Planning Your Online Business At The Start Or To Grow
Determine Your Niche And Business Idea – What Customer Problem Are You Solving?
A Check List:
- Is There A Problem?
- Is The Problem Painful Enough ($$?, Urgent, Important)?
- Is The Problem Frequent Enough (Weekly Vs Once 8 Years?)?
- Are There Enough People With The Same Problem (500 Ppl Vs 20m)?
- How Hard Is It To Reach To People With Problem (Channels)?
- Is Market Saturated By Big Brands (I.E. Spring Water)?
- Is Solution At Least 3x Better Than Current Substitute For Any Segment Of Market?
- Does The Solution-Business Model Work (Subscription, Cross-Sell, Upsell, Partnerships, Sponsorships, Grants, Etc)?
- Is There A Segment That Can Be The Early Adopters?
- Is There A Road To Other Bigger Segments?
Conduct Product Research.1. Research products in high demand
If you don’t have a product concept in mind yet, gain inspiration by looking into currently popular products. Look at trending hashtags, pins, and comments on Pinterest, and at the best-selling products on Amazon. You can even walk around brick-and-mortar stores to see what they’re selling and how items are categorized.
Do you already know what type of product you’d like to sell? Follow the same process but narrow down your search to look only at products and product categories similar to yours.
Remember to keep an open mind as you try to ascertain the level of demand. Your goal is not to convince yourself that your product idea is outstanding. Your goal is to honestly evaluate the demand and then go back to the drawing board if necessary.
2. Read reviews and case studies on similar products
As you research products like yours, make sure to read reviews. Reviews are a treasure trove of information about what consumers liked and didn’t like about a product. Often customers detail pain points and outline specific improvements or features they would like to see.
Amazon research is a great way to accomplish this task. Plus, Amazon points out bestsellers, “Movers and Shakers,” and even products that are frequently bought together. Use free apps like "Helium 10" to get an idea of what is selling for what price.
Researching on Amazon gives you additional insight into how consumers think throughout the buying process. You may land on an idea for a convenient product bundle you could offer or a stellar cross-selling strategy. Amazon research is especially helpful if you have an online storefront.
Similarly, download or purchase case studies from companies that have sold similar products in the past. Case studies typically identify problems the company faced and then outline how the problem was solved.
By examining reviews and case studies, you can think through potential problems and solve them before they occur. You’ll also identify how your product will improve on similar existing products, differentiating you from the competition.
3. Don’t overlook product marketing
Having a great product and knowing how to price it is essential, but you can’t overlook the importance of product positioning and marketing strategy. Again, it’s useful to research your competitors here. How did they market their product? Was their strategy successful? How could you improve on it?
Consider your target audience, too. Which communication channels and social media platforms do they use the most? Where do they gain inspiration for the products they’d like to purchase?
Where do they shop? What are their interests? Your marketing strategy should resonate with your target audience and speak their language.
You’ll need to select your marketing strategies, channels, and tools, then plan a marketing campaign.
4. Use a soft launch for product marketing
Test marketing and soft launches help you trial your product to estimate sales. If the trial goes poorly, you can modify the product before spending more money on producing and marketing it.
Test marketing provides beneficial information. A soft launch doesn’t have to be fancy or costly. Set up a simple landing page for your product and expose your product on social media to evaluate demand.
As people inquire about your product, explain that you’re about to launch. Provide a form that interested parties can fill out and then be sure to keep in touch and notify them when your product is available.
5. Continue conducting product research
Product research doesn’t end when your product launches. Continue asking for customer feedback, measuring the success of your marketing campaigns, and tracking metrics such as repeat purchases. And test strategies such as a referral program or a loyalty program to attract and retain customers.
Keep an eye on your competitors and any emerging trends in your industry. It’s never too late to refine your marketing strategy or make product improvements.
Learn About Online Business Laws.
There are many rules and regulations that govern e-commerce.
These four, in particular, could significantly impact your small business.
- Small business owners can't afford to run afoul of online business laws that are in place to protect consumers. Penalties run in the thousands of dollars.
- Collecting sales tax is a big area of concern for online merchants. The rules vary by state, making it cumbersome to manage without the help of software.
- Business owners must be careful when marketing to new and existing customers. If marketing emails violate provisions in the CAN-SPAM Act, you may be fined by the Federal Trade Commission.
E-commerce platforms and online marketplaces make it easy to sell online, but e-commerce is more than uploading product pictures and accepting payments. There are laws and regulations you must follow, and if you run afoul of any of them, you could face serious legal and financial consequences.