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Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

5 months ago

How to properly price SaaS

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Victoria Kurichenko

Victoria Kurichenko

5 months ago

My Blog Is in Google's Top 10—Here's How to Compete

"Competition" is beautiful and hateful.

Some people bury their dreams because they are afraid of competition. Others challenge themselves, shaping our world.

Competition is normal.

It spurs innovation and progress.

I wish more people agreed.

As a marketer, content writer, and solopreneur, my readers often ask:

"I want to create a niche website, but I have no ideas. Everything's done"

"Is a website worthwhile?"

I can't count how many times I said, "Yes, it makes sense, and you can succeed in a competitive market."

I encourage and share examples, but it's not enough to overcome competition anxiety.

I launched an SEO writing website for content creators a year ago, knowing it wouldn't beat Ahrefs, Semrush, Backlinko, etc.

Not needed.

Many of my website's pages rank highly on Google.

Everyone can eat the pie.

In a competitive niche, I took a different approach.

Look farther

When chatting with bloggers that want a website, I discovered something fascinating.

They want to launch a website but have no ideas. As a next step, they start listing the interests they believe they should work on, like wellness, lifestyle, investments, etc. I could keep going.

Too many generalists who claim to know everything confuse many.

Generalists aren't trusted.

We want someone to fix our problems immediately.

I don't think broad-spectrum experts are undervalued. People have many demands that go beyond generalists' work. Narrow-niche experts can help.

I've done SEO for three years. I learned from experts and courses. I couldn't find a comprehensive SEO writing resource.

I read tons of articles before realizing that wasn't it. I took courses that covered SEO basics eventually.

I had a demand for learning SEO writing, but there was no solution on the market. My website fills this micro-niche.

Have you ever had trouble online?

Professional courses too general, boring, etc.?

You've bought off-topic books, right?

You're not alone.

Niche ideas!

Big players often disregard new opportunities. Too small. Individual content creators can succeed here.

In a competitive market:

  • Never choose wide subjects

  • Think about issues you can relate to and have direct experience with.

  • Be a consumer to discover both the positive and negative aspects of a good or service.

  • Merchandise your annoyances.

  • Consider ways to transform your frustrations into opportunities.

The right niche is half-success. Here is what else I did to hit the Google front page with my website.

An innovative method for choosing subjects

Why publish on social media and websites?

Want likes, shares, followers, or fame?

Some people do it for fun. No judgment.

I bet you want more.

You want to make decent money from blogging.

Writing about random topics, even if they are related to your niche, won’t help you attract an audience from organic search. I'm a marketer and writer.

I worked at companies with dead blogs because they posted for themselves, not readers. They did not follow SEO writing rules; that’s why most of their content flopped.

I learned these hard lessons and grew my website from 0 to 3,000+ visitors per month while working on it a few hours a week only. Evidence:

I choose website topics using these criteria:

- Business potential. The information should benefit my audience and generate revenue. There would be no use in having it otherwise.

My topics should help me:

Attract organic search traffic with my "fluff-free" content -> Subscribers > SEO ebook sales.

Simple and effective.

- traffic on search engines. The number of monthly searches reveals how popular my topic is all across the world. If I find that no one is interested in my suggested topic, I don't write a blog article.

- Competition. Every search term is up against rivals. Some are more popular (thus competitive) since more websites target them in organic search. A new website won't score highly for keywords that are too competitive. On the other side, keywords with moderate to light competition can help you rank higher on Google more quickly.

- Search purpose. The "why" underlying users' search requests is revealed. I analyze search intent to understand what users need when they plug various queries in the search bar and what content can perfectly meet their needs.

My specialty website produces money, ranks well, and attracts the target audience because I handpick high-traffic themes.

Following these guidelines, even a new website can stand out.

I wrote a 50-page SEO writing guide where I detailed topic selection and share my front-page Google strategy.

My guide can help you run a successful niche website.

In summary

You're not late to the niche-website party.

The Internet offers many untapped opportunities.

We need new solutions and are willing to listen.

There are unexplored niches in any topic.

