Day 3 - Market Research

CCarter

If they cease to believe in u, do u even exist?
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Hopefully you aren't playing Russian Roulette with your online marketing ventures - but if you are I'm going to go in-depth on the most crucial component every online business, website, even a simple MFA site (Made For Adsense site), needs. Instead of gambling for the next X amount of months within an industry and later figuring out you are up against a juggernaut or the niche isn't simply profitable, you'll want to do market research to gain the competitive advantage and really know your niche inside and out before you start your ascension. Knowing the type of characteristics of your potential audience is key to leveraging every advantage you have. Knowing your competitors weaknesses and strength will also help you find blind spots they are completely missing.

Some of this information is traditionally used to create a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis. You'll be able to find spot opportunities and/or problems, monitor your overall performance and get a better understanding of your visitors and customer database (hopefully you are collecting visitor information).

At the end, I create a quick worksheet that you can download (PDF), and quickly fill out so you can see if the business you are in or are attempting to enter is even viable.

"Wait, wait... Carter, you want us to do work, before work..."

Yeah, you lazy mofos. If you took 15 to 60 minutes out of your day, simply doing proper research, you won't venture into projects, businesses, or niches that are completely un-profitable, and in turn make you rather miserable, hating life.

Who can benefit and why:

Businesses: Seriously, if you have a business with tax ID, and the whole legit she-bang, and you only have an "idea" of your market, without even writing it down you are destined to fail. 90% of businesses fail within their first year, not because they weren't organized, but rather they jumped into something without proper research. You don't want to realize that 6 months or even 4 years into a business that your model is not really sustainable. Trust me on this one.

Websites: There are 4 types of websites (with hybrids in between) - eCommerce, Brands, Informative, and Lead Generation. Every one of those types of websites, whether their audience needs to generate money, traffic (advertise sales), or inform people need to know who their end customer/client is. Even if you put up a simple blog, simply having a customer profile (or visitor profile), with an understanding of what the picture perfect visitor would be, puts you 1 step ahead of the competition.

MFA sites: Well besides all the previously mentioned benefits, if your MFA site takes off, you'll probably start looking into getting better earnings per visitor and you'll realize Adsense doesn't cut it. You'll think of putting up your own advertising display solution and allow people to buy spots on your site. Guess what, since you've done your market research, you've got 80% of your media kit done, since that's what advertisers are going to want to know when thinking about whether you're target audience falls in line with their target audience. Imagine coming in with bad ass stats, makes you look more professional right? Meaning, your going to be able to demand and get a higher price point for your website asset.​

Now, by no means, am I trying to give McKinsey a run for their money, they've got the market research down pat. What I will try to do is create a mini Market Research Guide on how to tackle a new project.

What I noticed in the online marketing industry, is the majority of people jump on the web thinking they are going to make a million dollars by running a blog, and then just start typing away.

Most internet marketers don't know the first thing about actual marketing; which is ironic, since if they took the time to get a basic understanding, they would be able to spot virgin markets and dominate. Most web marketers consider Google their all end to anything online.

I'd don't want to get into a long winded screw SEO rant, but there are basic SMALL steps you can do to start divesting your reliance on one source of traffic and I wrote extensively about within Coordinating Your Marketing later on in this crash course.

Lettuce Begin, these are the topics we'll be going over:

1. Customer Profile
2. Product Mix
3. Demographic Issues and Trends
4. Future Regulatory and Legal Effects
5. Prices and Values, & Customer Perceptions
6. Competitor Activities
7. Competitor Strengths and Weaknesses
8. Customer Service Perceptions, Priorities and Needs
9. Communication
10. Public Relations

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Customer Profile:

The most critical component when doing marketing is your customer. You create a customer profile by writing down a brief description of the ideal customer. I'm going to be using a "SpaceShip Buyer", yeah that's right - I'm pretty sure I'm not outting here :wink: . Imagine the ideal SpaceShip Buyer, and what drives him.


My brief description:

"He (Most likely male) probably has A LOT of disposable income. SpaceShips probably range in the low $1- 2 Billion Dollars. So this individual is probably very successful and runs multiple businesses. He definitely has an accountant, and is more adventurous than most. More ambitious than the average "rich" person, since they are looking to go into space. They've got a curiosity for science or maybe just being on the next frontier. They've probably grew up watching science fiction shows such as 'Star Trek', 'Star Wars', 'Outer Limits', etc."

By using my imagination, I can come up with a story/background of the ideal customers life, their hobbies, interests, age range, education, etc. This is critical in future brainstorming sessions on how to properly market to the individual. Marketing is about not only getting in front of the consumer, but connecting with them, sharing a story and engaging. Advertising, is just a billboard ad where your targeted audience 'might' be. Marketing is a higher level. Now imagine you wrote this description and want to figure out how to target this individual. You know they like Science Fiction shows about outer space, at least you assume. You also know they are at the higher end of the wealth ladder, meaning they are going to be a lot fewer of these individuals.

Traditional advertising may not work. This might turn out to be a man hunt to find the individuals who are the richest of the rich. Right there you can scrap all advertisement ideas of YouTube, Facebook, or other low market individuals OR you might not want to. You might make such a huge marketing campaign that everyone is going to be talking about it, all the way to the news stations and that'll get your target's attention. Possible employees, friends, or family may deliver your message for you during conversations, "Hey, you heard about that company that's selling SpaceShips?". Right there, that might get their attention. Or it could be a completely viral failure, but that's for your marketing team to figure out :wink:

So a customer profile is the idea model of the individual you are looking to target, the more descriptive, the better. It'll help you in the long run.

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Product Mix

Product mixes are basically the different products/services you offer. A great example is Apple. They used to have a desktop computer, and laptop. 2 product mixes. To gain access to other markets they've introduced the iPhone, and created a market - tablets - with the iPad. Now they've integrated their products almost seamlessly, with different variations.

But lets take a look at their laptops. They used to have a 13 inch, 15 inch, and 17 inch, simple product line (I'm keeping this example as simple as possible). But now by introducing the MacBook Air, they cannibalized one of their other laptop products - Most likely the 13 inch, since it will now be directly competing for the exact same market share. When you introduce a new product/service, you have to take into consideration the effects it has on your other products/services. You might end up losing sales, revenue, and even worst customers.

I know I'm a big a fan of the 17 inch MacBook Pros, which accounted for 1.7% of global Apple Sales. Guess what these knuckleheads did? They discontinued it. Yeah, I was pissed and so were a lot of other people. I imagine anyone willing to buy a 17 inch version would be a die-hard fan or someone with a small penis that needs to compensate for something else. :D

Either way, I got fucked over. I swore to never buy another Apple laptop again, but realistically that won't last, cause I am a part of the cult.

So, when you're doing any product mix research, look at your competition, see what areas are they leaving open, watch for weaknesses, and watch for strengths. It's key to your overall profitability more so than anything else. Knowing your best product, and what not to axe if the time comes is critical. Match up your product/service side by side the competition, and note weaknesses and strengths.

FYI, cannibalization is not always bad. It maybe necessary if there is a plan to phase out an inferior product with a superior model.

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Demographic Issues And Trends

Alright, now that you have your customer profile, you've pretty much can put together the demographics that exist by doing a quick glance. Depending on your targeted audience, there may be significant issues and trends that you need to look out for. Currently, there are not real great "sentiment" monitoring tools on the market, so the next best thing is to follow keyword tweets about your niche. Get Google Alerts on everything in your niche. Try to figure out how your potential customers will interact with your business and could react to changes in the overall market place.

For example, we're selling space ships, what if it's discovered the earth is hollow, and the middle is actually made up of reptile people? Not an issue? Well, it might be since one of the reasons for going into space might be to find new life forms. Well now it seems they are right underneath our feet. Space travel in general might become dull. Now everyone wants to go inside the earth, and that's the new hot thing. That's an issue (actually a trend).

You need to be on top of everything. If you were on top of deep exploration, you'd see a potential hurdle or opportunity. If you were on top of that new topic, of reptile people, you might take that to your advantage and start a campaign "hey, it might be time to get off this planet, they might eat us." OR you can modify your space ship to also work underwater, to explore the inside of the earth and pop up on the other side. This shit is getting weird.

An issue, might be that all your top billionaires might get hit with a serious tax in the coming months if they don't dump it into a special project that will create new jobs - Thanks Obama. Maybe as a "SpaceShip Seller", you can now turn this into an opportunity where you talk about the spaceship needing a dedicated crew, that will be a tax haven, so those billionaires don't get hit.

If you can see the curve coming you can correct your aim, and win. But you have to be looking up.

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Future Regulatory and Legal Effects

So with any business there is going to be some regulatory situations that do occur if an industry doesn't police itself. We are currently seeing that with the FTC with all these disclaimers on blog posts, tweets, Facebook post (I dunno, I assume this is in that new regulation book). Most people worried about the FTC regulations are going to be marketers. But if the business you are about to create happens to be in a regulated market, hey you'd better be well aware of that. If there are any trade organizations, make sure you are aware of them.

Google "Spaceship associations", "Spaceship regulations", and other things which can be used to find sources for your industry. The parts you used in your spaceship might also be regulated, you need to know that. Example, Jet Fuel, how easy is it to get it, what's the regulations on transporting it.

