“If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.”
The problem with this advice is how do you know what to copy?
If you used the same paint as Michelangelo, would your paintings look like his?
If you wore the same shoes as Michael Jordan, would you play basketball like him?
If you attend the same schools as John F. Kennedy, would you grow up to become President?
Yet, this is what I see this advice distilled down to when it comes to business — “go find someone successfully doing what you want to do and copy their website.”
That might work if the website was the key to their success. But it never is. A website, by itself, does NOTHING for you. If it did, the 1 Billion (yes, that’s a B) websites on the planet would be linked to successful businesses, all. Most are nothing more than a sign flapping in the breeze.
Why Copying an Optin Page is No Guarantee of Success
One of my clients is currently hosting a telesummit (for those who don’t know the term, it’s a multi-week virtual event that features expert interviews, most often for free).
After the first day of promotion, she only had 130 subscribers, far below the number she had anticipated based on the recent success of one of her colleagues.
That colleague had 5,000 people subscribe to her summit. My client wanted to replicate these numbers so she asked me, “Take a look at her optin page and tell me what I can apply to my event.”
Beyond the use of colors, layout, and copy, there wasn’t much to be learned just by looking at the webpage. This is because you can’t know:
- Promotional Copy. Very few subscribers to a telesummit will land on the optin page by way of search results. The vast majority end up on the optin page after following a link in an email or social media post, which means they will read promo copy BEFORE landing on the optin page. The website itself doesn’t give us a clue what content these promos included.
- Conversion Rate. Sure, she ended up with 5k subscribers, but how many people did she send to the page in order to get that? 10k? 25k? 250k? Without knowing her actual conversion rate (the percentage of people who viewed the optin who took action and signed up), you can’t actually know how her page compares. While the assumption could be that her conversion rate was higher than what my client experienced, it could just as likely be that hers was actually lower and she hit her goals by sending more eyeballs to the page.
- Promotional Partners. For most summits, promotion of the event is the exclusive responsibility of the speakers, but this isn’t always the case. Were there other promotional partners, or affiliates, not directly linked to the event who also did promotion? In all cases, how much did the audience of the promotional partner match the intended audience for the event? The higher the match, the higher the conversion.
- Traffic Sources. In addition to email marketing, what other platforms were used to promote the event? Was paid advertising used? Other platforms could include: Facebook (personal pages, business pages, groups), Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn (groups, notes, status updates), Pinterest, and many more, some you may not have even heard of. Choosing the right platform for your message – the one that your target audience is using – is often more important than the message you post.
There are a lot of people hosting telesummits these days. Many of them are doing so because they have been told that hosting an event like this can add thousands of people to your mailing list. And there are some who do, but they aren’t the norm.
I’ve been involved with dozens of telesummits by way of my clients. In only 3 cases did the subscribers hit 2k and only one reached 5k. The two summits that hit 2k were actually hosted by the same client. She hit her goal by managing her speakers. If they said they would promote on a certain day and they didn’t, she got on the phone and had a conversation with them. She didn’t send an email or have her assistant contact them, she got on the phone herself and renegotiated promotion for the event with the speaker. And kept doing this until the speaker actually followed through and did the promotion that was promised.
The other successful summit host actually hit 6k subscribers for her summit, but she did it in spite of her speakers, not because of them. Her best promotional partner was a guy who had nothing to do with the event itself. He’s an affiliate marketer who sends nothing but offers to his list of 150k, offers on the exact topic of the summit. His mailing list, then, was full of people both highly interested in the subject AND highly likely to click and sign up. His promotions alone resulted in well over half of the subscribers to the event.
Since this man was not otherwise linked to the event — he wasn’t a speaker and his name didn’t appear in any of the event materials — you’d never guess he was involved in any way. I only know about him because my client told me.
If you compare these two, more successful, clients to the less successful events, the differences aren’t apparent on the outside. They all followed the same templates, had similar websites with similar copy, even used similar promotional materials. In order to figure out what actually made the difference, you would have had to ask them all and then compare their answers.
Blindly copying others is not the path to success, ever. But it is more of a waste of time and energy when you don’t know if what you are copying is actually what resulted in the success in the first place.
What is the Secret to Success Online?
The secret to success online is to be willing to try stuff on your own, see what works and what doesn’t, and then make adjustments until you find something that works for you.
Your offer, and your audience, are different than anyone else. In fact, they are different EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU OFFER SOMETHING. Markets change so fast that what worked even 3 months ago may not work now, so you can’t even just do what YOU did last time and expect the same results. Things change. Technology changes. People change.
Be willing to do what is right for you, your business, and your market, even if no one else is doing it. That is where the big successes come from – they are the people out there trying different things, taking chances and forging their own path. Big success does not come from following in someone else’s footsteps, no matter how much that someone charges for their advice.