Don't fight giants. They have their piece of the pie. They might overlook new opportunities while trying to keep that piece of the pie. You should act now.

Rachel Greenberg

Rachel Greenberg

5 months ago

6 Causes Your Sales Pitch Is Unintentionally Repulsing Customers

Skip this if you don't want to discover why your lively, no-brainer pitch isn't making $10k a month.

Photo by Chase Chappell on Unsplash

You don't want to be repulsive as an entrepreneur or anyone else. Making friends, influencing people, and converting strangers into customers will be difficult if your words evoke disgust, distrust, or disrespect. You may be one of many entrepreneurs who do this obliviously and involuntarily.

I've had to master selling my skills to recruiters (to land 6-figure jobs on Wall Street), selling companies to buyers in M&A transactions, and selling my own companies' products to strangers-turned-customers. I probably committed every cardinal sin of sales repulsion before realizing it was me or my poor salesmanship strategy.

If you're launching a new business, frustrated by low conversion rates, or just curious if you're repelling customers, read on to identify (and avoid) the 6 fatal errors that can kill any sales pitch.

1. The first indication

So many people fumble before they even speak because they assume their role is to convince the buyer. In other words, they expect to pressure, arm-twist, and combat objections until they convert the buyer. Actuality, the approach stinks of disgust, and emotionally-aware buyers would feel "gross" immediately.

Instead of trying to persuade a customer to buy, ask questions that will lead them to do so on their own. When a customer discovers your product or service on their own, they need less outside persuasion. Why not position your offer in a way that leads customers to sell themselves on it?

2. A flawless performance

Are you memorizing a sales script, tweaking video testimonials, and expunging historical blemishes before hitting "publish" on your new campaign? If so, you may be hurting your conversion rate.

Perfection may be a step too far and cause prospects to mistrust your sincerity. Become a great conversationalist to boost your sales. Seriously. Being charismatic is hard without being genuine and showing a little vulnerability.

People like vulnerability, even if it dents your perfect facade. Show the customer's stuttering testimonial. Open up about your or your company's past mistakes (and how you've since improved). Make your sales pitch a two-way conversation. Let the customer talk about themselves to build rapport. Real people sell, not canned scripts and movie-trailer testimonials.

If marketing or sales calls feel like a performance, you may be doing something wrong or leaving money on the table.

3. Your greatest phobia

Three minutes into prospect talks, I'd start sweating. I was talking 100 miles per hour, covering as many bases as possible to avoid the ones I feared. I knew my then-offering was inadequate and my firm had fears I hadn't addressed. So I word-vomited facts, features, and everything else to avoid the customer's concerns.

Do my prospects know I'm insecure? Maybe not, but it added an unnecessary and unhelpful layer of paranoia that kept me stressed, rushed, and on edge instead of connecting with the prospect. Skirting around a company, product, or service's flaws or objections is a poor, temporary, lazy (and cowardly) decision.

How can you project confidence and trust if you're afraid? Before you make another sales call, face your shortcomings, weak points, and objections. Your company won't be everyone's cup of tea, but you should have answers to every question or objection. You should be your business's top spokesperson and defender.

4. The unintentional apologies

Have you ever begged for a sale? I'm going to say no, however you may be unknowingly emitting sorry, inferior, insecure energy.

Young founders, first-time entrepreneurs, and those with severe imposter syndrome may elevate their target customer. This is common when trying to get first customers for obvious reasons.

  • Since you're truly new at this, you naturally lack experience.

  • You don't have the self-confidence boost of thousands or hundreds of closed deals or satisfied client results to remind you that your good or service is worthwhile.

  • Getting those initial few clients seems like the most difficult task, as if doing so will decide the fate of your company as a whole (it probably won't, and you shouldn't actually place that much emphasis on any one transaction).

Customers can smell fear, insecurity, and anxiety just like they can smell B.S. If you believe your product or service improves clients' lives, selling it should feel like a benevolent act of service, not a sleazy money-grab. If you're a sincere entrepreneur, prospects will believe your proposition; if you're apprehensive, they'll notice.

