Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's holiday season...

But you already knew that

It's a shame that most companies only get customers during the major holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentines, and Fourth of July) and that the big group is all essentially November to February.... What will you do the remaining 8 months of the year?
This is the time to set a hook for off-season sales. So, you only sell Thanksgiving items, but you over bought. Let customer's know that if they return after the Holiday they will find tips, recipes, one-offs, etc for your holiday. Don't pre-advertise any sales because you don't know what you over stocked, but do position yourself as an authority. Keep the customer's attention on your site year round and you'll have that customer again next year.
Christmas is the easy one to extend. With the exception of some truly specialized items, you can start selling in October and keep it up until April in some areas of the country. So the sled wasn't bought in December, if there's snow in the mountains, you've got a market. While I'm on the issue.... Some parts of the US don't have a winter -- don't forget to advertise your overstocked spring and summer items, southern families will thank you as well as those who are organized and know they will need that Hawaiian shirt in March but forgot to buy it last June.
Holiday sales, although it pains me to say it, are not for the holidays: they are advertisements for the rest of your year.

Oh, and by the way: I can almost see it now, Halloween costumes in vogue for a theme party on Friday the 13th, the Renaissance Fair, or for a full moon....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Customer Attraction

An art unto itself

This day and age requires you, the e-store owner, to put on many hats that as a brick-and-mortar store owner you might not have. In truth, this is because many people suffer under the delusion that an e-store can be a one-man or one-woman show.

One hat in particular that will seem larger than it should be is advertising. You have paper, tv, e-mail, search, banners, link exchanges, and who knows how many other ads that you can, and should choose from. For this reason, advertising your site alone is a full time job -- and you already have to work a full week on product selection, inventory maintenance, contracts with shippers and drop shippers...

Now, I am not going to rate any agency or campaign, but I will mention a few things I have seen.

  1. Common theme branding. Provide your customer with the same catch phrase no matter what the medium.

  2. Stand out. Every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, and Jane (yes, there's a TV reference for you) has a store that sells something like your product, even in niche markets there are competitors. So be unique.

  3. Keep it simple, Simone. You must tailor each ad to the media involved -- a 5 minute spot on a website will drive people away if it takes to long to load, isn't interactive, etc. A 2 line text block on your website might get missed...

  4. Your product listing is the ad. Since a person can't pick it up, watch it work, or take it for a spin: your listing on your site is the final ad. If you can't describe it in such a way your visitor can't live without it, you'll not get the most sales.

There are firms and specialists out there that will for a large up-front charge handle these decisions for you. Your choice, should you accept it, is to market and flourish, or strive to survive.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Hey... sorry for the long delay

I know, I'm not well read because I don't publish frequently. Here's the deal though. Do you have a brick and mortar store that you are supplementing with your online store? If so, you will be interested to know a statistic that the "CNN of Search", as I like to call, has quoted:

recent research from The Kelsey Group indicates that with purchases over $500, where the Internet is the starting point, over 90 percent of the transactions finish offline.

Now then, I ask you: Do you have a good ROI? Your returns are two fold. Direct online sales and internet influenced store sales. Lets say you have a $500 item. You spend maybe $2000 per month ensuring that one product is up on your site, purchasable, and advertised on the top screen of the first page of search results. So far, with only an online store you would need 4 sales of that item per month just to break even.

Here's the trick, your customer lives 5 miles from your store, you have directions to the store online, and you have great graphics, specs, and all the flash needed to attract the customer. In store you have 15 sales and online none. Is the $2000 online worth it? I guess that would depend on how much you paid to advertise locally. Of course, $7500 is nothing to sneeze at but if all you really spent was the $2000 for the online, then yes, it was worth it. If you spent an additional $5000 in operating expenses and old-school ads, then it's cutting it close.

Most of you already know one thing: ROI is the difference between the income and the total outflow required to achieve that income. The greater the ROI, the better the campaign. Your $.50/click add may add up to $2000 and 0 internet sales, but how many off-line sales resulted from that $2000 is just as important. Don't give up on your advertising just because your online store makes $0 on that item.