by Fred Roed on 10/12/07 at 7:00 am
I heard a classic story today about a grandma in the States who wanted to teach herself HTML. She did a quick course during which she set up a dummy site selling tumbleweed. Initially it wasn’t a genuine site, but then she started receiving a couple of orders. This grandma is now (apparently) grossing $40,000 a year selling, you guessed it, tumbleweed.
I get around one query per month by a wild-eyed entrepreneur with an idea for an online business. My personal favourite so far has been a chauffeur service with a twist (site launching soon, so you’ll have to wait for details). My worst is definitely the guy who wanted to sell a pressurised rocket contraption for kids. Being a concerned father, I asked him what would happen if my kid got in the way of one of his rockets. ‘Oh, it’ll blow his head clean off’ he said with a chuckle. Right, ok then.
The beauty of the internet is that it’s arguably the most accessible way of setting up a business. Of course, getting your site live is only the beginning, and, as my award-winning colleagues at Yuppiechef.co.za will quickly tell you, it’s not always fun and roses. Now before you get to ahead of yourself, consider all the protection sides of a new business, such as liability insurance and creating a business entity. Just because your business is internet based, doesn’t mean you can ignore these foundational building blocks.
Some points to get the juices flowing:
1. How is my service / product special? If it’s a rehash of an existing product or service, then figure out what your angle will be. Example: instead of another Kalahari or Amazon, you’re offering ‘the best online bookstore in South Africa specialising in school study guides’.
2. How will I make the website stand out in a crowd? Here’s a test: Type in your product or service in Google and see how many results come up. If there are pages of competing sites gunning for your target market, you have a big challenge on your hands. Take a look at what the other sites are doing, and see where yours can offer something different.
3. How will I get traffic to my website? This is a classic. Every entrepreneur has that ‘If I build it, they will come!’ philosophy lodged somewhere in their minds. This rarely happens… despite stories you’ve heard about lucky teenage tycoons and millionaire grandmas. Traffic comes through a variety of channels: search engines, referring sites, PR, advertising, business cards, newsletters etc. You’ll have to figure out the most likely sources of traffic and then create your marketing mix accordingly.
4. What happens when someone arrives on my site? The key thing here is a ‘call to action’. Is the desired result that you would like to achieve on the website clearly and intuitively laid out? In short, you want to persuade your visitor to become a customer.
And so, as the tumbleweed wafts on by, what are you going to do about that idea that’s burning a hole in the back of your head?
Fred Roed is the marketing guy in the Ideate crew. Fred is the CEO of web marketing company World Wide Creative and the co-founder of online learning portal Heavy Chef. Fred loves writing about people out there doing marketing right. Follow Fred on Twitter here. View more articles by Fred Roed.