This Spring, I’ll be publishing a new book entitled A Member Is Worth a Thousand Visitors: A Proven Method For Making More Money Online.
The book is anchored by a discussion of the five forces of online revenue growth through memberships. My team and I identified these forces over the past two and a half years through hands-on experiments with our clients, primary research and interviews, and a review of research projects done by academics. We’ve seen our approach drive 50-600% revenue growth. We previewed the five forces of online revenue growth here: Force #1, Force #2, Force #3, Force #4, and Force #5.
Let’s tie it together by discussing how to leverage your strategy and tech intelligently to put the forces to work.
When it comes to using the five forces of online revenue growth, a strategy is everything. There are many common and costly marketing mistakes that can be made when a strategy is not clearly defined.
I’ve seen a lack of strategy hurt colleagues time and time again. One publisher (who will remain nameless to protect the guilty) literally spent four years and millions of dollars on a new CMS implementation and got no tangible benefit from the investment. No new customers. No new products. What they did get? Everyone complaining about the new system. (Needless to say, their CTO got fired as a result).
It’s for this reason that I warn all our customers: Don’t spend a dime on technology until you have a comprehensive strategy in place.
First, Hold the Tech
Of course one of the most valuable tools for selling digital products is technology. But unfortunately, technology without a strategy doesn’t get you anywhere. And because it’s costly and time-consuming, it can even be detrimental to your business.
Remember: the technological tools you employ are less important than the business functions that those tools are meant to implement. Before you run out and embrace the newest tech fad, you need to think strategically about how you’re going to use it, and what for.
If you’re going to spend money on technology, you have to couple it with a strategy for getting new customers or keeping existing customers. When faced with a purchase decision, stop to ask, “Why are we doing this? What are we using this tool for? How will it lead to sales?” If you don’t have concrete answers to these questions, you aren’t ready to adopt the tool yet. And in fact, when you explore the answers you might find you shouldn’t adopt the tech at all.
Define Your Growth Strategy
Ideally, your implementation of the five forces of online revenue growth—whales, conversions, upselling, experimenting, and bandwidth—should be in motion even before you begin asking people to buy your content. You can set up a paywall, but if you don’t position your content to optimize both your value proposition to the reader and the return on investment for you, you would be better off waiting.
For this reason, technology and marketing tactics without a strategy behind them are not solutions. It’s vital to come up with a strategy and a product that’s specific to your market and to make sure that you have the right business model in place before launching any new technology.
One problem many executives face, however, is confusing their tactics with their strategy. If you’ve ever heard or caught yourself using any of the following, or variations of them to describe your strategy, it’s a good indicator that what you are doing is not a strategy. It’s a goal, a tactic, or even simply a task.
strategygoal is to hit our budget.
strategytactic is to use a target list of Adwords.
- We have a
strategycurrent task to implement the best CMS platform to provide content to our visitors.
Your strategy is the tangible master plan designed to help you reach your online revenue growth goals. You use tactics to create a list of tasks that will follow the plan. They don’t make up the plan itself.
Strategic planning starts with researching four things: your audience, business partners, content, and the dynamics of your industry. There are many questions to ask and areas of your business to consider. These guides can help.
Putting It All Together
By now you understand why it’s important to adapt to the digital world and make money directly from your whales without relying on advertising to sustain you. You’ve learned the five forces of a successful digital strategy. You know that it is important to have a plan before spending money on a solution.
If you’re ready to build an online revenue strategy using the five forces, order A Member Is Worth a Thousand Visitors: A Proven Method For Making More Money Online today. Or, if you need hands-on help, contact The Sterling Woods Group today for a free 30-minute consultation.
How Sterling Woods Can Help
The Sterling Woods Group teaches clients our five forces to methodically make more money online. The goal: make sure you lock in double-digit growth year after year using the power of digital media. Many companies have experienced over 50% growth using our system. Beyond the financial benefits, clients tell us that – for the first time in years – they feel truly focused.
We offer workshops, coaching, and keynote speeches. Sterling Woods is also an agency that launches new digital initiatives, so clients don’t have to add overhead. Our agency business model is unique in that most of our fees are based on performance.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, Founder and CEO of Sterling Woods, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. He started his career as a consultant at McKinsey. Ristagno holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.
Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors: A Proven Method for Making More Money Online, set to be published in 2018. He regularly speaks at key media conferences, including at Niche Media events, Specialized Information Publishers Association meetings, and the Business Information and Media Summit.