I'm having so much fun with my guest bloggers, I thought I'd invite Barbara Moss to join us this week!
Barbara Moss, Senior Account Manager at What a Concept!
For the past few decades, Barbara Moss has been a technical evangelist connecting people with the tools that enhance collaboration efforts and streamline processes (starting with dual floppy PCs in the early 1980s!). Her roles have spanned across the spectrum from developer, trainer and recruiter to manager/director, project manager, and sales. Her industry experience includes insurance, banking, software, retail and health care/bio tech. As a Sr. Account Manager with What a Concept!, she currently helps organizations understand how to implement Web 2.0 interactive technologies into their business practices.
“The Long Tail” and Small Business
I have been reading The Long Tail, Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine. The basic premise of the book is that businesses with strong distribution power (i.e., online stores) can sell a greater total volume of otherwise hard-to-find items in small amounts than they can sell of popular items in large amounts (see graph below). This situation has evolved because traditional brick and mortar stores don’t have the physical space to carry the depth of inventory that online retailers can carry, especially when the inventory is electronic or can be produced on-demand, such as publishing on-demand. Unfortunately, the book restricts long tail theory to large businesses.
The yellow area under this graph represents the Long Tail
So, does the long tail theory apply to small, niche online stores? If so, how can online retailers apply the theory?
The answer to the first question is YES. Thanks to the Long Tail economics made possible by major online retailers, a large number of online consumers now expects and searches for an ever increasing array of “obscure,” niche products. Smaller online retailers who are also smart can reap the benefits of the path their larger counterparts have laid.
Here are several simple things small online retailers can do to expand their reach to online consumers:
- Search Engine Optimization: a lot has been said about this subject because it can’t be stressed enough. Ensure that your website is designed with SEO in mind and revise it as necessary to keep current. Did you know that the more you talk and are talked about on the web, the higher your SEO rating? The recommendations below are other ways to increase SEO ratings.
- Blog: get out there and talk about your passion as it relates to your product. Have your own blog and comment on other people’s blogs. Be willing to share ideas and help others. Don’t make your blog an advertisement - people want to hear about you and your expertise, not be sold to.
- Post videos on YouTube and pictures on Flickr: Again, share information, don’t sell.
- Participate in online communities: Almost all niche markets have at least one community. Get involved! Communities like FaceBook and MySpace have all kinds of niche groups – join these as well.
- Meta Tags: Tagging is a way to categorize web pages and blog posts. Since any entry can have multiple tags, use as many tags as needed to reach your relevant audience. Tagging is another way to increase SEO.
Don’t forget, your customers are your best advertising. Solicit and use satisfied customer comments wherever possible. Find out if they’re hanging out on the web in places that relate to your business and join them there.
It’s time to let your long tail WAG THE DOG!