Approach every sale as if you're fine with or without it. This has improved my salesmanship, marketing skills, and mental health. When you put pressure on yourself to close a sale or convince a difficult prospect "or else" (your company will fail, your rent will be late, your electricity will be cut), you emit desperation and lower the quality of your pitch. There's no point.

5. The endless promises

We've all read a million times how to answer or disprove prospects' arguments and add extra incentives to speed or secure the close. Some objections shouldn't be refuted. What if I told you not to offer certain incentives, bonuses, and promises? What if I told you to walk away from some prospects, even if it means losing your sales goal?

If you market to enough people, make enough sales calls, or grow enough companies, you'll encounter prospects who can't be satisfied. These prospects have endless questions, concerns, and requests for more, more, more that you'll never satisfy. These people are a distraction, a resource drain, and a test of your ability to cut losses before they erode your sanity and profit margin.

To appease or convert these insatiably needy, greedy Nellies into customers, you may agree with or acquiesce to every request and demand — even if you can't follow through. Once you overpromise and answer every hole they poke, their trust in you may wane quickly.

Telling a prospect what you can't do takes courage and integrity. If you're honest, upfront, and willing to admit when a product or service isn't right for the customer, you'll gain respect and positive customer experiences. Sometimes honesty is the most refreshing pitch and the deal-closer.

6. No matter what

Have you ever said, "I'll do anything to close this sale"? If so, you've probably already been disqualified. If a prospective customer haggles over a price, requests a discount, or continues to wear you down after you've made three concessions too many, you have a metal hook in your mouth, not them, and it may not end well. Why?

If you're so willing to cut a deal that you cut prices, comp services, extend payment plans, waive fees, etc., you betray your own confidence that your product or service was worth the stated price. They wonder if anyone is paying those prices, if you've ever had a customer (who wasn't a blood relative), and if you're legitimate or worth your rates.

Once a prospect senses that you'll do whatever it takes to get them to buy, their suspicions rise and they wonder why.

  • Why are you cutting pricing if something is wrong with you or your service?

  • Why are you so desperate for their sale?

  • Why aren't more customers waiting in line to pay your pricing, and if they aren't, what on earth are they doing there?

That's what a prospect thinks when you reveal your lack of conviction, desperation, and willingness to give up control. Some prospects will exploit it to drain you dry, while others will be too frightened to buy from you even if you paid them.

Walking down a two-way street. Be casual.

If we track each act of repulsion to an uneasiness, fear, misperception, or impulse, it's evident that these sales and marketing disasters were forced communications. Stiff, imbalanced, divisive, combative, bravado-filled, and desperate. They were unnatural and accepted a power struggle between two sparring, suspicious, unequal warriors, rather than a harmonious oneness of two natural, but opposite parties shaking hands.

Sales should be natural, harmonious. Sales should feel good for both parties, not like one party is having their arm twisted.

You may be doing sales wrong if it feels repulsive, icky, or degrading. If you're thinking cringe-worthy thoughts about yourself, your product, service, or sales pitch, imagine what you're projecting to prospects. Don't make it unpleasant, repulsive, or cringeworthy.

Dung Claire Tran

Dung Claire Tran

3 months ago

Is the future of brand marketing with virtual influencers?

Digital influences that mimic humans are rising.

Lil Miquela has 3M Instagram followers, 3.6M TikTok followers, and 30K Twitter followers. She's been on the covers of Prada, Dior, and Calvin Klein magazines. Miquela released Not Mine in 2017 and launched Hard Feelings at Lollapazoolas this year. This isn't surprising, given the rise of influencer marketing.

This may be unexpected. Miquela's fake. Brud, a Los Angeles startup, produced her in 2016.

Lil Miquela is one of many rising virtual influencers in the new era of social media marketing. She acts like a real person and performs the same tasks as sports stars and models.

The emergence of online influencers

Before 2018, computer-generated characters were rare. Since the virtual human industry boomed, they've appeared in marketing efforts worldwide.

