How I will Increase My Current Revenue Stream

April 10, 2010 – 2:49 am | by Matt Ackerson

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Getting rich takes a lot of work. Many times I’ve found myself becoming frustrated, depressed, indecisive, or stressed–and then at other times the complete opposite.

If you’ve felt this it is important to remind yourself that the start-up process is not worth this sort of angst. Try instead focusing your energies, without emotion, on defining the problems at hand. The answers will come. (Update: After re-reading this post, I realized that the answers & peace-of-mind I was looking for came to me by the time I was done writing this article!)

For example, you may know about my current start-up venture is, a web-based restaurant marketing service. In trying to generate leads, I have gone out on foot and set up meetings with restaurant owners–but this tends to make me feel like I’m banging my head against the wall and I simply don’t enjoy it.

So now I am switching gears back to my original plan, which was to create a web business where the sales process takes place completely online (though I am also interested in other possible options that are out there, thanks for the call today Dave).

I recently relaunched the website with a revamped design and sales funnel. This has worked well, EXCEPT for the fact that I removed the free trial offer. Now the bottleneck is my registration page. Prospects get to this sign-up page, but then proceed no further (they don’t purchase).

Blue Sky Local is self-service, and similar to email marketing services, which almost all offer free trials. It makes sense to revert back to this tactic if I want to get potential clients using the service and receiving feedback about what’s working and what isn’t.

Looking back, one reason I made the decision to remove the free trial and try reducing the introductory price was because I was, frankly, frustrated, by the lack of revenue I was making. I thought instead, “Hey, I’ll just accelerate the process a little, and ask them to pay up front.” It didn’t work obviously.

Now that I think about it, the real problem wasn’t getting them to pay sooner (which would only benefit me). The problem was (1) after they created an account getting them to add a business and then stepping through the rest of the process with a setup wizard and (2) getting them back to the site after they’ve created an account if they took no further action.

Re-reading that paragraph makes me feel almost surprised because I know that’s the answer I’ve been searching for in my mission to improve Blue Sky Local’s revenue situation, and yet it seems almost too simple. The answer is a clear definition of my problem.

A wise voice in the back my head says: the right answers usually are simple.

What are your thoughts on this issue? I’m open to all ideas and suggestions.

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  1. 9 Responses to “How I will Increase My Current Revenue Stream”

  2. By Aniq Rahman on Apr 10, 2010 | Reply

    Matt: I’m confused. If you aren’t getting sales after talking to people in-person/having face-to-face conversation/relationships, why would an online-only sales strategy work any better? I think you need to fix your pitch with the in-person sales first and then focus on relaying that pitch via the website.

  3. By Matt Ackerson on Apr 10, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Aniq, I should have been more specific. All the sales we’ve made thus far have been because of in person selling. I’m seeing like a 3.5% conversion rate from in person selling, and those that tried before buying all used a free trial. The trouble is, the process of going in person is way too time consuming, and I’ve failed to take note of the importance of random restaurant coming to site on their own and signing up for free trials.

  4. By Aniq Rahman on Apr 10, 2010 | Reply

    I still don’t understand though. Let’s meetup at Celebration and discuss/catch-up man. Are you coming up?

  5. By Matt Ackerson on Apr 10, 2010 | Reply

    What don’t you understand Aniq? You’re suggesting that my in-person pitch be fixed and I’m telling you that it works, it’s just a pain in the butt (1) getting to the decision maker and then (2) once I get them on a trial I need to do some education/ “hand-holding” to get the client to understand how it’s valuable to them. Yeah I’ll be up on Wednesday for E@C. Let me know when you want to meet up.

  6. By Aniq Rahman on Apr 10, 2010 | Reply

    I think that you and I are talking about two separate problems. You’re trying to have a B2B business with a B2C sell. Online conversion will be less than offline conversion for what you are doing too (decision makers in the restaurant business are a totally different demographic than typical B2C).

    What is your bottomline? You help restaurants make more sales during slow cycles (largely from an existing consumer-base too ). Meanwhile, your competition (ie groupon, St al) are selling things on day one to NEW customers and also flourishing with a better consumer focus and enterprise focus.

    Given those constraints – I think you should make your website have a better consumer-facing sell (make users and their friends WANT to sign up for it) and focus on selling to the businesses face-to-face. If you don’t like it, then you’re not doing it right… you should enjoy interacting with the people that are paying you and deriving value from your service. Groupon is huge, gets tons of press and has tons of users, but they still have people on the phones and going door to door. Same with campusfood, seamlessweb, etc etc. What makes you think that you are going revolutionize selling to them with a web-only approach (or a web approach period.). I didn’t see anything in your post or comments that changed my mind or convinced me otherwise.

  7. By Matt Ackerson on Apr 12, 2010 | Reply

    I think you have a valid point about increasing the desire for customers to sign-up.

    Short of completely changing our business model and becoming a Groupon clone (which I think would only be an effective short-term strategy), what would you recommend to improve the consumer side?

    About selling face-to-face, I do enjoy talking with restaurant owners or marketers who are interested in something the value we can offer them. What I don’t enjoy is the tedious nature of the sales process when 90%+ of the owners can’t be reached via in-person visits or can be but aren’t interested in web marketing or our service. It’s also very time consuming.

    Why do that if I can convert prospects online?

  8. By Aniq Rahman on Apr 14, 2010 | Reply

    You need to come up with an effective strategy for sales that isn’t just a vitamin. I don’t think you’re solving a real problem with your approach currently and therein is why sales are hard.

    Consumers aren’t going to sign up for anything unless you have offers on the table, and you aren’t going to have offers on the table until you have restaurants. Resolve the chicken/egg by giving restaurants something for free — and then turn on the cash spigot once you get there. I think that with Scrimple, you had a very obvious consumer sell and business sell.

    If you want to ONLY do enterprise, you need to have a partner that has a hole in their B2B strategy. The most obvious examples are foursquare, gowalla, yelp, etc. — if you can create something that gives those guys more cash and does it in a way that helps restaurants, you’re in great shape.

  9. By Ahmed on May 14, 2010 | Reply

    I got 2 things for you

    1. LEAN
    2. Top of the chain – Talking with Franchises

    I’m going try giving you a call..

  10. By Matt Ackerson on May 15, 2010 | Reply

    Ok, cool, thanks Admed, talk to you soon. I will call you back tomorrow. Not sure exactly what you mean by #1

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