How To Monetize A Crazy Business Idea
Every brilliant idea has that lightbulb moment of conception.
It just so happens that quite a few of these lightbulb moments of conception have occurred at a bar. The script for what was to become the Oscar-nominated film A Few Good Men was first drafted on cocktail napkins.
In 2007, all it took were “three martinis” at a bar in Chicago for David Adamany and Aaron Nack to develop the business plan for what was to become their $300 million dollar IT company, Ahead.
In fact, Joe and Justin’s idea to move to the Philippines was sketched out on a napkin over beers and a shared Bloomin’ Onion at the Outback Steakhouse in Temecula, CA!
It isn’t always necessity that drives the creation of a brilliant business idea.
Take, for example, Gary Dahl, the inventor of The Pet Rock. Gary was sitting in a bar when he came up with the concept of selling rocks as pets. Yes, during the summer of 1975, he became a multimillionaire selling rocks. Were these rocks filling a consumer-driven need? No, they were ordinary backyard rocks. Sometimes just being so out-of-the-box pays off. It was a gamble that Gary took and it paid off—to the tune of $15,000,000.
So, you’re sitting in a bar when you have an “ah-ha!” moment.
Is this what Richard Branson or Elon Musk walk around feeling like 24/7? Man, it feels damn good!
You have a beyond brilliant business idea. Your friends look on in amusement as you start grappling for their napkins and start scribbling things down. Get used to those looks. As Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, once said, ‘When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you that you’re nuts.'”
You carry your stack of cocktail napkins home. You have an ingenious idea, but as you stare at your pile of napkins, the wheels in your head grind to a halt—how do you turn that into a viable business?
Well, to get started, let’s take a look at a crazy idea Justin had a few months ago about unaired television pilots…
Networks spend millions of dollars each year creating television pilots that they hope will strike a chord and become the next How I Met Your Mother. In reality, the majority won’t get picked up by any network, and for those few that do, only one or two will make it in front of a household audience.
What happens to all those unaired television pilots that never get picked up by the networks?
Glad you asked. In our “monetize a crazy business idea” experiment, we would acquire those unaired TV pilots and show a handful of them every month.
Then, we would allow voters to vote them up or down, giving them a chance to get the show up for funding using a kickstarter-type format. Whoever owns the rights to the pilot would set a predetermined dollar amount to get the show out of the TV pilot graveyard and into production. Kinda like what would happen if Kickstarter and Product Hunt had a love-child and could acquire seed funding.
Now, how can this crazy business idea we’ll call Lost & Found TV Pilots be turned into a profitable online business?
The Crazy (or Not-so-Crazy) Online Business Game Plan
In business, your idea will stay just an idea unless you develop a game plan to move it forward.
You must conduct critical market research. Are there any other businesses offering the same or similar products or services? If yes, what are the advantages or disadvantages of your product or service?
If you took Business 101, you might have also heard this being called a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats.
Business Name: Lost & Found TV Pilots
Strengths: Unique concept, creator has past business/entrepreneurial experience
Weakness: No experience in the entertainment industry
Opportunities: People are getting bored with regular TV programming and are turning towards online streaming services – growing market
Threats: Unsecured creative rights to the TV pilots
You need to figure out who you are targeting. The more specific you are, the better. Some people will call this a customer avatar or “ideal customer profile.”
Think of it like fishing. If you go out hoping to catch trout but end up at the wrong depth and using the wrong lures, then you’re probably not going to catch your trout, but you may catch quite a few bottom-feeders.
Now, if you head out with a lure specific to catching trout and are in the correct location, guess what? You’re more than likely going to get a trout at the end of your line.
Here are a few examples of basic demographics you can use to narrow down and define your market demographic:
- Income Level
- Education Level
When you figure out your target market, you can utilize that information to create super-targeted social media campaigns and/or paid ads, and start producing content that would be of value to your demographic.
With Lost & Found TV Pilots, the target market would be men and women between 25 and 44 years of age and who have some college experience. Their interests would include movies/TV, trivia, politics, and/or video games. Armed with that information and being aware of the fact that 70% of adults use Facebook daily, our marketing and PR efforts would center around Facebook. Instagram would come in as our second for social media marketing.
