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Yep, you sell stuff online. Cool. But who do you sell to? “Everyone who needs my products” is the wrong answer. Who really needs your products? Is it women aged 18-34 with a household income over $50,000 in a C-Level executive position or is it college students aged 17-22 with a personal income under $10,000? If you don’t know then I’ll show you how to figure it out in this post.
I’m a big fan of competitive analysis – that is, finding and then investigating your competitors like you’re a spy. Learning as much as you can about their business. And customers. And profit margins. And marketing strategies. And customer acquisition cost. And retention rate. If you’re serious about selling online then you need to identify your top 5 competitors and uncover their positioning strategy, which simply means how they present their products/services to potential customers.
Let me give you an example. Go to Grasshopper.com (formerly GotVMail). You immediately know that if you’re not an entrepreneur then you shouldn’t be on their website. They make it crystal clear that Grasshopper stands for entrepreneurs who want to sound bigger than they actually are, through the use of a customizable VOIP phone and routing system.
When we just started the business and before we had our Austin sales team (in around 2005) we used GotVMail to route our 1800 number to the various sales reps we employed all around America. They were all working from their home offices but gave the impression to our clients that we had a big sales office in North America. They positioned their product to entrepreneurs like me and we become a loyal customer. Now that we’ve got a full office in Austin, Texas we no longer need Grasshopper, but the point is that they were able to clearly position their offering to the market. And they grew (and continue to grow) like wildfire.
So how can you position your products effectively? Well you need to pick a MAXIMUM of 3 potential clients you’re trying to attract. For example, we sell to web designers, non-technical business owners and business owners switching from a competitor. When you’re positioning your product you need to fulfill the questions of your potential clients, so don’t be afraid to call them out on your web site, such as “Are you a small business owner? Click here. Are you switching from a competitor? Click here.”.
The trick is to position your product so that it sounds like it was created JUST for the person reading your web site. Lead them down a path of text, video, images and testimonials that speaks directly to them and their specific needs. If you don’t know who you should be targeting then it’s time to create a survey and send it to your existing customers.
If you’ve been in business for a few months then you should have a feeling for the types of customers you attract (if you don’t then you’re too disconnected from your business), so just ask one question in the survey: “Which of these best describes you?”. Setup a multi-choice question where the answers are the types of customers you think you attract. Just in case you’re wrong, give them an “Other” field so they can tell you who they are.
Finally, figure out the questions they have about your product and answer then in your online store. Simple, yes. Effective, yes.
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