Online marketing comes with a long list of benefits, from lower costs to wider reach. Many of those benefits are directly connected to the level of automation you can add to your Internet marketing efforts. While no product can sell itself entirely on its own, some can effectively sell on auto-pilot based on some initial work. Depending on your product — whether you’re selling an informational product or just bringing visitors to your website — you have a wide variety of options when it comes to online marketing techniques. They vary in the level of upfront work needed, and a few require some maintenance work keep to keep your marketing on track in the long-term, but these options can give your products the initial boost they need.
1. Start With a Remarkable Product
When blogs and other media sources find a remarkable product, they’re happy to write about it. Naomi Dunford’s Itty Biz Online Business School (along with her other products) stands out among other online marketing courses on the market: her writing style alone is remarkable, but she also focused on a niche that her competitors weren’t serving, standing her product out even more.
Naomi Dunford gets plenty of press simply because her product is remarkable. Bloggers want to interview her. Other marketers want to become her partners. Websites want to sell her products as affiliates. Whenever Naomi launches a new product, she gets a ton of press just because everyone knows how remarkable her products are.
Finding or creating a remarkable product isn’t impossible. If you can solve a problem, you can translate that into buzz from people with that problem. You generally need to give that buzz a jumpstart, by seeking out media opportunities — getting bloggers or other websites to cover you. But once you’ve got that buzz started, it can grow on its own. For further resources on becoming remarkable, check out Seth Godin — especially his books, “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable” and “The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable.”
2. Offer Affiliate and Referral Opportunities
No matter what product you’re marketing online, you can get someone else to make sales while you sit back. There’s a cost, of course — to convince someone to market for you, you have to be willing to give them a cut of your profits. That’s the entire idea behind affiliate opportunities. You set up a sales page for your product and offer your affiliates a share of each sale they send your way (like this one).
The Thesis WordPress Theme, from DIYthemes, has been particularly successful because of the huge number of affilates promoting the product. Blogs as diverse as ChrisBrogan.com and CopyBlogger drive traffic to DIYthemes — and have done so for months.
You can set up an affiliate program for your product relatively simply. Companies like ShareASale and E-Junkie will manage the details and connect you to sellers — they do charge fees, but they’re nothing compared to the amount of time and money you can spend on marketing a product on your own.
3. Use Content to Interest Buyers
Blogs, newsletters, and even social media content can be a simple way to interest buyers in a product. By offering free content, you give prospective buyers a sneak peek at your product, building their interest and demand for your product. And if buyers routinely see your name, whether it’s in their inbox or on a blog, they’re more likely to trust your promises.
Marketer Marcia Yudkin offers page after page of free content for her prospective clients, including free marketing tips in her weekly email newsletter. Her newsletter is relatively simple, but it provides her a connection that allows her to sell her services, a membership website, and even books.
Relying on content to market your product is a less automated process than other Internet marketing techniques. However, it’s inexpensive and can offer a long-term relationship with buyers, allowing you to easily sell them multiple products or upgrades.
4. Make Your Product Exclusive
Limiting the availability of your product can help move your product quickly — when buyers have a short-term deadline, they’re motivated to act. Otherwise, a buyer can keep telling himself that he’ll buy your product next month or next year.
Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula system is only available for limited periods — and he sells out each time. In November 2008, he sold approximately 500 slots in just a few days, with a price tag in the thousands. In April 2009, Product Launch Formula sold out in 34 hours. The exclusivity of the product has allowed Jeff Walker to increase the price, as well as move his product quickly.
One way to add exclusivity to a product without limiting the product itself is to add an incentive or a prize for those buyers who are in the first 15, 100, or however many people to buy your product. Whether you offer another product of your own as the prize or one of your partner’s or affiliate’s products, a prize with limited availability can improve the exclusivity of your product.
5. Build a Brand
Building an online brand can involve elements of other online marketing methods. You might develop a blog, or you might plan a giveaway, or you might put out an absolutely unique product. But you’ll need to go even further to have the sort of brand that convinces a buyer to pick up a product just because your name is on it.
A good example of an online brand is Ramit Sethi and his personal finance site, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He has created a strong personal brand, associating his name with personal finance. When Ramit launched his book earlier this year, he was able to use his brand to move it to the top of Amazon’s rankings, as well as land on the New York Times bestseller list. Ramit worked very hard to build his brand and it paid off — and he’s continuing to expand on his previous successes.
When building a brand, you have two options: you can build a personal brand, as Ramit did. But you can also build a brand around a company, allowing you more freedom if you’ll want multiple brands in the future. Either approach uses the similar techniques to establish your brand as an authority and trusted source within your niche.
6. Create a Network
There are so many opportunities on social networks right now that it’s hard to keep track of them. But by building a network on sites you frequent, whether it’s a forum, Twitter, or another option entirely, you can create an immediate audience for any product you put together. It’s just a matter of finding the right niche: for example, Darren Rowse promoted his website, Digital Photography School, by building relationships in photography forums.
To bring traffic to a site or find buyers for a product through social networking, it’s important to add value to the community you’re working with. Simply promoting your product won’t bring you the level of interest that having a genuine connection can.
7. Find a Partner to Work With
At first glance, joint venture partners look similar to affiliate marketers — but a partnership is a two-way relationship. With a joint venture partner, you promote each other’s products, or even team up to create a product together. The workload is halved, and you can take advantage of the resources your partner has available, as well as your own.
Chris Guillebeau sells several products related to travel on his site, The Art of Nonconformity. But he just announced a product available from Location Independent (developed by Lea and Jonathan Woodward) on his own blog. Chris is putting the full weight of his support behind Jonathan and Lea, including offering a bonus to anyone who buys from Location Independent through him.
Many ideal partners might seem like competitors in other contexts. Both Chris and the Woodwards sell products related to the same topic — but working together will actually result in more sales for both partners.
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