Start With A High Quality Product
Whether you’re a local store owner or starting an online e-commerce business you need a really good product to be successful. I know it sounds obvious, but this is much easier said than done. Most e-commerce businesses nowadays might be new entrepreneurs doing print-on-demand, drop shipping or Amazon FBA and though they’re all viable business models that are likely using Amazon research tools and other services to see what products are selling, most don’t have very much competition.
They simply source that product, private label it, and modify it or just directly drop ship it. What this does is potentially allow you to have more people come on and sell the exact same product as you, but also makes it so you can start a business much quicker with less risk. However, the problem is if you sell anything that’s not high-quality, regardless if it’s unique or not, you’re going to have a lot of customer service issues and likely product refunds. This is going to put you in a hole and cause bad publicity, bad reviews, and conversions that continue dropping over time.
In the end you’re not doing e-commerce the right way, because if you were able to sell a bunch of crappy product, you would feel weird about it at this point as most people would. I’ve actually had this with my e-commerce business in the past where we have some products sold that are decent quality and not cheap, so it’s not like we’re charging a lot of money for them…but if customer’s don’t rave about them, it makes things a lot harder, especially when running paid ads. Because if you’re running ads to a specific product and can get people to share the ad (meaning they really love your product), you’re showing them it drastically reduces your ad cost and raises the return on your ad spend.
Embracing The “Pay To Play” Model
Free traffic from people sharing your ad only really takes off when you have an awesome product. Therefore, if you don’t have a high-quality product, you’ll be back at the drawing board in a year or two…and even if you just make a quick buck, while it won’t be a COMPLETE waste of time, you’ll still end up learning how to sell through e-commerce. But if you’re looking for something you won’t have to redo in a couple of years, you’re going to have to find a quality product.
Additionally, something else you should embrace is understanding that “pay to play” is okay. A lot of times people ask if Instagram is becoming more like this. The answer is that Google, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube…they’re all pay to play because that’s how business is. It’s not something you should be totally scared of, but something you need to learn, and it can be difficult.
As an example, in my e-commerce business last week I debuted a new product that made around 50% off sales as a test, We posted about the sale to over 46,000 followers, sent around 8,000 emails, and posted around 4 times to our Facebook group of 1,500 – 2,000 members. On top of that I also ran paid ads with a few hundred bucks and was able to generate more sales with the paid ads, followed by organic marketing. Now the marketing sales were actually higher. They made us more money because even though there were less of them, they were targeted to people that were already following us.
Leveraging Organic Marketing with Paid Ads
So you want the combination of the two, because it’s really difficult to rely on organic marketing alone, especially if you’ve already targeted your specific audience with it. I wouldn’t be able to simply run another sale the following week and expect the same results. Overall you want a way to spend money on advertising and make money from it because business is spending money to make money, and by being afraid to spend money and only stick to organic marketing you’re going to limit your potential and require a lot of your time.
You should always be at least thinking “How would my business exist online with paid ads?” because the only time you’re going to keep running paid ads is if they make you more money than they cost and that’s really the awesome equation we’re all going for in online entrepreneurship; “How can I spend money to make money on advertising?” and then you scale it. One you get this equation down, you can keep putting more energy, effort, and money into that and reproduce a profit.
No matter what your job or craft, if you aren’t making money at it you can’t do it full-time. If you really can do paid advertising it’s going to be the quickest way to scale profits simply because of how much time organic marketing takes to build an audience. However, using both at the same time is a great strategy as you’re building that organic audience in the background over a long-term period while leveraging paid ads in the short-term to gain profits sooner.
None of your marketing practice will matter if you can’t get that good offer at the beginning. If you have a good offer right away it means that there was some way to effectively sell your product through paid advertising. Now of course you will have to spend money on ads, but it’s better to be in a position when you’re making money. For example, you can work a day job to pay for ads as a steady source of income to get sales and ultimately have the chance to leave that day job and pursue your e-commerce business full-time once it progresses enough as opposed to trying to allocate a set amount of your savings for ads without having an income stream to work with.
Adjusting How You Sell
Upon speaking with a student last week on a coaching session, she was asking how to sell her product. As someone who sells photography for realtors in Costa Rica, these realtors hire her to take photos of the house and the whole pitch is that these photos are going to look a lot better after she edits them than if the realtors just took them…but she wasn’t getting sales and the people there weren’t buying. But the underlying issue is just that there’s no market in Costa Rica for people investing in high quality photography for these homes.
Now if we think about this story and analyze our sales process, what does this lead to? You could simply assume “People don’t buy that here, so I guess I’ll just close the business” when that’s not really what’s happening because the value of that offer is the same no matter where you go…it’s just going to be priced accordingly. But the thing is that if there are people that like it in one country, there’s people in others that will like it to, we just have to alter how the product is marketed.
What you need to have is value-building phrases to sell your product with. The thing is that building value with someone you’ve never met before isn’t easy, especially in an e-commerce business. That said, you have to know that they don’t believe what you say unless you prove it, so you need to use facts. Regardless of having a lot of followers and awesome reviews, everyone has their doubts and is skeptical to a degree. So if you say something like “I’m going to take the best photos of your house that you’ve ever seen” while it may be true, they’re not going to naturally believe you.
So instead if you were to say “Studies show that listings sell 50% faster when they have professional quality images versus images just shot with any camera” then you can sell your product a lot easier, even if you’re charging a higher price. After building that value you can also sell it by saying “Hey, if you’re sick of taking your own photos and you just want to get back to doing what you do best I’ll come in and take the photos, edit and upload them. They’ll be high quality photos that will sell your listing faster.” you might even be able to charge pretty much whatever price you want. If you can build value using facts that proves to them the end result will be exactly that, you gain their trust and business more easily.
By identifying your product, your problem, the value you offer, and the way you’re selling it you’re going to reach a solution. Alternatively, if you identify the problem as “people are broke and won’t buy because of this” you’re not going to reach your solution. Think about what you’re really doing for people, what the biggest problem is that you’re solving, and how you can base your marketing around that.
These aren’t just tactics on simply having a landing page that goes through an offer or how to build an ebook that sells a product, but tactics to more efficiently engage and build trust in order to market your product and make actual sales. You have to get those key things down and set in place first to reach your audience and appeal to them. Your quality product needs to solve a consumer’s problem and provide them with value they believe in. Again, you really should be doing Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube ads for e-commerce.