And Legal, Can you just build a rocket/spaceship launcher in the middle of nowhere? Are there specific environmental effects?

Let's bring the FTC into this one again, what legal repercussions are there for advertorials? What about blogging about the new nike shoe? What if you forget to put a disclaimer at the bottom of your site? What are the consequences?

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Prices and Values, AND Customer Perceptions In These Areas

Alright, pricing is everything. For the most part everyone wants to charge the highest pricing possible, but that's not always possible, if you and your competitors don't have a unique selling proposition, and they are cutting each other's throats with lower pricing.

Perceived value is also critical. What you perceived something at might not be what your ideal customer perceives it at. And most of the time, they might in-directly tell you. I'm of the school that "pricing is determined by what the market will bear". If a customer is willing to pay you X amount of dollars for something your competitor is charging half of, you'd better have better packaging, a unique selling proposition, or something that will show the added value of buying from you.

Even Customer Service is a perceived value. Take a look at the Apple store, by all conventions, they're products are pricier than their PC counterparts. But that customer service, and taking everything to the next level service is added into the price.

I remember I bought a MacBook Pro 17 inch around 2008. It was pretty high ticketed, had the RAM maxed out, HDD maxed, everything MAX. I didn't care, it was my baby. I worked with it for about 4 years, then the motherboard fried on me. So I took it to the Apple store, and they said it was their fault and they fixed it for free. I didn't have the Apple Care or any additional shit. Anyways, I got it back a week later, turns out, they put a slower processor in my MacBook Pro, so I took it back to the store, and they replaced it after 3 days or so. I decided to turned it on there in the store, and Bam, monitor didn't work. Since the manager knew the situation, they offered to upgrade me to the new model and transfer my files since I've been back and forth several times, at no additional cost.

So now I got a brand new Macbook, with all my old stuff, and I didn't pay a single dime. Now, if this was any other computer maker, would that level of care and attention have happened? I doubt it. After that experience will I not be singing Apple's glory to everyone I know? Yep. In the long run, they'll make more money by pleasing me, a loyal customer, versus telling me to go fuck myself. Now think about all the products/services you've sold online. Are you telling Customers to go fuck themselves afterwards? People will pay for quality, but you have to appear to have quality as well. People want to give you the benefit of the doubt, so in their own minds, they don't think they got scammed or fucked over. Goodwill goes a long way.

Pricing is key for any business. It'll determine whether you're profitable, or go broke. Do you want to be perceived as a high end business, if so, certain things like coupons, discounts, or promotions can't fit in your sales funnel. BUT that doesn't mean "added benefits" can't. Imagine walking into a Bentley dealership, you've made it, and then they ask if you have a coupon, the fuck? First thing that comes to your mind is "Bentley is fucking up." The perception of Bentley will deteriorate in your mind. Perception is reality.


Now think about walking into a Dollar store, handing a coupon to the cashier - that make sense, correct? A dollar store's unique selling point is they are cheap. They are in the business of low prices, and undercutting the competition. But, you get what you pay for.

Take all that into consideration when thinking about pricing. Do you want to compete on pricing or value. Do you want to appear above the competition with quality as your backbone?. Or Do you want to be in the mud cutting each other's throats. Me, I prefer quality, but then there are times when you can put out a service with a lower price that will take market shares away from your competitors, and make profits up in volume. But you have to decide your pricing model early on.

You can always Lower pricing, But you can NEVER increase pricing - or at least without a really fucking good reason.

People will have the perception, your product is worth, X, and if they see prices going up, they'll go into defense mode. Prices going down, they'll be more open - IF the perceived value make sense. If you see Bentley selling cars at Hyundai pricing, you know something's off. (Connects with Unique Selling Proposition later on)

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Competitor Activities

Well, this is where most of you online marketers have it right. Ahrefs.com, Majestic, and all the tools people are using to figure out what's going on with a website that's ranking. Match and exceed.

It's important to note that you have to be realistic with your competitors when starting out. The goal isn't to take on ESPN out of the gates, but take on the competitors within reach, and climb up the ladder as you gain notoriety within your industry. If you have an extremely unique selling proposition (USP) and the value can be seen immediately, you may become the de-facto alternative for your industry, and this will propel you to heights you may not be ready for, but will love. The key with any online business is having that USP and being able to showcase and convey the message to your audience.

Mituozo talks about some things he does:

"I'll look at competitors, what they're doing, what I think they're doing well, what they're doing badly, then try to come up with a site which solves the problems they're not solving too well if it's a big branded site. That could be solving problems for a particular demographic that I think is underserved, or a particular geo location, whatever really."​

My spin - I download all my competitors' adwords ads, creatives I can find, and put in a respective folders called Competition > CompetiitonWebsiteURLs.com > Adwords. I gather about 100 competitors, mostly directly, and some in-direct competition's data and just save it. After a week or so when I'm going through my planning, I go back and mentally absorb everything. I try to figure out as much about the competition as possible. During this time I create a textfile (yeah lame, .txt), with Likes and Dislikes, and just add every note I can about what my competition is doing.

A Big master textfile, and by the time I go through it, I've learned more than I could before even jumping into the market. "A fool learns from their own mistakes, a wise man learns from the mistakes of others." Now, once you have all these strengths and weaknesses, you can jump into the next section.

Let me throw a shout out - this is where my buddy @Bloghue goes into detail about what he does with WhatRunsWhere.

@Bloghue speaks:

Competition analysis (if you have big names ahead of you) is pretty damn interesting. I specifically am a fan of WhatRunsWhere for competitive analysis. People, especially brands, are investing heavily into media buys - it's then just a number game on how well you negotiate more often than not. Once the report arrives - it gives you an extremely intelligent idea of what exactly it is that those guys and their teams are doing. Their banner text/pictures reveal pretty well on how specific of a targeting has been done. Sources are outed as well.

I heavily rely on demographic metrics - age, gender, ethnicity etc. Always have.

I then further analyze the topics social media outreach. Now there might not be a competitor necessarily promoting their page. I just want to see the general acceptability of the niche across variant social outlets. If it is there, that adds more brownie points to my research. http://socialmention.com/ is a wonderful tool for that.​

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Various Tools for your conquest:

SERPWoo - Obviously our all time favorite tool (disclaimer: I maybe a co-founder of this tool), SERPWoo allows you to watch your niche's keywords and monitor who your top competitors really are. What I like to do before entering a new niche is do keyword research with SERPWoo's keyword finder, SEMRush, and Google Keyword Planner, find the keywords which are not only the top priorities of my niche but also the ones with "buyer intent" (more on this within the Keyword Research Day of this crash course).

I then create a new project, normal, national wide, and one that's local if I also want to target a specific region. I input all the keywords I found, and input my domain as well. Afterwards as the data starts gathering I love tagging my competitors with red tags, so the system will start recognizing these individuals and give me more information on them if they increase in the search engine results rapidly, or decline, or have any weird sudden movement in real-time.

BuzzSumo - This tool helps me find out what's hot within social media for my niche. I simply input a keyword and find all the top articles and their social metrics by social platforms. Since you can sort by the platform's highest numbers I can create similar content around those top performing articles and generate similar buzz. But the real key is I'll be able to monitor the top guys killing it in my niche and what their social movements are and then mimic and eventually exceed their strategy.

Another trick with BuzzSumo is I can find key influencers in my niche and ask for a guest post from them onto my website - therefore allowing me to leverage their authority, credibility and influence - while allowing my brand to reach their audience since they'll be encouraged to push it to their home grown audience.

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Competitor Strengths and Weaknesses

Me - not being a big fan of Google being my primary source I continue to advocate for multiple streams of traffic. So, Watch what your competitors are taking advantage of, things that might be in your blind spot. For example, there are several new avenues and marketplaces which most online marketers have not even begun attacking.

Kindle and ePub. Amazon is putting a lot of effort in attempting to compete with Apple, and you can use this to your advantage. Have a product that fits in this demo, make sure you have a Kindle version of it! Apple and Android marketplace are growing at a phenomenal rate. Even if you can't take direct advantage of it now, simply have an app, that will create some user functionality/connectivity to your business giving you a direct avenue to your customer base. What's more personal than a phone? Get in their pockets, and collect emails, and grow your customer base. Being on a personal device such as a smartphone falls into the play with the Communication aspect. How you communicate with your customers/clients is crucial, and that ties into customer service.

What about Yellow Pages? Do you see your competition continuing that old and tried route? Does it make sense to the demo? For example, people are still killing it with computer repair in the yellow pages from my research. Anyone that's willing to look in a yellow pages for "computer repair" must be in desperate need or are extremely un-tech savvy. Are we going to advertise a SpaceShip for sale in the yellow pages, probably not, I doubt the demo uses yellow pages, and most likely has assistants that handle their research. It's easier to think outside the box, when you see and know what your competitors are doing, especially the most outlandish stuff.

Now this is the section where you start thinking and coming up with your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). A USP is something that distinguishes you from your competitors. Sometimes it can be small, sometimes, it can be huge. But the more the unique angle you have and if you are able to broadcast it correctly through your brand's communication and marketing efforts, that can be the key and corner stone to your business. The USP is the reason you'll be profitable.