In 2020, the WHO partnered up with Atlanta-based virtual influencer Knox Frost (@knoxfrost) to gather contributions for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Lu do Magalu (@magazineluiza) has been the virtual spokeswoman for Magalu since 2009, using social media to promote reviews, product recommendations, unboxing videos, and brand updates. Magalu's 10-year profit was $552M.

In 2020, PUMA partnered with Southeast Asia's first virtual model, Maya (@mayaaa.gram). She joined Singaporean actor Tosh Zhang in the PUMA campaign. Local virtual influencer Ava Lee-Graham (@avagram.ai) partnered with retail firm BHG to promote their in-house labels.

Maya and Tosh Zhang in PUMA Rider campaign. Credits to Vulcan Post

In Japan, Imma (@imma.gram) is the face of Nike, PUMA, Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo SpA, and Valentino. Imma's bubblegum pink bob and ultra-fine fashion landed her on the cover of Grazia magazine.

Imma on Grazia cover. Credits to aww.tokyo

Lotte Home Shopping created Lucy (@here.me.lucy) in September 2020. She made her TV debut as a Christmas show host in 2021. Since then, she has 100K Instagram followers and 13K TikTok followers.

Liu Yiexi gained 3 million fans in five days on Douyin, China's TikTok, in 2021. Her two-minute video went viral overnight. She's posted 6 videos and has 830 million Douyin followers.

Liu Yiexi’s video on Douyin. Credits to Ji Yuqiao on Global Times

China's virtual human industry was worth $487 million in 2020, up 70% year over year, and is expected to reach $875.9 million in 2021.

Investors worldwide are interested. Immas creator Aww Inc. raised $1 million from Coral Capital in September 2020, according to Bloomberg. Superplastic Inc., the Vermont-based startup behind influencers Janky and Guggimon, raised $16 million by 2020. Craft Ventures, SV Angels, and Scooter Braun invested. Crunchbase shows the company has raised $47 million.

The industries they represent, including Augmented and Virtual reality, were worth $14.84 billion in 2020 and are projected to reach $454.73 billion by 2030, a CAGR of 40.7%, according to PR Newswire.

Advantages for brands

Forbes suggests brands embrace computer-generated influencers. Examples:

  1. Unlimited creative opportunities: Because brands can personalize everything—from a person's look and activities to the style of their content—virtual influencers may be suited to a brand's needs and personalities.

  2. 100% brand control: Brand managers now have more influence over virtual influencers, so they no longer have to give up and rely on content creators to include brands into their storytelling and style. Virtual influencers can constantly produce social media content to promote a brand's identity and ideals because they are completely scandal-free.

  3. Long-term cost savings: Because virtual influencers are made of pixels, they may be reused endlessly and never lose their beauty. Additionally, they can move anywhere around the world and even into space to fit a brand notion. They are also always available. Additionally, the expense of creating their content will not rise in step with their expanding fan base.

  4. Introduction to the metaverse: Statista reports that 75% of American consumers between the ages of 18 and 25 follow at least one virtual influencer. As a result, marketers that support virtual celebrities may now interact with younger audiences that are more tech-savvy and accustomed to the digital world. Virtual influencers can be included into any digital space, including the metaverse, as they are entirely computer-generated 3D personas. Virtual influencers can provide brands with a smooth transition into this new digital universe to increase brand trust and develop emotional ties, in addition to the young generations' rapid adoption of the metaverse.

  5. Better engagement than in-person influencers: A Hype Auditor study found that online influencers have roughly three times the engagement of their conventional counterparts. Virtual influencers should be used to boost brand engagement even though the data might not accurately reflect the entire sector.

Concerns about influencers created by computers

Virtual influencers could encourage excessive beauty standards in South Korea, which has a $10.7 billion plastic surgery industry.

A classic Korean beauty has a small face, huge eyes, and pale, immaculate skin. Virtual influencers like Lucy have these traits. According to Lee Eun-hee, a professor at Inha University's Department of Consumer Science, this could make national beauty standards more unrealistic, increasing demand for plastic surgery or cosmetic items.

