Marketing isn’t just about how you promote your business. It’s a culture. It defines the way you think about your business and your customers. It lays out the future for your business. Marketing rings the cash register. It brings in the sales. It keeps your business running.
Marketing is everything.
Nothing moves off the shelf if there’s no marketing strategy in place. Marketing is everything for a business. It’s always about how the product is positioned, how it’s priced, and how it’s promoted that makes all the difference to your bottom line. It’s been that way for ages and it continues to be that way now.
Ecommerce lives on the Internet and went mobile. But only the medium changed, not trade. The principles of business still remain the same. For your ecommerce store to work, it’s not enough to make sure that your site looks great and that you now have a line of vendors or suppliers for you to source your products from. It’s not enough to list your products for sale. Well, it won’t do even if you had a few customers already.
Your customers still need to hear from you. They ought to like what you have to offer, accept the offer, and complete the transaction. There’s a circus called customer acquisition process at play here and it takes forever for a business to get the act right. Now this, right here, has to grow in numbers over time. That’s how you scale.
To get the act right, you’ll need a planned marketing strategy. Here’s how it ought to be:
The plan, the positioning, and the mindset
If you watched The Profit on CNBC, you’ll meet Marcus Lemonis, entrepreneur and host of the show. You’ll see that he goes by the principle that business depends on exactly three things: product, process, and people. He calls it the 3 Ps of business.
What he doesn’t tell you (or it’s not so obvious) is that he almost always starts with product positioning and thinks about a marketing strategy. He completes the deal with a shake of the hand and instantly goes about revising the business plan from scratch (in his head).
Position your product as “just another one” and you’ll have to live with “just another price tag.” You don’t make profits that way. Positioning and then pricing is all about marketing from the core. You have to solve a particular problem, and then position your offering as the best way to solve this problem. Your business plan has to account for this positioning. You then have to get into a mindset of working with numbers, pour life into your company’s mission statement, and follow through.
While you are thinking of your marketing plan, you’ll need to think about where your customers will come from. Ecommerce sites will inevitably take to the net as a first choice (it just makes sense). It’s not, however, the only reason why digital marketing is the first choice.
Digital marketing works for ecommerce stores because the target audience funneled through online marketing is already savvy. This audience already understands ecommerce and is willing to whip out the wallet. Plus, online marketing is relatively cheaper, helps you to account for expenses well, and gives you insights – almost real-time – on the performance of your marketing campaigns.
Within online marketing, you’ll need to build the right channels for your marketing.
Apart from the regular options of blogging, social media, SEO, and paid online advertising, would you be launching an affiliate marketing program? Would you be investing in an all-out inbound marketing strategy, email marketing, and mobile marketing? Would you be doing business with selected partners? Will you use traditional advertising in addition to digital marketing?
While we are at it, remember that digital marketing isn’t exactly easy. It’s not even straightforward. There’s a lot that goes into it and so it helps if you are prepared for the long haul. But then, the pay-offs are great.
Marketing was, is, and will always be the engine of trade, and this is all the more true for ecommerce. Rohan Ayyar listed out some valuable tips to market your online store over on Socialnomics.
Think. Execute. Profit.
Expending your limited resources
You have products, a store, and a plan in place. You get support from your channels and the sales will begin to come through. You need more and you can’t depend on any one source for your ecommerce sales. So, what do you do?
The answer: scale up.
You’d need the right team and the right technology to aid you in your scaling efforts. You can have multiple teams dedicated to customer support, marketing, logistics/shipping, sourcing, vendor management, customer management, etc. But then, your resources will be limited and it’s time to revisit the principles of effective management.
Use the right technology
While the point on technology came in here last, you’d be flirting with it even before you start. It begins with the right platform to create your store, going all the way to daily management, marketing, processes, inventory management, and much more.
Using the right tools makes all the difference to how you manage your ecommerce business. Tap into the emergence of SaaS and the various web-based tools available for everything from product displays to time management, from content management to hiring. Shipstation, Shipworks, Sellbrite, ChannelAdvisor.com, Stitchlabs, Ordoro, and SellerExpress.com are a few online tools that come to mind.
Your marketing plan is the answer – and the blueprint for execution – to what you need from your ecommerce business. Starting and setting up the business is one thing, marketing it and running it well is completely something else.
How do you plan to market your business? With a proper (realistically executable) marketing plan, do you think it’s possible to succeed with your ecommerce store? Tell us what’s on your mind!
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