The New Market
Because the Internet
I use the internet every day. I’ve grown up watching the internet become not just a feature of my life, but increasingly it is becoming the dominant medium through which I live my life. When I want to reach out to someone, I use social media. When I want to learn something, I type what I want to know into a search bar. When I need an item, I click add to cart. The internet is becoming increasingly more accessible, with the popularization of smartphones in our pockets, the internet is no longer restrained to a desk. In this post i’m going to share my experience using the internet to navigate the market and connect with customers. The internet has long been a reliable venue for commerce, but as it becomes the dominant marketplace, it’s worth discussing strategies for using it in the age of social media.
Selling Online: an Art
I first used the internet as a tool for commerce to sell a painting. I had watched videos on YouTube featuring sidewalk painters creating works of art in minutes with spray paint. I learned what I could from watching their videos and then painted my own pieces on canvas. When I had a painting that I liked, I shared it on Facebook and Instagram, and sometimes put a price in the description. Eventually I made a painting that someone wanted to buy. It felt like a taste of success. I delivered it to them myself and collected payment for my efforts. At the time, my network was small, it consisted of the people that I had met in my community. I wasn’t using social media to build a community of people who would be interested in my work, instead I was interacting with my established community through the medium of social media. I still had yet to use the internet as a means for reaching out and selling to new customers.
Diesel in the Dot Coms
Nowadays, I work for my families business, Diesel Care & Performance. Based in Memphis, TN since 2004, our company has grown from a shed in our back yard to an office and shop that provides parts and rebuild services for people all over the country. That kind of growth was largely due in part to our early strategy for implementing the tools of the internet. Before Facebook, in the era of MySpace and AOL instant messenger, the best tool for businesses was eBay. I admit when I first heard of eBay it sounded to me like a yard sale that you could access with your computer. Now the true success of eBay is evident when you consider just how many companies have tried to replicate it’s model. Amazon for instance started as an online distributor, and has grown to be one of the largest companies in existence in a relatively short amount of time. By taking advantage of the power of communication on the internet, these companies changed the nature of commerce and business.
Getting into your Customer's Pocket
The thought of trying to launch a business in 2019 without selling to customers online seems bold if not arrogant. As i’ve said before people’s lives are becoming more and more integrated with the internet. One of the principles I use in business is the sales funnel. The first step in any sales funnel is to get the customers awareness. So in order for me to be able to have any hope of getting a customer to make a purchase with my company, I have to get my message to where their attention is going to be. In the modern era, people spend an increasingly significant about of their time interacting with the world through their mobile phones. Whether they are watching videos, messaging, researching, shopping, or reading blog posts, people are online now more than ever, and in order to stay relevant, a companies message has to be able to be absorbed through the smartphone. If someone cannot access your store through their phone, they’re unlikely to take steps to even learn what you can offer them.
Competing for Territory on the Internet
Although there is more attention being given to the internet these days, that also brings with it an increase in content to be consumed. Specifically in the diesel industry, there once were many shops who resisted the move to internet presence, and have consequently shut their doors. Whenever a company closes, it’s customer base is absorbed by the companies competitors. The diesel companies that have flourished in the past decade have all had an online experience that customers can enjoy. Now in 2019, the only players left in the game are all online, and they are in competition with each other for the customer’s attention. This is not specific to the diesel industry, in every market companies are navigating how to get ahold of the consumers attention.
May I Have Your Attention Please?
Attention is the most valuable commodity in the market of the internet. In an age where we as consumers are constantly saturated with information, our attention spans have evolved to be shorter, and not retain information for as much time. This inhibits our ability to build the necessary trust with a company that will encourage us to do business with them. Purchasing something online is a bit like ordering a meal from a new restaurant. However in this case the menu has a page for every chef that wants to cook, and the customer has nearly unlimited choices of who to order from. With that type market saturation, a company must be able to set itself aside from everything on the menu.
The Power of Choosing
Consumers are not interested in which product came first as much as they are interested in the product that best suits their needs. Whether that distinction is made because of price point, trust in the provider, or brand association, people will choose the business that best suits them. The modern consumer has the power of choice like never before when they buy online.
The True Task
So the problem that I struggle with in trying to sell on the internet, is trying to create content that brings value to the customers experience. With the modern marvel of the mobile phone, I can broadcast my message directly to a world wide audience. This serves not just as a megaphone for general information, but as a medium for direct communication. If someone is giving me their attention, I want to be certain that I am giving back something valuable for that exchange. Maybe it’s because I enjoy being in a classroom, but I always go back to educating. I find a great deal of value in sharing lessons and experiences, which is what this posts has ended up being. I hope the experience i’ve shared has brought some value to your life, and i’ll keep learning so that I have more to share.
Director of Communications and Outreach