Configuring WordPress for Webmarketing

However, despite the fact that WordPress is the obvious choice for webmarketing, when it’s first installed it isn’t ideally configured for the task. This is perhaps not surprising because it was always intended to be a very flexible web development tool able to accommodate the needs of a wide variety of different website developers.

And so here are seven things that need to be done to re-configure and enhance WordPress in order to make it suitable for webmarketing.

1. Check that you have latest version of the software. WordPress can be downloaded from a variety of different internet sites , but some of these sites might not make the very latest version of the software available. However, this isn’t a significant problem because during installation WordPress installs an “update cookie” . Its the job of this cookie to make sure that you are informed whenever there is a newer version of WordPress available. You only need to choose the automated update option and your installation will be automatically updated.

2. Delete WordPress example posts and links. WordPress automatically sets up each new installation with a default post with the title ‘Hello World’ with a couple of attached comments. You don’t need either of these and so they should be deleted. Also, when you are doing this you should also delete the links list stored under ‘Blogroll’. All of these items are only there as examples and need to be removed so that your blog can be set up cleanly.

3. Re-configure your privacy settings. WordPress is set up with a default setting that prevents search engines from seeing any articles you post on your website. This is obviously not what you want! Change this by going to the “Settings” menu item in the Administration area of WordPress. Select “Privacy” in this area and click the appropriate radial button to make your blog visible to everyone.

4. Install Akismet to stop Spam.When WordPress is installed a plug-in called Akismet is installed with it. Akismet can be used to stop people spamming your site, but it has to be activated first. To do this, follow the instructions provided with the plug-in and get a key code from the Akismet website. Copy and paste this code into the appropriate field area in Akismet plugin section of WordPress and then activate Akismet. When this has been done your website will be protected from spam comments.

5. Re-configure the format for post/article links. To help ensure that your posts are discovered by the search engines, the link names associated with the articles you post (e.g. www.business-growth-hub.com/is-internet-marketing-dying/) should indicate what your posted articles are about. If you use the standard WordPress settings this won’t be the case. You need to make some changes by going to the WordPress “Settings” menu again and selecting “Permalinks”. Click the “custom” radial button in this area and type “/%category%/%postname%/” into the text field area. When this is done the links to your articles will indicate both the category and title of your article.

6. Set up automated website back-up. When initially configured WordPress doesn’t provide an automated back-up facility. It’s very easy to neglect important things like backing-up your website, but If you do you could end up losing lots of your posts/articles and web content if a particular task you are carrying out on your website goes wrong. Solve the back-up issue by searching for and installing a free WordPress plug-in called “Database Backup”. Follow the instructions provided with the plug-in and schedule regular back-ups of your website.

7. Change your website theme. One of the really nice things about WordPress is that lots of independent developers have produced fantastic website themes which can used to enable you to transform the look of your WordPress website. Many of these themes are free and you can be downloaded and reviewed from within WordPress. With just a few button clicks you’ll be able to find just the right sort of theme for your webmarketing business.

Invest in Some More WordPress Training

Once you start to get your internet business moving, you will probably need some more training to get the best out of WordPress as a webmarketing tool. I recommend the very popular Website101 video instruction series. Click here to visit the website. You can find out more about this series here. The lessons provided are excellent quality and very inexpensive. They can be used again and again without any additional cost, and will help you to become an expert at using WordPress for webmarketing your business.

A Guide To Using Pinterest for Ecommerce Marketing

This is an excellent guide to Pinterest from Tips & Tricks HQ

Every social networking website provides businesses an opportunity to get closer to their customers, boost engagement and increase sales. But specifically for e-commerce businesses and websites, Pinterest is by far the most effective social network.

If you’ve been ignoring Pinterest until now, here are a few stats to get you thinking.

  • Pinterest has more than 75 million registered users.
  • It ranks third, after Facebook and Twitter, in terms of generating daily referral traffic.
  • Almost 80% of its users are women.
  • Buyers referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy your products.
  • Buyers are increasingly using Pinterest to find relevant products.

In short, Pinterest can play a huge role in your social commerce strategy. Not only can it send you thousands of qualified sales leads, it can also help you build a strong brand image.

Here’s how you can use Pinterest to strengthen your e-commerce marketing strategy.

Understand the Platform First

Although it has great e-commerce potential, Pinterest is still primarily a social network. So to find success, you need to reach out to your potential customers and people who might be interested in your products. The primary benefits you can get out of Pinterest are:

  • Engaging with your target audience and potential customers.
  • Increase visibility of your products.
  • Use the Pinterest audience to build your e-commerce business.
  • Get direct feedback from customers on products.
  • Improve your referral traffic.

Don’t expect direct sales though. Pinterest will work as an advocate for your products and send you referral traffic. But you cannot make direct sales on it.

Encourage Pinning on Your Website

Before promoting your products on Pinterest, create a strong case for it on your ecommerce website. This includes adding the “Pin” button on all your product pages and encouraging your website visitors to follow you on Pinterest. You can use social media sharing widgets like AddThis or DiggDigg to add the relevant social sharing buttons. You can also route members to your Pinterest page by announcing different competitions and special offers for Pinterest users on your website.

Create a Pinterest Business Page

pinterest-business-page-example

If you’re serious about using Pinterest to market your products then instead of using a Pinterest personal profile, create a Pinterest Business page. Pinterest Business profiles are specially designed for organizations who wish to engage with their customers. To get a verified Pinterest Business page, you just need to confirm your website address. This will add further credibility to your profile and also make you eligible for additional features that individual profiles don’t have.

Enable Rich Pins For GreaterEngagement

Research indicates that Pins that include a price tag attract 30% more Likes on Pinterest. There are two ways of adding a price tag to your Pins. You can either add the price in the product description or you could enable Rich Pins. Similar to Twitter cards, Rich Pins is a great feature for e-commerce websites. It automatically picks up the price and stock details from your product page and displays it with your Pinterest posts. For detailed instructions on configuring Rich Pins, click here.

Attract and Engage Your Followers

To be successful on any social network, you need to attract followers and then keep them engaged. To attract followers on Pinterest, shortlist other more active Pinterest accounts that are pinning about similar products. Proactively engage with the followers of those accounts by responding to their comments and answering any questions that they have left on different images. Also, whenever someone RePins or Likes your images, send them a thank you message. These small things gradually increase your followers. You can also run special contests on Pinterest and ask your website visitors to participate.

Curate Content Intelligently

For a successful Pinterest strategy, you need to be an active content curator. Don’t just share your own product pictures. Rather, Pin images from other users with similar interests. But you need to do this intelligently. Instead of pinning images from your competitors, pin images of products or things that complement your products. For example, if you’re selling sports equipment, apparel and gear, you can pin pictures of different sports personalities, or international matches being played in different countries.