Think about it like this, you're walking in the mall, and see two different cellphone offers. AT&T and T-Mobile. They all offer the exact same thing, but T-Mobile has "unlimited data". Now think about it, notice the commercials you see for these big brands, they really will only highlight their USP in their commercials, why? Cause that's the make it or break it decision. Everything else being equal, the USP plays a major role in the deciding factor for consumers. Write down your USP, and make sure it's front and center in your marketing.

Wait a minute now, Carter, what if the competition copies me. Well, that's going to happen, but you've got to highlight your biggest benefit and advantage over your competition, until it's no longer an advantage, then you move on to the next thing by surveying your customers, listening to customer service, and figuring out what your consumers want new features of.

One thing that I can guarantee, "Consumers don't know what they want, but they will tell you what they DON'T Want." Keep that in mind throughout your surveying.

One thing you have to realize, is if you become very successful, they competition is going to copy you no matter what, you might as well take a huge leap forward before they do that. Keep your customers happy, and get referrals and you'll have no problem. Customer service is key though.

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Customer Service - Perceptions, Priorities and Needs

Customer service is paramount to a business. It's the direct line of communication with your customers. During your market research, note down what's the perceived problems with communication with your competitors OR the lack of problems. What are they doing right which you'll need to incorporate, match, and hopefully exceed.

The other day I was on the phone with my bank looking for some assistance with my account. First thing I knew they were outsourcing their customer support to India (sorry my Indian fans). Don't you hate that? I got transferred 4 times, and it seemed like every time I got transferred it was to the wrong department, and I know it was a language barrier problem. In that scenario, what would you think about the way they treated you? Would you have any real loyalty to that bank? Mind you I ended up being on hold for over 40 minutes, and as you stay on hold, you only get more and more angry.

Now what do you think happened with the last person I talked to? I almost blew up, but I stayed as calm as possible, the representative worked through it, and in the end he was able to fix my problem within 2 minutes of being on the phone with him. I wished him a Good day and hung up. Was it worth it? Nope. Whole lot of waste of time, but I got my problem resolved, but I still didn't feel satisfied. In the end, I probably will not be really loyal to that bank. Why, cause I was treated like shit and I didn't feel like I was a priority. Even after my problem was solved, I felt like I wasted my time. Now, if I had my problem resolved within 5 minutes, I would not have thought twice about it.

That's the problem with customer service, it's very very difficult to gauge good customer service, since customers aren't complaining. They rarely go and write great reviews. BUT bad customer service is easy to spot. A pissed off individual will always write a bad review, and go out of their way to talk shit about the business and not recommend it to their friends/family/associates.

The key I see to gauging great customer service is in the follow up. Once a person buys something for you, follow up a week later, whether it's a phone call, an automated email, or something that sparks a conversation. I remember when I first started out, I was terrified of customers. I thought they were all out to get me, and what I was selling was an inferior service. But then I put myself in their shoes. At the end of the day, they just want something that works, and makes their life a little easier. So if you can deliver something that works, and bring extra comfort, hey you've got a customer for life. And referrals are usually right behind them.

Since we are mostly online businesses, think about the way you are communicating with your customers. Can they reach you in a timely manner? Are you following up to talk about any concerns - even an automated email 1 week out and then another one 3 weeks out is simple enough. You'll find that customers love hearing from companies that they bought from, since they want to know their voice is heard. Those reply emails are critical, since if there is a problem, they'll tell you exactly the problem they are having, and that will in turn, help you improve your overall product/service/business. Solve their needs through customer service, and you've got a real business. This is where customer feedback, surveys, and questionnaires help you get a better understanding of your customer base.

Just having better customer service is worth having to pay a little extra for a product or service, keep that in mind.

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Communication

Understanding how you are going to communicate with your targeted audience is critical as well. Make sure you get a great grasp of how the competition and the general niches traditionally communicates with customers. AND, if you see a weakness, exploit that to your advantage. An example, if you're selling SpaceShips, but the competition is not utilizing Twitter or Facebook, even though celebrities are on there talking about exotic adventures, use that to your advantage. Always attack where the enemy is weakest.

That was just for proactive customer acquisition though. What about customer service? Have you noticed companies like SalesForce are now paying close attention to twitter and Facebook for customer support? Even Pollo Tropical answers their tweets of complaints. Does your competition take advantage of the next generation of communication? Also, keep in mind, does it make sense to for your target audience? I can't imagine a lot of people complaining about their Spaceship on twitter, but I guarantee you in our scenario we'll know about problems beforehand directly from the customer.

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Public Relations

What happens if all hell breaks loose with your company? Imagine the worse case scenario, in our example, lets say our SpaceShip during mid-flight bursts into flames and kills everyone. PR nightmare right? Correct. It might be a scenario where you'll need to re-brand, you might need to explain to the public what happened, what you are doing to remedy the problem. In that scenario, that's probably a death blow to our company, very few entities - except for the government, might be able to comeback from that.

Now, this is where the fun starts, get examples from within your niche on PR nightmares and problems that your competitors have gone through and brainstorm on ways to get out of them if you were in their shoes. Why? Cause it'll give you the opportunity to start seeing advantages and unique selling propositions as well. Imagine if our competitor's SpaceShip burst into flames because they used cheap jet engine - bro I'm not a rocket scientist. By seeing their problem, you can move to capitalize on their failure, and talk greatly about your superior engines, with quality parts, and bullet proof this and that when selling. After a disaster your potential customers are going to be looking for reassurance, give it to them, "Can't go to Venus with those cheap parts bro..."

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Conclusion

More than 90% of business fail within a year. The number is far greater with website projects. The problem with most online marketers/SEOers is, they take a "hobby" approach to their online business versus a traditional grind of b2b, since they feel they have something to fall back on. That's why a majority of website projects fail. You've seen their tombs when you look for open source projects that aren't complete. You've seen incomplete websites that don't seem to have a real defined objective. The majority of problems that website owners face can be eliminated by doing proper market research. I've attached a quick market research checklist that you can fill out on your next project. I attempted to keep the questions as simple as possible, for speed and to create a general outline. Take it, use it to your hearts' content. If there is something anyone thinks they should add, let me know, I'll create an updated version.

Oh yeah, here is a website that will probably take your overall business to the next level: http://www.demandmetric.com/premium-content/all/free (Free Marketing Tools)

You'll thank me later :wink:

Any questions, comments, flames, hate, let me know. I'm in outer space man... If you need me to further explain anything let me know :smile: - Also don't forget to download the checklist attached!

File: MarketResearchChecklist-2016.doc.zip - ZIP File 32kb
File: MarketResearchChecklist-2016.doc - DOC File 131kb

Carry on...

- CCarter (
@MercenaryCarter
)


Additional Day 3 Study Materials:
 
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#2
Coming back from the Keyword Research day about AIDA...

Would you recommend creating a Customer Profile for each stage of the AIDA funnel?
Obviously the top portions aren't extremely valuable, but you could educate and push a percentage all the way through the funnel. This could be in one go or over the course of years, depending on the niche. If the answer is yes, when would you do this and how would you go about it? Would you start at the bottom of the funnel and work your way up to the less valuable, or is that "less valuable" a key part of converting the bottom? Or am I thinking in too grand of a scale? I'm thinking about the entire site, not just the per-page basis.
 

CCarter

If they cease to believe in u, do u even exist?
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Coming back from the Keyword Research day about AIDA...
A customer profile of each level might be a bit overwhelming and dilutes the reason for hyperfocusing. The main purpose of the profile is to figure out the preferred customers and hyper target them for maximum profits. The user doesn't change while they go through the AIDA funnel.

Think about it like this, If you are selling a Ford Mustang, there is a perfect crowd for that car, and those are the preferred customers. You'll create a customer profile around them, what type of music they like, their hobbies, why they like the Mustang, where they are on the income ladder, etc. That helps you hyper-focus the whole funnel to talk to that red-blooded American that only drives a Mustang. That core messaging and imagery needs to hit the profile points along the way.

Now if you were to create an AIDA funnel for "ANYONE" looking at the Mustang you just diluted your funnel and would be sending mix messages that hits "everyone" but not the core of your prefer customer.

You can't please everyone. Can you try to sell to everyone, sure, but that mom with 3 kids was probably only browsing to see what the latest Ford Mustang looks like cause one of her friend's son's probably just got one and one of her old boyfriends used to have one - nostalgia. That mom is useless traffic for generating revenue. Creating a profile for her would be waste of time since if you continue to follow her logic her end goal will never be to buy a mustang, at least any time soon.

To start down the path of creating multiple profiles can be disastrous since you most likely won't be writing all the content, and have a team of people that you have to convey the customer profile to. Don't bite off more than you can chew when learning the ropes. Maybe once you've done over a dozen of these successfully, you can start attempting to target 2 types of customers, but even then I would use two different AIDA funnels and two different websites (brands).

The purpose is to hyper-focus on a customer. Immense yourself in their life, so you can relate to them. It's difficult to do when you create 3-5 different customer profiles, and all try to target them with their own AIDA funnel at the same time. It'll just create mass confusion and dilute your message which goes against the reason for creating a customer profile in the first place.

