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Andy Black

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There's been a few threads recently where people want to build directories or build platforms.

And a few other threads asking how to find ideas, niches, or needs.


Want to know my favourite business quote ever?

"Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person closest to you." (Mother Theresa)

Mother Theresa of all people.


I read her advice as saying to stop overthinking and go help someone - NOW.

... then keep going.

... and before you know it you might just make a dent in your corner of the universe.


I posted the content below on the inside in response to someone trying to decide whether he should build a business directory or not.

Maybe it will help those who want to build a directory or platform to get started?

Maybe it will help those looking for an idea to just go help people and see where it leads?

Maybe just fleshing out an example might convince a few to go help one person at a time?

...

A local business owner approached me last month. He runs a really small local printer and toner shop, and is branching out to PC repairs.

He wanted the best price for a landing page and AdWords campaigns.

I told him I was building a local directory for the county, and offered to create a listing for him and run campaigns, for free - so long as he covers the ad spend and he'd be our first case study.

He agreed immediately.

So what's going to happen now?

I'll get a page built on a domain I own.

I'll build AdWords campaigns in an account I own.

He'll enter his credit card details into the account and he'll pay Google directly.

I'll build campaigns to "count impressions" (count how often the ads show and thus tell me what people are searching for the most). Minimal spend at this stage.

I'll discuss findings with him. It might be there's not enough volume to justify going to the next step. Or it might be we find a few high volume segments or angles and go to the next phase.

Maybe I'll rebuild campaigns and/or the landing page. Or maybe I'll just push bids for the areas we identified as having enough potential volume.

Now we're buying visitors, which we hope will turn into enquiries and sales.

I'll work with the business owner to dial this in. I'm sure he'll let me know if he doesn't get enough enquiries, and if the enquiries are poor quality.

He's paying the ad spend, supplying the subject matter expertise, and providing feedback to help us dial it in for him.

We'll get to know the search volumes, impression shares, impressions, average positions, CTR, and cost-per-click.

We'll get to know the way people search, the type of page(s) that convert visitors into enquiries, the click-to-enquiry-rate, the enquiry-to-sale-rate, the cost-per-enquiry, the cost-per-sale, the possible revenue (if he's forthcoming - which they often are since they're not paying me and realise I'm in it with them).

I get to know a local business owner very well.

He gets to know me and my processes very well. Even at this stage it could be enough for him to provide referrals without me asking - that's how he found me after all.

Visitors to the landing page get to know about some new directory in their county. Maybe they're business owners who might be interested in getting one of them pages and them Google ads built for them?

Maybe all his print toner clients get to know of what I do when they come into his shop and he tells them about his new service and gives them the URL? (He's had his shop in my town for 10 years btw... that's a lot of business owners he knows.)

Visitors will end up on my remarketing list for sure - a remarketing list he's building for me.

Maybe he'll becomes a paying customer after a few months?

Maybe he just stays as a case study and champion?



That's how I'd approach this.

I wouldn't create spreadsheets wondering what this would look like at scale.

I'd go help someone first, and start filling out a spreadsheet with actual data collected out there in the real world.

I'd try to build win-wins immediately.

I'd try to build good will whether it works or not.


Focus on helping one person first, *before* building a platform.
 
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Nicoknowsbest

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Thanks @Andy Black, brilliant story.

I couldn't agree more...

If you focus on others instead of yourself, the magic happens.

2 weeks ago I was able to sign up a new client for a monthly retainer to help him with social media.

The thing is, I had never done social media before.

And he knew that.

He needed help and liked how I approach things and is willing to invest in me to wrap my head around it.

Now, I am getting paid to learn something and after that I'll have a case study to show.

He'll get value for a small fee and hopefully results. If not, we tried.

He showed what I have done so far to his contacts and I already have 2 more leads lined up for the same type of work.

If we focus on creating raving fans, the rest will come seemingly effortless.

Happy Monday everybody! :)
 

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Speaking of building a directory... let's say you want to test a concept for a hyperlocal directory. You want to gauge the market need for an online resource/app that shares information about businesses in a particular region that are owned and operated by local owners - via a directory, articles, events, etc. You want to see how much emphasis locals truly put on patronizing businesses in their area that are locally owned (the whole "support local" movement), because of the fact that they are locally owned. You want to find out if that's a REAL factor in the local market's decision process when people in the community spend money in their geographic area.

