Marketing 101 - 5 Steps to Winning Online

Posted on July 18, 2018 by Kevin Richards

Cover for Marketing 101 - 5 Steps to Winning Online

Step 1 - Identify your niche (Who do you sell to?)

What is a niche and why should you care? A niche is defined as: denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population. For some, this seems counter-intuitive, why would I want to exclude potential customers?

Unless you’re looking to directly compete with Amazon and Walmart, you’re not really selling everything to everyone, right? Most likely you’re selling a certain type of thing, to a certain type of customer. If so, you’re already using niche marketing!

Smart business owners will write down (in a marketing plan) what niche they want to serve and how. Haven't written out your marketing plan yet? Neither have most of your competitors and other small to medium sized businesses across the US. Wouldn't it be great if you had an advantage over your competition? Start with writing your marketing plan.

Step 2 - Market Conditions (What is unique about you?)

The first thing to do is to scope out the conditions of your market. How many competitors do you have? Are there large competitors operating in the space? What kind of needs and pain points are being served? Is the market growing? Most of this information is easy to find online.

Google and Bing are your friends here. That's right - Bing too. You might be surprised at the quality of search results you get from Bing. Start by searching for major keywords and brands in your industry and see who pops up. In those results, what are you seeing? Are there tons of results from huge competitors, or are you seeing results from smaller players? What kind of issues are they addressing with their pages? Identify trends and opportunities as you're doing your research. Write them down! You'll need those notes when you're writing that marketing plan.

Step 3 - Grow Beyond Your Core (Thoughtful Expansion)

You’re improving your customer's life by solving a problem or fulfilling a need with your product. Now that they have trusted you with their credit card, what can you sell them next?

Amazon has found that by having a large catalog of products that are able to be delivered quickly, customers often think of them first when searching for a product online. Customers then buy from Amazon because they’re reliable, they have a huge selection of products, and they provide extremely fast shipping. Amazon solves those consumer “pain-points” and expands their market reach daily. Remember when Amazon was just selling books online?

Your goal should be to find those ways that you provide solutions to other customer needs. Maybe, instead of having the biggest selection and lowest prices, you have the highest quality and very specific products. This appeals to a different segment of your market who are looking for those things. Perhaps you don't have every single product in your category, and instead you focus just on the highest quality products. Would this develop more trust for your website as a brand?

Step 4 - Study your Competition (and build your brand!)

Look carefully and see if you can figure out what business model your competition is using. How are they getting customers? What language do they use in their marketing? Identifying these opportunities can give you insight into your market and help you differentiate yourself from the competition. Being the best at understanding the terms your potential customers use can definitely be an advantage (i.e. keywords and phrases rather than industry jargon).

Instead of competing directly, find out where your competitors are weak and become the best for that thing. The advantages to this approach are that you don’t have to butt heads with competitors and you don’t have to fight for the same customers. What you’re looking for is how you can help the people they don’t help. This sets you apart and gives you your own segment of the market, that you can help, that the competition doesn’t care about.

Imagine a situation where customers, while able to find the product anywhere, can’t easily find information on the best way to use your product. If you’re the only retailer that also provides well-made instructional videos with your products, you’re meeting a certain need for your customers and setting yourself apart from the competition. This is just one way of meeting unmet needs your customers have.

Step 5 - Work Together (Choose the right team)

As a retailer, you most likely work with suppliers, distributors or other business partners and allies. Work with them! Remember, that your success helps them and vice versa. As for links to your website. Ask if you can contribute content that can be included on their websites with a link back to you. Many of them are looking for store owners like you to collaborate with on marketing, strengthening your ties and creating beneficial business relationships. Reach out and work as a team to expand in your niche.

You also need help with your day to day business operations. The list of tasks in a successful e-commerce organization are only beginning with shipping, merchandising, ordering, website maintenance, and marketing. As a business owner, it's important to identify when you have matured beyond the point of being 100% DIY (do it yourself). Did Amazon become Amazon because of only Jeff Bezos? When do you think was the last time he (seriously) picked/packed orders? Identify the tasks that you, the leader, should be doing and then hire out the rest of the tasks. Your business is ready to mature to the next level!

In Conclusion

Niche marketing is a simple, yet effective tool available to you. Find out where you stand in your market, and find out who it is you’re serving and what needs they have. Don’t worry about selling to everyone, and dial down to focus on meeting the needs of your niche. You’ll get more quality customers and more revenue that way.

Ready to get started?

We can't wait to help you grow your business. Our team is ready to help you achieve your goals. Contact us today to get started.