In the Wild West of the eCommerce world, there is a saturated landscape of Dreamers, Wannabes, and Professionals. Most of the landscape falls into the Wannabe and Dreamer categories. The Wannabes want to be professionals but are lacking resources and know how to go to the next level. Dreamers are those that think if they just build an eCommerce site, hock some products, and they are going to get rich and become the next big thing. For the sake of this discussion, I am going to focus on the Dreamers since they are, or have been customers of mine at one point or another over the course of my career.
Dreamers are good, sometimes extremely intelligent, ambitious, professional people who have the entrepreneurial spark and total faith in themselves in creating a venture with the hopes of living the American Dream. The key to what I just said is Hopes and Dream because many times that is what they are, an illusion to the real gravity of the situation. I work for a successful eCommerce company, and we have a lot of transactional business from small businesses who are in the Dreamer zone. By the way (I am not slamming the Dreamers), all great companies start as Dreamers, until they become Wannabes, and then graduate to Professionals, its the life cycle of eCommerce success.
What the Dreamers seem to all have in common is most still have a day job, they are operating on tight budgets, their stores are side projects, and most are very green on what it takes to build a successful online business. There is also the factor of learning curve as many havent put thought into the processes of creating both a coherent business and/or Marketing plan, have neglected to do market research, and are uneducated in many parts of the eCommerce functionality process.
The truth is most Dreamers close their eCommerce sites within 3 months to a year on average (thats been my experience anyway). Its both sad and frustrating when you see someone elses dream fail or turn into a nightmare, and that is the point of my content today. When your eCommerce customers fail it hurts you and your company not only from a revenue point, but also on a personal level. At the end of the day, all of us in the Sales and Marketing fields sooner or later wish to achieve the same thing our customers are attempting to achieve, if not immediately with our own private ventures, perhaps at some point down the road in our careers. Symbolically, the American Dream is all about ownership and financial freedom. It is the dream of occupational toil liberation and firing your boss forever, the dream of champagne wishes and caviar dreams, and the dream of self-sufficiency. When you see your customers fail, it brings a cold stark realization that you can easily become them with your own ventures. It is the looking in the mirror effect, because they are in essence a symbolic avatar of yourself and the perils of what entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency entails.
The big difference between Dreamers and Wannabes is the fact that the Wannabes had an adequate business plan and understood the craft of Marketing and Sales to a degree where they can be self-sufficient up to a point. The Dreamer segment is not as developed and organized, which would place them into a more superior position with regards to the launch of their eCommerce stores. The effervescent glow of hope and adventurism so abundant in the Dreamer places them in danger of being the Stranger in the Strange Land (aka the eCommerce web space).
How do you bridge the gap as a Dreamer, between being an unknown stranger in the eCommerce world, and a becoming bona fide success story?
- Organization (Detailed Business and Marketing Plans)
- Research into your industry, competitors, market
- Find value points, and differentiation point which curtail the commodity effect to your product and brand reputation
- Learn, Manage, and Execute Marketing skills and programs, early and often (promotion and broadcasting differentiators, solving problems for customers within your market)
- Have the systems in place to organize and execute on Sales & Marketing plans
- Understanding what your threshold for risk is and building redundancy plans
- Design a realistic growth strategy with monetary requirements and limitations to achieve success
- SEO should be a constant point of interest and discussion and learning and or hiring people with the skills should be paramount (if you cant be found in an organic search you will not sell)
- Pay-Per-Click, this I would rank as a future initiative but still something to think about once your business starts to grow
- Effective Social Media Presence and Marketing Campaigns (Learn it and love it)
- Interpersonal and Organizational Networking (Fundamental and Necessary)
My points can be viewed as cliché and potentially too fundamental, I get it. The thing is with eBusiness attrition rates as high as they are, my points seem to be relevant. The migration of these Strangers into this Strange Land grows by the thousands every day. These strangers and their online shops, come and go as the seasons change. They all ascribe to know many of these fundamentals, but there seems to be a definitive deficit in putting these fundamentals into practice. Do yourself a favor learn the fundamentals, be a student of the game, put in the dirty work, and execute or you surely will join the ranks of the Dreamers dearly departed in the vast expanse of the internet graveyard.