Six ways to identify online opportunities for your small business

The world in your hands
Are you taking advantage of the online opportunities for your business?

With Christmas just around the corner and the New Year nearly upon us, why not review your business strategy. What are the online opportunity areas for your business exactly?

Today, your small business can probably address a much larger market online than offline. And this usually means access to potential customers who may never have had the opportunity to buy your product or service before.

Work through these six areas and see how many opportunities are open to you.

1. Sell online

Are your products or services available for sale online in Australia? If not, should they be? Researching search traffic can be a good way to identify what kind of demand there might be for your products, and of course you can research your online competitors relatively easily.

Ok, so you think there is demand, but you’re concerned about the startup costs? Well, you’ve got some low-cost low risk options. You can start selling online using eBay, use a hosted online store and just pay a commission when you sell, right through to setting up your own eCommerce site. Even the last option – which used to be very expensive – is within reach of most small businesses. So if you think the demand is there, what are the real barriers to getting started?

2. Market online

If they are being sold online, are your products or services being effectively marketed online? Can new niche audiences find you?

You don’t have to actually sell online to benefit from long tail opportunities. If you can’t sell your products online, are there opportunities to market online – perhaps to find latent demand in niche export markets?

3. Existing products, new niches

Are there profitable niche markets for your existing products and services you are not addressing?

Would expanding your addressable market for your existing products find new, profitable niches? Imagine running a gift store in a country town. Now move that to the busiest shopping precinct in the country. All of a sudden you can stock a much wider range of goods, because there are more customers and more diverse interests. The same thing happens online – all of a sudden, there are lots more consumers out there, so items that were too niche to think about before might now be in demand. Think of it as latent demand, just waiting for you to address it.

4. Services for niches

Services on the web are still in their infancy. If you are a service provider, can you offer online services to niches that have not been well serviced? In Australia? Overseas? Like products, some niche services may also be in demand once the larger addressable market online comes into play.

Can’t offer your service online? What would you need to modify so you can offer your service over the Internet? How could you specialise and just deliver a part of your service online?

What latent demand exists in niches for existing or new online services? In Australia? Overseas?

5. Knowledge products

Can you convert aspects of your products, services or knowledge base into a niche knowledge product where there is latent demand? Could you make this knowledge available online through training products or e-books?

Or can you use your knowledge to educate others and interest them in your mainstream products?

6. Less generic, more specific

Looking at your existing products or services, how could you make them less generic and more specific so they become relevant for niche markets where latent demand exists?

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I hope this gives you plenty to work with, and helps to inspire your business planning for next year. I’ve written an article that goes into a lot more depth about latent demand – what has caused it, and how it can be addressed. If you’re interested, drop me a line at glenn@publicityship.com.au and I’ll shoot you a copy – would appreciate your comments.