Sunday, November 28, 2004

Developing a Product You Can Sell Online - Part 1

Marketing Your Product On the Web
by Rick Hendershot
Online Marketing

Part 1 — Developing a Product You Can Sell Online

Finding a product you can sell online is not as easy as it sounds. Even if you have a successful offline business, the chances are better than 50/50 that all of your product(s) will NOT be suitable for online sales. Some may be; but many most certainly will not be. Your first job is to figure out which ones will work in an online environment. Here are some of the most important considerations.

The importance of finding a "niche"

Simple, easy to understand products like "books" or "sporting goods" or "electronic products" have a built-in advantage, because virtually everybody knows what they are. That means they have a ready-made market.

But it does NOT mean that easily recognized products like this will always be more successful in your business ventures — online or offline. The success of any business venture depends on being able to find a product that is recognized by a specific target market — what we will call a TARGET NICHE. And often that means NOT trying to reach a large over-crowded, highly competitive market segment.

The advantages of a narrow niche

When you stop and think about it, the reasons for this are fairly obvious. Trying to reach a large, highly competitive market segment takes resources that you probably do not have — advertising budgets and large inventories, for instance. And you will be going head to head with the big boys who DO have those resources.

So does that leave you with the "dregs" — the unprofitable markets that nobody else wants?

Definitely not. Let's consider some of these "dregs"...
Almost everybody can visualize what you mean by "Personalized Golf Balls", but most will have problems with "Duralex Floorguard Graphics", or "Medical Transfer Pipettes."
This fact presents the pipette marketer with both a challenge and an opportunity. There are relatively few people who want your pipettes. But if you can actually isolate (and reach) these people, then you probably stand a better chance of selling something obscure like this (both online and offline) than you do a more common thing like "personalized golf balls".

The reason is pretty clear, isn't it? While the market is relatively small, the number of suppliers will be even smaller. And there is a good chance these suppliers will not be nearly as sharp and net savvy as the big boys who go after the big markets. That gives you a perfect opportunity to become a major player in your category. In fact the web is the perfect place to focus your attentions, because you can become a major player in a matter of weeks, and for a few hundred dollars.

Targeted Prospects (the ones in your "niche") are ready to buy

Another important reason to zero in on a narrowly targeted "niche" market, has to do with the "mindset" of the relatively few people out there looking for your specialized product. The facts are simply these: when someone goes looking for "pipettes" or "compressed air grommet installers", they are serious. They are not looking for fun. They are looking because they NEED, or WANT these things — NOW.

Let me give you a real world example. One of our clients sells trade show display hardware and graphics. This is a "niche" market if there ever was one. When you track the number of Google searches done on keywords like "trade show displays", "popup displays", or "portable displays", the numbers are not very impressive. So when this client runs Google adwords for these keywords, their exposure rate is not very high — something like 2,000 views a month.

But guess what? The click thru rate for these ads is surprisingly high. Again, the reason is pretty obvious. People searching for this product are serious about a purchase. They are READY! All you have to do is present prospects like this with a compelling reason to buy from you rather than the other guys, and you will get a higher than average conversion rate.

Specialization is important...

In other words, specialization may be the most important key to your online success. If you have expertise, or even a little bit of special knowledge about a relatively obscure topic or product area, then that might just be the product category you should focus on.

But, of course specialization is not enough. Having a specialized product is one thing. Reaching your prospective buyers with your message is another thing altogether.


If you want to improve the traffic to your web, you can start by checking out the "power linking" resources at The Linknet Network.


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