Before you start networking with others in the same industry or a complementary niche, make sure you know your shit.
You should be able to tell someone what your business is about in 30 seconds or less. Take any longer than 30 seconds, and your audience will tune you out. It needs to be succinct and memorable. This is also known as an elevator pitch. Business Insider gives some great tips, including:
- Know Your Destination: Where do you want to go in life? What do you want to achieve? You should be able to say these things confidently and without rambling.
- Don’t Use Jargon: Nobody wants to hear words only used and recognized in your industry, or overly technical terms.
- Practice Makes Perfect: Time yourself giving your elevator speech in front of a mirror. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
- Compelling: Be interesting and entertaining. If you’re boring, you won’t be memorable. Everyone loves a good story. If you’re a master short storyteller, it’s your time to shine.
If you’re not yet comfortable networking, an important point to remember is not to ramble; silence is okay. There is no need to fill every lapse in the conversation. Rambling won’t engage or attract your audience. Be concise and to the point.
Set up profiles on several of your favorite social media channels. Find and follow people you look up to, that are influencers in your industry.
For Lost & Found TV Pilots, we would reach out to television show producers and writers. If trying to get in touch with someone of Aaron Sorkin’s calibre, reaching out first to an assistant would likely have a more favorable result.
Even in the initial phases of ironing the kinks out of your business plan, you could still be growing your email subscriber list.
Secure the domain name that you want for your business, and set up an email capture page. Make sure you take your time in choosing the right domain name for your business, as that’s an important step you can’t afford to mess up.
For Lost & Found TV Pilots, the capture page would provide a teaser or sneak peak into what the viewer can expect to find on the site. It would be just enough to entice the audience to return to the site, possibly a free trial, as other streaming subscription services seem to use that almost universally as a lead capture.
It’s All About the Content
The truth is, Google is King of the Internet, and we must play by Google’s rules.
Google wants to be able to provide its users with superb content. It doesn’t want irrelevant, keyword-stuffed BS.
Starting a blog with regular site progress updates would allow your audience to feel a connection, that they’re a part of something. Making your audience feel like they’re valued is key to keeping them connected and engaged.
It’s all about the content. Provide your audience with relevant content that will be of value to them, and Google will grant you greater exposure by placing you higher up in its rankings.
Becoming recognized as the expert in your industry will get your audience coming back for fresh, new content. Content sites are passive. Your primary concern should be getting traffic to your site to read your content and click on ads.
For our purposes, content related to the upcoming season’s television pilots or the latest movie reviews would be of interest to the target market of Lost & Found TV Pilots.
There are many ways to bringing in revenue off your website. Getting a diversified revenue stream is better than putting all of your eggs in one basket. Let’s go over a few that would be relevant for a website like Lost & Found TV Pilots:
- Google AdSense: Google controls and provides ad content for your site that is geared towards a selected audience. You can earn revenue either from pay-per-click or pay-per-impression.
- Amazon affiliate links: Let’s say you do a blog post about Three’s Company. You could insert an Amazon affiliate link to the Three’s Company Complete Series. The affiliate link will stay active for 24 hours. Anything that is purchased from Amazon during that time, you will receive a commission on.
- Selling Ad Space: Make sure you have contact info on your site for potential advertisers to easily reach you. Also, go over how much you’d like to charge for ad space. Be realistic. You must understand that as your views and audience grows, so will the cost of ad space.
Achieving Crazy Success
It’s important to have a clear vision of your idea or business concept and be able to let the punches roll off — you’ll inevitably be dealt a few blows as you start to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams, but just remember Gary Dahl. How do you think Gary’s wife reacted when her husband returned from the bar ready to bet their nest egg on selling rocks as pets?
The keys to monetizing your crazy business idea are determination, perseverance, and a business structure that will bring in revenue.
Let’s take a look back on the strategies you can start using to transition your crazy idea off the cocktail napkins and bring in a cash flow:
- Develop a viable business plan
- Find your target market
- Master your 30-second elevator pitch
- Network with others in your niche
- Build your list of email subscribers
- Provide your audience with valuable content
- Diversify your revenue streams
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See, now don’t you want to be a part of what we’re building here?