There is a certain type of customer who buy Macs, another type of person who buy Ford Mustangs, another for people who buy Starbucks, another for sushi lovers. Do people outside each customer profile buy those products as well, YES. But you are better off hyper-focusing on your core customer base, instead of deviations that can lead you astray and straining your limited resources.
 
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#4
I was using your doc and this article as a reference to do some market research practice today. This process is very hard for me because it is not something I've done much of at all.

My question for you is, do you go into absolutely all the detail you outline in your checklist document for EVERY project (a very scientific approach)? Are there times or aspects of your market research where you go with your gut at all?
 

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When I get into a niche, industry, or approach a new project the initial feeling is always a gut feeling. But than I do research and fill out the marketing questionnaire on EVERY project. Why? Cause if I can't answer certain questions on there that means I'm not as informed as I could be. When you go to war you should be completely aware of all your surroundings, and gathering detail data on the environment where you will be attacking for the next 2 months, 6 months, or 2 years can save you THOUSANDS of hours of time and hundreds of thousands in revenue or lost opportunities.

Imagine going with your gut in an industry, but aren't basing it on sound economics, but a hint at something. Now if that hint is truly there, the market research should be able to convey that same hint. But if you are not able to figure certain things out, like the best monetization avenues, you'll be dead in the water without a paddle. Filling out this information is also great to give to writers, marketing teams, sales teams, investors, bankers, and people that will be involved in your project since it shows the level of dedication and commitment you've gone into to organize this.

Now at no point am I saying you have to do a 300+ page SWAT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) for every project, and this is definitely not that. This is for you to start out with so you understand your preferred customer, and if you can't identify that preferred customer, then you are pretty much grasping at straws. The whole point is to fill out as much as possible, and then continue adjusting the data and information as you continue down this journey. You might write down some marketing ideas in it which are designed for certain customers, then as you review this monthly, you realize "XYZ will never work" after your experience.

Really think about it, if you can't complete the form in your industry/niche, what would happen if you come across an investor who is willing to give you 10 Millions dollars to help fund your project? What would they think of your business and how likely would they be willing to hand you their money if you can't do a simple analysis of the competitive environment and very light market research within your niche? Would they take you seriously?

This isn't a "side project" or "hobby" situation. If you want to just throw up a site and see what happens - well I can tell you exactly what's going to happen with that "side project", it's going to end up like all those other thousands of side projects 99% of the SEOs out there have in limbo that never seem to get off the ground cause there is something missing. That missing element is focus and direction. Doing market research, even badly in the beginning, is going to give you something to focus on and a direction to chart a course to. You'll instantly be above 90% of your competitors who just throw "side projects" together with no forethought as to why they are doing what they are doing. The things I recommend is definitely not for the lazy or people looking for shortcuts. Those days are long gone, just look around the SEO landscape and ask yourself where most of them went. I can guarantee you NONE of them had done this basic level of Market Research before they got into a niche, even for those MFA (Made For Adsense) sites.

If you repeat the patterns of people who have failed, you are destined to fail. If you repeat the patterns of people that are destined to win - at least you'll be on a winning path.
 
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#6
@CCarter How would you define an issue vs a trend? It seems to me like issues are more singular events or problems in an industry, whereas trends seem to be the community's collective reaction to these issues.

I feel like I can spot the issues in the niche I'm looking at, but having more trouble recognizing the trends.
 

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@CCarter How would you define an issue vs a trend? It seems to me like issues are more singular events or problems in an industry, whereas trends seem to be the community's collective reaction to these issues.

I feel like I can spot the issues in the niche I'm looking at, but having more trouble recognizing the trends.
My apologies for this late response, I just saw this.

You are absolutely right that it is a bit difficult to distinguish trends from fads (temporarily issues). Just going off my own experience to spot a trend versus a fad I have to be ingrained within that industry. Meaning I have to really know the ins and out of an industry and the technologies of that industry. Trade journals and magazines are one way to get knowledge on what's going on, but for the most part every industry has a news site that's dedicated towards it in some way. Example, SearchEngineLand.com within SEO.

Whenever I see trends it's got a philosophical undertone that will change how the industry works in the coming 2-4 years. So for example, when Google updates started happening the fad was to switch to PBNs or stronger spam, etc. But if you look at it from a macro standpoint and understand "Hey, WHY is Google making these updates?" Then you could see the curve coming where they want to make sure people who use Google, googlers, are getting the best results and experience so those people keep using Google for the next decade, ensuring their own survival.

So what happens is Google is adjusting their results for a better user experience. The days of spamming to the top with spun content are slowly diminishing since that content, let's be realistic about it, is garbage. If you were a user reading that content you would click away from the site. So as a website owner, if I have a LONG term game plan versus a SHORT term game plan, I'll want to create content that is evergreen and stands the scrutiny of reviews and people within the industry as well as the A.I. bots that will be scanning it now AND in the future (remember as technologies get faster and smarter, so will the bots).

So following this trend of getting better, I'll align my site to not participate in the darker arts as much as possible. That's a trend. Whether we are 3 months or 3 years from search results having zero spun content, I don't know, but if you are in the camp that it will NEVER happen, well you aren't looking ahead of the curve and have your head in the sand.

Now let's look at another trend, the cellphone. As cellphones came onto the scene one trend I immediately saw was people were no longer going to need landlines to communicate. Well how does that situation effect the phone companies? Well they'll need to adapt and start pushing their cell phone services and internet services more so and not rely on landlines. Cell phones are not going away once they entered the market at this level. But other things like beepers, pagers, and even pay-phones are pretty much gone if non-existent. Those are all effected by how the society communicates now (community).

A fad, I would state is geared towards a quick fix scenario that's not really meant to last. I would say for example a website designed to download Youtube Videos may not really be around in 2 years from now given the environment.

I would also say there are technologies like Facebook's react that have shiny object syndrome versus newer languages like angular which have a bit of staying power. I'm wary of quick mass adoption since there was no "need" for it in the marketplace before hand. So if there was no need, it most likely will just be a fad, and when the next new shiny object comes along people will be creating busy work to switch their whole infrastructure again towards this new object, all of which NO customer cares about NOR do they even ever see - so in my opinion it's a waste of time cause it doesn't help improve revenue or the bottomline.

So in Facebook's React versus Google's Angular, I see React as a fade, and Angular a a "short trend", but overall am I going to be switching to either, nope. I'll stick to jQuery cause it get the job done and I can get to more important things like generating revenue instead of playing with shiny new toys that no user will ever care about or know exists.

When it was DVD-HD versus Blu-ray I thought DVD-HD was going to win that battle, but it ended up being Bluray cause of Disney. Apparently whatever Disney goes with becomes the industry standard, with physical players like that, cause of kids' demands for them. Blu-ray will probably be the last "player" situation where they'll be selling physical moving devices.

I can't spot trends versus fads in industries I'm not a part of. I'd have to be a part of that industry to distinguish what's what. The main thing is to know what solves a long term problem and is changing the course of the whole industry which is a trends, versus what solves a little, temporarily, nor NO problem, and is just getting attention cause it is "New", but the whole industry can survive without it. The phone companies cannot survive without providing cell phones or internet service. Cable I see also disappearing for the Netflix of the world too.

I cannot really answer this perfectly, cause it's really depends on your knowledge and being able to see the curve up ahead for your industry. Practice taking a macro overview of what's going on while pulling yourself out of the equation and you'll be able to spot them a bit easier. I guess the biggest thing would be to understand the customer's pain points and they'll be able to tell you if XYZ is a gimmick or a trends where the industry is going.

Hopefully my insight helped some, this was an excellent question and explaining it in words sometimes eludes even me.

Seth Godin has a great quote about this:

Trends vs. Fads

A fad is popular because it's popular. A fad gives us momentary joy, and part of the joy comes in knowing that it's momentary. We enjoy a fad because our peers are into it as well.

A trend, on the other hand, satisfies a different human need. A trend gains power over time, because it's not merely part of a moment, it's a tool, a connector that will become more valuable as other people commit to engaging in it.

Confusion sets in because at the beginning, most trends gain energy with people who are happy to have fun with fads, and it's only when the fad fans fade away (yes, I just wrote 'fad fans fade') that we get to see the underlying power of the trend that's going on.

Sauce: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/08/trends-vs-fads.html
Two more sources:

- http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/stories/1999/12/20/smallb2.html

- http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-difference-between-a-fad-and-a-trend.htm
 
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#8
What is the best advice you can give on figuring out where your target customer spends their time offline? I think that's the toughest part for me right now. I've been working through US Census data and have a pretty honed down demographic target, but i'm not quite seeing the offline part. I know age, gender, income, education level, spending methods, etc.. etc.. I have a good idea of online behavior based on FB insights, but what advice does the community have around finding where target personas hang out offline?
 

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#9
What is the best advice you can give on figuring out where your target customer spends their time offline? I think that's the toughest part for me right now. I've been working through US Census data and have a pretty honed down demographic target, but i'm not quite seeing the offline part. I know age, gender, income, education level, spending methods, etc.. etc.. I have a good idea of online behavior based on FB insights, but what advice does the community have around finding where target personas hang out offline?
Brainstorming can be aided by going outside and exploring. Using my Spaceship example you have to visualize what the individual would do and who they would interact with.