Pinning images from other users adds more variety to your Pinterest profile and also helps you create new relationships, which is crucial on any social network.

Organize Your Boards and Pins

To make it easy for your followers to explore different products, organize your images in different boards. Again, instead of focusing only on your products, create a combination of original and curated boards. Create separate boards for every product category and add pictures from your website. Then create boards containing pictures that show different usages of your products in real life. Or you can create boards that contain different statistics and facts about your products. The possibilities are endless. Just make sure your profile is well organized and easy to explore.

Use High Quality and Large Images

Pinterest is a visual social network. People click only on high quality images. Make sure all your product images and Pins are of the highest quality. Research also shows that taller and larger images get much more engagement as compared to smaller images. In general, images that are 738 pixels wide and 1128 pixels high appear the best.

Add Clear Calls To Action

Research shows that Pins that have clear calls to action in their description or image content, drive almost 80% more engagement. Since your primary objective with Pinterest is to drive traffic to your e-commerce website, you should always include clear calls to action in the image description. A call to action is a sign or statement asking the user to take a specific action. For example, “Click Here”, Download Now”, “Register Now” etc. To make it more compelling, use questions or statements that require a response from the user. Combine this with different calls to action to get the most out of your Pins.

Use Pinterest for SEO

Over time, Pinterest has proved to be a great source of referral traffic for websites because of its SEO strength. To get the maximum benefit from it, use descriptive names for your images and add descriptions with every Pin, along with the product URLs. Use the keywords that best describe your products. But avoid keyword stuffing. Using too many keywords can put people off, and reduce the engagement on your Pins. Create natural descriptions and image names with keywords where necessary.

Monitor Performance With Analytics

To monitor your progress on Pinterest and see which posts are getting the highest exposure, you can use the built-in Pinterest analytics. These statistics are only available to Pinterest Business users, so you’ll need to sign up for a business page. Analytics will show you the Pins with the highest reach, exposure, comments and likes. Plus, you’ll also get details about the demographic and geographic details of your followers.

Conclusion

Pinterest is more effective in boosting e-commerce sales because it’s based primarily on visuals. By creating a strong Pinterest presence, you can brand your business very effectively and route thousands of visitors from Pinterest to your e-commerce store. If used the right way, it can be an effective social commerce tool.

Last updated: November 14, 2015

Credits: A Guide To Using Pinterest for Ecommerce Marketing

If you haven’t yet got a Pinterest account, set one up now.

Managing New Business Opportunities

sales pipelineThis article describes the importance of having a Sales Pipeline if you’re a small business selling higher-value physical products or services.

Very few businesses selling products in this category are lucky enough not to have to worry about where their next sales will come from.

For most companies finding and managing the steps required to turn prospective into real customers is vital for business growth.

Seems obvious?  Maybe, but lots of small businesses make a very poor job of managing and increasing the value of their sales pipeline.

What is The Sales Pipeline?

The sales pipeline is a well-established concept that’s used to describe the flow of new sales orders into a business. It’s important to understand the ideas behind the sales pipeline concept if you want to start using it to manage the growth of your business. In this article we’ll explain how a well managed sales pipeline will:

  • Provide you with the ability to assess the success of your marketing (i.e. bringing in new prospects for the sales pipeline)
  • Enable you to monitor the effectiveness of your sales team (i.e. through the current quality/value of your prospects)
  • Enable you to focus on high quality sales prospects (saving time and sales resources)
  • Provide ways of spotting poor sales development activity (i.e. omissions and mistakes at any stage of the sales process)

A Sales Pipeline Has Measurable Monetary Value

The analogy of the sales pipeline is a very good one because it emphasizes the importance of having a constant “flow” of new sales prospects into a business.

But it’s not sufficient to be able to point to the existence of a sales pipeline.  Your sales pipeline must also be able to pass the “quality test“.

A good way to test the quality of a sales pipeline is to measure its monetary value. This is the weighted value of the business you might expect to get from it at any particular instant in time. Yes, this does sound a little complicated, but I’ll explain what’s meant by this below.

Your sales pipeline is made up of a mix of sales opportunities varying from excellent (i.e. your sales prospect wants to buy from you and has a budget) to poor (i.e. they just want information from you and don’t know when they might want to buy).

If your pipeline contains a lot of very good sales prospects that have told you that they definitely want to buy your products its potential monetary value is high because its reasonable to assume that there’s a good chance these prospects will place orders soon.

On the other hand, if your sales pipeline is full of individuals and companies that are just seeking information about your products its monetary value is low (even though there might be lots of similar prospective customers each contributing incremental value).

The potential monetary value of your sales pipeline can also be low if its made up exclusively of new prospective customers that haven’t yet been qualified.

Looking at the situations I have described above, it’s not difficult to understand that two of the biggest challenges facing your business is how to increase  the individual value (quality) of each sales prospect and how to maximize the overall potential value of the entire sales pipeline.

To deal with these challenges it’s vital to have processes and procedures in place for effective Sales Pipeline Management.

Sales Pipeline Management

The main tasks here , as outlined above, are to:

  • Find new prospects with high value sales potential
  • Filter the pipeline to eliminate less valuable (poor quality) prospects

It may seem a bit over the top to be getting rid of the poor quality prospects, but you need to make sure that they are no longer part of your sales development process.  In most cases you’ll probably not get rid of them, but enter them into some form of marketing database. This database can be used for long-term business development and research (i.e. working out where your sales leads come from and why).

Sometimes it’s not always easy to know how to filter the prospects in your sales pipeline.  There’s always a great temptation to leave them in, but don’t. Each opportunity in your sales pipeline is part of your active sales development process and uses up valuable sales time.

One way of filtering is to ask check questions for each stage of the sales development process. Here are some examples of questions for a sales development process made up of four key stages:

Stage 1 Initial Qualification

When a sales prospect first enters your sales pipeline find out whether the sales opportunity is real and current (i.e. they have money and are looking for a product like yours – this year) or non-existent and long-term (i.e. they are only looking for information or might purchase next year).

Only valid sales opportunities for the current financial year should be entered into the sales pipeline.

Stage 2 Product Presentation

When your sales prospect has learned more about your product ask questions to evaluate the chances of making a sale.  For a variety of reasons (e.g. they prefer a competitor’s product) you may need to rate (use a % factor) the opportunity as low quality at this stage, although you may want to keep it in your sales pipeline.