Lucy by Lotte Home Shopping. Credits to Lotte Home Shopping on CNN

Other parts of the world raise issues regarding selling items to consumers who don't recognize the models aren't human and the potential of cultural appropriation when generating influencers of other ethnicities, called digital blackface by some.

Meta, Facebook and Instagram's parent corporation, acknowledges this risk.

“Like any disruptive technology, synthetic media has the potential for both good and harm. Issues of representation, cultural appropriation and expressive liberty are already a growing concern,” the company stated in a blog post. “To help brands navigate the ethical quandaries of this emerging medium and avoid potential hazards, (Meta) is working with partners to develop an ethical framework to guide the use of (virtual influencers).”

Despite theoretical controversies, the industry will likely survive. Companies think virtual influencers are the next frontier in the digital world, which includes the metaverse, virtual reality, and digital currency.

In conclusion

Virtual influencers may garner millions of followers online and help marketers reach youthful audiences. According to a YouGov survey, the real impact of computer-generated influencers is yet unknown because people prefer genuine connections. Virtual characters can supplement brand marketing methods. When brands are metaverse-ready, the author predicts virtual influencer endorsement will continue to expand.

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Katherine Kornei

Katherine Kornei

8 months ago

The InSight lander from NASA has recorded the greatest tremor ever felt on Mars.

The magnitude 5 earthquake was responsible for the discharge of energy that was 10 times greater than the previous record holder.

Any Martians who happen to be reading this should quickly learn how to duck and cover.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reported that on May 4, the planet Mars was shaken by an earthquake of around magnitude 5, making it the greatest Marsquake ever detected to this point. The shaking persisted for more than six hours and unleashed more than ten times as much energy as the earthquake that had previously held the record for strongest.

The event was captured on record by the InSight lander, which is operated by the United States Space Agency and has been researching the innards of Mars ever since it touched down on the planet in 2018 (SN: 11/26/18). The epicenter of the earthquake was probably located in the vicinity of Cerberus Fossae, which is located more than 1,000 kilometers away from the lander.

The surface of Cerberus Fossae is notorious for being broken up and experiencing periodic rockfalls. According to geophysicist Philippe Lognonné, who is the lead investigator of the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, the seismometer that is onboard the InSight lander, it is reasonable to assume that the ground is moving in that area. "This is an old crater from a volcanic eruption."

Marsquakes, which are similar to earthquakes in that they give information about the interior structure of our planet, can be utilized to investigate what lies beneath the surface of Mars (SN: 7/22/21). And according to Lognonné, who works at the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris, there is a great deal that can be gleaned from analyzing this massive earthquake. Because the quality of the signal is so high, we will be able to focus on the specifics.

Will Lockett

Will Lockett

4 months ago

Thanks to a recent development, solar energy may prove to be the best energy source.

Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

Perovskite solar cells will revolutionize everything.

Humanity is in a climatic Armageddon. Our widespread ecological crimes of the previous century are catching up with us, and planet-scale karma threatens everyone. We must adjust to new technologies and lifestyles to avoid this fate. Even solar power, a renewable energy source, has climate problems. A recent discovery could boost solar power's eco-friendliness and affordability. Perovskite solar cells are amazing.

Perovskite is a silicon-like semiconductor. Semiconductors are used to make computer chips, LEDs, camera sensors, and solar cells. Silicon makes sturdy and long-lasting solar cells, thus it's used in most modern solar panels.

Perovskite solar cells are far better. First, they're easy to make at room temperature, unlike silicon cells, which require long, intricate baking processes. This makes perovskite cells cheaper to make and reduces their carbon footprint. Perovskite cells are efficient. Most silicon panel solar farms are 18% efficient, meaning 18% of solar radiation energy is transformed into electricity. Perovskite cells are 25% efficient, making them 38% more efficient than silicon.

However, perovskite cells are nowhere near as durable. A normal silicon panel will lose efficiency after 20 years. The first perovskite cells were ineffective since they lasted barely minutes.

Recent research from Princeton shows that perovskite cells can endure 30 years. The cells kept their efficiency, therefore no sacrifices were made.