Walk around a mall, a shopping center, community center, park, the beach, the grocery store, and around office building and ask yourself what goes on within those walls. What are people doing within the offices, shopping centers and community centers. Do any of the people are you see fit your target demo. If so, figure out what you can learn about them and analyze about their life.

People are everywhere and doing all sort of errands daily, doing work, going to school, screwing around with snot nosed kids at day care or after school activities, etc. What messaging and branding do you see around them cause the human is constantly bombarded with marketing every single minute of the day around them physically.

You have to stop for a moment and simple stand still and observe. You'll see road sides with advertisement, you'll see those signs that people put in front of their lawns to show which politician they are voting for, you see business cards bowls around, you see cars wrapped in advertisement driving up and down the beach to get the word out.

You'll hear people trying to sell other people at the kiosk in the malls, you'll hear people on the radio trying to sell something - even spotify. You'll see people reading newspapers, glued to their iPhone or iPads. Are any of these people your target audience.

Next thing to do is look at your competition. Look for their branding and messaging, how are they getting the word out their to this same audience. If you think you have no competition then you aren't looking hard enough or aren't considering potential parallel industries your audience will compare you with.

When I'm stumbled and need ideas, I go outside and try to absorb my surrounding. I listen to the conversations people have and what they do when "doing things". The key is to spot your target audience and now you've got a "face" to that audience member. Start to visualize, like playing pretend when you were a kid, what their day would be like and who they interact with, what they do, what they don't like and what they do like. From there you can confirm or un-confirm some of your thoughts towards your audience. You can go up to and talk to them and ask them questions - without sounding like you are stalking them - surveys mate! :wink: Marketing folks walk up to people in the mall all the time to take surveys all the time, why not you?
 
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#10
When starting off with a new site, would you conduct market research for the first sub-niche you target? Then, when expanding / entering a new territory would you just start this process again as a new document?
I'm confused as to how I should go about doing market research when my potential audience will be constantly changing as the site expands into different categories / areas of my vertical?
 

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When starting off with a new site, would you conduct market research for the first sub-niche you target? Then, when expanding / entering a new territory would you just start this process again as a new document?
Well you have a major problem is your targeted audience is changing vastly simply by expansion. Websites should be focused on single industries/niches and/or services. If you are selling mattresses, it might make sense to sell pillows and other sleep-aid items, however it doesn't make sense to sell TV or start giving fashion advice to men - that's the point of doing market research and creating a brand. A brand has to stand for something and cannot be all over the place.

So in your scenario, there shouldn't be a need for you to "start a new document", more so expand upon it, or if need be create a new document based on persona, but there is absolutely no way a single brand can be all encompassing without diluting the original meaning of the brand.

potential audience will be constantly changing
I cannot see a scenario where your "potential audience will be constantly changing" - that sounds like you didn't do proper research or are just throwing stuff on the wall and seeing what sticks. What's the end goal of your brand and what does it represent to your audience, and if it's "constantly changing", you are doomed cause you have no solid foundation or focus.

as the site expands into different categories / areas of my vertical
If you are truly moving up or down within your vertical, preferably up, then the target audience should be levelled at newbie, intermediate, expert levels. Like when you are buying a TV or buying clothes, either you are newbie and have no sense of style, an intermediate that knows the right outfit to shop for, or an expert that knows down to the fabric type you want, there are different ways to talk to each persona - THAT I understand and I would segment the market research accordingly. But if that's not what you are doing - example you are selling mattresses then start giving fashion advice on clothes or how to split atoms, you are way off on the marker.
 
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Well you have a major problem is your targeted audience is changing vastly simply by expansion. Websites should be focused on single industries/niches and/or services. If you are selling mattresses, it might make sense to sell pillows and other sleep-aid items, however it doesn't make sense to sell TV or start giving fashion advice to men - that's the point of doing market research and creating a brand. A brand has to stand for something and cannot be all over the place.
What I meant by changing is that if I start off reviewing all sorts of smart watches, then move onto reviewing something like the best productivity apps for android, I would assume those people that love smart watches aren't necessarily going to be interested in productivity apps. That's okay I guess, but then in reality that customer profile would be somewhat different no?

This would all fall under 'technology reviewing' in which my brand would cover.
But what gets to me is how you're supposed to find that medium that attracts all sorts of users, whether it be a person looking to buy the newest tablet or someone looking for the next best fitness app for iphones.

So in your scenario, there shouldn't be a need for you to "start a new document", more so expand upon it, or if need be create a new document based on persona, but there is absolutely no way a single brand can be all encompassing without diluting the original meaning of the brand.
"Without diluting the original meaning of the brand".

Now that sticks much better with me. I think I need to more clearly identify my direction and/or mission statement before I can better understand what I am actually looking for in my target audience.

I cannot see a scenario where your "potential audience will be constantly changing" - that sounds like you didn't do proper research or are just throwing stuff on the wall and seeing what sticks. What's the end goal of your brand and what does it represent to your audience, and if it's "constantly changing", you are doomed cause you have no solid foundation or focus.

If you are truly moving up or down within your vertical, preferably up, then the target audience should be levelled at newbie, intermediate, expert levels. Like when you are buying a TV or buying clothes, either you are newbie and have no sense of style, an intermediate that knows the right outfit to shop for, or an expert that knows down to the fabric type you want, there are different ways to talk to each persona - THAT I understand and I would segment the market research accordingly. But if that's not what you are doing - example you are selling mattresses then start giving fashion advice on clothes or how to split atoms, you are way off on the marker.
Ok that makes more sense. If I categorize my audience in three different levels (noob, inter, expert) then I guess it is much easier to do market research with that structure in mind.
 
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#13
What I meant by changing is that if I start off reviewing all sorts of smart watches, then move onto reviewing something like the best productivity apps for android, I would assume those people that love smart watches aren't necessarily going to be interested in productivity apps. That's okay I guess, but then in reality that customer profile would be somewhat different no?
The customer profile should be on the people that love gadgets and the latest trendy hot electronic - it should be a focus on "smart watch" in your scenario. A smart watch would be a category/topic you talk about that the "gadget lover" would be interested in, but the customer profile is really the "gadget lover".

You don't create a customer profile by selecting the sub-niche/topic. You create it around the user and their hobbies and likes. You can start with "Who likes smart watches", work your way back, >> "gadget lovers" >> "new technology lovers" and work your way to an identifiable person. Like "mattresses" >> "people that need a better night rest" >> (Why) >> "They are overweight or have a health condition that prevents them from this" >> "Sleep deprived individuals". Now I know okay, I'll target "sleep deprived individuals", and talk about the different aliments like being "overweight", "too much caffeine" and other topics that cause problems with sleep and how a proper mattress can start alleviating those problems along with a change of habits, diet, or cutting out the caffeine.

So if you really have a product segment in mind, you have to work your way backwards asking "WHY?" along each funnel going back until you can create a profile on "Mr Overweight", or "Ms Overworked" - not "Mr MattressBuyer".
 
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The customer profile should be on the people that love gadgets and the latest trendy hot electronic - it should be a focus on "smart watch" in your scenario. A smart watch would be a category/topic you talk about that the "gadget lover" would be interested in, but the customer profile is really the "gadget lover".

You don't create a customer profile by selecting the sub-niche/topic. You create it around the user and their hobbies and likes. You can start with "Who likes smart watches", work your way back, >> "gadget lovers" >> "new technology lovers" and work your way to an identifiable person. Like "mattresses" >> "people that need a better night rest" >> (Why) >> "They are overweight or have a health condition that prevents them from this" >> "Sleep deprived individuals". Now I know okay, I'll target "sleep deprived individuals", and talk about the different aliments like being "overweight", "too much caffeine" and other topics that cause problems with sleep and how a proper mattress can start alleviating those problems along with a change of habits, diet, or cutting out the caffeine.

So if you really have a product segment in mind, you have to work your way backwards asking "WHY?" along each funnel going back until you can create a profile on "Mr Overweight", or "Ms Overworked" - not "Mr MattressBuyer".
I actually took in a great deal from your response, thanks.
So now that I have identified my ideal customer, the gadget lover, how would you move into different areas of technology?
Would introducing something like Information Security require me to for example, update my gadget lover customer profile to something like 'the gadget lover who has a keen interest in their privacy'?
 

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Would introducing something like Information Security require me to for example, update my gadget lover customer profile to something like 'the gadget lover who has a keen interest in their privacy'?
No you do not need to create a customer profile for each segment/category/topic.

However here is my question - Why do you want to move into "different areas of technology"? You cannot be "all encompassing" - no brand really can NOR should do that, since you want people to know your brand for something. "Gadget Lovers" literally can have thousands of topics within them and you can slay affiliate links to amazon and other places left and right without a problem driving revenue - however this goes back to my quote about starvation (How would you experience marketers exploit this scenario): "Most companies do not fail because of starvation, they fail because of indigestion - too many things pulling them in different directions with no real focus."

