Marketing Bootcamp

It's Time to Diversify Your Online Sales Strategy

Taking something to market used to mean literally taking it to the market.

Now, the market exists everywhere online all at once. And the number of places your product needs to be in order to be on the market is expanding and many individual marketplaces are growing.

With more and more places to be, it makes less and less sense to be in just one spot. “It's clear [that] small businesses banking on e-commerce shouldn't rely too heavily on one channel to make their presence known,” wrote Heather Clancy, a contributor for Small Business Matters.

Related: 5 Tips to Stand Out When Selling on an Online Marketplace

To include your product on the growing list of places to sell, your startup's marketing team will be essential in putting your product in the places customers browse and shop.

If you have a tangible product, Amazon is the go-to sales site and with good reason: It’s the seventh highest traffic site on the planet. Customers have learned to turn to Amazon when they go online shopping, whether for nonfat protein bars or winter tires.

But Amazon is no longer alone in the mega-retail market.

If your new product isn’t on Alibaba and can be sold internationally, you’re missing out. It’s a top 40 Internet site already and growing.   

Related: For Ecommerce Retailers It's Still a Rough Ride Across International Borders

After that, you’ll need to be creative because there’s an online community and market for nearly every type of product and every community of customer.

For example, Etsy is a marketplace for handmade goods. It started as an outpost for artists and artisans to share (and sell) their made-with-love products. But it’s grown so much and become such a hot market, that its offerings have started to stretch the concept of handmade.

Today the offerings might be prepackaged porcelain angel tree toppers or a previously worn jacket from JCPenny’s. You can’t blame an entrepreneur or small business owner for trying to find an audience.

Similarly, eBay started as an online auction site letting people worldwide find, bid on and buy unique as well as one-of-a-kind items and collectibles. If you had limited-edition dishware, jewelry or baseball cards, eBay was (and is) the place to be.

But eBay has online stores now that are straight retail outposts. And savvy marketers also enlist the site to sell traditional products on the premier online auction website.

Kickstarter is another great example. In the site’s words, “We built Kickstarter to serve creative projects and the artists, designers, and creative people who make them.” But like Etsy and Ebay, savvy marketers have figured out how to link their product to a cause so investors can support an issue and, in return, receive the product.

The Mister, for example, is an ingenious air-conditioning add-on product on its own. But on Kickstarter, the company has created linkages to the cause of saving energy (and money). As a result, it's off to a hot start in collecting backers. That’s smart entrepreneurial marketing.

Making your product pitch fit with the expanding list of sales platforms is becoming more challenging. Because the market is become more and more diverse. How long will it be before sites like Huffington Post or Facebook launch retail umbrellas and it becomes essential to make a retail pitch to, say, the Cat Fancy audience?

That’s going to happen. And it’s going to make it more and more important to include risk-taking and creative public relations and marketing people in your sales plans.

Related: 6 Signs You Should Open Your Own Online Store