Being successful in online business is not quite different from being successful in a brick-and-mortar business. There is no magic formula to make millions within days, you have to go to work. Hard work, whether online or in the real world can make all of the difference between success and failure.
The differences between working online and in the physical marketplace are ones of degree. Although a successful online idea or product can generate a huge following quickly, boosting sales and production, the same applies to a failure.
Building a Brand
When it comes to online business, you have to build your brand. This applies to any online business, whether you’re selling cheap beds on eBay or used books on Amazon. Since the online marketplace is, by definition, the global market you will increase your pool of potential competitors every time you have even a modest success.
By building your brand, attaching your name and reputation to every product or service you provide, you separate yourself from competitors. Lax laws in other countries or unscrupulous ‘business’ men can take advantage of your ideas, but if those ideas are linked to your brand, it becomes much harder to hijack and duplicate them.
Building a successful brand can be broken down into three parts. Each of these steps leads into the next and each relies on the others to keep going. In other words, if you only follow one or two of these steps, you will not build a successful brand that consumers will trust.
Step 1: Exposure
Getting your name out in front of people is the very first step you need to take. If you want your company to flourish, potential customers need to know who you are. Don’t limit yourself to one form of advertising, either. A combination of content marketing, blogging, SEO, forums, video content and more should all be utilized and benchmarked. The viral capabilities of social media should not be dismissed: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become viable, powerful advertising platforms and if you ignore their impact, you are losing out on a powerful tool that your competition will not pass up.
Step 2: Repetition
Creating brand awareness requires a consistent, repeated and sustained effort to put your brand in front of your target audience. The only way to create a lasting impression is to link your brand with the service or product you provide and that cannot be done with one advertisement or company blog post. Your brand needs to be everywhere; all of the time. Repetition is the key.
Step 3: Trust
Trust will be the cornerstone of your service or product. When people talk about what you do, you want them to attach your name to it. You want to be the Apple iPhone, not a smartphone. However, you want them to attach your name to your product or service in a positive light through digital marketing efforts. It may take time, but you will eventually be perceived as an authority and reliable source of information on your industry. As your reputation and brand association grows, so will marketing effectiveness.
Running your online business is an exercise in building your brand name and having it associated with authority in your field. The only way to create and run a successful online business is by building your authority and creating a bond of trust between you and potential customers. The online marketplace is full of businesses that are just getting by because the people who run them cannot wrap their heads around that simple truth.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Simon Crompton is a freelance journalist and entrepreneur, who spends the majority of his time blogging about business startups and consulting on web development. He has launched multiple online companies. He is also a dedicated follower of fashion, and has written for the Financial Times and GQ. Connect with @PermanentStle on Twitter.