What's your brand's focus - and if it's "talking about technology" - well then you are too broad and will be known for nothing, cause no one will remember some random website talking about all potential random technologies. I personally don't understand the need to "jump" from "gadgets" to "Information Security" - what is that even, talking about SSL? updating passwords? I would stick to "Gadget Lovers" and therefore only "gadgets", unless there is some "security gadget" don't try to push software and other "less focused" things, cause you'll find yourself losing your audience with randomness.

Your next step is to think about your topics/categories you want to talk about gadget wise and start creating "focused", yet "narrowed" segments so you'll have proper direction when creating content and therefore a roadmap on what you want to achieve.
 
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No you do not need to create a customer profile for each segment/category/topic.

However here is my question - Why do you want to move into "different areas of technology"? You cannot be "all encompassing" - no brand really can NOR should do that, since you want people to know your brand for something. "Gadget Lovers" literally can have thousands of topics within them and you can slay affiliate links to amazon and other places left and right without a problem driving revenue - however this goes back to my quote about starvation (How would you experience marketers exploit this scenario): "Most companies do not fail because of starvation, they fail because of indigestion - too many things pulling them in different directions with no real focus."
I asked a similar questions a few weeks ago here about this, and what I got from that at some point you could expand into different areas, but it would be easier to pull off later down the road.

What's your brand's focus - and if it's "talking about technology" - well then you are too broad and will be known for nothing, cause no one will remember some random website talking about all potential random technologies. I personally don't understand the need to "jump" from "gadgets" to "Information Security" - what is that even, talking about SSL? updating passwords? I would stick to "Gadget Lovers" and therefore only "gadgets", unless there is some "security gadget" don't try to push software and other "less focused" things, cause you'll find yourself losing your audience with randomness.
'What is that even' - Just an example actually, not my intention. But I understand now where you're coming from. Sticking with gadgets, I can push everything gadget down my audiences throat which is what they want, and convert better than trying to push unrelated bs. Clear cut brand, got it.
 

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#17
I asked a similar questions a few weeks ago here about this, and what I got from that at some point you could expand into different areas, but it would be easier to pull off later down the road.
I don't agree with the replies in that thread. There are multiple assumptions like #1 - You'll hardly have zero returning visitors and all your traffic is going to be from Google anyways. Following that logic I understand the "most people will bail" after 1 page comment - I don't agree with that logic since you should be striving to create your own audience by having people join your newsletter mailing list, download your APP, bookmark your site, and follow you on social media sites so they can make up your base audience.

Then when you drop new content, you won't be waiting for Google to send you traffic, you'll have multiple channels setup that continue to grow while you'll promote your content where your userbase is connecting to you - the most important being newsletter list. If you can gain 100 new subscribers a day - after a year you'll have 36,500 dedicated loyal users. Imagine dropping a new article piece and getting 10-20% of that immediately to your site - 3,650 to 7,300 ppl see that article immediately - shiiet, Google never sends traffic that fast - And that's just at 10-20% (I go a bit more in-depth in the Permission Based Marketing section of Day 21). Growing the userbase isn't the primary objective in that thread IMO, it's getting a click or an affiliate sale.

#2 - Their goal isn't to create brands, it's to create MFA sites IMO. All my advise is based off of creating, growing, and maintaining a brand that has a strong loyal userbase that you can dip into whenever you want. It'll last longer and if there is a sudden algorithm update or some other problem, you'll be able to weather the storm since you setup multiple channels of communication with your audience as well as have multiple sources of traffic.

Either you die wasting time with a MFA style site or you live long enough to become a big brand at some point. An exit strategy for a brand is a lot higher and better ROI wise than flipping a MFA site on Flippa. Choose your path...
 
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#18
Where (beyond googling keywords) do I go to find my competitors? I've got a few, each indirectly doing pieces that I plan to do, but I haven't really found anyone doing the same combination of things that I'm doing from the same angle I'm approaching it... and I find it hard to believe no one else has made the connection before.

Where do I go to dig deeper?
 

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#19
Where (beyond googling keywords) do I go to find my competitors? I've got a few, each indirectly doing pieces that I plan to do, but I haven't really found anyone doing the same combination of things that I'm doing from the same angle I'm approaching it... and I find it hard to believe no one else has made the connection before.

Where do I go to dig deeper?
BuzzSumo - I talk about it above:


BuzzSumo - This tool helps me find out what's hot within social media for my niche. I simply input a keyword and find all the top articles and their social metrics by social platforms. Since you can sort by the platform's highest numbers I can create similar content around those top performing articles and generate similar buzz. But the real key is I'll be able to monitor the top guys killing it in my niche and what their social movements are and then mimic and eventually exceed their strategy.

Another trick with BuzzSumo is I can find key influencers in my niche and ask for a guest post from them onto my website - therefore allowing me to leverage their authority, credibility and influence - while allowing my brand to reach their audience since they'll be encouraged to push it to their home grown audience.​
 
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#20
This is a great lesson, and to be honest, although I know this stuff, I rarely DO this stuff. My bad!

My site is 3 months young nearly, I guess one could say it is in the self-sufficiency / self-reliance niche. It's something that I know a lot about, been into growing food/permaculture/fermenting etc for a long time. I don't know everything, but I can write at will on quite a few topics without having to do a shit load of research to even get started.

I guess my problem/fear is that I've gone too broad, without really looking at the market or coming up with a customer profile at all. To be honest, there are quite a number of blog type sites in the niche, few truly commercial ones, mainly couples or women writing and monetising with Amazon or some other affiliate products. Many 'mommy bloggers' I guess, some have a lot of traffic from what SEMRush tells me, but of course, how much are they making?

I downloaded the sheet to do a customer profile, immediately thinking that my audience will be females mainly, 30-50, educated to college level at least, looking to have a more minimalist life and reduce their consumerism, but be able to purchase things that align with their passion to live more lightly on the planet.

I then went and looked at my GA demographics, 65% are currently male between 25-44 :-) That said, there isn't a ton of data, only 1.4k visits last month.

Another worry/concern is that when one is talking about a 'lifestyle' niche, especially one that involves home and garden, it's freakin' massive. I could write about lawnmowers, composting, kitchen stuff, recipes, green energy, growing food, recycling, cooking outdoors...blah blah

I know that if I continue with this site and haven't made an almighty fuck up just jumping into it, then I should focus on one area and kill it before moving onto another sub-niche within the site. So like building multiple niche sites in one.

But should I be more focused with a site. You mentioned mattresses. Sleep/bedroom is quite broad and one could talk about a lot (including bizarre sexual paraphernalia which would be a given of course) but it's not as broad as a total lifestyle site. Is that just TOO broad to gain traction and/or focus for one bloke sitting in his underpants writing from home?

I was planning to focus on Amazon affiliate for the time being, just to get some cash coming in, but I can certainly see that there are quicker ways to make money than waiting for Google and getting 4-8% commissions from Jeff Bezos.

I totally understand that I have got to work this shit out, but any thoughts on how you would approach something so broad (if indeed you would?) would be really useful. If you have the time of course.

Cheers for a great course!!!!
 

CCarter

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#21
any thoughts on how you would approach something so broad (if indeed you would?) would be really useful.
I believe you answered your question about whether you should niche down or stay broad. Answer: You should niche down and get more focused within your niche.

#1. If you are starting off and are writing the content yourself, first figure out the top 3 categories you want to attack that you can easily write for.

#2. Then do keyword research for the top 10 keywords within each of the categories (so 30).

#3. Remember, don't be afraid to pivot or drop a category and move onto something else if your audience is more responsive. You have to fumble your way to success.

#4. Next come up with a story - storyboard it around 2-3 customer profiles. At SERPWoo we've got 3 different types of users we market too and are creating content and a story around each one's experience and what benefits they can get. Each content pieces we write and video we create has to talk directly to one of the 3 customers. We'll slowly be created content pieces for each of the profiles within the 2 categories we are attacking.

Doing that allows you to focus in on a visitor and relate to them since your content is written with them in mind. It's like you are talking directly to them and they feel it.

#5. Create a 12 months schedule where your goals is to write 2 content pieces A MONTH. Yes, 2 content pieces a month - Killer content pieces, not drivel. Outline 3-4 months worth of content, ideas you want to explorer and create notes about each one, and create a schedule to drop 1 content pieces every 2 weeks. Your content ideas should be based off of the 30 topics/keyword phrases you researched earlier.

Basically don't waste time trying to write 1000 words every single day, for 5 days a week - all that content will never get the attention it needs to promote and will therefore get very little backlinks and never rank. Go for quality over quantity. 2 pieces a month allows you to focus in on an idea and flesh it out.

When you are not writing you are promoting, marketing, or traffic leaking the other 90% of the time for the past pieces you wrote. It's a lot easier to market 1 piece of content for 2 weeks versus 10 pieces for 2 weeks if you were to write every day.

Don't exhaust yourself, work on building relationships and interacting with the community you are going after so you have your ear to the ground. During the interaction within your industry/niche you'll figure out new topics to talk about and go after. A brand new idea can spring up from a chance conversation that you then can work on the weekends to knock out and bring a new "special" piece of content online for users. It could go viral or at least become popular since it's timed with an industry event. NONE of that is possible if you are wasting your time filling your schedule with task to write 1 pieces a day at 1,000 for a mediocre push. You'll be mentally drained and won't have the energy to strike when an idea comes at your brain like a lightening bolt.

