Online Competition

If you are starting an online business now, you’ll realise that you aren’t gong to find it that easy to build traffic. Nevermind getting your message out there; you’ll also need to deal with competitors.  It’s easy and cheap to start up an online business; and the real costs don’t really start factoring in till later.

Need a website? Sure – pay $50 and you can host a website.  Oh? Your server is having issues? I guess you’ll need shared hosting.  We start at a small price of $100 a month…

Oh look, you need a credit card processor.  PayPal works right? Sure, if you don’t mind losing customers and 0.3 – 0.5% of each transaction.  Bah, that’s not much! Except it is when you are processing $50,000 a month.

And on, and on.  You can’t work out your garage anymore, you need a storage space.  You can’t just walk-in and drop the packages off, but Canada Post isn’t picking up from a storage lot so you need a warehouse.  Oh look, you need at least 1000 sq ft for a warehouse.

On the other hand, your competitors are starting up small.  They don’t have to worry about paying themselves a salary yet or the higher cost; so they can be lean machines.  There’s an inflection point there where it goes from a hobby to a business and some never pass it, but till they hit it they’re your competitors nibbling at your heels.

Remember, hold tight to what you know and what you are.  Build it right, it’ll get there eventually.

The Victoria Secret Fashion Show and Selling the Dream

Watched the Victoria Secret Fashion Show last night and I was surprised by just how well done it was. Both the production values, the editing, the musical guests and the cut-in segments showing just how much work goes into it.  It was an amazing branding exercise, one that I’m just in awe of us as a marketer.

Speaking with a friend afterwards, we discussed what Victoria Secret really sells. It’s not bras & panties.  Those you can get at Target or Wal-Mart or Marks & Spencers.  What they sell is a dream.  They sell sexiness and beauty.

It’s probably the hardest thing to sell, a dream.  It requires such a tight balancing act.  Your entire brand has to be in sync all the time because a moment of wakefulness for a viewer and the dream could be over.   Look at Lululemon – they screwed up, and instead of owning it, they accused their customers of being the problem.  Poof.   What? Not everyone can look good while working out? You aren’t selling the dream of looking good while working out? You aren’t granola munching love-the-world individuals? Oh…

It’s an incredible job to do that, to sell a dream.  It requires dedication and belief and the ability to see what is missing and the commitment to push through the slow periods.  On the other hand, once you have sold that dream… well, who wants to wake up from a good dream?