The Challenge with Expertise
Consider that, unless you hire a publicist, your expertise is what you are selling. Even if you have a product, your position as chief marketer in you small operation means that it is expertise, not just the product that you must be concerned with. Most people find help as soon as possible. Some of us don’t. It’s a problem, but here is how to deal with it until you find a partner or outsource option.
You know your expertise as a function of two questions. First: What questions are you being asked? Second: What questions do you find easiest to answer? The former is an understanding of what your market wants and trusts you can provide. The latter is a commodity you must seek to demonstrate as valuable.
Finding a Market versus Building a Market
Each of your options for creating buzz around your brand and ultimately leading to sales has pros and cons. The simplest to capture have to do with revenue and revenue sharing. With found markets, revenue is potentially larger, but you share it with the broker or platform purveyor. Found market examples are Amazon or Udemy. Both have millions of active users to buy your product, but you give as much as 50% of sales price to them. With built or developed markets revenue will start smaller, but you keep the lion share of it. Built market examples are you mailing list from your blog or your friend list on Facebook. The list is smaller than millions, they may or may not be buying, but you keep over 90% of the eventual sale.
Following are some success tips with both market types.
Finding: What established network opportunities exist?
1. Get comfort with the cut the network administrator will take. This is primary. Factor in your potential sales, and the cost of doing business. Found networks typically have multiple ways to get access. Amazon has monthly fees, inventory/fulfillment options, and straight percentage options. You are looking to maximize sales, and decrease work. Spend less time worrying about their cut and more time focusing on sales numbers. If you are making 50% on $30,000, that is better than 90% of $10,000.
2. Explore the competition utilizing the portal. How established are they? How is your brand different? How can your brand compete? Price is not always the best competition. The strength of your brand may command a higher price. Your affinity with the market or status in the marketplace can boost your profile as well, even if you are late to the network.
3. Compete on competence as a primary option. Maximize your use and understanding of the mechanism. Networks, especially online, are based on communication and navigation. Those who are the most responsive and best at utilizing the system will reap rewards in sales, ad revenue, and even customer loyalty.
4. Tell the Story of your Brand. Take the time to craft your story and keep users engaged with the development of your brand over time. Share some of the challenges and the successes strategically. Branch out into other venues to build buzz around your brand that will point back to the portal and connect with your target market. See your brand as a character in an epic tale.
4. Ensure responsiveness, even initiation of community functions. Networks are about community. Establish the value that you bring to the specific community even beyond the value of your brand in general. In this way, expand responsiveness not just as a reactive approach, but as a proactive approach to the community’s needs, development, and achievements.
Building: What questions are resonating?
1. Clearly outline your sales funnel. Your sales funnel is the process from first contact through sales to follow-up and repeat business. Your goal is to build your mailing list. You want to get people on the list and well informed even if they are not customers. You want them to speak well about your business to their network.
2. Look for spaces to offer the opt in. This element suggests that you find networks, typically smaller and less well integrated, that you can offer value within. You are offering the opportunity to opt in, not your product or service. Your balance is to offer “friendship” or information while not intruding into the network. Beware of “General Opt-In” or Advertising Spaces where you may spend a lot of time, but be over looked due to the multitude of marketers.
3. Have an automatic follow-up strategy with solid mechanism. Beyond your sales funnel, you must have mechanisms that operate without manual intervention. An example is your mailing list. It should collect the email, verify the user, house the data, and provide a response even before you are aware of the transaction. The longer users have to wait for your manual intervention, the longer they have to change their minds.
4. Close with confidence and incentivize sharing. Ask yourself, “Why would I want to share this content?” Your answer speaks to the value and the connectedness of your brand. Tangible incentives could be drawings for free merchandise. But, I’m a fan of intangible incentives. Incentives like “being a part of something,” or “co-signing a social point,” or “supporting a movement.” Think in terms of hashtags as well. Sharing of a hashtag is one-part being together, and one-part ensuring cohesion. The benefit is for the movement and the individual who shares. Create a brand that is a movement worth sharing.