At the very least you should be promoting 2-3 hours for EVERY hour you spent creating that pieces of content. If you spent 10 hours creating a newbie guide for gardening - that means at least 20-30 hours should be spent promoting and creating relationships within your industry. Eventually if you keep dropping enough Killer content your audience will spread the word for you within your industry.

#6. At the end of every month evaluate your content pieces, figure out what's working - relationship wise, audience wise, and more importantly moving your revenue needle the most. Concentrate on the topics, relationships that move the revenue needle the most, and after a year, you'll be massively ahead of any of your competitors that are simply on a mundane writing and SEO schedule.

#7. Once you have enough revenue coming in hire a writer for sections that you may not be the best expert in and get them on the same schedule. Eventually grow your team to the point where you aren't doing all the work - writing or marketing wise, and then you've got yourself a business. I would say within the first 3-4 months referring traffic should exponentially growing constantly - if it's not then you aren't promoting and are playing the SEO waiting game - which is disastrous. Explore different revenue models to see where you'll make more money when you get to about 500 to 1,000 visitors a day.

You'll be surprised as to what you can achieve by going against conventional wisdom.
 
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#22
#1. If you are starting off and are writing the content yourself, first figure out the top 3 categories you want to attack that you can easily write for.

#2. Then do keyword research for the top 10 keywords within each of the categories (so 30).
Hey @CCarter - thanks SO much, this really is helpful and gives me some great direction.

If I could pick your brains one more time on the category side of things, it's somewhere I (and probably plenty of people just tackling a new site) get stuck on.

Ok, so I find my Top 3 categories I want to write in, say that one of them is 'gardening'.

Now, as I am writing for the self-sufficiency niche (to some extent) I'm probably going to focus my 'gardening' topics on stuff that you can eat. I like pretty flowers (and poems) as much as the next man :-) but for these folks, growing things to eat is likely a main focus.

So, my main categories within the over-arching 'gardening' category are likely:

Vegetable Growing | Fruit And Berry Growing | Herb Gardening

However, within food growing in general, you have organic gardening, permaculture, biodynamic, bio-intensive gardening etc. Styles of growing I guess you would call it? Most of these are focused around food production anyway, so certainly all fall within the 'vegetable gardening' topic area.

Then within vegetable gardening you have things like:

Square foot gardening, vertical, balcony, no-dig etc etc.

Now each of these has relatively big followings and one could write a massive guide on each.

So, at where in the niche/sub niche should one start? A Beginners Guide To Vegetable Gardening, where you talk about the why, the how, the pros and cons of different methods etc, covering all the smaller niches within the killer article?

OR

Do you go small and do an incredibly detailed guide to Beginners Guide To Square Foot Gardening and get right into the nitty-gritty of that?

I guess keyword research is important here, looking at search volume. If 'square foot gardening' as a topic only gets 500 MS then it's probably better as a part of a larger article to start with.

What sort of keyword search volume would you be looking for to create one of these big guides? Not just the main keyword, but when you find phrases you are going to use in an article and combine the search volumes.

As an example, not the real numbers

Vegetable gardening - 12000 LMS (assuming I am looking at US numbers)
Square foot gardening - 3000 MS
Vertical Gardening - 2000 MS
Permaculture - 3000 MS
Blah Blah - 6000 MS

Total combined of 26000 MS

What sort of MS number for a keyword (or combined set of keywords) would you be looking for to say, hell yeah, this is worth writing?

Of course, once there is traffic, one can write the small stuff to meet the visitors needs and give a comprehensive structure to the site. Some stuff is needed but doesn't get a lot of searches perhaps.

Thanks again for all you advice, it's really useful and I feel like your last set of comments have really given me some direction...MUCHLY appreciated :-)

--

Sorry, just to add clarity to that re keyword volume etc.

Of course I want to be ultimately ranking for huge keywords, but that is going to take a lot of time.

But within an article, a killer content type one, should my strategy to be building that article and title etc around huge volume keywords but niching down to hit smaller volume phrases earlier.

As an example, say I am writing a pillar piece, where I want to ultimately rank for 'lawn care' but it's super competitive.

Would my plan be to write an article called 'Complete Guide To DIY Lawn Care Techniques For Beginners, assuming that I am hitting phrases like

Lawn Care
Lawn Care Techniques
Lawn Care Techniques For Beginners
Guide To Lawn Care
etc etc

All phrases within the title etc, but the BIG ONE is gonna take a lot of time

And then pull in other lawn care related keywords for the H2 / H3 sub headings and sections such as

Lawn Mowing
Lawn Fertilizing
Lawn Aeration Techniques
Types Of Grass For Lawns
etc etc

So a comprehensive guide, but knowing the lawn care keyword will sit for a long time before I get any traction on it, but I may get some early on for 'Lawn Care Techniques For Beginners'

I think you might say I've answered my own question again, probably :-) I know it's a try and see what works sort of gig, but would be interested in yours (or anyone else's) take on building pillar content in the most effective way.

Thanks again

--

You've covered a lot of this in the 'content planning' section on day 7 - I'll go take a look at that, unless you have any other observations? Will go through the whole course before I start asking too many more long-winded questions :-)

Well you have a major problem is your targeted audience is changing vastly simply by expansion. Websites should be focused on single industries/niches and/or services. If you are selling mattresses, it might make sense to sell pillows and other sleep-aid items, however it doesn't make sense to sell TV or start giving fashion advice to men - that's the point of doing market research and creating a brand. A brand has to stand for something and cannot be all over the place.
This bit worries me a little about my site and selection. I'm just starting on the customer profile doc and wonder if I am approaching this the wrong way? Or might be somewhat doomed to start with :-(

My site is really about information, how to and ultimately products (affiliate to start but hopefully dropshipping or similar down the line) for people with a certain lifestyle and ethical focus really.

Say the site is called TheSelfSufficientLife.com (it isn't btw)

So, for those people, they want to minimise waste, OVER-consumption, buy greener more eco-friendly products and service, but they still want everything that typical household would want (well, maybe a bit less) but they still need gardening stuff, kitchen gear, bedroom, bikes, vehicles etc etc.

Is THIS diluting things too much, or does the focus on the ethics of the potential visitor/customer work as an adequate differentiator?

I'm kinda thinking I could be the site that really drills down into the environmental footprint of certain products, gives them a score for their impact on resources and energy required to make and use them. That may not be easy unless you are talking about products where this information is known, unlikely for a garden fork or kitchen knife set.

Additionally, I suspect most of my revenue from this will end up as ad income or affiliate sales from Amazon and perhaps some FBA if I ever do that, or if it's actually doable in a couple years time.

I'm also in the UK, but targeting the US market, not sure why really :-)

Anyhoo, I'll shut up now, I've written a frickin' thesis today.
 

CCarter

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#23
However, within food growing in general, you have organic gardening, permaculture, biodynamic, bio-intensive gardening etc. Styles of growing I guess you would call it? Most of these are focused around food production anyway, so certainly all fall within the 'vegetable gardening' topic area.
You are skipping steps.

If you have "too many options" it's because you didn't create proper customer profiles or do market research. I'd research which type of gardening activity takes up the most time AND costs the most - tools, resources etc; I'd attack those ones because that means there are tons of opportunities to sell products. If there is a gardening like "fish tank gardening" and all it requires is you go to the ocean and taking rocks from the beach and then place some fake plants in the fish tank - that's not worth your time cause there is very little opportunity to sell users more products - just a fish-tank.

Do NOT waste your time trying to "be-everything to everyone". Focus on 2-3 customers profiles and that QUICKLY eliminates a ton of options - too many options leads to procrastination which leads to overwhelming feelings of "impossible". Limit your options and focus on the few not the many. Focusing on the things that move the revenue needle is the key. You seem to be overlooking that part. FOCUS ON THE TOPICS THAT MOVE THE REVENUE NEEDLE.

Repeat after me: "I WILL FOCUS ON THE TOPICS THAT MOVE THE REVENUE NEEDLE!"

The only way to do that is doing research on the different types of gardening, figuring out what it would cost someone to start a project like that and go from there.

Another thing to think about when coming up with the customer profiles, lets say you think it's a good idea to target a customer that's got a contract to garden a football stadium - even if you write up that guide you've got multiple problems #1 the amount of people looking to garden a football stadium is less than a handful? It probably would amount to the amount of football stadiums in the world that want a garden. #2 - they probably aren't going to buy their supplies through your amazon affiliate link or CPA offers cause they have suppliers for that - so you just eliminated a potential "option" of what to write about when you think about your potential end revenue.

So, at where in the niche/sub niche should one start? A Beginners Guide To Vegetable Gardening, where you talk about the why, the how, the pros and cons of different methods etc, covering all the smaller niches within the killer article?
Use BuzzSumo, I talk about it above, with your keyword research to find the topics that get the best engagement. Those topics are HOT and are easy wins for you with referring traffic. I would then do the following:

1st level - Mega Gardening Guide - This is a guide really for the whole site. Talk about the different types of gardening there are. Each gardening section will eventually be interlinked to the main category once you flesh them out. It's okay to not write out all the 2nd level guides, but give users a starter understanding of what's there.

