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Wanted: Men, age 18-25 that like the NFL, Sports Cars, and Kittens

When starting an online business, finding (or creating) a product to sell, putting together a website, and fulfilling orders are all the easy stuff. The hard part is finding people to buy your product. So many people are trying to sell so much stuff, it’s a crowded market wherever you go. How do you find the people that will buy your product?

Search Advertising

10 years ago, it was all about search advertising.  After all, what better potential customer could you find for your custom sail business than someone on Google typing in “Replacement Sails”.  It was a match made in heaven! This still could be a viable option for many businesses, and certainly worth testing. But in many industries, the cost of those ads has skyrocketed as competitors both large and small have jumped on the bandwagon. And lets not forget the guys selling life jackets.  They bid on “replacement sails” terms as well. The cost of getting a visitor to your website has gone up, and it is up to you to convert them to a paying customer once they arrive on your site.

Social Advertising

Social networks are a great way for users to connect to your brand. Especially if you offer a highly specific, niche product.

Highly Targeted – Each element in someone’s social profile can be used to target offers to them. You can include (and by contrast, exclude) huge swaths of the population.  Only want to advertise to females, between 35-40 living in your metro area?  Go ahead.  Only want fans of Twilight to see your ad for custom made vampire teeth? Easily done.

Birds of a Feather – The most powerful aspect of a specific niche is how passionate people can be about it. In 2009 I bought a car powered with Natural Gas, and paid a fraction of the standard price for my fuel. I bored dozens of people in my life talking about how great it was for the next several months. My personal blog and social network were not immune.

If you sell a product to a tribe that is passionate, not only will they tell others about it, they WANT to tell others about it. They want to share what they did with the product, how they used it. I find musicians, photographers, and golfers are especially eager to spend money on any new gadget and tell the world that they did.

Own the Customer

No matter how a customer (or prospect) learns about you, the next challenge is owning that customer.  The ever present “Subscribe today!” popup (like the one on this very site) can be annoying, but are also very effective. Get permission to communicate with the regularly, either via email or through the social channels by encouraging likes and follows. The result will be a network that can be very profitable over time, adding new value when you launch new products and offerings.

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