages mutate the idea of business in the mind of the entrepreneur from the simple act of profitable service into a complicated trial by fire promising years of pain and struggle in return for little hope of success.
With the help of those who’d gone before me, I’d finally broken the spell the myth of entrepreneurship had cast on me. Entrepreneurs should be serving a market by addressing a need – like solving a painful problem – and selling their solution before creating their product or service.
If this sounds at all alien to you, or even downright impossible, that’s understandable. It certainly threw me for a loop when I discovered it. But when I considered the alternative, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Get Paid First
To make things a bit more concrete, here’s how my book example would have looked had I known then what I know now. First, I would have gone to teachers and parents and asked what problems their students/children were experiencing. I would have dug deep until I found something that was really holding them back. Whatever that would have been, I would have worked with them to design the ideal solution while cultivating a customer base primed to purchase what I’d create.
Next, I’d make an offer to those most eager for the solution to receive it faster – and/or with more favorable terms – in exchange for the money to fund the creation of the product or service (which is entirely possible if you’ve built up enough trust, and have a desirable enough solution).
Contrast this with the path I took only a few years earlier. That one brought frustration, confusion and uncertainty while this one virtually guarantees success. Much, much faster.
The True Nature of Selling
The way of the successful entrepreneur also makes selling so much easier because you’ve solved a problem you know people are willing to pay for. With your market! That means there’s nothing to push onto customers. In fact, they’ll be begging you to sell your solution to them! Honestly, great salespeople only want to sell things to people eager to buy them. Wouldn’t you rather shoot fish in a barrel, too?
If you’re still with me, your homework is to master the formula of solution to painful problem → sales → product/service from the best. I want you to join the mailing list of Perry Marshall, one of the greatest information marketers in the business right now, AS WELL AS the mailing lists of three other leaders in completely unrelated industries. Search Google until you find pages with email opt- in boxes (those little forms where you put in your name and email address to instantly get access to some beneficial gift). Open all of the mails you receive, study their systems, notice how they write, read between the lines and get sold!
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Disappointed by the failure of my book, I turned, as most beginning entrepreneurs do, to the next “can’t miss” idea. EnglishAnyone.com began as a way to leverage the lessons I’d created for the classroom. It’s since become my English lesson laboratory and personal business school.
EnglishAnyone.com helps students speak fluent English clearly, confidently and automatically. We have over 200 video lessons available on YouTube, and produce a premium, monthly video course called Master English Conversation that uses our innovative Fluency Bridge method to help learners who struggle to speak finally become fluent.
By Drew Badger.