Let's get down to brass tacks.
Since 1999, I've been launching successful start-ups. Most were pure online initiatives, but two are click-and-mortar hybrids. Today, each business unit makes enough to pay the utility bills, indulge in fancy dinners, and fly off on exotic vacations. Just key my name in google and you'll have an idea of my different passions.
Skyrocketing my pursuits to niche dominance doesn't take a Ph.D degree. Allow me to bare my secrets:
1. ESTABLISH A PRODUCT-CENTRIC ONLINE COMMUNITY. eGroups, yahoogroups and google groups allow the establishment of virtual families where people of like minds converge. WIth just a group of twenty active participants, you create a massive product buzz that eventually snowballs into unstoppable viral marketing.
My earliest endeavor revolved around business NLP, mind advancement and dating. Coaching was my passion and TV advertising would have cost a bleeding arm. I tackled the challenge by deploying an eGroup account and posting free self-help articles. At the 10th post, curious websurfers began signing up and participating. They left comments, added suggestions and invited other friends to jump in. The forum then grew exponentially and I witnessed a living, organic group of 8000+ members. People traded stories, joked, passed on tips and even flirted outrageously. For me, this meant a goldmine of targetted advertising: I would post one product announcement every quarter to a community already avid on the subject!
2. GIVE THEM FREE LUNCHES. Everybody loves a freebie; I snap up product samples at the mall or grocery store. When I get home and try that free shampoo sachet, I'd eventually come back and buy a bottle at a bloodcurdling $19.95. Mall owners were on to something!
Free eBooks, articles and mp3 recordings are hot downloads on the web. To target the army of freebie addicts, I jumpstarted Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Audition. Every month saw me marching out armadas of pdfs and mp3s. They were my eager footsoldiers, poised to strike at at freeware download sites.
So how did this benefit me? Each pdf and mp3 is armed with a resource segment containing my URLs and services. As these marketing warriors circulate the web, they stir up a storm of awareness... and direct traffic to my sites.
3. GIVE LIFETIME MONEY BACK GUARANTEES. What would do if you saw a product that trumpted "Unlimited Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee?" Of course you wouldn't think twice about buying it. There's no risk on the part of the buyer... after all the product can be returned ten days-- or ten months after purchase. Let your confidence in your product show by backing it up with unconditional guarantees.
4. TREAT CUSTOMERS LIKE FAMILY. Avoid canned responses. Reply immediately. Offer solutions, not qualified excuses. Throw in value-adding surprises such as unannounced freebies and 24/7 tech support. Friendly gestures might cost a bit of money, but it goes a long way in building warm customer relationships. You want to create friends out of your clients.
5.PRAISE THE COMPETITION. You may be the best at what you do, but if you bad mouth the competition, you cast a pall upon your reputation. Share the glory with others by giving praise and credit where they're due.
In my businesses, I prominently advertise the competition on my websites. I empower my clients with CHOICE. Don't worry about lost sales; customers will naturally appreciate your impartiality and quickly realize that you're after their welfare.
Business isn't always about making money. It's about nurturing relationships and building social networks. Once word of your superb business practices spread, revenue will follow.