Nearly a decade ago I made a decision that saved my sanity, kept me from having to get a real stinky job, and gave me something valuable to pass on to my offspring besides an insatiable love for Just Dance competitions.
Nearly a decade ago I started a jewelry supply company. While I simply adore the business, it’s not terribly glamorous. I mean I can’t write a NY Times bestseller talking about my company history. But it has been my primary source of income for a long time, and that’s definitely worthy of a few words of thanks at the blogging podium. (Thank you awesome supply business!)
I run this business strictly online, because I value my freedom and I never wanted the hassle of having to schlep to a store day after day.
So as you can imagine, I’ve become somewhat of a ninja at running an online business. A clumsy ninja from time-to-time, but I know how to kick your ass with a pair of nunchucks nonetheless.
Geez, I remember the first order I got. I have that infamous PayPal receipt hanging on my wall… my first virtual dollar. It was a wholesale order for all the puffy heart charms I had.
In a matter of minutes, I went from being $4,325 in the hole, to $4,275 in the hole. Over the course of the next three months I was in black.
Through the years I’ve seen competitors come and go. I’ve had good suppliers go rogue. I’ve bought stuff that collected dust bunnies in the corner, only to turn around and sell it years later.
The lessons learned have been far and wide, but for the sake of not overloading you on this – my inaugural post – I’ll give you my top 3.
I use them religiously in that business. And I’ll be using them religiously in my IM thing. Regardless of what you sell, they still apply to you.
1) Overdeliver. Always. You’ve heard it before, “underpromise and overdeliver.” But do you live by that mantra? Do you realize that it can mean the difference between paying the rent and applying for welfare?
Oh, I’m not exaggerating! My industry is small, but it’s very easy to enter. I can’t compete on price alone because there are a lot of Asian based vendors who can easily beat my prices on many items.
Instead, I focus on overdelivering. For example, I give free samples with each order, which in turn creates bigger orders from repeat customers. It might cost me pennies to throw a freebie in the package, but the residual profits this strategy creates is enormous.
Overdelivering in Internet marketing might mean saying that you’ll give the customer a list of 20 backlinks, and then delivering 40 once they order.
If they think they’re getting a deal at 20, imagine how they’re going to sing your dignified praises when they really get 40. This is the kind of good will hunting that makes people remember your name, and not just your site.
Kick ass jewelry supply style is knowing that you have a core group of rabid customers who you can automatically send samples to on a quarterly basis. If I didn’t sell to anyone new, those customers could basically sustain my business.
Kick ass IM Thing style is knowing that you have an information loving bunch of rebels who buy everything you hawk, regardless of your guarantees, sales copy prowess and emotional button pushing.
And if you want to reach this level of kick ass-ocity, then you have to be an overdelivering addict.
P.S. on that…
Delivering bullshit content IS NOT overdelivering.
By bullshit, I mean giving your customers some raggedy PLR report that you got as part of some $10 for 739 reports deal on Digital Point.
I’m not calling PLR reports bullshit, because the ones I’ve ghostwritten for clients have been genuinely smoking hot.
I am saying that giving them to your customers sans modification or personal wand waving ISN’T overdelivering. It’s being lazy. I’d rather you send out no bonus than an old, corny bonus that everybody whores out to their customer base.
Overdelivering in the sense that customers want to be your true fan, means giving them original content. Original content is overdelivering.
2) Give up the eye candy, and do it often. It’s a happy day when the UPS/DHL/Post office truck arrives at my building with a package.
I get new merchandise in at least 4 times a month. I add new merchandise to my website sometimes every three days, sometimes once a week. Sometimes I just order a dozen of this and a dozen of that from my vendor.
Jewelry designers have a lot of competition amongst each other. (Jewelry is the most populated category on Etsy.) They need inspiration coming and going at all times in order to be creative.
I know that.
Adding new merchandise on a regular basis gives my customers and prospects a reason to keep coming back and salivating at my window.
I actually learned this somewhere else
I live down the street from a Daffy’s department store. Daffy’s is like a Marshalls or a TJ Maxx. For those of you out of the US department store loop, they get overstock and stuff that other stores aren’t selling anymore, including awesome designer deals.
So I’m in my friends restaurant and I overhear my friend telling some customers that she has to head over to Daffy’s to see what’s new.
The really funny part was that all parties in that conversation knew the exact days and times when the Daffy’s delivery truck arrived with new merchandise. No shit! I’m not a shopaholic, so I found it terribly amusing that people keep track of stuff like that.
Lesson learned while shoving a strawberry and rum flavored crepe into my mouth?
You think people don’t pay attention to stuff they really like… too many advertisements… too many choices… THINK AGAIN.
If your customers love your merchandise, and you keep replenishing your stock with new stuff, they’re going to keep coming back. That’s why I’m constantly adding bits and baubles to my storefront, even though I have a core selection of products that always sell.
In Internet marketing language, this means you should keep your pipeline full of new products. For instance, offer a full blown $200 get up once a year, and a couple of $10-$20 products every month.
The more new ideas you give your customers, the more indispensible you become in their minds.
You wanna get to the point where they’re actually waiting for your next product announcement. Then you know you’re a straight mack. (See UrbanDictionary.com for clarification on the ‘mack’ part.)
3) Give them your four cents. Even though I sell a bunch of stuff that’s made in China, some of my top sellers are products that I semi-manufacture at home. I take a blank of an item and add my own special design work to it. Customers know they’re not going to find that product anywhere else, which makes them hot sellers.
Take a look at the big picture.
Vendor #1 and I have the exact same charms. However I also have proprietary charms that Vendor #1 doesn’t have. Hurray for me! I win while Vendor #1 scrambles to figure out where I’m sourcing these charms from.
What does this mean for your Internet marketing venture?
If you’re selling products as an affiliate, you should include your own special information as part of the package. For instance, if you’re setting up backlinks for your customers, you can throw in a SEO report as a part of the package.
Not just any SEO report. Something that you’ve written and developed on your own.
No doubt you’re seeing a pattern here.
Originality wins points. Lots and lots of points.
Overdeliver on originality a lot of times and you might just wake up one day and realize, “Hey… I really AM kick ass!”