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Can A Single Product Site Make It?

By Bob McElwain
Posted Sunday, February 23, 2003

The short answer is no. The difficulty in making this model work is that the cost of generating a sale must be subtracted directly from the net from the single sale. Given multiple products, this cost is distributed over a number of sales, and thus is less per sale. More important, an existing customer is your best prospect for a subsequent sale.

While there are exceptions, such as a successful affiliate program marketing say a private site, a single product site will produce modest profits. While they may be sufficient for one building a hobby or personal site, they are unlikely to procuce to a livable income.

If you have a single product site, or are planning one, the path to increased profits lies in adding additional products. Customer loyalty is the goal. You want all to return for more. Given shopping bots and so many web shoppers determinedly looking for price only, building repeat business can be difficult. Still, even though many buy never to return, your best prospect remains previous customers. You need additional products of interest to them.

Expanding A Single Product Site

As you consider adding products, be clear about your target. Be certain you have an accurate picture of your Perfect Customer. Every offer added to your site must be perceived as being beneficial by your target. Further be alert to the impact it will have upon your position in your market. Negative just won't make it.

If you try to sell harmonicas to an established target of opera lovers, your credibility about opera will drop dramatically. Serious visitors and subscribers will quickly disappear, if such inconsistencies are introduced.

Note the reverse is equally true. Try selling opera to harmonica fans. It won't fly worth a hoot.

Beating Up On The Competition

Another grand benefit in expanding your product line is the strength it adds to your position relative to that of your competitors. While such expansion needs to be within the constraints of your position and target, a broader range of products can greatly increase the perceived depth and scope of your business.

All Of The Above And Ebooks

I recently compared all the ebook compilers I could find. There are about a dozen that compile from HTML code to a Windows .EXE file. They all face direct competition from Adobe Acrobat, which compiles to a .PDF file. And there is plenty of indirect competition from handhelds, such as eBookMan. (Then, of course, there are hard copy books, still favored.)

Assume for a moment you are marketing an ebook compiler and the competition is fierce. Here are a few things you might consider in expanding. Note many items are meant only as traffic generators.

- Add a free newsletter. Talk of the future of ebooks and what you can do with them right now. Keep it brief, light and chatty. (I don't recall seeing a newsletter offered on any site visited, but I may have missed a couple.)

- Build site content to provide valuable information to those interested in writing and selling ebooks. The topic list is endless, but it includes tips for finding good information, collecting it in a pleasing way, and selling it. Search engines will list such pages. Or create an ebook to be sold at a modest price.

- If you can generate enough traffic, consider a bulletin board, chat, or forum.

- Offer free ebooks produced with your compiler, contributed by those using it.

- Provide a sales platform for those wanting to sell their ebook. Take a cut for doing so.

- Offer free compiles to non-profit organizations. Seek to draw their members into your site as potential individual customers.

- Offer supporting services such as editing, formatting for a compile, and actually compiling the finished book.

- Be alert to any new idea a competitor implements. Modify as needed and use it yourself.

- Check out handhelds. You may be able to sell the devices and the books created for them.

- Buy out one of your competitors and market that product along side yours.

Enough Already

The above can be extended virtually without end. Such a list can be created for any single product site. So go for it.

Include every possible notion that comes to mind, no matter how far out. You're not going to buy out Microsoft, but consider buying out a competitor. Hey, it's a possibility, if you notice one who doesn't seem to be keeping up.

What Now?

Even while seeking to add to your list, order all by priority from top to bottom. The first item on the list should be the one that will produce maximum revenue with the least effort.

So long as every notion on your list enhances your position and benefits your target, it's a good idea. Implement each, one at a time as possible. And always remain alert for further ideas.

With the appropriate list and solid implementation, you may just find you have conquered your niche.