First conduct an in-depth analysis of your company and its competition. If you’re a small company providing an online service or selling retail product via a website your competitors may pose some or all of the following threats to you:
1. Competitors may offer services or products that are almost identical to yours but with a lower price or wider coverage area.
2. Competitors may be bigger and more capitalized than your company which adds to their customer confidence and increases their future prospects.
3. Your competitors’ websites may be more developed and offer personalized programming to their customers.
If your company is in this predicament there are some ideas which, if implemented properly, can help you compete online and offline through network marketing. These suggestions fall into three categories: business model, website design and internet marketing.
If your company’s budget is limited, you need a business model that will facilitate branding and repeat business without requiring heavy advertising. If your main sales pitch is based on the convenience of the services you offer or the quality of your product, you will not be in a good position to compete with a better capitalized and more established competitor.
You should think about offering tangible incentives to you users that go above and beyond convenience or quality of product. Give them something of value that increases based upon how much business they run through the website. In addition, give them a bonus for each other user they refer to you. It’s a model that’s simple, easy, and proven to work online.
For example say this incentive was 1-2% cash back payable at the end of the year. You could improve your website to have individual accounts which would allow each user to check the amount of money they have earned thus far and encourage them to remember your website and order from it over and over again. In addition you could give them a cash bonus for any user they refer that orders over a certain amount of product or services in the course of a year. Since all of this is only payable at the end of the year, it encourages them to buy from you over and over again, sign up their friends and work associates, and check back on your website. In addition, because you would distribute the incentive money at the end of the year, you could draw interest in the meantime. You can also add stipulations and certain restrictions which would facilitate a certain percentage of unclaimed rewards.
Content, content, content!!! With so many identical websites and the attention span of your audience dwindling by the second, you need content that will differentiate your website from its competition and provide a service to your customers, motivating them to return again, again and again.
Consider writing or paying a freelance writer to create a simple weekly column for your website which either reviews your products or services or localizes the content by giving its history, specials, etc. You’ll increase customer awareness and make your users feel like your company takes the time to provide that “extra” something. Your customers also get VERY valuable information that they can’t find on other competitor sites. Since this column would be updated weekly, customers would have a reason to continue returning to your website. You may even be able to spin this to get some free local press. Your Search Engine Optimization would GREATLY increase since your website would provide ongoing, substantial, and unique content with targeted keywords. This would in turn lead to new customers finding your website via the search engines.
Affiliate marketing is very powerful online, especially when you have a product or service that is applicable to a large percentage of targeted customers. Your service could be successfully marketed on any website targeted at selected demographic. Consider setting up an affiliate program where you could track customers that sign up or order something through an affiliate’s link and give them an incentive for putting up your link or advertisement on their website.
A solid SEO strategy is of extreme importance in almost any Internet Marketing plan, but details of that are beyond the scope of this article. Try to optimize your website to come up under the words that your major competitors may have over looked. If you get really specific you can have a lot of success if you find the right targeted customers. Look into getting listed in all the regular online directories and try to find complementary websites which may link to you.