5 Cost Free Steps To Grow Your Profits
When customers ring us asking for advice on increasing their online revenue, I will normally begin by discussing the methods of our most successful merchants.
Whilst it would be easy to suggest increasing their ad words spend, or (in the case of many of our rivals) trying to upsell SEO services, there are some simple, free methods of marketing which can have a far greater effect on sales.
The key point I make is that the merchants who enjoy the most success are those who see their primary function as marketing rather than operational.
If you are launching your ecommerce business with a £1 million advertising budget then you may get away with ignoring the points below (although you will still be missing a trick or two). If, however you are like the majority of ecommerce start-ups and trying to keep advertising expenditure to a minimum, then taking these 5 points to heart will prove invaluable in maximising the sales potential of your website.
But remember, the only “magic formula” is persistence, persistence, persistence…
1. Choose a product and market for which there is already demand:
First things first, as many people will likely have a niche product in mind for their new business venture. It always pays to sell a product for which you already know there is demand. Save being niche for how you promote your product instead.
Having to convince someone they even want something before convincing them that they should buy it from you just adds another unnecessary challenge to the marketing process. A great way of doing this is by using Google Trends to identify product searches that are booming in popularity and therefore demand. Once this point has been ticked off we can move on to the real game changers...
2. Joint ventures:
This tactic should be used both online and offline and can be such a cost effective way of reaching your target audience that it is surprising how few merchants engage in it. The aim here is to think creatively in order to find someone willing to promote your product for no up-front cost.
The ideal partner for this will have a similar brand image and will be prepared to promote your website because what you sell compliments their product or service, and is therefore highly likely to be of interest to their existing customer base. Think sending out a flyer advertising an art print website with a company delivering furniture.
Be prepared to offer a discount code and profit share arrangement for a partner with an excellent distribution network.
3. Become an expert in your field:
A bit of shameless self-promotion often goes a long way. You can be an expert on anything and there will probably be more people who are interested than you may at first expect. It is always worth adopting this mind set and seeking out any opportunity to write, speak and generally showcase your area of industry.
Producing helpful / entertaining video guides is often a good start. Countless searches take place on YouTube and other similar sites every day by people looking for information on things that they are interested in. If you can provide the information these people need then ultimately you can convert this to sales.
4. Produce viral content:
Producing viral (highly sharable) content is a great strategy to garner publicity for your brand. In practice this means thinking of an original way to showcase your product that has intrinsic entertainment value.
A previously relatively unheard of blender manufacturer struck gold with a “Will it blend?” series on YouTube. This is a great example, especially as it invited viewers to get involved. When done well this is a great low cost way of developing the type of idiosyncratic brand personality that will earn you loyal customers and fans.
5. Guerrilla marketing:
Somewhere out there your prospective customers are gathering in groups. This offline method involves finding out where they will be present and getting your brand name and URL out there for minimal cost.
An example would be going to a televised sports event with a large group of friends all wearing t-shirts with your brand name on with the aim of getting on television.
Logo stickers in prominent places and flags at festivals are other good ideas. It’s also a great idea to hand out samples and information outside events giving potential customers something to take away and remember you by.
This post first appeared in the November 2014 issue of Start Your Business Magazine
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