How To Do Keyword Research Before Starting Your Business - centis.net

How To Do Keyword Research Before Starting Your Business & Launching A Website: A Beginner’s Guide

Reading Time: 8 minutes We have seen it again and again. You have an idea for starting a business, capitalising on your passion or just because you want to make some extra money and leave your dreaded job.
So you start working on how to make things a reality – if you are selling services, you will probably need some space to rent, you are looking for an accountant, create a logo, and try to set up pricing.
But you are overlooking one major thing that can make or break your business early on:
What your (future) customers are looking for.

5 things before you start your business - centis.net

Do These 5 Things Before You Start Your Business To Get It Off To A Great Start

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Starting your own business is a lot of work. Not only do you have to take care of all the day-to-day operational tasks, but you also have to nurture your business so that it can grow and thrive. You might be wondering where to even start.

The answer is simple.

Before you start your business, you must create your online presence. 

Why?

Because everything starts from this exact point – and things aren’t going back to where they used to be.

So if we were you, we would start by researching online not only the market, but once we have a clear understanding of what our market would be, keywords that people will search to find us, creating an online presence before we even launch and a powerful domain name that matches the best performing keyword.

This post will give you 5 things that you should absolutely do before starting your new business.

1. Make sure you have done thorough keyword research for your website

2. Make sure you know the kind of customer you want to attract

3. Make sure your domain name includes your keyword

4. Have an estimate of the budget you need to market your business

5. Gather an audience before you launch your website & business.

5 things you should do before you start your business

1. Make sure you have done a thorough keyword research for your website

One of the most important things to do before starting your business is to develop a thorough understanding of the keywords you want to rank for. We can’t stress this enough. Whether you are an accountant, a plumber, a management consultant or even a yoga teacher, it is important that you establish your foundation for people to find you easily.

Ranking for keywords will help you get more traffic and conversions. One way that you can find keywords is by looking at the top-ranking websites in your industry. You should also look into how people are searching online and think about what they might be trying to find with their search queries.

So keywords research on your industry and future business is everything. Spend time researching keywords for your website. This is the foundational aspect of your business. 

You want to make sure that you have a good list of keywords that people are searching for and other competitors of your are using them. 

You will later optimise your website with these keywords and al your blog posts, landing pages and even newsletters!

2. Make sure you know the kind of customer you want to attract

This is one of the most important things you should do before starting your business and your website.

If you don’t know who your target audience is, chances are you’ll have a hard time getting new customers. 

Before you start, identify your niche and research what kind of customer it attracts. This can help shape your marketing campaigns to attract more people like this. 

Who do you sell to? Sure, as an accountant you sell to everybody. After all, everyone needs accounting. Or if you are a plumber, you service all kinds of plumbing, right?

Not quite.

You see, within each industry, there are sub-divisions of that industry. For example, in accountancy, there are cost accounting, accounting for HR, accounting for aviation etc. Can you service all of them? No.

So think in terms of who you serve – who would be ideal for you to work with. It is definitely not everyone.

Another example is if you’re opening an ice cream shop, you may want to focus on attracting families. That way, when they come across your ad or see you in person, they will be more likely to buy from you because they’re attracted to the same thing as your customer base.

Think about the kind of customer you want to attract. Do you want to target a specific demographic or geographic area? Maybe focus on a niche? Knowing who your customers are will help you market better.

3. Make sure your domain name includes your keyword

One of the most important things you can do before starting your own business is to make sure your domain name includes your keyword. This way, people searching for your website may find it before they find one with a similar but different domain. The more leads and customers you have coming to your website, the better!

I had a friend who sold coffee. He went on and registered his name in a domain name but not anything that resembles that he sells coffee. 

In the end, he found out that marketing his business comes at a greater cost when people cannot associate what you sell with your brand.

He finally realise that and after a while, he changed his domain name (and logo) to include the word “coffee roasters” in it.

Make sure that your domain name includes keywords related to what you offer in order to make it easier for people to find your business online.

