In the online marketplace, you can literally have a business up and running inside of a few days. That speed to market capability is not necessarily a negative thing, but many people do seem to abandon the basic business planning that offline business start-ups rarely neglect.
I suggest that there are 3 key questions that you must always ask yourself before launching any product or service online.
- What precisely will you will provide to buyers, and exactly how will it benefit them?
- How will you reach consumers? In what ways will they hear about your product or service? Where will they find you and how will they contact you?
- What is it that makes you different and/or better than those who offer the same or similar products and services online?
Knowing the answer to those questions is crucial, You absolutely must have clarity on them before you start. If you do not ask the questions and formulate answers to them, you’re flying blind.
Another major benefit to this type of planning is that it gets you thinking about what consumer problems or needs that your business will address. Do you already have a specialized niche, or can your product or service be futher narrowed to address a specific niche?
Businesses with narrowly focused niches (especially online based) are not only powerful, they can also recession proof. Why? Because so many problems that get people searching for a solution simply MUST be addressed – usually right away. If I’ve got broken plumbing or a leaky transmission in my car, then it doesn’t matter that we’re in the midst of a recession, I still have to get those things taken care of!
Your business probably has absolutely nothing to do with plumbing or auto mechanics, but the concept of providing a product or service that has “must have” appeal instead of “might be nice to have” appeal applies to almost anything. Remember that “perception is reality.” People need only to believe that they “need” something for it to be a “must have” in their world.
So do a little thinking a little work with your business concept. You want to first find your niche and then you want to explore some ways to tell people your story! The goal of your story is essentially to inform potential customers why it is that they should choose you over the many that are already online with similar sounding solutions.
One of the best ways to do this after you’ve done the pre-work and developed a niche concept, is keyword searches. Be focused on the keywords around the wants, issues, needs or problems of your potential customers that your product or service would address. In other words, you would like to know what consumers are searching for in relation to what your product is.
Now it’s time to develop a marketing message (story) that clearly identifies the problem, how your solution solves it, and why it’s so much better than the rest. Don’t stop with one story – come up with as many versions and angles that you can think of. Compare them and choose what you think are the best 2 or 3 to start with.
From there, you’ll make decisions about how best to spread your marketing story. It might be email marketing, it might be social media, it might be adwords, it might be blogging, or it might likely be a combination of many.
Finally, be sure to test the message and test the market. Test your keywords, test the email marketing messages, even test the subject lines in your blog posts or emails. Remember all the “stories” I suggested that you came up with? Test 2, 3 or more of them to see which ones yield the best results.
Yes, it takes time and it can be somewhat tedious, even frustrating, but you always end up with a far more targeted approach that boostes ROI when you test. Businesses should always do their market research, and the internet provides excellent tools and resources to do that.
Sounds really basic doesn’t it? Well, it more or less is. But if you rush into anything without paying attention to basics, the costs can be high in more ways than one. Always take the time to lay a proper foundation for your online business ventures.