I don’t have a product to sell, what should I do?

So you decided to finally start that online project of yours, got a website, social media profiles, and the will to hustle. You have everything you need to build a successful online business…except a product to sell.

Now what?

First things first. If you want to build a business, it doesn’t matter if it’s online or not, you have to understand this: if you don’t have a product to sell, you don’t have a business.

Period.

If you still don’t have a product to sell, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong, because choosing the product to sell should not be the first thing to do. Building a business is a process, and you have to work a lot even before you have anything to sell.

However, it’s only after you have something to sell that you can say you have a business, not before.

And, if you really want to build a business and succeed, there’s something you need to know:

There is a formula to build a successful business, and it’s quite simple

Follow these steps and you will have a successful business, guaranteed:

  1. Choose a target audience
  2. Learn what they want (not what they need, but what they want)
  3. Sell it to them

Pretty simple right? All you have to do is to follow this formula and success is guaranteed. There is just one problem:

Executing this formula is not easy. In fact, it’s almost impossible. And you’ll understand why as soon as I break down the steps for you.

Are you doing Hope Marketing?

You should know that most people believe that we should do business like this:

  1. Have a product
  2. Find people to buy the product

This is what I call “Hope Marketing”. You come up with a product and then you cross your fingers and hope people will buy it.

However, if people are not interested in your product, no amount of money spent in marketing can make you sell your shit. It’s not gonna happen.

You need to find the people to buy a product before you even have any product to sell.

First, choose an audience — which is a group of people who share the same characteristics selected by you — and then you study them long enough until you identify something they really, really want and the market is not yet providing to them.

When you find out this something that they want, test if they would actually pay money to have it.

If your test is successful, you’re set: just create the product and tell your audience about it.

Sell this product will be the easiest job on the planet, because you already know the audience, their problem, fears, and desires. You don’t need to convince them that they need your product, because they already want it. So you just need to tell them: “hey, do you know that shit you always wanted? Here it is!”, and this will be their reaction:

Shut up and take my money! meme

If you have a blog and/or social media accounts, you have the means to gather your target audience around you, get to know them better, learn about their challenges, fears and desires, and then figure out what kind of product you could sell to them. The question here is: who the fuck is your target audience?

You can’t choose a product if you don’t know who you’re gonna sell it to

If you had to sell ice cubes, you wouldn’t try to sell it in Siberia, would you? But if you knew you would have to sell something in Siberia, you wouldn’t choose to sell ice cubes.

You either define an audience and then you choose the right product for it, or you define a product and then choose the right audience for it. Of these two options, the first is much easier to do, because if you have an audience, there is always something you can sell to them, no matter what, but if you only have a product, most of the times the audience interested in it won’t be big enough to make your business viable.

I want you to step back and stop thinking about what do you wanna sell, and start thinking about who do you wanna sell it to. Do it, and you may decide to change your approach completely.

When you share the content you’re sharing now, what kind of people do you attract? Are they the right audience? Do they have money to spend with you? Are they willing to do so?

Here’s an example. I’m Brazilian. I lived there for 31 years and have most of my connections there. However, my website and my social media channels are all in English, because my target audience are not Brazilians, but small business owners from USA.

Of course that doesn’t mean I won’t work with people from other countries… But my focus, my efforts, are directed towards the USA, for my own reasons.

And if you think that “small business owners form USA” is a very specific audience, you’re wrong: it’s too generic, and I plan to make it more specific.

How many small businesses do you think there are in the USA? Millions of them. It’s impossible to work with all of them, therefore I need to narrow my audience down, because by doing so I’ll have less competition.

For you to understand why, just imagine this: you have a cat, and need to buy some cat stuff, so you go after a pet shop. Then, you see 2 stores, side-by-side: the first is a generic pet shop for all animals, and the second is a pet shop for cats only.

Which one of the pet shops would you choose to buy stuff for your cat?

Of course you would go for the pet shop for cats. It’s the obvious choice! If they only sell cat stuff they must be feline experts!

Do you get the point? When you are defining your target audience, the more specific, the better. But don’t forget:

You need to define your target audience based on external, visible attributes

I’ve seen some business coming up with shit like “my audience are people who don’t settle down for less and want more of their lives.”

Great, Einstein… but how the fuck are you going to find these people? Do they have a stamp on their foreheads? If you want to run a campaign on Google there will be an option reading “show this advertising to people who don’t settle down for less and want more of their lives”?

That’s why you need to choose characteristics like residence, language, profession, education, marital status, sex, gender, age, ethnicity, income, etc. Factors that are external, visible or identifiable. Because then, when you want to run an online advertising campaign, you will be able to define targets like “married women between 25 to 32 years old living in Utah who read Vogue and spend between $800 to $2,000 online every month.”

Also, when you know who you are talking to, your message becomes clearer and much more efficient, thus you’ll end up attracting the right people, just like me: the top location of my followers on Instagram and website visitors is USA.

It’s not a coincidence: it’s the result of consciously targeting them.