What are you prepared to risk to optimise your chances of internet success?

John Beavis Everybody’s got something to lose with any risk they ever take. Equally, everybody who is prepared to risk something stands to gain so much. Life’s a gamble and there’s little that’s predictable or certain. That’s what makes it so exciting! So why do so many internet entrepreneurs risk so little and seem to be so satisfied with such scant rewards? Especially when you consider that there is a mountain of opportunity out there. And it is there, all over the world, sitting right at the end of your fingertips. Want some of it? Of course you do – who wouldn’t? So why are you still doing what everybody else seems to want to do? You’re risking nothing simply by copying others. Whether it’s their copy, layout, graphic styling, headlining, offers and even typeface – it’s very likely that by following others, you’re just buying into their mistakes. Why not do what those powerful ads command and: «challenge everything»? Headlines Whoever said it was a good idea to pan people over the head with «Secret this», «Discover that», «Unlock, unleash, un-whatever»! I got bored just writing that, let alone trying to read any of it. Scorn, derision and spades of scepticism are not the results you’re after! And 36 point, 36 word headlines? Whose idea was that? On many websites I visit, you get half the headline, in your face, in an unreadable type size all spouting pretty much the same unhinged hyperbole. Say goodbye – there goes your client, off to find somewhere sane and inviting! Take a risk. Pare the headline down to 6-10 words that challenge the reader, wrap your arm round their shoulder and invite them into the body copy. They’re banging on your door. Now bring them in for the sale! Layout Look out, there’s a good layout about! Trouble is, you’ve got to trawl through some awful rubbish to find it! So many layouts that I see are so confusing! Offers here, offers there, bonus here, bonus there, affiliate offers, early bird offers, totally unconnected adverts – it’s a visual explosion of bewildering befuddlement! Why do it? «Everyone else seems to do it!» Every year, Bill Gates and lots of other hugely successful entrepreneurs give away billions of dollars to charity, … and I don’t see everyone else doing that, do you? Take a risk.

Break the mould. Do it, differently, but just make sure you do it brilliantly well. By that I mean do it cleverly and simply. Walk the reader through your store. Show them everything. Tantalise, intrigue, excite, entice and lead them gently and persuasively to doing just what you want them to do – buy, subscribe, enlist, enrol – it’s your call, but it’s their choice and, remember, it’s also their money. Offers A wise old gentleman once told me that you should never give away your product or service – and don’t discount it either! He was a marketing guru, worth millions and I guess he never gave anything away, except that he gave me a chance to become a copywriter for his company. For that, I’ve been grateful ever since. But apart from the quality of your list of customers (absolutely vital), the offer you make is the single most important element you have to play with. Take a risk. Use it to your advantage. There are truckloads of books out there about successful internet entrepreneurs who pitched a brave offer to their eager audience. They gave something away, for free, and yes – it was the crown jewels! Why? Well, they knew that once a customer bought into the buying cycle, they would be hooked … and ready for more, usually at a much higher price – provided that the product delivered all of the promise it had made. Net effect? The customer got a smashing freebie, told their friends, blogged it and viral methods substantially increased the entrepreneur’s customer list … with people who were hungry, eager and waiting for the offer. Instead of sticking out for just one sale that may or may not come, the entrepreneur took a big risk and not only doubled, trebled or even quadrupled their earnings – their profits soared through the roof and put their businesses on a stellar footing with virtually an iron grip on the future. «Challenge everything» Risk requires that you «challenge everything».

Do it differently and you begin to make the world work the way you want it to and the bottom line read the way that you think it should. It isn’t difficult and we all remember the story of the Pied Piper. All the children disappeared, except the one that was different. I don’t know how that good old story ended, but the child that was left probably grew up to become a hugely successful online entrepreneur … and made himself a couple of fortunes!