VineMe Launches Social Photo Sharing Site

by Andy Brudtkuhl on March 31, 2011

VineMe launches a social photo sharing site that creates a world timeline of photos based on context.

From the press release …

“Vineme Inc. today launched a new social platform that allows users worldwide to crowdsource content by time, subject tags, places and people. The content is indexed and displayed in timeline form, allowing users to organize and search content chronologically.”

Check out how my company 48Web is using VineMe to show off our work

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Marketing Has Changed

by Andy Brudtkuhl on March 29, 2011

The math of hiring people in a consulting company is a hard pill to swallow. It doesn't scale and can bring a lot of unforseen issues into a small startup consulting company whose goal is to stay lean. So when it comes down to marketing most small businesses have two choices … a) DIY and b) get outside help.

My internet business podcast partner Doug Mitchell has just written a book to help solve both problems. Learn ingenious ways on how to market your business. Whether you are doing DIY marketing like myself or looking for a freelancer/ninja to help you out along the way Doug lays out a roadmap on how to get results.

Sign up now to get hooked on three free chapters…

Too many times, a CEO or other company leader says, “Hey, go buy some ads on Google and let’s generate some traffic so we can make more money.”  The marketing department sets up some ad campaigns with a daily budget and they’re off and running.  The result? A complete waste of time and money

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How I Used Data For Product Development

by Andy Brudtkuhl on February 23, 2011

I shared with everyone my launch of a printable games company and how we found our first niche in baby shower games. As I build this company I have decided to share as many details as I can – from research to revenue (which we finally generated!).

As I mentioned in my lightbulb to launch post, getting the website up (about 4 hours) was the easy part – I build websites every day. The hard part was deep diving into a niche that I knew absolutely nothing about. I didn’t even know a market for printable baby shower games existed until the lightbulb flashed. How do you start a business with no subject matter expertise? 

I used data. If you follow along with me online you may remember a podcast episode about Data Driven Marketing. The idea is to use data (from analytics, search, social) to identify and execute strategies for a business.

In this case I used data for defining a product development strategy in a market I knew nothing about (more on mastering the unknown later).

How? Well….

Crowd Sourced Data Gathering
As I mentioned I knew nothing about baby shower games when starting this venture – I just liked the model. So where the hell do you start? My first task (and first expense) was outsourcing this initial data gathering. I needed to know what baby shower games are played. I hired a couple researchers on ODesk (you could use Mechanical Turk or CrowdFlower) to source a list of baby shower games from the web.

The cost? Around $10. The Results? Hundreds of baby shower game ideas.

Okay I have data … Now what?

Analyzing Data
I took the list of potential baby shower games and plugged it into Google’s Keyword Research Tool. Using this tool I could see which games had the highest demand and lowest competition. Using a few similar metrics as data points I was able to pinpoint the best products to have designed first.

Example: Let’s say you have two product ideas… A widget and a watchamacallit. Using the aforementioned tools you figure out that….

Widget: 100,000 Monthly Searches, $1.00 Cost Per Click (CPC), High Competition
Watchamacallit: 60,000 Monthly Searches, $.39 Cost Per Click (CPC), Low-Medium Competition

Which product should you make first? Well, the watchamacallit because the barriers to entry are far less while maintaining a decent amount of search potential.

Validation
If your product idea has less than 1,000 monthly searches – nobody is looking for it. Why create a product nobody wants? For $10 and an hour of research on baby shower game search and advertising patterns I was able to vet my idea. Not bad.

Not only was my idea validated with this research, I was able to create a prioritized list of games to design. I can now create baby shower games that are in the highest demand. That’s extremely valuable information to launch with.

What’s Next?
  • Free is huge (see free baby shower games)
  • Perfection is the enemy of production (just put something out there)
  • Getting out of the way (automation)
  • E-Commerce SEO
  • Easy mistakes to avoid
  • Importance of design
  • Social early and often
  • AdWords Optimization
  • What do you want to learn?

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Light Bulb To Launch In A Weekend

by Andy Brudtkuhl on February 23, 2011

Those of you that work with me know I’m obsessed with internet business models. I love the scalability, the science of a conversion, and meticulously tracking funnel metrics. That being said I’m always looking for the perfect niche. Tim Ferris often speaks of “engineering a muse“. This idea of a muse is “a low-maintenance business that generates significant income”. In his case it is funding his lifestyle and in my case it will help fund (and create time for) other startup ideas.

