A first sale for any business owner is an important moment that starts building up momentum. Even if it takes a while to actually make the first sale it will put you on your way to becoming a successful business owner.
Here are 25 ways to help you accomplish this number one goal for any new business, the first sale:
1. Send Free Samples to Influencers: The Internet is packed with influential bloggers, journalists, entrepreneurs, and vloggers from a wide range of industries and niches. Many of them have large followings on social media and loyal audiences on their websites. Sending a free sample of your product to such influencers, who are either within your industry or related to it in some way, gives you an opportunity to let them know you appreciate their work with a small gift. Also, hopefully, you will get a mention on one of their sites or platforms.
2. Start Blogging: If you aren’t already running a blog associated with your store or product, then you’re missing out on the limitless potential of content marketing. By producing free, valuable content, you will create trust in your brand and keep people informed. Blogging also gives you something to share on social media and helps you rank in search engines. A simple yet highly effective way to get started with content marketing for your business is to think of all the starting-point queries people have about your products and industry. Using your blog, you can answer these queries as individual articles. Additionally, you can use your blog to offer tips, tutorials, and resources related to your products and the lifestyle around your products.
3. Build an Email List: Building up an email list for marketing purposes is absolutely essential. In fact, according to research by MarketingSherpa, 60% of marketers polled found that email marketing produced an ROI for their company (32% believe it will eventually produce an ROI). When asked what the estimated ROI from email marketing programs for the company were – the overall group reported 119% – a figure that’s tough for any online store owner to ignore. Start building your email list today by including an email subscription form somewhere noticeable on your website. Here’s a clever way to convince visitors to sign up for your list. Instead of simply saying “Join our Newsletter,” offer an incentive or some type of value for signing up. Skinny Teatox offers the chance to win a free product every week, so they showcase that offering to encourage people to join.
4. Sponsor an Event: In some cases, sponsoring an event can work wonders. In other cases, it can be an immense waste of time and resources. To avoid the latter, you’ll need to do your research. First, you should ensure that you select the right event to sponsor. Search for events where attendees actually will be interested in your products, and then find out how many consumers will be in attendance. It’s also important to avoid sending just a small convoy of marketers to simply set up a table and hand out flyers. If there are potential customers attending, you’ll need to be more creative than that in order to build relationships. Demonstrate some of your most interesting products to tell your story, get people talking, and provide on-the-spot rewards like coupons and free stickers in return for email list subscriptions and social media follows.
5. Interview Industry Influencers: Remember the importance of content marketing I mentioned earlier? Well, interviewing an industry influencer is a prime example of how to create epic content. Interviews work because they are win-win situations. The interviewee gets more exposure, while the interviewer gets their hands on some hot content for their publication, which in this case, is your blog.
6. Pull a PR Stunt: If you want that first sale fast, pulling a PR stunt could do the trick. Much like viral videos, which are based on the same concept, a PR stunt has the potential to propel your brand into fame. If executed well, you’ll be swapping conventional time-consuming brand marketing with instant publicity, gaining you loyal followers and customers in the process. Essentially, a PR stunt consists of doing something unusual, outrageous, hilarious, or remarkable enough to be worthy of media attention. If done correctly, your store could benefit from tons of links from authority news sources, which is great for both traffic in the short term and SEO in the long term.
7. Experiment with AdWords: The beauty of AdWords lies in its speed and massive reach. In as little as a few minutes, you can set up and launch an advertising campaign which gets your text, image, or even video ads seen by browsers all over the web.
8. Share the Load with Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is when you let other people market your products and send you website traffic. In return, you pay them a percentage of any sales that originate from their efforts. Their marketing efforts can be kept track of by giving them unique hyperlinks (which they can post on their website) containing an ID code at the end of the link, just for them.
9. Sell Wholesale to Other Retailers: Selling to consumers is fine, but there’s nothing wrong with selling wholesale to other retailers, too, especially if the consumers aren’t biting as often as you’d like them to. One of the main advantages of selling wholesale is the obvious increase in cash flow. You may be selling with a finer profit margin, but you’ll be shifting products in quantity.
10. Publish a Press Release: It goes without saying that to get ignored by every single news outlet when distributing a new press release is demoralizing and often a huge waste of resources. First of all, make sure your news actually is news worthy. Don’t expect a massive response unless you’re giving the public something seriously interesting to read about. Also, a press release should be presented in a way that is concise and professional, without being too monotonous.
