Websites vs Businesses (Part 2)

Key Element: Plan

In Part 1 of this series I introduced you to two groups of people – Business Owners and Moonlighters.  I also shared the first two differences between websites and businesses – People and Product.  In the next two articles we’ll explore the third element which is Plan. Today I’ll cover Making and Marketing your product.

You can have all the right inside and outside people.  You can dream up the world’s next miracle product.  But, without the right Plan, your inside People won’t know what to do, your outside People won’t find you, and that amazing product will never see the light of day.  So, let’s breakdown the parts of your Plan.  Yes, your Plan.  That means that if you don’t have one at this point, or if your Plan is incomplete, you’re an idea – not a business.  So we’ll start with a commandment, “If thou shalt be a business, thou shalt have a plan.”

Making It

The first part of your Plan pertains to your product.  You have to decide how you are going to Make It.  By Make It, I mean get your hands on it, so this could be a process of manufacturing, creating, or sourcing.


If you are going to manufacture your product, you first need to know how much you can get for it when it is sold. What is the going market value of similar finished products?  Research at least 5 to 7 similar products, consider your customers, and decide whether you should price your finished product equal to the least expensive, the most expensive, or somewhere in between.

Next search the world over for the best deal you can find on raw materials of suitable quality.  Try to buy them as close to the source as possible, because every link in the supply chain raises the price.  Now calculate the materials cost of manufacturing your product.  Make sure you include any waste created by your manufacturing process.

Finally, consider the cost of labor in your manufacturing process.  Be sure to calculate wages, taxes, payroll expenses, and recruitment costs.

Questions: Will you being making the product yourself?  Will you have to hire labor?  Will your laborers have to possess certain skills or abilities?  Will you have to deal with unions or guilds? Look at what you’ll pay in regular labor and what costs you may accrue in overtime.  How many products can you make per day?  Will you be hiring your labor force as employees or will they be contracted?  Will you need to provide training, uniforms, vehicles, tools, or technology?  Will you need to provide benefits?

Remember: You need to be able to make money selling your product at the price you charge?


If your product is virtual or intellectual in nature like books, music, art, websites, or training courses, you’ll need to count the cost of your creation process.  Just like with manufacturers, this begins by studying your market.  Find 5 to 7 other people with whom you will compete and make note of what they charge.  Also, consider how they charge.

You’ll have startup costs.  Some creation processes can be financed through traditional means like small business loans.  Some are a little more difficult.  It’s hard to get a bank to loan you the money to live on  while you write the Great American Novel or paint your masterpiece.  The best financing for any business venture is your own savings if you have it.

Once you have an idea of how you’re going to keep the lights on while you create, you’ll need to consider your costs for raw materials, supplies, tools, technology, and training.  After you’ve counted all your costs, review your pricing amounts and structure.

Questions: How do your skills stack up with those of other creators in your industry?  Do they get partial payment up front and the balance after the job is complete?  Are they able to get all the money up front?  Do they have to float the cost of the job and get all of their money at the end?  What will you charge and how will you do it? Will you need to purchase memberships, subscriptions, or pay dues to any professional organizations?  Do you need any licenses or certifications?  Will you need professional representation like an agent or publicist?  Will you sell your product yourself or will you hire someone to sell it for you?

Remember: You need to be able to make money selling your product at the price you charge?


Sourcing is probably the most straight forward means of Making a product.  This where you simply buy a product from it’s manufacturer and resell it to the public.  Like the other two options, you should study your market.  Look at 5 to 7 of your competitors.    Examine their pricing and sales process.  How you sell your product and how you get paid are fundamental aspects of any business.

Once you have your price and payment options nailed down, you’ll have to consider some costs.  Again, buy as close to the source as possible.  Your margin depends on it.  Many suppliers require minimum orders which means that you’ll have to order a quantity of each item.  You’ll front the cost of buying and shipping the products, so from the time you order to the time you sell, those products are costing you money.

Questions: What do your competitors charge for the same or comparable products?  Do they sell online or in a brick and mortar store?  What merchant accounts are they using?  Do they get their money all at once or in payments?  Do they use financing?  What about shipping and warehousing?  Will you need to rent storage space?  Will your products deteriorate or expire over time?  How much money can you afford to have tied up in unsold products?

