This is part 4 of a series of posts for a local newspaper.
Having a product or service offering is one thing. Getting it out to distant consumers is quite another.
Products without borders are those items that have universal appeal and could be sold almost anywhere.
A common evolutionary step for small businesses is to expand their marketing channel to include distance customers, either by way of web, mail order catalog or door to door selling. Easier said than done I hear you say. Correct, but if you following some basic principles it is not only possible, but also relatively painless.
Three components are key to making your product or service grow wings:
- Marketing – Make sure your product can travel. An in-house consulting service cannot be sold to customers in another town, let alone in another country. Your marketing message should not be location specific, but rather should focus on the product appeal and your unique differentiation value add-ons. Make sure the potential new consumers see your product as a breath of fresh air, now available in their area for there benefit as well. In the same breath it goes without saying that you need to do market research. There is no point trying to penetrate a new market already saturated by others, at a lower price you are able to offer.
- Delivery -Get your logistics right. Making a remote sale is one thing, but getting the product to the customer is quite another. If you are shipping then make sure you use only the most reliable shipping agents, and keep the customer in the loop all the time.
- Customer Service -Trust is key to long distance selling. You cannot meet your customer face to face, so convincing them that you are real is a must. If you fail to live up to your promises then your venture is doomed from the start. Building an online reputation is key to winning the trust and confidence of potential customers that have never heard of your business.
Going online with a e-commerce website is obviously one of the easiest way to give your products wings, but make sure you do it right. Cutting corners here will simply cost you later on, as you will find it hard to convince new customers of your credibility as a retailer to be taken seriously.
Also bear in mind that the moment you start trading on a wider scale your competition increases just as much as your new customer base. Do your homework, and only target those markets where you can penetrate, by competing on price and value add. Competing in locations where local manufacturing cost is higher is key, but make sure your shipping costs do not eat into your hard earned margins.
Remember, who is going to buy from someone out of town if they can buy from a local for the same price. You have to add real value and make it easy for the customer to make the long distance purchase.
Next week’s topic: Dynamic salesforce – appointing part time reps