Stage 3 Demonstration

After the sales prospect has seen your product in action look again at your chances of making a sale and re-evaluate the opportunity.  If the opportunity is a lost cause remove it from the sales pipeline, but keep it in as a low quality opportunity if you think there is still a chance a sale may be made

Stage 4 Sales Contract

When a sales prospect has gone through all the previous stages and gives an indication that he or she wishes to purchase your product the value of the sales opportunity is very high (getting near 100%).  The more prospects like this that you have in your sales pipeline  the higher it’s overall quality and value will be.

In re-evaluating your sales opportunities at each stage you should factor them and use this factor to calculate the current monetary value.  The sum of all these values will provide you with an overall value for your sales pipeline.

Your sales pipeline management process may be much more complicated than the example I have given.  If it is, it’s even more important to ask key qualifying questions at each sales pipeline stage.

How the Value of a Sales Pipeline Changes

Each sales pipeline changes in quality as it’s taken through the sales development process. This will be reflected in the potential value it has to your business.

A very high quality prospect has a potential value very near to the amount of money your sales prospect might spend with you if he/she buys your product.  A low quality prospect will either be one that is in the early stages of the sales development process or one that for some reason or other is falling by the wayside.

Regular calculations of the total potential value of your sales pipeline will provide a measure of how well your business is doing.  The more sales activity there is in your business the more important it is to do evaluate the vale of your sales pipeline regularly.

The Sales Pipeline and Sales Forecasting

Your sales pipeline is an important part of your business sales forecasting, without which you can’t:

  • Plan the growth of your business successfully
  • Control and manage your business
  • Persuade others to invest in your business

If you don’t already have a Sales Pipeline and a Sales Forecasting System take steps today to put them in place and use them to manage and grow your business.

When Does Price Competition Become a Problem?

Are you a small/medium-size business selling mainly to local customers? If you are the chances are that there are a few other local businesses just like yours selling the same or similar products and/or services.

Now when there’s a lot of demand in the marketplace and  you can sell your products and/or services quite easily you  don’t have to worry too much about your competitors because there’s plenty of work for all of you.

But when the market’s not very busy,  as at the moment, it’s likely that your customers will look a lot more closely at prices and may choose to buy from a business that’s either the cheapest or very nearly the cheapest.

You probably feel that cost of your products and/or services isn’t the most important factor to be taken into account, and so how do you avoid competing on price?

Seven Tips to Avoid Competing on Price

Study each of the following tips, and if price competition is causing you some problems try them out in your business.

–          1. Check Out Your Competitors

This tip applies to any business, in good times as well as bad.

Carry out a survey of your competitors or get someone else to do it for you.   Get hold of as much information as you can about the products they sell, the services they provide and the prices they charge.

Draw up a simple comparison table with products and services down one side and major competitors down the other.  Only include the competitors you meet regularly and make sure you are comparing like for like.

You’ll find a range of prices. If you’re near the bottom, that might be good news, but only if you want to market yourself as the cheapest supplier.  If this is the case it might be time to review and increase your prices.  If you’re near or at the top you need to be able to handle the price objections that may come your way.

–          2. Compare Product/Service Features

Whilst you are carrying out your research make a list of the main features of the products and/or services being offered by your competitors.  It may take a little while to gather this information, but it’s well worth-while as I hope we can show you.

If you find that the products and services you are providing are much better than those of your competitors but that you are not competitive on price you need to be able to sell the benefits of your extra product features to your prospective customers.  They must be able to see that although they may be paying slightly more, they are getting more for their money.

If however, the products and services you’re offering are not quite as good as those of your competitors, you either need to take steps to improve your products/services, or look for alternative market areas where your products will compete better. This might involve targeting types of customer you haven’t sold to before or perhaps marketing your products in different locations.

–          3. Find New Markets

This links in directly with the previous tip.

If local price competition is very stiff and you aren’t able to do anything about improving or extending you product you’re only alternative is to look for new markets to sell in.  We have mentioned looking for different types of customer or different locations , but you should also consider different applications of your products and services.

For example, If you are a house decorator perhaps you should look for commercial decorating work.  If you are a graphic designer perhaps you could move from designing brochures to designing websites.

Brainstorm your options  (mind-maps can be very helpful for this).

–          4. Develop Unique Products

If you are in a position to develop unique products or put together unique packages of services you’ll be in a very strong position in your marketplace.

You will in effect have no competition. Your customers won’t measure you against your competitors and will probably be quite prepared to pay more providing the products and/or services you provide meet a genuine need.

–          5. Bundle/Repackage Your  Products and Services

Unless you are selling a commodity product most customers will expect to get support and after-sales service from you.  This could include everything from additional calls to rectify problems and provide training down to dealing with minor complaints.

In situations like this you are really selling more than a product or service. Very  often, what you do after the sale has been made helps you establish a reputation and create loyal customers who won’t buy on price alone in the future.

You can enhance this effect by bundling additional services with your product.  For example, these could include a special instruction manual, a video tutorial or a follow up three months after the sale.  When you start to think about this you’ll probably find many, many different ways of enhancing your product and creating a customer perception of greater value.

–           6. Build your Reputation

By taking action on tips like the one above you will enhance your reputation. You’ll become known as the best in your area, and when this happens, your customers will be much less likely to make price comparisons.  Of course, there will always be customers who buy on price whatever  you do.  But remember that you can’t win them all.

–          7.  Create Scarcity

When you make a proposal to your customer and provide him with prices, offer a special deal or a discount which is time limited. It’s important not to make the offer open-ended. These offers frequently work like magic. Your customers won’t want to miss out on a bargain, even though in the end your bargain may be the same as your competitor’s normal price.

Now Take Action to avoid Competing on Price

You’ll find that some of these tips on how to avoid competing on price are more relevant to your business than others.

If you are re-selling a physical product you may not be able to change it, but you can package it with services to differentiate what you are selling from what your competitors are selling. If you are mainly selling a service you have a lot more flexibility on how you adapt, change and package that service.

Providing you can help your customers understand the additional benefits you are providing you are unlikely to lose business on price alone.

A Product Launch Strategy Will Ensure You Maximise Your Sales Opportunities

The next time you launch a new product make sure it sells well from the first day you launch it – don’t trust to luck.

To ensure this happens you need to have a strategy for your product launch and a plan for the actions you’ll need to take to make sure you grab the attention of your prospective customers.

If you don’t have a proper strategy (or any strategy!) there’s every chance that you’ll spend a lot of money and time on marketing and selling and not have much to show for it.

It’s probable that even if you haven’t a strategy and a plan you’ll eventually start making some sales of your new product, but you will almost certainly have missed out on early sales opportunities and probably lost sales to competitors.  You need to make sure this doesn’t happen.

