A Shopping List For Running an Online Business

Original content is the life-blood of the Internet and the grease that lubricates the skids of any product launch. Any marketer of original products knows that they must organize and feed a broad array of content hungry components to build a successful sales campaign. After one or two full-cycle events, the many component parts in the “process”, for example, the auto-responder scripts, the various size banners, the sales and thank you pages, the affiliate links, and special bonus gifts, assume the form of easily replicated templates. A horrendous ordeal is quickly transformed into a comparatively smooth-flowing software machine. Why are these dirty facts left out of the all marketing gurus’ commentaries? Either they provide all the material to you because you are launching “their product” or they have forgotten what it is like to start the long, slow climb up the business slope. Perhaps a VERY brief shopping list of some market “tools” is appropriate: HULT PRIVATE CAPITAL

o Virtual real estate is as varied as real “real estate”. You need at least one domain, one email address, and at least a mini-site landing page. If you are “selling” a product, consider building your own online store on a static website, or more preferably, outsourcing the “sales function” to either a payment processing service or a full-service retail service business. You save loads of overhead and heartache by simply providing a link to either of the latter two services. Another critical piece of Internet real estate is a blog. In fact, a growing number of marketers use it as a website substitute because of its versatility and ease of maintenance. You will need lots of fresh content about you AND your product/services. If you use more than just a single landing page to sell your business, consider rewording or “spinning” your content so that a visitor will read “fresh” copy wherever they land.

o Virtual signage comes in a variety of forms such as text links, banners, articles, EBooks, online home-study courses, video clips, and podcasts. The need for value-added content here is obvious.

o Payment processing and fulfillment systems are almost ALWAYS outsourced by professional marketers because handling the exchange of money on the Internet is a VERY serious and complicated business. Consider the need for fresh content here in the form of “Thank You” pages. These pages offer outstanding opportunities to up-sell or cross-sell products and services.

o Management systems are needed to handle your sales leads/customer lists, marketing analytics, and market testing. Avoid being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Budget yourself so you can outsource ALL these specialized services. These tools are an essential part of any marketer’s online business investment because they are used throughout the sales campaign lifecycle; from pre-launch to follow-up. They provide you the opportunity to fine tune a sales campaign by broadcasting “teaser information” and feedback when testing the appeal of different content and alternative page designs.

And this is just the front side of the business! Don’t forget that there is a backend to your online business as well. When you finally begin to achieve financial success, you must consider accounting issues and tax consequences. If you provide a product, you need to plan how you will handle, for example, product returns and money-back guarantees. In addition, remember that product fulfillment is only one part of customer service! There are other aspects to a business that most “start-up” entrepreneurs forget until they are neck-deep in overlooked problems. The items on this shopping list are but a few of those that deserve careful research, planning, and implementation. While an online business presence would appear much easier to construct than an actual brick-and-mortar store, the network plumbing and integration with a large number of outsourced web-based services, makes it just as complicated to build as well as run on a daily basis. Even though the drinks are free in Las Vegas, there are no free lunches there or, for that matter, anywhere else when it comes to successfully running an online business.


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