My first thought is to build a quick website, write a few initial articles about local businesses showcasing their ties to the community, which would help a few business owners in the process, as Andy describes above. Then run some ads targeting local residents to promote the content, sending people to those articles, and have a placeholder page for the directory describing how it would work, with a sign up form for where people can get email alerts on when the directory launches. I could also use a popup modal with an email sign up form that asks if they want to sign up to get alerted about other local, family-owned businesses. That's a pretty old school way to test this idea - then again, the idea itself might be a little outdated too I suppose.

What other ways am I not thinking of, maybe some more modern techniques, that could help test this concept in the market (and help one person/business at a time in the process) before building it all out, to see if locals truly care about supporting locally owned businesses?
 
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Andy Black

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Speaking of building a directory... let's say you want to test a concept for a hyperlocal directory. You want to gauge the market need for an online resource/app that shares information about businesses in a particular region that are owned and operated by local owners - via a directory, articles, events, etc. You want to see how much emphasis locals truly put on patronizing businesses in their area that are locally owned (the whole "support local" movement), because of the fact that they are locally owned. You want to find out if that's a REAL factor in the local market's decision process when people in the community spend money in their geographic area.

My first thought is to build a quick website, write a few initial articles about local businesses showcasing their ties to the community, which would help a few business owners in the process, as Andy describes above. Then run some ads targeting local residents to promote the content, sending people to those articles, and have a placeholder page for the directory describing how it would work, with a sign up form for where people can get email alerts on when the directory launches. I could also use a popup modal with an email sign up form that asks if they want to sign up to get alerted about other local, family-owned businesses. That's a pretty old school way to test this idea.

What other ways am I not thinking of, maybe some more modern techniques, that could help test this concept in the market (and help one person/business at a time in the process) before building it all out, to see if locals truly care about supporting locally owned businesses?

Start as close to the end as possible?

So you're thinking of creating articles about local businesses and getting people to opt into a waitlist for when your directory launches?

Why not try to sell their products/services to locals immediately? Maybe by running ads on Google or Facebook to see if people buy?
 
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Ludachris

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Why not try to sell their products/services to locals immediately? Maybe by running ads on Google or Facebook to see if people buy?
How would that give me the data I need to determine if the directory/website would work though? I don't necessarily want to get into the business of managing Google and FB ad spends for local businesses. Or are you not suggesting that? The goal with this idea would be to build a resource that locals go to in order to find businesses they would like to support. A different version of Yelp and Google Maps, which emphasizes locally owned businesses. As there aren't any resources that do this. My goal is to find out if it's something the market needs.
 

Ludachris

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How would that give me the data I need to determine if the directory/website would work though? I don't necessarily want to get into the business of managing Google and FB ad spends for local businesses. Or are you not suggesting that? The goal with this idea would be to build a resource that locals go to in order to find businesses they would like to support. A different version of Yelp and Google Maps, which emphasizes locally owned businesses. As there aren't any resources that do this. My goal is to find out if it's something the market needs.
Or are you suggesting doing A/B campaign testing around the "locally owned" concept vs. just their products/services to see if the "locally owned" ads perform better than the other ads?
 

Jrjohnny

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I’m surprised this thread didn’t get more recognition…

It’s a great post, Andy.

Reminds me of when I think Johnny boy said becoming nothing to something bad, then something mediocre, then something better, then something good, then something great, then the best.

Take it by one, then ten, then hundreds, thousands, millions, and maybe even billions..
 
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Andy Black

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How would that give me the data I need to determine if the directory/website would work though? I don't necessarily want to get into the business of managing Google and FB ad spends for local businesses. Or are you not suggesting that? The goal with this idea would be to build a resource that locals go to in order to find businesses they would like to support. A different version of Yelp and Google Maps, which emphasizes locally owned businesses. As there aren't any resources that do this. My goal is to find out if it's something the market needs.

Or are you suggesting doing A/B campaign testing around the "locally owned" concept vs. just their products/services to see if the "locally owned" ads perform better than the other ads?
Someone's got to buy something at some point. What will people buy? Who are the people who will buy? How will you earn some of it?
 

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