What’s a 4P’s Marketing Strategy?

There are lots of different ways of developing a marketing strategy, but one of the simplest is the 4P’s Marketing Strategy approach.

The 4P’s Strategy approach was developed by E. Jerome McCarthy, in 1960 to help businesses put together marketing strategies. It focuses on four key marketing areas:

  • Product 
  • Place 
  • Promotion 
  • Price 

A big benefit of the 4P’s Marketing Strategy approach is its simplicity. By using it as a guide and template any small business can be sure of producing a good marketing strategy without having to put in a lot of hard work.

In this article we will look in detail at each of the 4P’s Strategy areas.

Step 1:  Product – Sell Benefits NOT features

Many small businesses (and large ones for that matter) fail to understand that customers buy benefits not features.

Take the example of a young business executive who set out to buy a new family car. He carried out some preliminary research and decided on a particular model. During his research he had considered a similar model with a four-wheel drive but rejected it as an unnecessary extravagance.

He changed his mind about the model he wanted when the car salesman managed to convince him of the value of the four-wheel drive car. He pointed out how much a four-wheel drive would help him avoid many of the hazards of winter driving and provide better protection for his family during cold, icy weather. The salesman did a very professional job by selling the benefits of security and safety (which the customer wanted), not the features of the four-wheel drive car.

  1. If you haven’t done so already, create a list of all the features your product provides and against each feature list a major benefit.
  2. One of the best ways to find strong benefits is to look at each feature and then ask yourself “so what”, continuing with this until you end up with a benefit-loaded answer.
  3. Once you have your list of benefits you’ll be able to use them in your sales letters and brochures and “weave” them into your sales conversations and presentations.

 Step 2: Place – Choosing a Market or Market Niche to Sell in

As a small business you may feel that it’s important to select a large market area because it’ll provide you with lots of opportunities for product sales.  Whilst this may well be true, it’s also likely that you’ll meet many more competitors in a large market area.  You’ll have to deal with these competitors if you want to succeed.

It makes much more sense (especially when you’re just starting to establish a small business) to segment your large market into a number of smaller market niches.  You must make sure that each niche is commercially viable, but it will almost certainly have far fewer competitors.

Take the example of a small local plumbing company that wanted to expand its business. The owner of this company carried out some research and decided to sell his company’s services to customers within a new geographic niche market made up predominantly of flats and houses.  His intention was to promote his business in this area as a premier local provider of emergency plumbing services.

The owner of the company had initially wanted to supply heating installation services to commercial organisations in the area,but decided against this because of the large number of established plumbing companies already offering the same type of service in the areas. He wisely decided that his company was more likely to grow its business by promoting itself as a specialist within a less competitive niche market.

  1. Help make the right niche decision by drawing up a list of market niches with a description of the likely customer requirements for each niche.
  2. Find the names of your competitors in each niche and find out as much as you can about the prices of the products they sell.

Step 3: Promotion – Producing a Promotional Message which Gets Attention

Once you have covered the previous two P’s it’s much easier to tackle the next 4P area – developing a promotional message for your product.

Your promotional message is the selling statement that will persuade  your customers to buy your product.

In the example of the plumbing company above, the owner of the business might choose one or other of the following two promotional statements: 

“Plumbing Emergencies – Get a Guaranteed One Hour Response in Your Area” or

“We’ll Fix Your Plumbing Problem Rapidly – Before it Becomes a  Catastrophy”

  1. Start preparing a list of possible promotional messages. When you are developing these messages try and include your USP (“Unique Selling Point) and and/or a major benefit.  
  2. Test out your promotional messages for impact and effect, and when you have a strong message use it on your business cards, in your brochures and in your advertisements.

Step 4: Price – Choosing the Right Price to Sell at

The final area of the 4P’s Marketing Strategy is all about deciding on the price at which you’ll sell your product.

This is always a difficult area when you have a new product and a new area in which to sell it. It may not be possible to choose exactly the right price at the beginning as we’ll see later.

There are three important factors to take into consideration when determining price:

  1. Price Competition
  2. Product Packaging
  3. Product Perceived Value

Price Competition

If, after your product launch, you find you’re losing more sales than seems reasonable on grounds of price (and you’re unable to reduce your price to compete), first evaluate whether you have selected the right niche to sell in.

It’s far easier to dominate a smaller niche with low competition than it is to dominate a larger market area where there are lots of suppliers all competing on the basis of price.

 Product Packaging

Next, if you are unable or unwilling to reduce the price of your product, you should look at “Product Packaging” This is combining two or more products together to create a new product that will have a much stronger appeal to customers in your niche.  This can be a really good strategy when you have to deal with price competition.

Take the example of a local company selling reclaimed corporate laptops.  There are lots of companies like this in the marketplace (off and online) and potential customers find it difficult to choose which company to buy from. The company in this example decided to create an attractive package product by supplying its laptops with a range of  free eBooks and a software package to catalogue and manage these books.

  1. Brainstorm possible packages.  Packaging physical products and services with additional services can work well.
  2. Do some research to find additional compatible products that you could use to create a range of packages.

Product Perceived Value

Is it possible to charge a far higher price for your product than your company accountant would think reasonable? The answer is “It might be” if your product has a high perceived value. This happens when a customer desires your product so much because of the benefits he/she perceives it offers that the sales cost ceases to be a significant factor in making the sale.

You can probably think of times during your life when you wanted a product so much that you hardly noticed its price tag. If you can package and present your products so that your customers are almost prepared to “bite your hand off” to buy them you can choose to sell this product/package at a much higher price and improve your profit margin.

You’re unlikely to be lucky enough to have a complete range of products that fall into the “perceived high value” category (although Apple Computers do). But your higher margin products will enable you to take on lower margin products that you might otherwise not want to sell.

Develop and Review Your 4P’s Strategy

Start now. Develop and write down your 4P’s strategy and then produce a plan to implement it.  Make sure you include timescales and product sales objectives so that you can periodically review your strategy to evaluate its success.

Go through your strategy with friends and colleagues and get their feedback.  Also, if possible, test your strategy on a small scale to prove that it will work before you spend a lot of time and money putting it into action.

Try and get into the habit of using the 4P approach to strategy to develop and review launch plans for all your products. After a while the 4P’s Marketing Strategy will become second nature to you and you’ll be able to use it to spot and resolve marketing and sales problems and identify and open up new markets.

How Unique Selling Propositions Have Helped Create Corporate Success Stories 

Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is an introductory statement that differentiates you from your competitors. It’s a short, carefully chosen description of what your business does that makes it different.