Light Bulb
Just over one month ago my wife was throwing a baby shower for a friend. I was home working and she asked if I could print some things out for her while I was sitting at the computer. She had paid ~$15 for printable baby shower games. Within 30 seconds I had worked out the idea in my head.

I was going to create an online store selling printable baby shower games

Why? It fits as a good muse because it is
  1. scalable 
  2. systematizeable (I can automate myself out of the business)
  3. timeless (baby showers aren’t ceasing any time soon)
  4. a digital product (profit margin will grow to near 100% as it scales)
Back to the computer for some due diligence and market research.

Market Research
This section is going to be an entire post in the future on validating a market or product with a couple hours of research. Gone are the days of focus groups and product development by committee. Within 2 hours I had vetted my new idea. How?

Does a market exist? 
I’m often leery of ideas (especially of this nature) that have not been executed online. If someone hasn’t tried something throughout the short life of E-Commerce technology then it is likely a bad idea. My validation? My wife spent $15 on similar products. 

Need more validation? Search Google for your product. If there are advertisers there is a market for your product or idea.

What’s the competition look like? Can I do better?
After visiting some of the top ranking baby shower games stores and clicking through on some of the ads I knew I had a chance. Many of the site are poorly optimized and were running generic ads. Most of them did not focus solely on games but other baby shower wares. With a strategic SEO and content plan I knew I could outrank the competition organically. And to get things started I could definitely outdo them with a carefully constructed AdWords campaign.

And I knew we could create better designed games than were on the market.

Testing the market
I simply jumped on one of the best looking keywords, created a highly targeted AdWords campaign and dropped a landing page for free baby shower games. Let’s see what this market has to offer. Plenty, it turns out. All signs point to GO.

Implementation
Once the market was validated the next step was “How do I get this thing running as soon as possible?”. Luckily I run a WordPress consulting company and can build an E-Commerce site on short order. I also run a WordPress hosting service so I had the site up and configured within 4 hours with my prototype product. 

Next I found a designer to start on the initial mockups on game ideas. 

All this in one weekend!

One month later we have 8 games in the store, we have generated revenue, and we’ve acquired a few dozen email subscribers. At the current rate of growth we should be profitable by our 3rd month in business. All from a light bulb idea and a few days worth of work…

I look forward to sharing my experience and techniques in building this business. Next up …
  • startup costs
  • how it took 1 week to realize I was a bottle neck in the business
  • how I use market research to create products
  • how I optimized the hell out of my store
  • getting my first customer
  • initial roadblocks and how to get over them
  • how I used social from the start
  • how I am tracking everything 
  • much much more.
Want these tips in your email inbox? Sign Up Here.

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Use Yelp For Local Keyword Research

by Andy Brudtkuhl on April 24, 2010

I was doing some research for a Des Moines SEO case study and came across this nifty feature in Yelp. Finding and targeting local keywords is essential in a local internet marketing strategy. Yelp gives you a good insight into what people are searching for locally in your area.

To find these results you need to navigate to a city and scroll down to the bottom where the business listings are… Click on “Top Searches”

Yelp For SEO

See what people are searching for in Des Moines, IA.

Do you have questions about using Yelp for local keyword research? Not sure what local keyword research is? Leave us a comment or jump into the forums!

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Google Wave Adds Templates

April 24, 2010

Google Wave added templates for discussions, meetings, task tracking, meetings, documents, and brainstorms.

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Importance Of Local Listings

April 14, 2010

Are local listings part of your local internet marketing strategy? Why not?

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Embed Chat In Your Website

March 31, 2010

A few days ago over lunch I held an impromptu mastermind session over at our new internet business community Lunchtime Mastermind. After a few minutes of research I landed on Chatroll – one of my new favorite tools. Chatroll allowed me to create a chat room (with tons of great options) and embed it in my website in about 5 minutes – for free.

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SEO For Small Businesses – Webinar Recap

March 25, 2010

Here are the slides and audio from our Small Business SEO Webinar from the Lunchtime Mastermind

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Good Email Marketing From Newegg

March 25, 2010

Another example of good email marketing – this time from Newegg with a timely upsell offer.

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