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Abbie's Column : Starting a Business


Improve Your Online Small Business Profits
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Here's the 1 Marketing Secret You Need . . .

By Abbie Drew
Mar 1, 2006

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Are you frustrated by your inability to generate traffic to your site and as a result you’re unable to build an in house list or make enough sales?

You’re marketing your site, placing pay-per-click ads, banner ads, ezine ads and setting up link exchanges. Your efforts, however, are not getting you the quality and quantity of traffic you need. Spending more time and money seems to only bring the same poor results.

Every week I talk with struggling Internet business owners, like you, who wonder what they’re doing wrong.

You know what’s possible, as you see and hear about successful Internet businesses everyday. But how do you turn your business around so it no longer drain your finances but pays your bills and builds your net worth?

If you’re wondering, “Is your dream of an Internet business success really possible?” I’m hear to tell you . . .

Absolutely!

More than likely you’re just missing a few critical elements that make the difference between success and failure. Once you incorporate these key marketing elements into your business you’ll begin to see a dramatic difference.

Today I’ll review the first and most important of these marketing “secrets”.

If you put in place this one “secret” it will dramatically effect your results.

Drumroll please . . . (smile)

You need a niche!

The expression, “Niche Marketing” is absolutely true and critical to your business profits. Don’t ignore this principle or stop reading because you think you’ve heard it before.

Having a good niche or target market will turn your business around. With a niche you can focus on fulfilling the specific needs of your marketplace. And even more importantly you can direct your marketing to attract your specific niche group to your site. You’ll then have the quality traffic you need to make sales.

All too often I see Internet business owners trying to advertise to everyone. They’re thinking, my health product, my phone service, my insurance plan, my business opportunity, etc. is an offer anyone could use. As a result they’re ads are unfocused and their sites are unfocused.

Instead, as a marketer you need to select a niche group. Then create marketing specific to your group.

Why is niche marketing so important? It allows you, a small business, to compete with the big boys online. Let’s consider the example of the site Audiogon.com.

Audiogon.com is a niche classified and auction site.

Can you think of any big sites they might be in competition with?

You guessed it – eBay! Amazon!

These two are big boys in the Internet marketplace wouldn’t you agree.

So how can Audiogon.com be successful?

It has a very specific niche. Audiogon.com is focused on the sellers and buyers of used high end audio equipment. (You’ve heard about speakers that cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.) Well Audiogon.com, not eBay or Amazon, is the place to go if you want to buy or sell these used speakers.

Audiogon.com has its niche, audio enthusiasts, who like to test out different high end audio equipment. Among audio enthusiasts Audiogon.com is liked and respected. Audiogon.com serves their specific marketplace well and as a result they thrive.

Your business can succeed too, you just need to find your niche!

So how do you establish a niche?

Here’s a crash course you can implement that will get you on your way.

1) Select your niche

Niche selection will require research. There are 4 elements to finding a good niche.

a) Demand
You want a niche marketplace that has people interested in the topic. A quick and easy way to find possible target groups is to use the overture search term suggestion tool at:
http://inventory.overture.com/

Enter keyword phrase that best describes what your niche group would search for online. Look for a niche that has enough people interested in your topic.

b) Competition
You want to make sure that your niche marketplace has some competition. Yes, you read that correctly. A marketplace with no competition is probably not a profitable marketplace. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel here. Trying to find a niche to which no one else is marketing is a waste of time. Rather you want to find a niche group that already has businesses marketing to them. You then know that there’s money to be made marketing to them as well.