Your USP should ensure that you stand from the crowd and are remembered for the products and/or services you sell.

Here are two examples of well-known businesses that have a very good understanding of how effective a good USP can be:

1. John Lewis, the well-known London Departmental Store;

“Never Knowingly Undersold”

2. The Computer Company Sun (now part of Oracle Corporation);

“The Network is the Computer”

Both of these USP’s are strong statements that stick in the memory and influence customers.

A good USP alone isn’t sufficient to ensure success. John Lewis would never have been as successful as it has if it didn’t offer a wide range of quality products, and Sun would never have succeeded if it hadn’t built its reputation on its ability to help both small and large companies network their computers.

But in each case their USP’s ensured that both these businesses stand out from competitors who provide similar products and services.

Why its Important for a Small Business to Seem Unique

One of the biggest mistakes many small businesses make is not being (or appearing) unique. If you want to establish yourself as a small business in a competitive marketplace or survive in an economy that isn’t doing well you must differentiate yourself.

The businesses and individuals that you want to sell to need to have a reason for buying from you rather than from your competition. Consider an example from your own experience. How often have you looked in Yellow Pages or done a Google search for a local business and been overwhelmed by the choices presented?

When this happens you probably don’t go through each business in turn. You look for those that grab your attention and seem relevant, and more often than not will choose one that proclaims a particularly eye-catching benefit or purpose in a single statement (the USP).

For example, if you’re looking for electrical goods you might choose an electrical retailer who boasts “the widest range of electrical goods in the county” or if your looking for a plumber choose one who offers a “24 hour call-out service”.

In each case it’s the outstanding USP that commands your attention.

Companies with outstanding USP’s are the first we investigate, and are likely to be the ones we visit or telephone first.

Build Your USP into the Fabric of Your Business

Your USP needs to be embedded into everything you do. It’s not something that you mention from time to time or use in an advertisement. It’s the single statement that becomes strongly linked with your business.

Whilst you might not find it difficult to include your USP in your advertisements and on your business cards you may find it more challenging to use it in verbal introductions and conversations (when the USP becomes what many people call your business Elevator Pitch”.)

For example, whereas you might have said:

“I’m John Smith. I run the computer shop in the high street”

You might now need to get used to saying:

 “I’m John Smith. My computer store has the widest range of laptops in the City”

Without a USP you are no more than a ‘me to’ business, and “me to” businesses rarely survive for long. They usually end up in price wars because prospective customers can’t identify anything unique about them.

Make Your USP Clear & Specific

The more clearly you announce your USP the more often you’ll get chosen instead of your competition.

Your objective is to ensure that when someone is looking to buy a product like yours, your company’s name must be the first that comes to mind.

However, there are lots of very woolly USP’s that are poignant or witty but don’t do a very good job at helping you understand what the business is about . Make sure that your USP is clear and specific.

USP’s like:

 ‘The Best Selection” or

‘Service with a Smile”

are worn-out,tired and unspecific.

Choose USP’s like:

 “Delivered in 30 minutes or your money back” or 

“Buy today and be watching it tonight”

Both of these are specific and measurable.

How to Identify and Develop Your USP

Don’t rush into deciding on a USP.

As we pointed out earlier, you’ll be using it throughout your business on your business cards, in your literature and on your website. If you get it wrong and need to make some changes, it’s going to cost you money.

If your USP is a promise, make sure you’ll be able to fulfill it. This is especially important if it’s a delivery promise with a money-back guarantee! Or a value promise like that of John Lewis (they back their USP up with a price match guarantee).

Research Your Market Before Picking a USP

You’ll need to do some research to help you with ideas for your USP. Start by looking for urgent needs in your market area that aren’t being met (sometimes called “performance gaps”). Many businesses that base their USP on industry performance gaps are successful.

For example, if you live in an area where plumbers are regarded as unreliable because they don’t turn up when they promise, your USP if you have a plumbing business could be:

“XYZ Plumbers. Two-hour response – or we pay the call out charge” or

“XYZ Plumbers. Prompt and Efficient Service and a Five-year Guarantee”

Your USP Doesn’t Have to be Unique

After all we have said so far, this statement might surprise you because although a USP is a statement of your uniqueness it doesn’t always have to be unique.

Just make sure you proclaim it first!

For example, if you are a furniture retailer and choose the USP:

‘Buy today, we’ll deliver it tonight.’

It’s very likely that your competitors can probably do this as well. But you grabbed the USP first, so it’s yours.

If others follow you and use the same USP they will be strengthening the advantage you have already fixed in your customer’s minds.

Integrate Your USP into Everything You Do

We have already talked about this earlier in the article, but it’s a point that needs to be made strongly.

Once you have your USP start integrating it into everything you do:

  • Put it in your brochure headlines
  • Use it in your advertisements
  • Display it prominently on your website
  • Use it frequently in your direct mail and all your email communications
  • Put it on your business cards and promotional items
  • Use it in sales presentations and at networking events.

See “Step 5” of our article on “Developing a Small Business Marketing Plan” for more ways of using your USP.

If you’re fortunate enough to be interviewed by the media, make sure you use your USP as much as you can during the interviews.

You can’t “over-do” or “wear out” your Unique Selling Proposition – especially if it’s powerful. The more you use it the better it will stick.

Some of the best USP’s have become established company slogans and strap-lines that others start to use in conversations about the business. John Lewis and Sun are good examples of this.

When Sun was building its business it wasn’t unusual to hear people say “…. if you want to get the best out of the individual desk-top computers in your business you should talk to Sun, they reckon the network is the computer. It’s the way forward”. Of course we all know this now, but this wasn’t always the case!

Also today, if anyone mentions John Lewis it’s not unusual to hear people say “. . . . you should visit them, they are never knowingly undersold”.

Four Steps for Developing Your USP

Every small business needs a USP?  Start developing yours today. Here are four steps to follow:

  1. Research your marketplace and start building a list of unmet needs or performance gaps
  2. Look at the USP’s your competitors are using. The chances are that many of them will not be very good USP’s. They’ll provide you with some examples of USP’s to avoid.
  3. Come up with a candidate list of USP’s which apply across the whole of your business. Make sure they are not too long. Four to five words is best, although up to ten is OK (this may be necessary if your USP hinges around a guarantee).
  4. Start trying out these USP’s on friends and colleagues. Ask what the USP suggests to them and get them to compare your USP’s with those of your competitors.
  5. Lastly, choose the best of your USP’s and use it in meetings and conversations. If it’s effective and you feel comfortable with it launch it and use it throughout your whole business.

