Reaching the point in your business’s development where you have a ready to market product is a wonderful feeling. Chances are that your journey began with a Eureka, moment which led to tons of research and planning and then finally you have a product.
But guess what? You’ve reached a milestone moment, but you’ve still got a ways to go. Just to put it into perspective just look at how much time companies spend on developing products and then compare that to how much time they spend marketing those products.
The work you must do to bring just one product to the market online is almost identical to the work that you must do to market your entire business online.
In short bringing a product to market, online, will require you to create an online marketing plan around the product that you intend to sale. This plan should be founded upon 1) what you know about your audience, 2) what you know about your audience and 3) your product’s USP. Those three items should serve to guide your decisions on items such as the type of website to create and the type of online promotional tactics to engage in. So let us begin with the bedrock of your product’s online marketing plan-research.
1 – Do Your Research
Doing your research consists of learning your audience, your competition, and your industry. You can learn your audience by analyzing your own website and website’s with similar audiences on Quantcast, you can review your website’s internal search data, and take note of the conversations that you have with members of your audience. You are looking for clues that tell you 1) who your audience is, 2) what their needs and wants 3) when they buy, 4) how they decide on what and where to purchase 5) where does your audience spend their time at online, 6) what is their level of comfort with their current situation and etc.
This information will come in handy when you want to do things such as decide which social media platforms to utilize or when you want to determine the type of voice to use in your messaging.
To understand who your competition is I’d suggest beginning with a list of both long and short tail keywords that your audience uses to land on your website (you can find this with Google Analytics) and then searching for these terms on Alexa and Keyword Spy. The sites that show up in when you search for these keywords are likely to be your most likely sources of online competition. Often this list will include retailers, manufacturers, content portals and affiliate sites and that is fine.
Once you know who you’re competing against you can find out what their doing by using tools such as Hubspot’s Website Grader, you can analyze their search engine strategy using tools such as Spyfu, you can look at their blog and you can observe their social media profiles to see what their saying and to see whose speaking for them.
Staying abreast of the latest happenings in your industry is a matter of attending industry functions, reading industry journals, blogs and websites. Understanding what’s happening in your industry can be helpful because without it-how would you know whether your expectations are realistic or not?
2 – Set SMART Goals
The first thing that you should know when it comes to setting goals for your products is that you need goals that are SMART-specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timetabled.
Next you should know that there are two types of goals that you should concern yourself with when it comes to marketing your products online-business goals and marketing goals. These goals will provide you with the benchmarks that you need to assess the success or failure of your online marketing efforts.
Armed with the information that you have on the market for your product you will be in a position to set your business goals. Your business goals should address items such as sales, revenue, costs, and profitability. Since the type and degree of online marketing tactics will be influenced by your budget you will want to also take your financial position into consideration when putting your business goals together.
Your marketing goals should be designed so that your product sales will allow you to meet your company’s business goals. They should include metrics such as monthly website visits, page views, ad impressions, clicks, click trough rate, conversion rate, cost per conversion, average transaction value, and etc.
3 – Develop Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch, which is also sometimes referred to as a unique selling point (USP), is a tool that you use to etch your brand’s unique qualities into the mind of your audience. In short its what separates you from your competition and it is what let’s your audience know how your product will solve their problems. Your elevator pitch makes up the thrust of your product’s messaging strategy. You elevator pitch should be incorporated into your website, landing pages, and promotion tactics.
4 – Finding an Online Home
Now that you’re about to begin marketing your product(s) online you will want to determine which type of website is the most suitable to help accomplish your goals. The basic options that you have are:
- Squeeze Page. This type of site consists of a single page, usually with no navigation that begins with copy and leads into the crescendo-a product sales offer. It works best when you have one product and want the consumer to take one action-which is either a purchase and/or to make a request for information.
- Micro Site. A micro site is a miniature website that is typically built around one product; they often include several different types of commercial online content such as online videos, white papers, and etc. This type of website works well when selling expensive or complicated products.
- Website. This can be an ecommerce site, a blog, or a more standard website. This format works well when you have multiple products to sell. Often times marketers who utilize a complete website to market their products have several different landing pages-one for each product or family of products.
So you should determine which type of platform to use based upon the number and complexity of products that you will be selling.
5 – Online Promotion Plan
There are tons of online promotion tactics that you can use to market your products. However, you will not be able to use all of them. The online marketing tools that you should include in your promotion plan will be based upon your goals, your audience’s online habits and preferences, as well as your company’s financial and time constraints. The most commonly used tools are:
- Organic SEO. Organic SEO is used to impact your website’s position within the search engine results for relevant keywords. Pros: This strategy drives targeted traffic to your site and has long-term benefits that often outlive your efforts. Surfers place more trust in the natural results than they do in paid results. Cons: It takes time for the benefits of organic SEO to materialize. It can be extremely expensive.
- Paid Search Engine Marketing or SEM. SEM is used to drive targeted potential buyers to your site via sponsored search engine results-think “Google AdWords”. Pros: This strategy can provide near immediate results. It also allows advertisers highly detailed analytics. Performance based pay structure-you pay only for clicks. Cons: Many a firm has lost their shirt doing PPC marketing. Campaigns can get expensive really quick and if you aren’t conducting testing you could easily get in over your head.
- Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate marketing is where you pay affiliates a commission on the sales that they help to generate for you online. Pros: Highly cost effective way to bring targeted buyers to your site. In addition to bringing you sales affiliates also give you back-links to your site. Cons: Your sales are dependent upon the strength of your affiliates. Although relative to SEO and PPC overall affiliate marketing costs are low the set up costs can be expensive.
- Online PR. Online PR speaks to the methods that you use to influence the perception of your online audience to your product(s) or brand. This includes social media as well as the management of your online newsroom and press releases. Pros: Relatively inexpensive to utilize. Since online pr often results in people sharing information with each other about your products, this tool is very similar to a traditional referral-you stand to get warm leads. Cons: You have little control of your message as much of online pr as the consumer primarily controls or drives social media. You also have less control over the type of traffic that your website will receive from your online pr efforts-meaning you could get a high percentage of window shoppers from this type of marketing.
- Email Marketing. Email marketing is a form of marketing where the marketer uses emails as the communication medium to reach the consumer-directly. Pros: This can be used to complement PPC marketing and it can greatly enhance the experience of your current customers. Relative to the other tools email marketing offers a very high ROI. Cons: You can easily alienate customers if you aren’t careful. If you break the CAN-SPAM Act you could be fined up to 16,000 USD for a single violation.
- Blogging. You can use a business blog to communicate with your audience while building your web presence. Pros: Very affordable. Easy way to establish your brand online. Cons: Can be highly time consuming. May take a long time to generate sales of your products.
Again, you may find that some of these online promotional strategies are more practical for your firm than others. The key is that you will want to have a plan that details which tools you will use to market your products so that your company will not be flying blind.
So we’ve just covered five steps that you will need to go through in order to sell your products online. Of course the rest is up to you. Go get em’.