11. Pay Attention to Stats: Reviewing and acting upon website analytics is paramount. The behavior of every website visitor from entry to exit helps you understand why you are selling, and more importantly, why you aren’t. Your website stats (or analytics) will show you what your customers are doing on your site, including which web pages they enter, the time they spend on particular pages, and the route they take to leave your site. Occasionally, some tools will display additional information, for instance how frequently a customer visits your site.
12. Run a Survey: Learning about the common pain points and desires of consumers can help you make all the right moves going forward. Consumer surveys are an ideal tool for obtaining honest feedback. Unlike your friends and family, consumers have no qualms about hurting your feelings by picking at your web design or your marketing material.
13. Network on Forums: Online discussion forums are great places to give out industry tips and advice, answer questions, and acquire a customer or two. Use Google to search out some active forums that may directly relate to your niche. When you post, ensure you aren’t breaking any forum rules when you promote your brand or products. Get to know the limits and restrictions of the forum, and stick to them. Using your forum avatar, signature, and profile page to promote your brand are usually well within the rules.
14. Set up a Cartel: Find a group of complementary (but not competitive) retailers and agree to promote and support each other. It’s a brilliantly simple way to gain traction in a variety of ways.
15. Build the Right Relationships: No matter what type of product you sell or which industry you work within, there always are like-minded businesses out there, and you need to befriend them. The trick is to build relationships with others that are closely aligned to your business but not direct competitors.
16. Offer a Contest or Giveaway: Everybody loves free stuff, and if you’re looking to build up some trust while launching your sales efforts, a contest or giveaway could help you do just that. Not only can contests and giveaways help you build valuable inbound links, they also are a great way to show potential customers that you can be trusted and that your brand means business.
17. Begin Tweeting on Twitter: Twitter’s beautiful simplicity is what makes it one of the most effective ways to engage with your target market. An excellent method for finding potential customers is to proactively search for people tweeting questions about your industry and reach out to them in a helpful way. The idea is not to pitch or even mention your products – just be helpful.
18. Make Connections on LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the office block of the Internet. Within it, you’ll find professionals and executives of all types, boasting about their abilities and connecting with others. It’s an online resume so to speak. After you set up your e-commerce business profile, you can begin doing the same for yourself (if you haven’t already). You may not make many direct sales through LinkedIn, but you’ll discover an array of opportunities with other companies, suppliers, related websites, and more.
19. Go Visual with Pinterest, Instagram, and Vine: When it comes to representing personality and creativity via social media, the three big visual platforms do it best. Pinterest, Instagram, and most recently Vine, all allow you to take a slightly different approach to engaging with consumers.
20. Don’t Forget Facebook: Leverage your personal Facebook profile and your business page to engage with friends, family, and acquaintances and to get people talking about your products. Get creative with status updates and interact on public groups and fan pages relevant to your niche. It’s also important to keep Facebook Ads in mind. Much like with AdWords, you can create targeted campaigns to attract Likes, make sales, and promote your brand.
21. Beat the Competition on Comparison Shopping Engines: Many, if not all, consumers like to shop around before making a purchase, and that includes a visit to comparison shopping engines. Popular engines include The Find, Google Shopping, Nextag, and a range of others, all with thousands of products and stores being simultaneously compared.
22. Create an Infographic: Although they aren’t entirely easy to create, infographics are gold when it comes to social shares and search engine traffic. In fact, according to UnBounce, which has created an inspiring and detailed guide to marketing with infographics, people are searching for infographics like you wouldn’t believe, with Google seeing an 800% increase in such searches in the last two years.
23. Design your Store to Look the Part: First impressions are everything, and when it comes to selling online, first impressions rely heavily on web design. Based entirely on your website design, visitors need to be able to grasp your brand and products without too much scrolling or exploring. Furthermore, navigating through your catalog should be easy, if not enjoyable. Additionally, making your store responsive to mobile devices is nothing short of vital.
24. Hold a Pop-up Store: Just because your store began online, it doesn’t mean it has to stay online. A pop-up store could be just what you need to compliment your online presence. Unlike traditional bricks-and-mortar premises, a pop-up store is far less of a financial burden, thanks to its temporary nature.
25. Document your Launch on Reddit: Reddit is a socially powered news and entertainment website where registered users submit content. Also, and more importantly, Reddit is a place where you can attract a large number of dedicated followers and customers. Using the r/entrepreneur subreddit in particular, you can introduce your brand, gain feedback from consumers, and learn lessons, while also promoting your own products.
One of the ways mentioned above should be able to help you real in your first sale. So now that you have these great ideas, what are you still waiting for?
Image Source: Elliot Brown on Flickr
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