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If you build it, they won’t come!

Having a successful business online takes more than building a website.

Why simply building a website won’t make you successful online.

As an active member on several forums I often participate in discussions and reviews of website that aspiring entrepreneurs have launched – in some cases as a promotion tool for an offline business, and in other cases an attempt to create a business through the development of an ecommerce driven website.

I love helping out new and micro businesses online, but one thing I’ve been trying to get my head around lately (unsuccessfully) is how best to help people entering ultra-competitive niches online with tiny budgets and no SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or online marketing experience. In many cases there is also unfortunately not much of a business or marketing plan beyond “if I build a website that sell widgets, people will visit my website and like it and buy them and I’ll make money”.

Unfortunately the simple “if you build it they will come” simply isn’t true in most cases, and the “great e-commerce dream” can quickly turn into a nightmare. Once your website is complete it may seem like you have a achieved a lot – which you have – but the fun is really just starting.

“the great e-commerce dream can quickly turn into a nightmare”

To digress, If you have the advantage of being an established business in the “real world” and are looking to using your website as a tool, it can be sufficient simply just to have a website – you can put the address on your business cards, your display advertising, in your yellow pages advertisement (if you still have one!), sign write it on your vehicle, whatever. And if you are “known”, people might search for you by name, find you, learn more about you, find your contact info and go from there. This isn’t the most effective use of a website, but it’s not a failure either.

No customers makes business owners sadOn other hand if you are a new business based online only, you don’t have the benefit of any brand recognition yet, and no one is searching specifically for you by name. So, to get customers you need to get people to your site first. That’s where things like search engine optimisation (SEO) to improve search rankings comes in, as can many other forms of online marketing.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace online I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that a new online business needs one or more of the following if each if they are to have any chance at succeeding:

1) A niche that has a good number of searches but isn’t very competitive.

2) Money to invest in a good search engine optimisation or online marketing specialist (pick me, pick me!) as well as on the implementation of the strategies developed.

3) A good understanding yourself or willingness to learn SEO and other online marketing strategies, and the time to put into implementing them.

The more competitive your niche the more effort that needs to go into your marketing strategies (usually including SEO), and if you have a very competitive niche and not much money you WILL need to learn a lot more about SEO and/or online marketing and do a lot of online marketing & SEO grunt work if your business is to succeed.

“The more competitive your niche the more effort that needs to go into your marketing strategies”

The learning curve can be steep, and there are few shortcuts. Uphill battle is probably putting it mildly. Don’t give up, but do work hard on your planning, get good advice, ensure you have sufficient capital to start, be realistic, be prepared for a lot of hard work, and never stop learning.

About the author

Matthew has written 10 articles for Brand Police

Matthew Cummins is the owner of Marketing Web, a marketing, website design and SEO consultancy business. Matthew has degrees in both IT and Management/ Marketing as well as practical experience in B2B and B2C sales, marketing and marketing management, SEO and website development. Matt built his first website in 1995, and has been passionate about the web ever since.

3 Responses to "If you build it, they won’t come!"

  • Mike 03:58 AM 06/8/2010

    Hey Matthew, nice post. I totally agree, I guess many imagine all the millions of people on the internet at all times, but don’t really consider the competition you have for their time, much a less for whether they can find you and want to purchase from you. At the least one of the main benefits of e-commerce sites, is if you do it yourself you don’t really have much capital costs involved so not so much risk also.

    Cool blog site by the way, found it through the flying solo forum boards.

    • Matthew 12:02 PM 06/8/2010

      Thanks for the comment Mike,
      You are absolutely right about people imagining all these millions of people and not really considering the competition etc. I was actually a guess speaker on Marketing to a NEIS group (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) on Wednesday, and one lady commented she is not going to put a website up at first, because she is worried if she does she will have so much demand for her product she won’t be able to cope and will let people down due to not being able to handle the volume. If only it was so easy!
      Matt

  • Shawn Naron 10:26 AM 31/8/2010

    This is a wonderful post and may be one that should be followed up to see what the results are.

    A mate sent this link the other day and I will be eagerly anticipating your next article. Proceed on the superb work.

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