As your business grows, don’t forget to ask your customers why they decided to do business with you. When you do this you’ll find out how effective a good USP can be, especially if they use your USP in the answers they give!

 

Is Google Adsense Dead?

Do you need to bother with Google’s Adsense? Is it really worth it?

When Google’s launched its Adsense advertising program in 2003 it quickly accumulated lots of fans and made many website owners tons of money. Since then Google Adsense has had its fair share of supporters and critics.

We need to ask ourselves whether Adsense advertising can it still be as effective a business tool as it used to be, and whether it could be used on your website to create an additional very profitable “Adsense Income Stream” for your business.

Adsense and the Demise of Web Advertising

As the use of the web has increased, people have become accustomed to seeing advertisements on web pages and blogs, and quite often ignore them, even though they may be looking for products or services to buy.  The argument is that because visitors are not paying any attention to web advertisements, they no longer have any income earning potential.

While this is certainly true in many cases and some business owners have seen a reduction in their AdSense earnings, AdSense advertising still makes great sense both as a business building tactic and as an income generator. It’s still working well for a large number of website owners.

AdSense Still Provides Enormous Potential for Profit

The truth is that it’s not Adsense advertsing that’s the Problem.

Many of the people who have seen their AdSense earnings go down are of the “set it and forget it” mindset. That is to say that they placed their Google AdSense advertisements on their site three years ago but they haven’t:

  •  Tested
  • Tracked
  • Made any changes whatsoever

Most tactics lose their effectiveness over time. If you don’t pay attention to the information that you get back from Google (and their’s lots of it) then your AdSense advertising will almost certainly lose its effectiveness over time.

You Must Have an Adsense Strategy

Google offers lots of ways for you to fine tune your AdSense advertisements and campaigns. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t be like thousands of other website owners who still earn a steady income from their Google AdSense ads. And for some owners this income can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month..

If you’re willing to create goals for your AdSense earnings and test and track and make strategic changes to your AdSense advertisements you can make a sizeable passive income to supplement your other business earnings.

The attractive thing about using Google Adsense is that it costs you nothing. Why wouldn’t you use it?

Four Steps to Adsense Success

It’s the same with Adsense as with any other marketing or income generating tactic. Strategy and planning are essential.

Here are four key steps to make it successful.

You need to pay careful attention to:

  • Goal setting
  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Testing, tracking and adapting

Benefits of Google Adsense

When you follow those four key steps, AdSense can offer you and your business a number of benefits.

Passive Income

The first and perhaps most desirable benefit from participating in the AdSense program is that you can earn money.

By placing Adsense advertisements on your website web pages, you can produce  anywhere from pennies to thousands of dollars each month. It’s passive income which means you earn money while you’re sleeping, eating, playing and growing your business.

I hope you agree that it couldn’t get better than that!

Credibility & Value

Depending on how you present the AdSense ads on your website they can enhance your company’s image. It’s somewhat similar to providing your visitors with high quality and reputable links to other products and services related to your topic. Both of them add value.

The key to success and enjoying these benefits is to create a very strategic and focused AdSense strategy. Go to Adsense $100K Blueprint to learn more about how to use AdSense to generate income and grow your business (more about this website later).

Resources to Help You with Adsense

If you’ve got a mature website and your traffic volumes are increasing you should consider using Google Adsense. There’s a good chance it may work well for you and generate welcome additional money with minimal input on your part.  Blogging for Business Growth is a good example of an Internet site that uses Adsense well.

We didn’t set out to provide you with a full introduction to Google Adsense but we’ll write an additional article on this over the next couple of weeks. If you want more information immediately visit the Google Adsense site for detailed information. There are also some very good Adsense training websites such as  Adsense video training that provide excellent instruction on how to set up an Adsense advertising account.

If your website is an “Authority” website (i.e. lots of detailed information relevant to your speciality) you should definately investigate Adsense.

The Adsense $100K Blueprint is an excellent Training Course to help you with this.

The Adsense $100K Blueprint

This popular Course will take you through every step of setting up and managing Adsense on your website.


Before we look at company newsletter ideas that can be used to grow your business we should remind ourselves about the message internet marketing gurus have been preaching to us since the arrival of email communication.

Their message is that “The Money is in the  List” ,  meaning the list of customer and prospect names without which it wouldn’t be possible to grow a business.

They are quite right in making this statement, but it’s been true ever since postage stamps were invented, and its been shown to work again and again.

How the Internet Has Affected “The List”

Now we’re in the internet age we no longer need paper, printing, envelopes or stamps.  We can use our list to make money without the costs of the pre-internet age.

In this article we’ll be providing you with some  sales and marketing ideas and thoughts about why it makes such good sense to use your email list to send out, not just emails, but also regular company newsletters.

Newsletters have always been a very effective way of marketing and selling, but in the days before the internet producing them and mailing them out was very expensive. So expensive that very few small businesses could afford to do it.

What’s Special About a Mailing List?

An old-fashioned mailing list comprised the names, addresses and (possibly) telephone numbers  and contact details of people who gave their permission to a company to send them information.

An email list built up in the same way generally comprises no more than a name (sometimes just a first name) and an email address.

Using the Postal Service is Expensive

Before email lists existed sending out letters, brochures etc. through the mail was, as we mentioned above, very expensive. It’s even more expensive today.

If you’ve got a mailing list with the names and addresses of 5,000 subscribers, sending even a small amount of information by post can be significantly expensive.

If you’re a small business and decide to communicate with subscribers by post you’ll need to make sure you have a very strong and effective sales message or you won’t get a decent return from the money you invest in your mailing program.

It’s a well-established fact that very often only 2-3% of the subscribers on a physical (as opposed to an electronic) mailing list will respond. And if they do respond, probably only a small number of them will buy the product you’re trying to sell.

How the Internet has Changed the Mailing Business

The internet has changed all that. Nowadays you can send out emails to 5000 subscribers  in the blink of an eye and it will cost you absolutely nothing.

Email is still free. Because of this you don’t need the same number of responders as you do with communications sent by post.

If your communication and sales skills are even half decent you can make a killing! Many internet marketers make thousands of dollars from a single mailing. And what’s more, there’s nothing to stop you sending emails out to your list again and again.

Use These Company Newsletter Ideas to Get More Business

Many small businesses find it difficult to produce sales letters. One option is to employ some-else to write them for you, but this can prove expensive.

This is where company newsletters come into their own because if you are proud of your products and services and like to talk about your business and your customers there’s always something new to communicate to the individuals on your email list.

So lets look at three company newsletters ideas that you can implement alongside (or instead of) your email letters.

