Sell what Sells, NOT what's Cool
by Chris Malta
I’ve been at this for years, and have become very successful in my Internet business. But let’s face it, folks. If I knew what was going to sell well on the Internet tomorrow, next week, or next month, I wouldn’t be writing this article. I would have retired and purchased a small private island by now. In the retail business, whether you are online, in a physical store in the local mall, or at a roadside stand, it makes no difference; choosing the products you are going to sell is always the hardest part of getting started.
I can’t whip out a crystal ball and tell you what to sell. However, I can tell you about the biggest mistakes that I see new Home-based Internet businesspersons making, all the time.
Too many people are fixated on four things:
• Selling only products they like.
• Selling only products they know a lot about.
• Selling only products they think are “Cool” or “Sexy”.
• Selling only products they think “The Hottest Products on the Internet”.
I get four basic emails from people who are stuck in this rut, and I can pretty much tell that right off the bat, by the way the email begins.
• An Email from a person who only thinks they can sell what they like starts something like this:
“Dude, I’m like, a Sk8ter, and I need to find a Wholesale Supplier for, like, Sk8tboards + wheels + stuff”.
The first problem this person is going to run into (aside from the fact that he needs to learn how to write a business email!) is a problem for all four types of people here. There may not be a Wholesale Supplier for the products they want, that will work with a Home-based Internet Business. We’ll talk more about that in a few minutes, though.
The second problem is “tunnel vision”. This person may actually find a Wholesale Supplier for “sk8tboards + wheels + stuff”. If he does, great. However, someone who has such a narrow vision of the Internet Marketplace will never branch out and fulfill his own potential in that Marketplace.
Say he does find the Wholesale Supplier he’s looking for, and opens a store. Because of the narrow vision that led him there, he’s likely to stick with that store, and that store alone. He’ll make some money, but unless he gets really lucky, he won’t make a really good income out of it. He’ll piddle along selling “sk8tboard” stuff forever, when he could have done so much more.
What he needs to do is broaden his scope. If he’s interested in “sk8ting”, wonderful.
But instead of focusing on just that, he should explore selling all kinds of sporting goods.
Sam Walton, the revered Founder of Wal-Mart, was once a starting quarterback on his High School football team in Columbia, Missouri. He also liked to play basketball. Can you imagine what would have happened if Sam Walton never tried to sell anything besides football and basketball equipment? There would probably be a pretty big store in the US selling just footballs and basketballs today, because Walton was a very good retailer. But it never would have grown to the size and scope of Wal-Mart today if Sam had allowed tunnel vision to crowd his overall view.
It’s okay for our “sk8ter” buddy here to open an Internet store or run Auctions that sell skateboard equipment. Niche marketing is a good thing. But in his overall business, he should look for other products with which to eventually run other Online Stores or Auctions as well. One store leads to two, two lead to four, and so on. Never get stuck limiting your entire business to just one type of product!
• An Email from a person who only thinks they can sell what they know about goes like this:
I’ve been riding horses all my life, and I own a small stable where I teach riding. I’m opening an Internet Store where I’m going to sell all kinds of stuff that other riders will want to buy. I’ve got to find a Wholesale Supplier for saddles and Western Wear and such”.
Again, this person’s first problem is going to be that he may not find a Wholesale Supplier of the products he knows so well, that's willing to work with Home-based Internet Businesses. But, we’ll get to that in a bit.
His second problem is similar to the first person’s problem, but not exactly the same.
This person isn’t fixated on selling only what he likes; he’s just a little bit scared of having to learn about something new. He’s obviously going where he feels safe. That’s okay, but let’s remember what I’ve mentioned twice so far: he may not find a Wholesale Supplier for the products he likes. Genuine Wholesale Supplier do not grow on trees, folks, and most of those who are out there do not want to work with Home-based Businesses. There isn’t one available to you for every possible type of product. It’s very important to keep that in mind when you start out!
So, what does this person need to do? He needs to understand that being in business is about learning new things every day. New ways to market, new software to get used to, simpler ways to do his monthly books, etc., etc., etc. Learning new products is just as critical. Again, never limit your business to just one type of product. You don’t have to like what you sell. You just need to make money selling it!
• An Email from a person who only thinks they can sell what’s “Cool” goes like this:
I’m looking for a Wholesale Supplier of electronics, like MP3 Players, Plasma TVs and such.
Please tell me where to find them.”
A request for Wholesale Supplier of electronics is a dead giveaway. Almost everybody who starts a Home-based Internet Business wants to sell electronics at first. It’s the Cool, Sexy market, and even if you never sell anything, you can show your friends your site and say, ‘Dude, I can get you an Xlent deal on the hottest new stuff!
Electronics, like any other Cool or Sexy market on the Internet, is not the place for most people to start. That market is absolutely flooded with other people who already had the same idea, and the profit margins have plummeted. Why? Too many inexperienced Internet sellers. They start price wars, figuring they’re going to clean up by undercutting everyone else’s prices by a little bit. Problem is, the second guy comes along and undercuts the first one a bit. Then the third person comes along and undercuts the second. And so on.
Pretty soon all you have left are tens of thousands of people trying to sell electronics for pennies more than what they pay for them, just to advertise a slightly better price than their competition.
The person who wants to sell Cool and Sexy stuff needs to understand that they are not out here to look Cool or Sexy. They’re here to make money. Four Slice Toasters and Propane Camp Stoves aren’t sexy, but they sell and their markets are not overcrowded, and that’s what the goal is.
• Finally, an email from a person who thinks they need to sell only the Hottest Products on the Internet goes like this:
“Hello; Can you tell me were I can find out what the Top Selling Products on eBay are? I want to know what everyone else is selling and get in on it.”
Look at it this way. If you were in a giant field filled with nothing but concession stands selling Salted Peanuts, what’s the smartest thing you could do? Set up yet another Salted Peanuts stand, or set up a Lemonade Stand?
I’d sell Lemonade, wouldn’t you? :o)
In our business, we look at the Lists of Top Selling Products on the Internet, too. Then we run the other way as fast as we can. We don’t want to be just another face in the crowd selling the same thing as everyone else. We want to think about products that may be complementary to the Hottest Sellers, that not many other people are selling.
If everyone and their Grandmothers are selling Salted Peanuts, we want to be the ones selling Lemonade. :o)