Many students of my online business builder course have a product or service they want to sell online. They want me to teach them how to put up a website so they can do just that.
I get many confused looks when I start them off with market research. After all, they already have their product, right? Now all they have to do is show it on the web and people will come to buy. Right?
Unfortunately, this is not how to do business online. It’s simply not how it works.
Just think about it. There are approximately 100 million websites on the internet. How likely is it that people surfing the net will actually find your site? And even if they did find you by chance, and you were offering a product they really wanted, why should they buy from you?
It’s different on the High Street, of course. If you have a store on the High Street or in your town’s shopping mall, you have a good idea of how many people a day will walk past it. You can make your display inviting and when people come in, you can talk to them, ask them what they’re looking for, discuss their options, make recommendations.
But on the web?
You may never meet your customers. And they don’t know that you know and love what you do. They don’t know that they can trust you. They don’t have a single reason to buy a product from you or listen to a recommendation.
If a visitors finds your site, it’s most likely that they didn’t come to buy something. They came to find answers. And unless you give them what they want, they click away from your site and are never seen again.
How you provide exactly what your customers want is the secret to how to do business online. Do it well and visitors will flock to your site. They will learn to trust you. They will listen to you and they will buy from you. Do it badly – or not at all – and your online business will never get off the ground.
So what’s the big secret to how to do business online?
Sorry for yelling, but it’s that important. On the High Street the location of your store is important and how artistically you’ve arranged the merchandise in the window. What counts on the web is the quality of information you provide to your visitors. On the web, information is your shop window.
And that’s why the students on my course all have to start with market research. I want them to know precisely who their customers are and what kind of information they’re looking for. So they have the best possible chance to offer their visitors exactly what they want.
Learning how to do business online is not difficult. Just remember that the internet is – first of all – about information. If you can provide that information you show that you care. You also establish yourself as an authority in your field, as someone who can be trusted.
And someone you trust is someone you buy from… right?