Remember: You need to be able to make money selling your product at the price you charge?

Marketing It

When you’ve decided how you’re going to Make your product, it’s time to decide how you will Market it.  Marketing is the process of putting your product in front of people in the right place at the right time with a message that compels them to take action and buy.  In my experience, many marketers focus too much on the placement and timing.  They neglect the single most important element of any marketing plan – the Message.  Without a compelling message, all the media buying, placement, reach, and frequency in the world won’t help you.  You’ll just end up giving some marketer a lot of your hard-earned money to play with.


As the most essential part of Marketing your product, your message should focus on your customer’s passion or pain by using the basic story structure (Before Brand X…, But Brand X…, Because of Brand X…).  Your message is where the connection happens.  It’s where you begin to build trust with your customer through a shared experience, dream, or belief.

If you aren’t a writer, hiring a really good one to help you craft a killer message is the best money you will ever spend.  Your identity, your advertising, your reputation, your branding, and ultimately your sales will depend on the strength of your message.

Whether you’re using a passion-centered or pain-centered message, make sure you understand your customer’s issue thoroughly.  You can’t truly speak to someone’s love for golf if you’ve never played.  It’s also hard to sell weight-loss products if you’ve never struggled with weight or been close to someone who has.

The best messages come from passions and pains that you share with your customers.  When you love what they love, you’ll sell it with genuine enthusiasm.  When you struggle like they do, you’ll sell it with genuine compassion.

Regardless of which approach you choose, insist on developing your message before even considering any other elements of marketing.  And be wary of any marketer who wants you to spend or “invest” a dime of your money on media, placement, or anything else without a message.  Trust me, when they say things like, “We need to buy this ad space or this time slot while the price is good and we’ll develop the message as we go.”  Run Away!  Marketers get paid to sell media and advertising – not develop your message.  Never spend money on media until you have an effective message!  You have been warned.


After (and only after) you have your compelling message, you need to consider which media you will use to broadcast it.  I obviously prefer blogging, mainly because I like to write.  I also like blogging because it is a great way to attract customers by giving them a lot of value up front.  The price is good, too.  You can blog successfully for very little money by investing mainly time and talent.

I’ve created nearly every kind of advertising you can imagine from signs and vehicle graphics to print ads, mailers, billboards, and web ads.  Whatever media you choose, make sure that it carries your message far enough and often enough.

There are many marketers who will tell you that media buying is all about reaching the “right people.”  I don’t get hung up on the “right people” thing, because it’s a fallacy.  It relies on the idea that people live, work, play, and make decisions in a vacuum and that’s just not true.

The same people who will insist that you reach the “right people” will also talk about the need for word of mouth.  What do you think people talk about when they’re “word of mouthing” about you?  They talk about your message!  If I hear a great message that doesn’t necessarily apply to me, but does apply to someone I know, I’m likely to share that message.

I was thinking about you the other day.  I saw this cool ad for that thing you like/struggle with.  It’s called ______.  You should check it out.

In over 15 years of marketing everything from childcare centers to nursing homes, I can assure you that it is more important to say the “right thing” than it is to reach the “right people.”  Choose the best media you can afford that carries your message well.


Motivation is born from a combination of two things – placement and timing.  Offer a person the right thing in the right place at the right time and he will be motivated to buy it.  In his book, “The 100$ Startup” Chris Guillebeau tells a story of how some well-meaning people set up a stand to offer marathon runners free donuts at a certain mile marker.  At the same time there was another group of people who were offering orange slices.  The runners, who were still running the race, took all of the orange slices, but none of the donuts.

At the finish line, the runners were happy to eat donuts, because they had finished the race and were hungry.  The problem was not that runners don’t like donuts.  The issue was one of placement and timing.  People buy when they are presented with a good value through a compelling message at the right place and the right time.

That’s the first half of the Plan.  In the next article, we’ll look at the second two parts – Moving It and Maintaining It. What experiences can you share about making or marketing a product?  Leave a comment and let’s talks about it.

Differences Between Websites and Businesses (Part 2)
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Differences Between Websites and Businesses (Part 2)
Wonder why your websites aren't making any money? I'll show you 5 differences between Websites and Businesses that will help you make money.
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