Setting up an online selling operation is not a rocket science â€“ but making a success of one is a much tougher challenge.
If you are in the initial stages of your planning, the following top tips might prove to be useful:
- it is difficult to market something that either doesnâ€™t exist or which has not been completely thought-through in terms of its basic proposition. So, donâ€™t neglect the fundamental business disciplines and make sure that you have a proposition that has been thoroughly market researched as part of its development;
- one of the commonest ways of online marketing is through various forms of online advertising. Be certain to familiarise yourself with some of the basic principles that provide you with a firm foundation from which to build your strategy.
allocate a sensible overall budget to begin with. Many new initiatives fail even when well marketed because they are under-capitalised. If necessary, consider a small business loan from companies such as Everline or others;
if your marketing is successful, you will be hopefully driving lots of traffic to your website. Retaining that traffic and converting it to spend is a major challenge for any company. An essential start point is making sure that your website is professional-looking and easy to use and so get help if necessary to make sure that it is;
- try to draw upon the experience of others. There are forums available where organisations and industry experts will be sharing their views and advice. Make sure that you participate in these to keep abreast of events;
- periodically refresh your approach to online marketing. Itâ€™s easy for your thinking to become stale and things naturally evolve and move on over time. If you are not a naturally gifted marketer then take the advice and guidance of people who are;
- remember that attracting and converting customers is one thing but retaining them is something entirely different. There is no point in your marketing being spectacularly successful if you are losing customers very quickly due to poor post-sales service and a less than customer-centric business culture. On-going marketing has a role to play in customer retention but ultimately you must make sure that your business processes are fit for purpose;
- today online means a very different thing to the same term used only five or 10 years ago. The social media and portable technology are changing the game hugely so marketing needs to understand and exploit these channels. Learn about the social media and how marketing can be deployed across them;
- develop and protect your brand. One characteristic of internet commerce is that people easily and quickly share information about companies. A few mistakes can quickly become visible to vast numbers of people due to things such as review and feedback sites etc. Brand development and protection are key marketing concepts and you need to understand some of the specific issues that may apply to them in the internet domain.
Above all, make sure that your marketing is sensibly resourced in terms of time, people and money. The dangers of having an under-capitalised business are touched on above but marketing budgets are some of those most readily sacrificed when times are tough.
That just might prove to be a serious mistake!