1. Use your company newsletters to generate trust

The first of our company newsletter ideas relates to the power which newsletters have to produce trust.

A good company newsletter can be emailed to subscribers monthly or even weekly with interesting new content. But there’s a catch. People are generally very willing to give you permission to send them emails, but they’ll only become regular readers of what you send out if you are able to catch their attention.

Having caught their attention, you need to make every effort to build a strong bond of trust with them so that they’re willing to take your recommendations and buy the things you’re promoting.

2. Don’t sell directly through your company newsletter

The second of our company newsletter ideas concerns how you use the content in your customer newsletter to get new business.

In the days before internet email, sending a letter to subscribers on a list entailed sending out long sales letters which had to be professionally written if they were to be effective.

This approach doesn’t apply to a company newsletter. These newsletters (often called ezines) are not about hard selling, they are – or at least the most consistently successful ones are – about entertaining, educating and pre-selling.

Pre-selling is the art and skill of warming an audience up by making them desire the product you’re recommending. When this is done properly you can persuade your subscribers to follow up on suggestions you make about your products and services.

You should not try selling through your newsletter.

3. Use your company newsletter to link to your web sales pages

The third of our company newsletter ideas is about linking your newsletter to your company web sales pages.

Your company newsletter can contain suggestions and recommendations about your products and services. The recipients will expect this. Alongside your suggestions and recommendations you should provide links to your web sales pages so that those who are keen to follow up on what you have recommended can find out more.

On your sales pages you can spell out very clearly the features and benefits of your product and provide testimonials from previous customers. Also, a sales page could be for an affiliate product promoted on a website where you have an affiliate arrangement. In this case the link from your website will be coded so that you will be rewarded for any sales made.

Affiliate commissions can often be in the range of 50% to 75%, and in some circumstances affiliate partners will give you 100% of the value of the sales you make because they ‘re more interested in getting new customers than in making an immediate profit.

Your ability to get your readers to click on a link will depend upon the rapport you have built with them through your company newsletter, and the level of trust they have in you.

Start Building Your Newsletter Writing Skills

Start thinking about how you can use these three company newsletter ideas in your company newsletters. If you’ve not written a company newsletter before follow this link to find out How to Write a Company Newsletter.

By building you skills at writing newsletters and by using our company newsletter ideas you’ll be able to grow your business, building stronger relationships with your customers and selling more of your products and services.

If you’ve found this article useful make sure you read our other articles on Marketing Ideas for Small Business.

 

Learn How to Turn Sales Opportunities into Good Business

If you don’t have a simple and straightforward sales closing technique you’ll miss lots of good sales opportunities. Once you’ve done all the hard work of creating customer interest in your product or service you need to make sure you end up with an order.

The fact is that if you don’t help your customers to make a decision they’ll put off buying your product, and you’ll leave the door open for someone else to come in and steal the order from under your nose.

In this article in our Small Business Marketing Ideas Series we’ll explain how you can avoid losing business in this way by using a sales closing technique called the A-B-C method.

How Sales are Often Thrown Away

Here’s a recent story about our own business to illustrate what can go wrong.

We decided that we needed to fit some new windows in our Office to reduce heating costs. We asked a number of local companies to visit us and quote for the work.

When the quotes arrived over the following two weeks one quotation was rather expensive and the other two broadly similar. We decided we would go ahead with the work but because of other things going on in the business didn’t do anything about it immediately.

We expected that we would get calls from the companies who had quoted – but none of them contacted us. We took the initiative and ‘phoned each of the companies concerned to talk about the quotes they had provided.

Two Weaknesses that Need to be Conquered

To confirm what we learned from our ‘phone calls we carried out some research with a number of other local companies who had used local tradespeople and service companies to carry out work or supply products.

The results of our research were very interesting. We concluded that many small businesses, local traders and service suppliers:

  • Don’t follow up on sales opportunities
  • Don’t have a sales closing technique
  • Are not good at dealing with objections 

The third weakness is, perhaps, understandable because it requires skills that many small business owners don’t have. Even new professional sales people have to work hard learning objection handling skills.

But the reluctance to follow up and close sales opportunities is a short-coming that any small business owner can quite easily overcome.

Here’s how to do it by learning how to use the A-B-C sales closing technique.

What is the ABC Sales Closing Technique?

Most small businesses find it difficult to follow through and ask for an order because they fear rejection. This fear of rejection makes them reluctant to ask for the order.

This is where the A-B-C sales closing technique comes in.

A-B-C stands for “Always Be Closing”. It describes a very simple sales technique which will ensure that when you are selling, whatever you say or do should lead up to closing the sale.

If you don’t do it, as our example above shows, your time could be wasted and your business suffer.

But like all good habits the A-B-C sales closing technique takes time to acquire.

The following three steps will help you.

 1.       Remind Yourself  that the Initiative is Yours

Let’s assume that you were asked to provide a proposal or quote and you’ve put together one that you believe meets the customers needs.

Now you’ve done the hard work it’s time to close the sale – there’s no point delaying. As we mentioned above, if you delay your competitor may take the sale from you.

 2.       Next Make Sure You Plan How You’ll Close

Prepare and practice using simple phrases like:

  •  “So when should I get started?”
  • “How would you like to pay for my product/service?”
  • “I can start today if you’re ready.”
  • “Why don’t we get started on this right away.”

Have a collection of these phrases that are appropriate to your business.

 3.       Confirm the Customers Decision

Don’t leave things hanging in the air. When the customer says “yes” reply with a comment congratulating them on making a good decision or stating how pleased you’ll be to work with them installing /using your product or service. Or perhaps remind them of the sound decision they have made by stressing your unique selling proposition or a significant benefit that differentiates you from competitors.

Keep a Record of Successes and Failures

If you get into the habit of using the A-B-C sales closing technique habit you’ll be less likely to throw away good sales opportunities.

But you won’t win every bit of business you quote for, and when this happens you need to ask “Why”.

You may find that by asking this simple question you’re given an opportunity to make sure that your quotation and proposal have been understood. Perhaps it will provide you with an opportunity to negotiate on price or vary your product offering by adding more value (e.g by offering a bonus product or additional service).

Keep a record of the reasons why you’ve made or lost sales. This information will help you improve your future performance, and maybe also improve/change your products and services.

It’ll take you a while to acquire the skills to handle sales objections, but if you get used to using the A-B-C  sales closing technique you’ll start making sales you might otherwise have lost.

 

Do You have a Better Product Than Your Competitors?

It’s good news if you have, but before you start marketing and selling your product you need to find those customers in your marketplace that are most likely to buy your product when they are approached?

It’s easier to do this if you have a  niche marketing strategy. In this article we’ll show you how to set about developing one.