No electrical or chemical engineer here, thus I can't explain how they did it. But strangely, the team said longevity isn't the big deal. In the next years, perovskite panels will become longer-lasting. How do you test a panel if you only have a month or two? This breakthrough technique needs a uniform method to estimate perovskite life expectancy fast. The study's key milestone was establishing a standard procedure.

Lab-based advanced aging tests are their solution. Perovskite cells decay faster at higher temperatures, so scientists can extrapolate from that. The test heated the panel to 110 degrees and waited for its output to reduce by 20%. Their panel lasted 2,100 hours (87.5 days) before a 20% decline.

They did some math to extrapolate this data and figure out how long the panel would have lasted in different climates, and were shocked to find it would last 30 years in Princeton. This made perovskite panels as durable as silicon panels. This panel could theoretically be sold today.

This technology will soon allow these brilliant panels to be released into the wild. This technology could be commercially viable in ten, maybe five years.

Solar power will be the best once it does. Solar power is cheap and low-carbon. Perovskite is the cheapest renewable energy source if we switch to it. Solar panel manufacturing's carbon footprint will also drop.

Perovskites' impact goes beyond cost and carbon. Silicon panels require harmful mining and contain toxic elements (cadmium). Perovskite panels don't require intense mining or horrible materials, making their production and expiration more eco-friendly.

Solar power destroys habitat. Massive solar farms could reduce biodiversity and disrupt local ecology by destroying vital habitats. Perovskite cells are more efficient, so they can shrink a solar farm while maintaining energy output. This reduces land requirements, making perovskite solar power cheaper, and could reduce solar's environmental impact.

Perovskite solar power is scalable and environmentally friendly. Princeton scientists will speed up the development and rollout of this energy.

Why bother with fusion, fast reactors, SMRs, or traditional nuclear power? We're close to developing a nearly perfect environmentally friendly power source, and we have the tools and systems to do so quickly. It's also affordable, so we can adopt it quickly and let the developing world use it to grow. Even I struggle to justify spending billions on fusion when a great, cheap technology outperforms it. Perovskite's eco-credentials and cost advantages could save the world and power humanity's future.

Patryk Nawrocki

Patryk Nawrocki

6 months ago

7 things a new UX/UI designer should know

If I could tell my younger self a few rules, they would boost my career.

1. Treat design like medicine; don't get attached.

If it doesn't help, you won't be angry, but you'll try to improve it. Designers blame others if they don't like the design, but the rule is the same: we solve users' problems. You're not your design, and neither are they. Be humble with your work because your assumptions will often be wrong and users will behave differently.

2. Consider your design flawed.

Disagree with yourself, then defend your ideas. Most designers forget to dig deeper into a pattern, screen, button, or copywriting. If someone asked, "Have you considered alternatives? How does this design stack up? Here's a functional UX checklist to help you make design decisions.

3. Codeable solutions.

If your design requires more developer time, consider whether it's worth spending more money to code something with a small UX impact. Overthinking problems and designing abstract patterns is easy. Sometimes you see something on dribbble or bechance and try to recreate it, but it's not worth it. Here's my article on it.

4. Communication changes careers

Designers often talk with users, clients, companies, developers, and other designers. How you talk and present yourself can land you a job. Like driving or swimming, practice it. Success requires being outgoing and friendly. If I hadn't said "hello" to a few people, I wouldn't be where I am now.

5. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

Copyright, taxation How often have you used an icon without checking its license? If you use someone else's work in your project, the owner can cause you a lot of problems — paying a lot of money isn't worth it. Spend a few hours reading about copyrights, client agreements, and taxes.

6. Always test your design

If nobody has seen or used my design, it's not finished. Ask friends about prototypes. Testing reveals how wrong your assumptions were. Steve Krug, one of the authorities on this topic will tell you more about how to do testing.

7. Run workshops

A UX designer's job involves talking to people and figuring out what they need, which is difficult because they usually don't know. Organizing teamwork sessions is a powerful skill, but you must also be a good listener. Your job is to help a quiet, introverted developer express his solution and control the group. AJ Smart has more on workshops here.