Creating a new business is a risky endeavor no matter what you’re selling; it’s stressful and laden with hard work and planning, but that is only the starting point.
You’re still at ‘base camp’, and you have a whole mountain to go regarding getting your first sale.
And because this is much harder than it looks, we’ve compiled a list of ways to help you on this upward climb and getting this party started.
Designing An Attractive Store
Your online store has to be as engaging and attractive as possible to draw in customers. So make sure to pull out all the stops and design something that is not only eye-catching but also interesting and appealing.
When a person clicks on your site, it takes about 3 seconds for them to decide if they’re going to take a closer look let alone make a purchase - so first impressions are vital. If your site looks dull and uninviting, people will not want to buy anything and most likely not revisit.
The goal is to make your store look and feel modern and luxurious and have it emulate professionalism. People respond well to this as it already gives them an idea that your business is a reliable and upstanding one.
Marketing: Exposing Your Business To the Online World
Getting a constant flow of traffic to your online store is the main goal – the more people who click on your website, the more sales you’ll be likely to make.
But people have to know about your business if they are going to buy from it, so you have to get the word out and get maximum exposure in the online world.
The key to exposing your business and driving more traffic to your website is marketing and being able to do this for as low a cost as possible. So why not do it for free?
The online world today provides a whole host of free platforms and social networks that are now designed to help you market and promote your business. The best way to gain maximum exposure is to make use of all of them.
Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, offer free business marketing. So for instance, if you are using Facebook, you can start by creating a page for your business.
This page will allow you to showcase everything about your business, like your products and contact information, and will allow you to create a direct link to your website.
Gaining Exposure Through Social Media
Social networks are a great way to expose your business on a personal level. You can start by inviting your family and friends to ‘like’ your page, and request them to invite their friends on Facebook to do the same.
So more and more exposure, and onward it goes.
Social networks are also great for opening channels of communication between you and your customers. You can create posts about your products, and people can directly interact with you, the business owner, for more information.
You can make the most of this by replying to their comments and asking them questions to increase interest.
Try to post regularly, but not so much as to be considered "spam." And of course, your content must be appealing and of value to entice people to your store.
Also, it’s important to remember that everything you do online has the potential to draw people to your store. So to maximize this, make use of all your own personal social media identities where you can create direct links to your business pages, and thus, your online store.
Offer Promos and Discounts
To get that first sale, your products need to be affordable and considered a ‘good buy’. And who doesn’t love a good bargain?
In fact, a lot of the things we buy on sale are not because we really need them, but rather because we’re excited by the prospect of buying something that costs a lot less than it’s actually valued.
Stores have been exploiting our need for a "quick thrill" for ages to draw in customers – it’s a tried and tested method. So make use of this idea and think about promoting "opening specials" or offering a discount code on specific items to entice potential customers.
This will draw them to your site and increases the potential of them browsing your entire store to see all you have to offer, and therefore increasing the likelihood of a more significant sale and more purchases in the future.
Promos such as "buy one, get one free" or "25% off your next purchase” can help you do just that.
Reaching Out To Online Communities
The World Wide Web has made it possible for you to take marketing to a whole new level with public forums like Reddit, Mashable or StumbleUpon; or consider joining Facebook groups that are relevant to your business and that particular industry.
Instagram makes it possible for you do this with hashtags that you can use in your posts to engage with other businesses in the industry and related industries and has the added benefit of attracting the type of customer who’s interested in your products.
This gives you the opportunity to connect with people who have similar interests or work in the same field, which provides you with a better marketing advantage in that you are targeting a relevant audience.
Search the web for potential online communities to determine which channel will be best for your product, and join to be an active member so that you are in the newsfeed regularly.
You can go one step further and make use of entrepreneur-focused support groups to get an idea about how others in the same field and position have started and get advice on how to get going on your own.
Shopify Entrepreneurs Facebook Group or Grow and Sell Facebook Group can be good places to start.
Using Partnerships and Joint Ventures
An excellent strategy for marketing to a broader audience is to use someone else’s customers. Partnering up with a company in the same field can be a great way to get your business exposed to a targeted audience.
The key is that needs to be a company that does not compete with your product and therefore your customers.
For example, if your product is pet food, you can create a joint venture with a store that sells toys and accessories for pets. You can do this by offering a free sample or discount on your product when a customer purchases a product from your partner.
In this way, your partner’s advertisements become your advertisements and thus expose your business to your desired target audience.
Another viable option to consider is a collaboration with an "influencer". The way designer brands use celebrity endorsements to vouch for and market their products. And it’s not as difficult or expensive as you might think.
It really is the age of YouTube and Instagram Stars with people gaining popularity and developing a fan base. In this way, you can partner up with an ‘influencer’ who is relevant in your field and use them as a platform to promote your business.
Finding an appropriate influencer for your brand is made even easier with websites called influencer marketplaces like Grapevine or Fame bit, where influencers list themselves according to niche and industry.
So if your business is selling makeup, you can search for an influencer who is a professional makeup artist and does live makeup tutorials.
In this way, people can actually see what your product looks like and has the added benefit of a testimonial from professional advertising why your product is a good buy.