Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 6 seconds

Making Your First Million Online: A Scenario

The Situation
Your accounting practice client base is composed of many small businesses using QuickBooks. Over the years, you’ve discovered that most new clients are disorganized and not using QuickBooks properly. To help this situation, you have developed tools that provide clients with best practices for using QuickBooks—the most popular tool being a QuickBooks "How To" manual.

You have completed manuals for the restaurant and retail industries. When meeting with new prospects, you always introduce your manual for their industry. They are very impressed and, on average, 90 percent of prospects become clients of your firm.

The Eureka! Moment
A client tells you how much they like your "How To" manual and ask if it's okay to send one to a friend. Your immediate thought is “Sure, why not; maybe I can get a new client out of it.” Then like a bolt of lightning, an idea is born. Eureka!

Why not sell the manual to all businesses that need it, make money in the process, and convert a certain percentage to recurring clients? Wow! This is big. You quickly research the number of restaurants in the United States and discover there are over 750,000. If you could capture just 5 percent of the market that would equate to almost $40,000 in sales = s/b 40.000 unit sales. If your manual sold for $99, you are looking at annual sales of almost $4,000,000. Discount that by 75 percent and voila!…a million-dollar business. In addition, consider revenue for updates, up-sells, and cross-sells. And let’s not forget the new clients your firm will pick up along the way.

Make it Happen
Let's examine how to bring this idea to realty. The first step is to build a Web site that promotes  your "How To" manual and provides an easy checkout process. Second, identify a good, available domain name—preferably with a “.com” address. Buy the IP address and use it for your Web address and related emails. It can be a challenge to come up with a good “.com” name; however, the tools offered at leading domain sites (e.g., make it a snap. Third, hire someone to build your site or use Web site builder tools to develop it yourself. There are several low-cost options out there that a quick Internet search will turn up.

You have now secured your “.com” address and built your Web site, complete with a checkout option. Now, the real challenge—how to get traffic to your Web site. Here are some ideas:

1.    Create an email newsletter that promotes QuickBooks and includes advertisements to your "How To” guide. Add as many email addresses as possible, and don't forget to add a sign-up form to your Web site
2.    Create an affiliate program that pays other Web sites a fee to divert traffic to your site. Do some research on affiliate programs. It's realistic to have 100’s or even 1,000’s of sites linking to your Web site. Each time you make a sale, the referring site earns a commission. You will need special software to track this activity or you can sign-up with a program that provides the affiliates and the special software.
3.    Purchase keywords through the leading search engines—Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Create an ad or multiple ads. Each time someone does a search and your keywords are used, your ad appears (provided you bid high enough to be on page one.) The appearance of your ad is called an impression. When someone clicks your ad, they are delivered to your Web site. You only pay when people actually click your keywords. Each search engine site will provide details on impressions per keyword, clicks per keyword, and CTR (Click Through Rate).

Consider the following example: If you have a thousand impressions with 50 clicks, the CTR is 5 percent. The issue now is your conversion rate. This is the percentage of the 50 clicks to your site that purchased your product. By analyzing the data, you can adjust your bidding on keywords to optimize ROI. (In future columns, we will explore the different strategies between the Search network and the Content network in Google.)

The Internet represents the New Frontier, and we have just begun to explore. Learning how to maximize the value of online marketing tools provide you with opportunities to make your next million. So… here's to your next Eureka! moment.   

Barry Friedman CPA
Barry is CEO of BizActions, which he co-founded in September 2000. Previously, he was co-founder and CEO of GovCon from 1993-1999 where he developed an online electronic commerce community that brought together thousands of IT contractors and hundreds of government entities. He was also the CEO of Friedman and Fuller, an accounting and business consulting firm that was sold to American Express in 1996.
He stayed with American Express as a Regional Director until 1999. Barry holds an MBA in business administration from Loyola College and taught Financial management in their Executive MBA program. He has been a CPA since 1961.
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