I've been approached with two marketing problems in the last week, both of which I would LIKE to address with solutions ... if I had any, but I'm not sure I do.
In one case we were talking about shooting a video at our 2010 Perfumery Workshop -- but shooting (and editing!) a professional quality video costs money, so how is that money recouped? How is that video marketed in such a way that it makes money? And in competition with all of the free offerings on YouTube? It would take some serious thinking, researching, planning and testing, all of which would take considerable TIME ... and, as you've heard so many times, "time is money."
In short, the first question that has to be asked is whether the TIME it (and the outlay of at least some petty cash) would be worth the potential financial reward that the project might bring.
In this particular case, I can't yet "smell" enough money down the road to make the project feasible in spite of the low (almost zero) cost of using the internet as a marketing tool.
The second project that was discussed involved selling quality -- unusual -- natural aroma materials online. Now here we already have a lot of people doing it and certainly the internet -- a website -- is an excellent marketing and retailing tool for this sort of business. The questions are (1) how would I drive appropriate traffic to the website? and (2) how would I establish credibility for the products so that, in a competitive market, they stand out and are preferred over those of other vendors?
These are pretty standard internet issues and they can with effort, I believe, be addressed successfully. The first issue -- appropriate traffic on the website -- depends largely on the overall CONTENT of the website, content that is directly related to the products being sold and which goes beyond the stories being told by competitors.
This means digging deeper when researching the products you sell, digging deeper when researching your competitors products, and then being able to articulate your findings in a story using mostly words and, as appropriate, photos, illustrations, diagrams, videos, etc. And TESTIMONIALS from customers that also tell an appropriate story on behalf of your business.
If you've done your research, if you've amassed a ton of reports on the industry, your products, your competitor's products -- you ARE in a position to establish yourself as an EXPERT in the field, which gives you credibility when recommending your own products.
So you set all this in place, on a nice website with lots and lots of pages with real, relevant information about your products, their origin, their use, and perhaps ways to use them that your competitors have not yet discovered.
Then you get busy with the social networking -- make "friends" -- communicate regularly -- develop a following -- and, in time, you begin to make sales.
For those products that are "internet friendly," -- products that people LOOK FOR on the internet -- the internet is a great way to make sales. But it takes TIME ... lots of time, to put it together ... and it takes lots of creative energy.
The good news is that it does NOT take much money. Less than $100 a year if you're doing it all yourself. That's pretty darn affordable.