Critical litmus test for a brand new online business

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Last night I was in Indiana and a guy I don’t know very well asked me what I did.

“Marketing consultant. I specialize in Google advertising.”

2-3 years ago that answer usually produced a puzzled look. Most people didn’t even know that “Google” and “advertising” even belonged in the same sentence. Now PPC is so mainstream, it usually provokes a further series of questions.

Will says, “You know, I’ve been thinking” [I think know what he’s gonna say next] “….why don’t I start some kind of online business where I take orders and send them on to the manufacturers who ship stuff direct for me, and?.”

I replied, “A lot of people do that, and there’s an endless supply of manufacturers that know how to make stuff but don’t know how to sell it. You’ll find them at any trade show. Oh and by the way, the BIG opportunities are with the foreign manufacturers, cuz they have no clue how to sell stuff here. That model can definitely pay off.”

We talk some more. I explain, “Now here’s a litmus test that will tell you if you’re in the right kind of business.” We were standing in the lobby of his church and someone was playing music in another room somewhere.

I said, “If you walk in that room and give one of your church buddies the elevator speech for your business, and they immediately understand it? you’re in the wrong business. If you’re starting a solo online biz, the only way you have a chance is if it’s a niche within a niche.

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“If you tell them, ‘My business sells RS232 interfaces for computers made between 1995 and 2000 and we enable software communication with Unix blah blah blah’ they’ll have no idea what you just said. That’s probably a good niche.

“Or if you tell them, ‘I do property tax negotiations for landlords who’ve failed to file form GL632 and are in violation of the Underhill Act of 1964’ their eyes will glaze over because they don’t get it. That’s probably also good business to be in.

“You want to choose some teeny tiny hill and be the #1 king of that hill in the whole world.”

He nodded his head excitedly. “I GOT IT! THANKS!”

The lightbulb went on. I was there when it happened, I saw it :^> He’s a sharp sales guy and I’m sure his imagination is working overtime now.

And so it is with you. If you’re getting killed in a mainstream market, narrow your focus to a smaller niche within that market. Fight a battle you can win, and prevail.

Another thing I’ve seen a lot lately is that when you’re talking to business owners and topics like Google come up, people sit up and take notice. Especially as you demonstrate actual competence in online advertising. They know it’s important and they also know it’s way over their heads.

There’s never been a better time to be selling your Pay Per Click skills to a hungry audience that knows they need your expertise. The demand is real.

Perry Marshall

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

One Comment on “Critical litmus test for a brand new online business”

  1. About people paying attention when you mention Google: I was at a wedding rehearsal after-party about a month ago. When I told somebody I did SEO/SEM, a small crowd of unemployed & underemployed photographers gathered. Moths to a flame, they were…

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