To find out about the competition, use the search engines to review the sites that are coming up for your selected keyword phrases. You can also use Overture's View Bids Tool at:
http://uv.bidtool.overture.com/d/search/tools/bidtool

The tool will show you how much competitors are paying to reach your niche group.

c) Quality
While you want competition in your niche, you’d like to see it to be weak. Again by reviewing the sites which come up in the search engines as well as in Overture's View Bids Tool you’ll know if you can compete. Do the sites have weaknesses? Do you see where your potential offerings and site would be better, faster, easier, etc. Can you offer a unique position that will establish your site in the field.

d) Money
You want to be sure your niche marketplace has money to spend. Here again the research you do on your competition will help you determine this point. How much are your competitors willing to spend on keywords? Terms with high bids typically mean there’s money to be made in the niche.

You can do further research offline, at a library or bookstore. Does your niche group have any publications. A niche that supports a publication is a good potential money maker.

2) Create a niche site.

Once you’ve selected a niche you’ll need to build a site with content that attracts your target audience. Even if you’re a reseller of another’s products / services you still want to have your own niche site. The content on your site should be valuable and it should be updated regularly.

Oh no . . . I can hear you saying where do I get quality content? Before you panic that you’re not a writer or writing takes you forever, take a deep breath. You do not need to write all of your own content. There are content development strategies you can use that require little to no writing on your part. Here are 5 content options to consider:

a) Use content from the public domain.

Content in the public domain is content that is no longer covered by copyright. Copyright expires after a certain period unless it is renewed. Most work published on or before December 31, 1922, is likely to be in the public domain. You can find and use this material on your web site.

b) Interviews

The great aspect of the interview is that you develop just one set of questions. You can then re-use those questions with many different individuals in your field. Your job becomes reaching out to people to interview. And yes people do respond to interviews. Interviews play to ones ego and they offer a way for a professional to gain exposure.

If you’re nervous about interviewing professionals in your field, then start by reaching out to regular people. A person with experiences in your niche is a good interview candidate as well.

c) Visitor input

Rather than writing articles yourself, get visitors to contribute to your site. You could put up a forum to initiate discussion. Or ask for visitors to send in stories or submit reviews of products / services. You can even start out just asking visitors to send in their comments, questions, feedback, etc. Then post the information to your site, and answer questions as needed.

As you start sharing visitors input, it will build upon itself and more and more visitors will contribute. Before you know if you’ll have great content on your site.

d) Ghost writers

Get others to write articles for you. Before you disregard this idea thinking you can never afford to use a ghost writer, get creative. You can use freelancers from sites like Elance.com or Guru.com and get articles written for under $15. You could even try finding college students who’ll write for free in order to build up their resume. There are also people out there who love to write, find them and you’ve got your ghost writers.

e) Pre-written article sources

There are lots and lots of article directories that have articles available free of charge so long as you include the author’s tag line. There are also private label article sources. Private label sources sell you packs of articles every month for a small fee. You can then use these articles as your own work.

If you use pre-written articles, you’ll find them to be most effective with a little personalization from you. Those articles by other authors, add a quick intro above their article, setting it up for your visitors. Similarly with private label articles give the intro a tweak and change it up to be a bit different. Adding your own words to pre-written articles makes them unique. A visitor who may see the article on your site as well as another’s site, will remember yours because of its personalization.

Once you’ve selected a profitable niche and built a content rich site around the niche you are well on your way to making money online.

Your niche site does the following for your business:

1) It allows you to capitalize on the Internet’s big free traffic generator. The search engines love content sites. With a good content site you’ll develop good placement in the engines and as a result your traffic will build.

2) It allows you to market to a specific audience and fulfill their needs. Supplying good content to your marketplace creates a relationship. That relationship will allow you to sell more of your products / services.

3) It allows you to build an email list focused to your niche. Visitors to your site, reading your content will want more. They’ll sign-up for your list to learn of your new content as you make it available. Once you have their email you now have a lead to whom you can market.

4) It allows you to include Google Adsense ads and increase your revenue. Placing Google AdSense ads on a niche site is a quick and easy way to bring in extra money.


Put niche marketing to work in your business. It is one of the key secrets to success online.

Start building your niche site today!

###
Abbie Drew
DEMC Editor



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