-- 2nd level - Beginner Vertical-Gardening Guide - This could be a category. - Talk about the tools that you'll need within (Opportunity for Amazon affiliate link or CPA offers)

---- 3rd level - Specific tools for growing Pineapples - This gets more nitty-gritty.

-- 2nd level - Balcony Gardening - another category

-- 2nd level - Square Gardening - another category.

Special Content - "Funeral Gardening" - This is an example of being off topic and off on a tangent. Its way too far cause you aren't thinking about your original 3 customer profiles. ALWAYS consider them. But you can do a fun one for Halloween like "graveyard gardening - Halloween decorations" that has potential to go semi-viral in your niche. That's one of those special pieces of content you can go after.

^^ Everything you do has to talk DIRECTLY to one or more of your customer profiles you created - that eliminates 90% of the options of going off on tangents.

I personally wouldn't be talking about Pineapple gardening unless it moves the revenue needle, I can figure that out by looking at the search volume, but more importantly the CPC (cost per click) amount and then cross reference that with information about Pineapple gardening within BuzzSumo. If I see a CPC lower than $1-$5 that was a waste of time topic. I like CPCs with $20-$50+ - that means there are people willing to pay highly for that AND down the road I can sell my website and make a nice profit cause there are people again paying $20-$50 PER CLICK for keywords and topics you'll be writing about.

What sort of keyword search volume would you be looking for to create one of these big guides? Not just the main keyword, but when you find phrases you are going to use in an article and combine the search volumes.
You are too focused in on the small details about "keyword volume" and search engine optimization nonsense. Focus in on the customer profiles first and create the content pieces around what moves the revenue dial NOT the traffic dial.

For example in the keyword research day I give an example about "Womens Shoes" (110,000 search volume with a $1.10 CPC) versus "red bottom heels with diamonds" (0 volume $0.00 CPC) - "red bottoms shoes" has 74,000 monthly volume at $0.50 CPC and "red bottom heels" has 27100 monthly searches with $0.52 CPC.

If you try to rank for "Womens Shoes" - you'll have a MASSIVE uphill battle and after 2-4 YEARS you might be able to pull off 20 sales a day eventually - AFTER 2-4 YEARS. 20 sales a day using Google shopping's organic results values are $24.95 to $85 means you are generating $499 to $1700 a day. Not bad, but that's after a LONG battle.

Now if you were to rank for something with more "buyer intent" like "red bottom heels with diamonds", those shoes cost $795 - $995 per pair - A SINGLE sale would generate you more than your "Womens Shoes" total sales of 20 pairs. If you sold half the volume, only 10, of those you'd generate $7950 to $9950 per day.

That's nearly 6x to 19x time the revenue by simply switching focus to a lower volume keyword but one that has HIGHER buyer intent since it's a desire or action keyword versus "womens shoes" which is pretty much window shoppers at best.

That battle to rank for "red bottom heels with diamonds" might take 6-12 months, versus 2-4 YEARS with "womens shoes" - it's a lot quicker battle, has less volume, but is MORE PROFITABLE!

^^ You see how you can be wasting your time with "search volume"? Concentrate on the customer profiles in this section. If I was selling womens shoes I'd create customer profiles around women that want to live the luxury lifestyle - they are more profitable and will be an easier sell. You need to create the customer profiles that are the most profitable for you AND use BuzzSumo to figure which topics of the most profitable are the hottest to talk about, then create your outline of content there.

You are skipping steps trying to "start writing now". We put the crash course in a specific order so you can go through it day by day, and THEN make your plans according to all the gems you found within and then go back and do a re-grind of it day by day.

The reality is the first 10 days of the crash course are the basics and the real gems, the Crème de la crème, are in the final days of the crash course since it ties everything together.

Side note: Yes, having $0.00 CPC for "red bottom heels with diamonds" sort of contradicts my statement about not going after keywords under $1-$5 above regarding "Pineapple gardening". However the key here is to NOT use a formula but to do enough market research and realize that the target audience talks about "red bottoms heels with diamonds" cause Christian Louboutin is a mega brand. Going after "red bottoms heels with diamonds" kills two birds with one stone just with the title, but also can be a viral content piece that puts me ranking for "red bottom heels".

A regular "SEO" would say that "red bottoms heels with diamonds" is a waste of time to go after. But we're not SEOs are we, we're marketers that do market research. The key about market research is we can find gems that no one has found before since they didn't bother doing in-depth research, it's how some people alway seem to "strike gold" with a venture that seems to be out of no-where and you ask yourself "How come no one thought about that before?"

So I'll spent 1-2 weeks creating a content piece about "red bottoms heels with diamonds", promote that, get it ranking faster since almost no one is going after that, and I start making 1-10 sales a day for a product selling for $795 to $995 - while a regular SEO wastes time trying to go after god only knows what - and makes ZERO dollars in the same 3 to 12 month time period I'm already making sales in.

Who would you want to be in that scenario - the SEO that just does bare minimum keyword research and writes 1000 word articles a day 5 days a week OR the marketer that did in-depth market research and drops 1 piece of content every 2 weeks, promotes it and starts generating money within the first 2 weeks from referring traffic and has long term rankings coming in years from now for a search term the regular "SEO" skipped over or was completely oblivious to?

but knowing the lawn care keyword will sit for a long time before I get any traction on it
If you DO NOT promote your content piece it will sit forever and ever before it gets 'traction'. You can only get traction by pushing - in real life and in online marketing. Google will not send you traffic or increase your rankings without you making gains by promoting your content - that's just the current reality of how winning is done online.

So the question is do you plan on just writing the content pieces and waiting for Google to send you traffic? If you are honestly so fearful of promoting your content and your website you aren't going to get anywhere with this project and you might as well stop right here and call it a day.

How can I be so sure of that? Look at the millions of millions of "SEOs", blogs, and website projects that thought they would "write content and wait for Google" - you see their website ruins all over the internet, half-ass done websites that get little to no traffic. The SEO waiting game may have worked in 2007, it's 2017 - you have to hustle if you want to make it - in real life or in online marketing.

Additionally, I suspect most of my revenue from this will end up as ad income or affiliate sales from Amazon and perhaps some FBA if I ever do that, or if it's actually doable in a couple years time.
You suspect your revenue... WAT? You aren't running a business if you don't know how you are going to generate revenue from your website. And if you are really going to have to wait a couple of years for revenue... then you aren't promoting and just playing the SEO waiting game.

For the first problem you need to read Day 9 Monetization - it showcases you how different types of websites generate revenue, you need to read that to understand the business you are creating.

For the 2nd problem - don't play the SEO waiting game. There is only so many ways I can drill this into people's heads. If you have an online business and cannot generate a single dollars within 1-3 months, you might as well shutdown that operation cause either you aren't serious, there is no money in that niche, or you are working off a crap playbook. This is the internet you can make money EVERYWHERE.
 
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#24
Thanks @CCarter - that gave it to me!!! And I'm grateful.

Firstly...

"I WILL FOCUS ON THE TOPICS THAT MOVE THE REVENUE NEEDLE!"

Second

"I WILL FOCUS ON THE TOPICS THAT MOVE THE REVENUE NEEDLE!"

Really appreciate the in depth insights and the time you take to respond so fully. I'm just gonna read it a couple more times to drum it into that thick skull of mine :-)

_______

One more thing

If my customer profile is stay at home females with relatively high disposable incomes, do you see a male persona being a big issue?

I notice that many of the blogs in the niche have females behind them, a few are couples.

I haven’t created a fake persona, just me, want this as authentic as possible. Maybe I just need to add a pic of my wife?

I know that my other site is around 65% female and doesn’t mind a guy running it.

What are your thoughts on resonating with an audience if you aren’t exactly one of them?
 

CCarter

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#25
If my customer profile is stay at home females with relatively high disposable incomes, do you see a male persona being a big issue?
Always test. I recommend having a female writer or editor of your content just in case it becomes critical after you get your findings.

I haven’t created a fake persona, just me, want this as authentic as possible. Maybe I just need to add a pic of my wife?
If your a man - it's impossible to be authentic while pretending to be a woman. Personas are personas - remove the word "fake" and realize you are here to build a brand. If your brand requires a woman's touch - then you have to do what you have to do. Perhaps partner up with a woman and give her 50% for doing the writing. I wouldn't recommend partnering up with your wife cause you never do business with family - it's likely to end in a disaster.

What are your thoughts on resonating with an audience if you aren’t exactly one of them?
If you believe you are an outsider than you will always come across as an outsider in IRL and this online marketing thing.

It could also very well be that you are concentrating to hard on something most people don't notice. Most people read websites and brands, very few take that much time to research the author or look deep unless something inspires or aggravates them. I've read thousands of articles and probably remember less than a handful of the authors' names - until their I keep coming across an author who's writing makes me take note and I start looking for that author's content.

Would you believe there is a percentage of the audience that thinks I'm a female and another percentage that thinks I'm a male - and yet an even LARGER percentage that think I'm multiple people? Some people even think I'm a single person. That mystery seems to keep some people coming back...

Just like this community - you read advice, but until you come across content that keeps hitting home do you start taking notes of who authored it, and then you start gravitating towards their advice and looking for what they have to say on a subject.