You've got a product (i.e. a book, clothing, candlesticks, whatever) and you're selling it online. Heck, you're even making some profit. Guess what? So is everyone else. Eventually, your sales will slow or possibly even stop altogether. You will have a product, but no business. Velvet Cartel has been looking into the multi-faceted world of successful business planning. This Marketing Monday, we want to aid you, the business owner, business owner-to-be or product guy, in developing a sustainable and profitable business balanced on good will with clientele and an effective distribution channel.
Let's say you own an artisan lemonade stand. Because you believe in helping the planet and local business, you grow your own lemons and buy your sugar from an ethical sugar cane farmer in your region for a miraculously reasonable price. You COULD sit at your stand all day and sell your product to passers by, striking up conversation with customers in hopes of securing another sale in the future. You COULD sell your dehydrated lemonade mix online, shipped in aesthetically pleasing pouches with an attached letter describing the soil and climate from which the lemons were derived. Hopefully, you'll become famous in your niche market and you'll be able to make enough craft lemonade to support your demand. But, probably not.
All successful businesses need:
1. Good Will
Good will with your clientele can be achieved in a number of ways, but these tactics are most effective in combination. Create an email list. Focus on social media. Give away your products to your followers. Endorse a truly fabulous product that your demographic will benefit from.
2. A Distribution Channel
This could be your brick and mortar retail location, your website with e-commerce, your YouTube channel, your email list, your blog or whatever it is that works best for you. These are the mediums in which marketing messages are consistently broadcasted and goods are sold to a participating audience. Selling a voiceless product over the internet to a faceless customer is the most basic approach. Don't be basic.
3. To Endorse Products and to be Endorsed
See need No. 1.
Relationships with other companies who sell products that will please your customer base is a sure-fire way to make everyone happy. Building good will is the only way to secure repeat customers.
Now you've got lemonade real-estate across the country. Every sugar cane farm in the country ends its tours with an ice cold glass of your special concoction (so long as they provide their e-mail address to be added to your e-mail list). Followers can log onto your social media to watch videos of the careful lemonade-making process. You work closely with tropical, family-owned resorts. In exchange for your lemonade services, you are able to offer your customer discounted rates and occasionally you give away a getaway. You are beloved by your clients and colleagues. Congratulations.
When life gives you lemons, create an internationally acclaimed artisan lemonade service.
Still want more? Check out this case study from Mike Dillard (with real number crunching)!