4. Have an estimate of the budget you need to market your business

One of the most important things to do before starting your business is to have an idea of how much you’ll need to market it. This can be a challenge, as marketing budgets vary depending on the size of the business and its goals. 

It’s a good idea to start by getting a ballpark figure in order to be able to plan ahead.

There are many different approaches you can take with your marketing budget, but one that has shown success for other businesses is digital marketing.  

With digital marketing, you can target your audience more precisely than traditional methods. You can input important information about your audience and use that information to shape your digital marketing campaigns. It makes it easy for you to reach the right people! 

Let’s say your ideal customers are African-American men between 23-35 years old who make at least $35,000 a year. You’re trying to reach this ideal customer on social media to get them to follow your business. 

If you wanted to precisely target those characteristics, you could easily set those perimeters for your social media ad campaign. This would ensure that only the relevant people specified would see your ad and become interested in what you have to offer!

This helps you project how much you will need to spend each month on advertising, blogging, social media, influencer marketing and graphic design and how many units of products or services you will need to sell to make these costs back.

Planning this BEFORE you even incorporate, shows you also what level of effort you need to undertake in order to make a sale.

5. Gather an audience before you launch

One of the most important things you can do before you launch your website and business is to gather an audience. This might sound strange, but it’s actually one of the most important things you can do. Without an audience, it will be very difficult for anyone to find your site and company.

What are some ways to get a following? You can start by running ads and building a list with Facebook ads or other social media ads. 

You could also create content that is relevant or interesting to your desired audience and share it on social media or with an email list. 

There are many ways that you could build an audience, but whatever way you choose make sure that it aligns with the theme of your company!

Gathering an audience before launching your website & business is tough, but it pays big when you finally launch your business. You will immediately make sales.

Compare the two:

Jennifer launches her yoga class but has no audience. She incorporated a month ago, so now she has to pay her accountant monthly, to buy a web hosting service, to pay for a web design agency, and pay for email marketing, leaflets and even the rent for her office – you name it –

On the other hand, Laura gathered already an audience and has email lists ready to sell to. By the time she launches, she already has to paying clients and she can finance her website, rent or anything else she wants – she is profitable from day one.

Start early in promoting your new and upcoming business, by participating in forums, social media groups, and creating a blog or newsletter list where people can sign up for updates from you or offers from your future company.

So now you know – the question is how many of the above will you do before you start your business?

 

The 3 crucial mistakes that will kill your startup - centis.net

The 3 Crucial Mistakes That Kill Your Startup

Reading Time: 5 minutes

We were lucky. At the beginning of 2022, we already have 35 customers that came from our previous business model (the agency that served only the nutraceuticals industry), so this provides us with good revenue to sustain our growth into the new model.

To be honest, this new service isn’t something that needs to reach Product/Market fit. Here is why:

Let’s say that you are a professional working from home/remotely and all of the sudden, you start thinking that you need a website.

Great! There are so many options out there, ranging from doing it on your own (Wix, Go Daddy etc) or finding a freelancer, an agency or your nephew to do it for you.

In the first case, you will need to pay anywhere between 1,500 to 10,000 Euros for a custom website. If your nephew is doing it, maybe nothing.

But this is where we come in. A product/Market fit is the concept of when/before you launch a product or service, you need to find enough people wanting to buy it.

So wanting to build a website is the primary thing that everyone does, when starting a business. It is something you must have.

And then what do you absolutely need to have? Marketing.

Nothing sort of extraordinary up to now apart from the fact that we do not just build you a website, we also provide a CRM, a custom-written newsletter, and paid ads. And our motto is, “website and marketing, without lifting a finger”.

So we are already addressing the primary needs of a startup, a professional, a freelancer or a work-from-home person (or a professional or a freelancer)

The big difference for us is that we do not sell you a website.

Getting a website from Centis kills two birds with one stone – and in our case, instead of paying to get a perfect bullet-like stone, we give it to you at an extremely low cost.

