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How to Determine if your Business Idea has Merit with an Affinity Marketing Proof of Concept Phase

My father is joining the ranks of retirees starting online business ventures and he’s in his 70’s. When you think about it, being a micropreneur is a perfect way to share his many years of business knowledge without having to leave the comfort of his home office – if he so chooses. And it’s a perfect way to create additional revenue to supplement his retirement.

At his age, though he has seen and done a great deal and if you’re in the same boat – it may be hard for you to pin down a particular area on which to focus your new company. I believe it is a waste of time to write out an entire business plan if you’re still not sure about your business concept – instead try what I call the Affinity Marketing Proof of Concept Phase.

This Phase occurs before you write a business plan. You start with an idea and the goal is simply to test your market and prove or  disprove and refine your marketing message and concept.

To launch a business you need to determine if you can make any money at it. Otherwise it’s simply a hobby or pastime. If you want to see if your business has merit with a Proof of Concept Phase, you’ll need a:

  • Fuzzy idea of what you want to offer (product or service)
  • 1 or more Facebook pages
  • Twitter account
  • Custom Logo files which can be used on all the social media platforms
  • Identity – enough about your concept to fill out the basic information on Facebook and Twitter
  • Placeholder URL is optional – but I like to have it just in case the idea takes hold. If you don’t end up using this particular URL – you can redirect it to the site you develop later or resell it.

You then simply set up your accounts and begin talking about your concept about 2 – 3 times per week and do a bit of announcing and cross posting on all your social media platforms. Watch to see the audience that shows up to hear what you have to say.   Tweak your content every once in a while to see what people respond to. (Hint: People hate the oversell, so make the Identity all about them – NOT YOU)

At first things will likely be slow to take off – with Facebook, there is a tipping point at around 200 people or so. If your idea resonates, this is when the page “Likes” will take on a life of their own – even if you’re not posting new content very often.  At this point, you’re simply collecting names and analyzing the common threads amongst who shows up.

I recommend spending a bit more time on Facebook than on Twitter because Facebook “Likes” have more long-term value. Just follow these ideas for engaging your audience and if you find your page taking off – and reaching in the 3, 4 or (*gasp*) 5 digit Number of “Likes” – begin working on your business plan and main site. You may just have something there worth pursuing.

Keep in mind, you can launch multiple Proof of Concept Facebook pages to test your market, but the key is to listen to what people begin to talk about around your particular concept and to capture the characteristics about your perfect customer. Not everyone who presses “Like” will be a perfect customer to you.

This is one of the fastest ways to:

  • determine if you have a market at all
  • mine that market for their needs; and then
  • fulfill the needs of that market.

Technology and the ease of social media make the Proof of  Concept Phase one of the fastest ways to the money, and one of the smartest ways to find the details you need when you write out your full blown business, sales, PR and marketing plan.
At the end of the Proof of Concept Phase you’ll know what the market pain points are, what skills you need to have (or hire) to help your target market and the price they’d be willing to pay. And depending on your skill set, YOU can do all of this with less than $100.


Get in touch with any questions you may have…

Be the Brand… weaving your story throughout your company

Here are four ways:

  1. Start with the URL. Your URL should immediately give someone the sense of what the site is all about. If there is a disconnect between your URL and your story/content, consider registering additional URLs and making distinct landing pages for your messaging. Keep your story clear,  concise and targeted.
  2. The About page. Your About page should actually be less about you and more about how well you understand your client’s situation. If the story you’re telling doesn’t help your message resonate with your customer – try again.
  3. Your speaking platform – if you are a professional speaker you understand how important it is to begin with a compelling story. How often does that story tie back to your business? Consider the ways to create connections between the two.
  4. Your referral programI previously blogged about Captain Valerie. She is the business owner who shares her stories and at the same time makes those stories a great marketing tool. I know I have personally shared her stories repeatedly since she first told me about her company. To take this even further, she might encourage her referral partners to use those same stories. These can be brought up in all types of settings, making it more personal and less of a hard sell, and ultimately making them more successful in bringing her new business.

Why we Tweet?

In a recent Facebook post, my friend Clarence mentioned that he just doesn’t get Twitter… recalling how I felt before I signed up for Facebook and Twitter I chuckled a bit; then I left a message hoping he would sign up and take a look. His question also made me think about the reasons we are constantly recommending Twitter as part of our client’s branding strategy.

Simply put, we tweet for our clients because public conversations are one of the best ways to build a brand. Unlike Google, Twitter gives you the ability to search for information in real-time. So by tracking your company, book, product or service name you can read and respond instantaneously to positive or negative feedback using Twitter. Not only is it perfect for marketing messages, it can offer a huge reach and awesome way to provide customer care. Allowing companies to share special gifts and time-sensitive information, guidance on where to go, what to do, what to click and see.

It’s an amazing little tool… Hopefully Clarence, you’ll begin to see the possibilities – and hey, thanks for inspiring this post!

“15 Business Buzz Tips for Twitter”

In addition to finding your fans very quickly, here are 15 other reasons to use 

  1. Sharing special offers and freebies
  2. Highlighting sales and coupons
  3. Promoting event Information
  4. Twitter provides the platform for mobile and quick conversations with fans and followers without giving away your personal contact information
  5. Announce your new products
  6. Link to your new (and old) blog posts, website and Facebook fan pages
  7. Link to your product and studio photos
  8. Ask for feedback about your work
  9. Ask for input on initial designs
  10. Hold contests
  11. Find partners
  12. Locate resources and subcontractors
  13. Share and shape ideas through rapid brainstorming
  14. Drive your followers where you want them to go for more information about you and your company (especially useful for sales!)
  15. Allow your followers to re-tweet your most brilliant thoughts, links and ideas; quickly and easily (now that’s a buzz builder)

** excerpt from Building Better Buzz for your Etsy Shop