Thursday, October 9, 2008

Focus, Commitment, and Sound Marketing Principles are Key to Online Success

James Lane is very animated—and very entertaining. A native of the UK, CitiGroup brought him to New York to work in banking. Then one day his Wall Street job dried up. He had never had an entrepreneurial experience before, but decided then and there it was time for him to be in more control of his own life. At a StoresOnline presentation, he remembers the presenter saying, “The difference between those who dream of being in business and those who are in business is that those who are in business finally chose one day to start.” That simple statement spurred him on.

“That speaker changed my life,” James says. “I have friends who have dreamed of being in business for 20 years. And they even laughed at me for trying what I’m doing. But there they are, all still drawing a paycheck, and I have three businesses online.”

James got a flyer inviting him to the StoresOnline preview in May 2003. He went to the presentation at Stamford, Connecticut because of the proposition of making money on the Internet. He had seen enough people making money that he thought he’d like to get a piece of that, too. He basically made up his mind at the preview that he wanted an Internet business and went to the workshop with his checkbook in hand. He looks back on that day and laughs because the person next to him had an established, growing business with a strong mail-order base. And he didn’t buy!

“That poor guy probably had more reason to sign up than anybody and he didn’t! Then you realize that many of the people who listen to the presentation and don’t sign up are just stupid,” James says laughingly. James bought his websites after listening to the many marketing techniques presented at the workshop.

“I realized there are many more ways to market on the Internet than with just search engines,” he says. “I was very impressed with the sound marketing principals taught by StoresOnline. They teach a strategy. And I haven’t even used a fraction of the possibility of the options yet.”
James learned so much from the presentation and was so inspired by it that some day he’d like to come back and speak as a guest merchant to show people all the possibilities on the Internet.
Using the advice StoresOnline offered about choosing a product, James chose one that he loves—watches.

“I did what they told me to,” says James. “I brainstormed a list and then used the reverse search to see what kind of interest there might be in those items. It was very sound teaching. And I love watches. I have so much information on that website that it has been linked to information .org sites.”

James chose to specialize in selling Bulova watches—although they weren’t the first product he looked at. With true Wall Street zeal, James started going through the yellow pages and making calls. He made several presentations to watch companies and eventually settled on Bulova. Once his product choice was made, he began voraciously researching Bulova watches.

“We have become a hub for information on the Internet for specific topics. I researched Bulova’s history and rerecorded it for them. I had to contact NASA to get the details of how they began. Their company reps had forgotten, or didn’t know, most of the details of their origins!” James says incredulously.

Then James published his site. It took about a month to make his first sale. But it was when he implemented one of the marketing techniques taught at the StoresOnline workshops—pay-per-click advertising—that traffic really began to flow. “If the first day I published, I had used [this technique] … I would have been selling from the first day. It’s beautiful the way it works.”

Since then, James has become quite adept at tailoring his marketing efforts. He has bid on over 600 terms with the pay-per-click engines. He has also spent quite a bit of time getting his web site to work correctly on the relativity search engines (his site ranks on over 450 search terms). James believes it is certainly worth his time to work with the relativity search engines because the number one place pulls even more than the number one spot on the sponsored listing.
During the whole process, StoresOnline was there.

“I received a lot of encouragement and help from StoresOnline to get the maximum benefit from the web site. It’s a new experience to learn how to promote a product,” James says. “I’m very impressed with the whole game.”

And the future looks bright for James Lane. “My goal is to find 2000 middle-American consumers to buy a watch from me once a year as a gift. Luckily I have a wife who works and pays our bills. Any money I have made from this is sitting in the bank, and I will plow it back into the business to help it grow.”

James wants multiple streams of income, and he hopes they will all be web-related.
“With the cost of stores at StoresOnline, you can afford to have several websites with dedicated brands,” says James, who recently looked into a solution from another provider that would cost him $20,000.

James admits, though, that the first storefront is probably the toughest to get going. “You have to be totally enthusiastic to make it work.” But overall, he calls launching an online business an easy endeavor.

“I’m not a very smart person,” he says modestly. “But I do work hard. The competition clearly doesn’t know what they are doing. There is no reason that 97 percent of Internet business shouldn’t at least cover their hosting fees. But I think there is a reason. Most people believe in the old ‘Field of Dreams’ approach; If you build a website, people will come to it. Then when they find it doesn’t get traffic, they don’t spend the time to make it work. I don’t think you have to be smart to do this. I just think you have to be focused and committed.”

Visit James’s Store Online at


Bruno said...

I was recently asked by a customer if they should cut back on pay per clicks. It's a tough market and they wanted to save money. I worked in the yellow page industry for awhile and when a business owner wanted to cut back the first thing they would do is cut back in advertising. Now is not the time to do that. Advertising is the last thing you should cut back on in a tough market. If you don't advertise, pay per click or otherwise, one of your competitors is going to step in and take your place and it will be tough for you to gain back your position let alone find those lost customers. You be the one to step up and take someone elses place who felt now was not the time to advertise.

Jack Ryan said...

Product is important to a successful website. You need to do your research. You may have an item that your just love, such as candles, but find that the market is saturated with candle sites. Don't give up, there are so many things you can sell, you just need find what your niche may be. Find your unique selling point, check out what your competitors are doing and take the plunge. If you have questions on how to select a product, call customer support and they can give you tips.

A.Ro said...

I agree that you should really follow what you're passionate about, even if it does seem like a tough market with a lot of competition. You can find a way to make your product at the top of the competition--the key is marketing.

Elmer said...

A lot of people think that they just have to build it and they will come. This is not so in the competitive internet market. You gotta market your site like crazy to get noticed. Keep in mind that a successful site doesn't just happen overnight :)

Louise said...

You only have about fifteen seconds to capture someones attention when they find your site.
Lots of text and unnecessary clutter means you could lose a potential sale.
Have some images at the top of your site that show what you sell or what your site is about.
Include bullet points, links in your text and make it simple.
Simple can mean more traffic and more sales.

Ruthanne said...

I have found that marketing your website takes one or both money and time. If you don't have either than you better get one or the other because getting traffic to your website does not just happen. in order to have a profitable site you either need to find the time to figure out how to properly optimized your site or pay someone to do it for you :)

Francine said...

I have found when I am stuck for marketing ideas I can always contact customer support and they always seem to have something new I had never thought of. :)