So, anyway, here are we are. January 2022, and we still rely on our past clients.

Truth be told we haven’t:

  1. Put any ad out there to advertise
  2. Haven’t contacted anyone to spread the word out
  3. The only thing we did is posting content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

This obviously is not enough to bring us any kind of traffic or sales (ok, maybe a click or two). Simply because we never put any effort in growing our social media, except LinkedIn and we are doing it now.

As we sit on the safety net of nearly €90,000 in monthly revenue from past clients, we look a whole lot different than we did in December 2021.

Our short-term goals are different.

Our day-to-day priorities are different.

And most importantly, our challenges are different than they’d ever been.

The 3 Biggest Challenges We Are Currently Facing In Growing Centis

When starting and scaling a startup – any kind of startup (and Centis is starting up on a different market(s)), you will face the same challenges as we will:

1. Finding your business voice.

When starting out, especially in a new territory that you are unfamiliar with, the tone of your business voice plays a huge role in attracting the customers you want to work with.

At the former Centis, we HAD to be extremely serious, all our content was using scientific and marketing works to appeal to C-level executives who were used to nothing else.

This time it is different. This time we offer web design as well as marketing. Not many branding or web design agencies do that because most web designers finished an art school somewhere and know how to create beautiful websites, but have no clue how to market them. So here is our first advantage.

However, the customer doesn’t really care. Most customers say “oh you can create a website. What is the cost?” And then the freelancers or agencies fight to lower their price, or if they do not care, they just provide a quote and they are done with it.

So here is the question: How can we differentiate in a sea of freelancers and agencies that offer the same product?

We have found the answer, and the answer is: using humour and sarcasm.

What does this even mean?

So, let me explain. So you try to find an agency that sells website design, and you end up looking at hundreds of websites that say the same phrases:

“award-winning”

“leading”

“We are”

I do not know about you, but I am not sure how these agencies differentiate based on this copy. Yes, some may offer 3,7, 20 free revisions, which is again a cost measure. Or someone may promise that they are available on weekends. I do not know to me, this doesn’t sound like different.

What we have found is that when you either lead with humour or direct-response copywriting (which cannot be applied in our case) you have the maximum results. First, you communicate that you are fun to work with. Second, humour sticks. Jokes stick. So when we promote, we will need to use humour and sarcasm that really resonates, probably with the pain that people face when dealing with agencies.

The problem however remains: will humour resonate? Will humour be of the right language? And how this humour will appeal to customers across Europe? It’s not the United States where everyone talks English. Here you have to take under consideration the ethnicity of each target group you are addressing and make sure that a joke does not offend someone.

2. Promoting and scaling is costly.

When you work remotely, your costs are nothing more than the cost of web hosting, subscription to software that you use, and of course your utilities and the employees or contractors you have to pay to produce.

As our business model expanded, we had to:

  • Invest in infrastructure so that each site we build and host is fast
  • Invest in website development tools
  • Invest in manpower
  • Invest in promotion (ads, press releases, outreach)

Every expense gets bigger:

  • Servers and the infrastructure to support them
  • Analytics and marketing apps that price based on traffic or subscribers
  • Back-end software that prices based on the actions of our customers

As we grow, it gets more and more expensive.

If we had to rely on this model to bring us our first customers, then we would be doomed, if we didn’t have at least 10,000 Euros each month to pay our bills.

That’s why promoting the products and testing what works and what doesn’t via conversion optimisation is our focus for the next six months; these aren’t mental marketing exercises that we do so we can blog about them. They’re going to mean the difference between life and death.

3. When You Grow Everything Else Does

As you grow, people will feel the urge to provide good and valuable feedback. Clearly, this is something we didn’t have at the old Centis, as we were bound with NDAs and we couldn’t publicise our work.

Having a network of thrilled customers is incredibly valuable, as they can promote your work and reach more people.