What’s a Niche Marketing Strategy?

When you have a good product or service to sell it may seem obvious to launch it into the largest marketplace you can find. The problem with this approach is it can take a lot of time (and money) to identify your best sales opportunities in a large marketplace, and because its an obvious marketplace for other companies with products like yours competition can become intense.

Perhaps you believe that your product is unique in the marketplace, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easier to sell. This is because it usually takes potential customers a long while to understand the benefits of a unique product.

If you are a small business the most sensible strategy is to identify a small section of your big marketplace and concentrate on selling to companies in that section. This is called a niche marketing strategy.

Bigger companies don’t always choose to use a niche market strategy. They probably did when they started, but once they have entered the ranks of large companies they can set large marketing budgets and employ lots of sales staff to open up new markets. A big company is also able to accept the fact that it may take many months before it gets a payback from selling a new product. Big companies are also able to use their resources to deploy strategies to knock out other competitors in the marketplace.

You can’t do this if you’re a small business. When you launch a product its vital to quickly make sufficient sales to cover costs and achieve growth. You can’t afford long payback periods. You need to find your new customers quickly and convince them about the benefits of your product. You need an effective niche marketing strategy!

What Does a Niche Market Look Like?

When you develop a niche marketing strategy tyou are concentrating your marketing and sales resources on a group of customers with similar, recognizable needs. 

And because of the similarities within this group of customers you can shape your marketing communications and sales activities so that they meet the needs of the group far better.  And because of this you can get much closer to the the recomenders and buyers within this group, and become much more effective at fending of the advances of competitors (even the big ones).. 

The Power of Niche Marketing

Why niche marketing? After all, if you’ve got a product for a clearly identified marketplace doesn’t it make more sense to spread your marketing and sales efforts as widely as possible?

The truth of the matter is,  that if you’re a small business, narrowing your focus onto a niche market will provide you with the marketing power you need to grow your business profitably and fast.

Four Benefits of Niche Marketing

1. Prospecting for Business in a Niche is Less Expensive

If you pick the right niche it will become easier to contact your prospects.  It’s possible to get lists of names within niches quite easily (e.g solicitors, estate agents etc.) and details about groups and associations within a niche are also often freely available.

2. Your Product Will Appear More Attractive and Desirable

Within your niche you’ll find that buyers like the idea of a product made specifically to meet their needs.  Usually you don’t need to fundamentally alter a product for a niche if it was originally intended for the marketplace of which the niche is a part. In most cases it’s sufficient to change the product packaging (and perhaps the name)  for the niche and/or provide specific niche-related services alongside it.

3. You Get Well-known in Your Niche More Quickly

Once you’re established in a niche market, people will start to talk about you. Plumbers talk to other plumbers as much as solicitors talk to other solicitors, and if your product is meeting an important need, they’ll recommend you.

4. Within a Niche There’s Likely to be Less Competition

When you focus on a smaller area within your overall marketplace and target your products to meeting the needs of that area, you’ll find there’s much less competition.

In fact, the chances are that you could become the dominant player in your niche.

How to Select the Right Niche

It isn’t always easy to decide upon the right niche to market in.  Lots of small businesses have come to grief developing products for niche markets only to find their niche doesn’t want to purchase them.

Use the following questions to help you choose the right niche to market in:

Q1. Can my niche afford my products and services?

If you develop a product that you know your niche needs but find they can’t afford to buy it you’ve probably selected a bad niche. Sometimes there are things you can do to get round this problem but if this results in lots of additional costs it might make it uneconomic to continue working in the niche.

Test your niche beforehand by asking prospective customers if they would be prepared or are able to afford your product as well as whether they would buy it at the price your selling it.

Q2. Can you easily and affordably contact buyers in your  niche?

Suppose you set up a business to carrying out minor paintwork repairs on damaged cars. How are you going to find the customers in your niche without spending lots of money on advertising and marketing?

If, on the other hand you have an accessory product for motorists you should be able to contact a large part of your niche through motor accessory stores and shops.

Q3. Have you evidence of others selling successfully in your niche?

This is often a significant obstacle for creative technology companies. They often develop innovative products that they feel confident they can sell in their marketplace. However, its not at all unusual that when it comes to selling these products buyers are very resistant because they aren’t prepared to make changes in the way they do things to enjoy the benefits of the new technology.

With a lot of hard work It may eventually be possible to open up difficult niche markets like these, but it might take a long time and cost you a lot of money.

If it becomes apparent that you might be in a position like this it may be better to think again and find a niche where there  is already an established need that you can meet better than current suppliers  (i.e. develop the better mouse trap).

Q4. Is there much competition in your niche?

If you’ve selected a niche which lots of other suppliers are interested in you could well find that it takes far too much time and money to develop your business. The secret is to find a niche before it’s discovered by others. If you go into a niche where there are already established competitors you must be fairly confident that your product provides benefits that theirs don’t.

Q5. How well do you know your niche?

If you have ever purchased a product or service from someone who knows his/her market area extremely well you’ll realise the importance of this question.  A supplier with extensive knowledge of a marketplace is always in a better position to sell his/her products.

If you are not very familiar with a niche and don’t have solid experience in it, team up with someone who does, or take as much time as you can finding out about it by talking to prospective customers,  going to trade shows and talking to other competitors (if you can) and suppliers.

Q6. Is the niche big enough to make your business viable?

You must be certain that over the long term your niche will generate enough money to enable you to build a thriving business.  If you can’t get hold of data to enable you to do very precise research, carry out some market research fieldwork and make some intelligent guesses to build up a financial model of your niche.

For example:

–          How many potential buyers are there in my niche?

–          How much do they spend on my type of product each year?

–          How many other similar products are there in my niche?

–          What percentage of my market can I expect to win?

For high cost products with a good profit margin you may only need a very few customers to make your business viable. Other products may require much large numbers of customers before you start making money.

Evaluate and Compare Several Niches

Don’t make your final choice of a niche before you have evaluated and compared a number of similar niche areas. You don’t need to assess every niche area in detail, but use the questions above to score each niche area and select the one in which you have the greatest chance of success.

If you’re able to find  several similar niche areas, in all of which you could sell your product (suitably modified or packaged for each niche) start with the niche that looks the most promising and then move on to develop the less promising or difficult niches afterwards.

For example, if you have developed a keep-fit product which could be used by either beginners or professional athletes, evaluate each of these niches and choose the one which is easiest to get into and develop.  After you have made good progress in the first niche, start working in the second one.

If you plan the development of your niches in this way you should be able to make incremental profit from niches that might not otherwise have been viable.