However, we do not live in a bubble. When you grow, your problems grow too. We are investing early in site architecture and security and we are making sure that every plugin we use for our core product matches with each other – or it will result in slowing down our customer’s websites and bit back at the #$%^”.

A critical issue to one website may affect everything else, so this needs to be pre-addressed.

In your situation, growth means you now serve more people than you could and can’t serve them all within the day. Or if you do, you do a sloppy job and then the customer leaves a bad review on Yelp or TrustPilot.

The most important thing to remember out of the entire post comes from the phrase of my favourite book, Freakonomics: Assume Nothing, Question Everything

Simply because you need to grow, doesn’t mean that you have to assume that everything will work out just fine, no. You have to prepare for what’s coming and that is – unhappy customers, mostly with your service. So, find your voice, promote it at the lowest cost possible and prepare for a disaster before it comes.

The 12-Month Growth Strategy For 2022- centis.net

The 12-Month Growth Strategy Plan For 2022

Reading Time: 9 minutes

In this post, we reveal what our plan is for growth for our new business model – and in the subsequent posts we will lay out what worked and what failed.

So January started very slowly – at the time of writing, we are on the final week of January 2022, and apart of strategising, writing blog posts and working on all aspects of the business, no one even touched the prospecting engine we created:-)

The team and I are trained on giving demos for the new product – the objective of the demos is to identify the needs of the customer and if she/he is a fit, then invite them to signup.

Following our shared goal for the year, which is quite ambitious – to reach 10,000 paying customers by the end of 2022 – we all agreed that the product, our value and our brand must mean something for all those people to jump in and commit.

I sat with the team in late December (yes, it was BEFORE Christmas) and we brainstormed on how exactly we will do it.

As with every customer before, we spend a lot of time with our heads down, drafting plans and scenarios that include all possible situations and hypotheses for 6, 12 or 24-month goals, strategies and action plans.

So this time, WE are our own customer.

After six hours of brainstorming sessions of GoogleMeet (ok, not in one go for God’s sake, who do you think I am?) with our partners, developers, designer, coders and PPC guys we laid out a plan.

But first an overview of what we have achieved since 2017 when we first started Centis:

  • We entered the nutraceuticals industry long before anyone else. As far as we know, we were the only agency globally that exclusively served that industry, just before COVOD hit
  • We have customers that love us and we hold the record of having 35 paying clients that none of them left up to now (the average paying client for an agency is 2 years), except when we announced the new product
  • We have a team of 32 people, from all over the world, and since 2017 just two people left the business to seek something else – all with very good terms.
  • Because of a very diversified team and a lengthy hiring process that I personallydeveloped, our success was higher than any other agency entering the market (that’s why our customers love us, I asked),
  • But we also had our fair share of failures, and did a few things wrong. One of these things was focusing on a small industry with few players and little room for growth – and we were too scared to be bold, afraid that we will lose ground. Big mistake.

So our focus for the next twelve months is very simple: to develop, acquire and nurture 10,000 paying customers that use and love Centis.

This is how we plan on doing it.

But First, Strategy

You will hear me talking about setting strategy when you meet me in one of our demos or if we take you as a client (at any package). As I have been educated in an American school, I tend to follow the guy that I studied – this is no other than the legendary Michael Porter and his Textbook on Strategy.

Of course, a few things need to be taken under consideration here. First, things have changed since 1989 when I was at college, and second – if you are a little bit smart, you need to find ways to improve what you have learned so in our case I am also using the Japanese method of Kaizen which teaches continuous improvement.

1. European Leadership

During our years in the nutraceuticals space, we learned a lot about very demanding customers. Customers that made a fuss over a spelling mistake and completely marketing-unaware customers that still live in the 1980s.

This gave us two things – first, experience dealing with difficult and demanding customers, always meeting their needs and aligning with their goals. Second, processes and standardisation, which we adapted for the new business model.

So our focus is to stop marketing aggressively outside of Europe, as we are based in London (and soon will be moving to central Europe), and focus (ok, not exclusively) on all European countries.

Our mission is to become the preeminent resource for small & medium-sized businesses when it comes to marketing.

2. Build the Centis Brand

Let’s face it, business come and go. We believe that our product, our efforts will help small & medium businesses to grow, and we’re focusing on that. Below you will read that, we have plans to provide a huge amount of value to our European and (later) international community. Our mission is to become the preeminent resource for SMBs and startups when it comes to marketing and growth.

3. Rely on Data

Centis was and will always be relying on data to achieve things. Digital marketing gives us this possibility. It is what we teach our clients to do, and it is how we make decisions together with our clients. However, now we do not plan on having just 35 clients. We plan on having 10,000, and it is not difficult to achieve.

Yes, it may sound crazy to you, but we have seen growth in other businesses similar to what we plan.

So using data, we need to have predictability. We need to dig deep into data and know that when we do one action, we will expect this set of results. We can’t depend on luck; this will be the only way to make our growth systematic.

When I was a marketing manager for a toy company back in 2015 in the UK, I came across a book called “Freakonomics”. I will not write about it here, but on the back, there was one paragraph that defined who I am.

“Assume Nothing, Question Everything”

This resonated deeply with me, and in order not to forget I printed this phrase and stuck it in front of me, in every place I was hired.

This is more important than ever, now in this age of digital and data.

The Biggest Bottlenecks We Need To Address

1. Hiring Faster To Accommodate The Needs Of The Many

Up to now, our agency had a very lengthy process of hiring people because we wanted to hire the best for our clients. With the new plan, will we be doing everything that we can to put together the right mix of talent to take Centis to 10,000 clients?

How can we hire the right employees as we grow?

It is not enough to be good marketers anymore. We all need to think like what we do affects the business and everyone’s wellbeing – our own and client’s alike.

2. Working Faster While Keeping The Clients Happy

Our new services do not allow for length processes or meetings. We now have three specific tasks:

  1. Build a website to clients’ requirements based on our templates;
  2. Write effective email newsletters for them;
  3. Manage their paid acquisition to get them leads and sales, exactly as we would do for us.

However, to be able to help more clients we need to be moving faster than we are. To do that, we’ll need to set more regular milestones and timelines that need to be checked weekly, monthly and quarterly. This will keep us focused on the right tasks to progress toward our 12-month goal.

Constantly Improving Our Product

When we entered the world of website development and hosting at the start of 2022, we knew that we opened a door to the unknown.

For starters, any website will be having bugs, plugins will not work at some point and connections between services will be lost. That’s why we are increasing the number of developers and client care specialists – so when anything happens, it will be reported immediately and sent to the developers for fixing within hours. That’s our objective.

At the same time, we think that upon someone signs up on any CORE plans, it is not enough to simply be faced with a website and expect them to just add content. So our plan for the year is to create an onboarding experience with goal setting and free courses with videos on marketing.

How Will Our Goals Be Achieved?

We tend to break our goals into small actionable steps. This is what we always advise our clients to do as well. By breaking our goals to small tasks they become more manageable day by day, week by week, month by month.

Step 1: Increasing Our Blogging Activities

We KNOW for a fact that blogging brought us 100% of all leads in the previous years. I admit that this practice takes time and patience so if someone needs leads and sales NOW, they should resort to paid acquisition.

We’re going to grow our blogging activities by doing:

  • Extensive keyword research to validate blog posts subjects
  • Write at least one short form (1,000 words blog post) per week and one at least 2,000 blog post (this will be detailing our journey)
  • Closely tracking blog metrics and movement of blog visitors through our funnels
  • Build up relations with other small & medium business-related bloggers so as to write guests blogs

Step 2: Community Building

Writing blog posts is nice and eventually brings much needed organic traffic, but it is essential to build the Centis’ brand outside of our own web property:

  • Developing a data-driven social media strategy (which platforms are best for us?)
  • Asking customers permission to write case studies to be published around the web
  • Creating a community for entrepreneurs (this is in the works)
  • Building the relationships we need to get more high-profile customers using Centis

Step 3: Putting More Efforts On Organic SEO

We never really tried to do anything with SEO. So far, we got the majority of our leads by targeting specific keywords through our blog. From February 2022 we are going to be taking a more strategic approach to organic SEO by:

  • Doing keyword research to find out what our prospects are searching for
  • Building blog/webinar/video content and targeted landing pages specifically for those interests

Step 4: Affiliates & Partners

A year back, we tried (unsuccessfully) to target the marketing managers of large and medium nutraceutical manufacturers and bring them on as “resellers” to Centis.

Basically, we said to them “Look, you only care about selling your supplements to brand owners, and you do not really care if the brand owner knows how to sell them to their customers. Let us change that. We will install a virtual marketing team to you and you will resell white label marketing to your brand owners, helping them succeed”.

It spectacularly failed.

As our new business model does not allow us to do the above, we can only offer a percentage to people that refer business to us. What we need to do is find out what incentives and programs are out there so that anyone who osigns up as an affiliate will have a good incentive to do so.

Affiliate marketing is something we push to every customer – we set up their affiliate/referral system so as to expand faster, without advertising.

In our case, our first step is to look into our network, our software and whatever we use and ask these people to work with us.

Step 5: Driving Paid Traffic

We have never ever tried paid traffic for Centis before. For starters, our Facebook page has zero Likes, because we never promoted it. Our Twitter sucks, for the same reason.

So now, what we will focus on is:

On Facebook:

  • Getting our page Liked by 10,000 people by the end of the year through paid ads (we tested doing this only with hashtags and works very very, bery slowly)
  • Create lead ads that focus on getting appointmens with qualified prospects that DO NOT have a website (our Full stack offer is too high for Facebook ads)
  • Create retargeting campaigns

On Quora:

  • Answer as many questions as possible and create ads there

On Twitter:

  • Focus on getting our Twitter page get the same followers as on Facebook
  • In the past, we tried twitter ads for customers, but didn’t work out. We will try to see if it will work for a service-based product.

Native Ads & Adroll:

For native ads, we will explore networks like Outbrain and Taboola, including sponsoring newsletters.

Adroll is working perfectly for all our customers, producing more than 350% ROI.

Google Ads:

Google ads are definitely on our top priority list. What we have done for clients is – before anything – we put up a highly converting landing page that has been tested hundreds of times, so we know it will convert. Then all we have to do is run search ads with the pain problem and the solution together in the ad.

Then retarget using Google Display ads.

Step 6: Leads Nurturing

During the years that passed, I personally developed an appetite for email marketing. Through many experiments we came up with a sequence that we install to all customers – the only thing that we change is content.

Selling a service is a bit different, but I have purchased marketing, apps and coaching via email also I know that it works. All we have to do is:

  • Implementing drip campaigns for new subscribers that drive them toward signup
  • Creating more “middle-of-the-funnel” content for qualified leads

Here is our biggest issue -how to choose the right email service that works. Mailchimp is out of the question, as it is too basic for us.

We have been Klaviyo partners for years with impressive results, and we tried to use it initially on our own site, BUT we have found that leads do not easily enter the CRM and the Klaviyo environment was built for eCommerce, not agencies selling services.

Currently, we experiment with ConvertKit. I will update this post accordingly.

Now What?

This year is going to be different.

We broke all big strategy items into smaller parts and now each one of us has a clear task to do.

Reporting from the team meeting, everyone feels excited as we have an entire continent to target with no limitations and no fear of alienating our small prospect pool as before. As of today, every small and medium business – with or without a website – is a potential client.

I can’t wait to see what this effort brings.

I do hope that this transparent way of peeking inside our business, has got your business and creative juices flowing.

Of course, feel free to copy any of the ideas above for your own plan. I hope it’s as useful for you as it has been for us.