“I’ve had my web site for almost 6 months and have yet to make a sale. What am I doing wrong?” Does this sound like your business? Here’s the problem: On the Internet, your business is competing against hundreds or even thousands of websites all doing the same type of business as you. Many new website owners submit their site to the major search engines and then sit back and wait for customers to come. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. When you first start out, no one on the internet knows who you are. They don’t know where to find you, and even if they did, they probably aren’t going to buy from you. It doesn’t matter which shopping cart you have, who your webmaster is or what SEO firm you use.

Let’s say you make chocolates and want to sell them online. You have the best chocolates anyone has ever tasted. Guess what? Consumers don’t know that – they are still going to buy Godiva, Russell Stover or Cadbury. Even if you take out pay-per-click ads and submit your site to hundreds of specialized directories you aren’t going to make any sales. Depending upon what you sell, they are going to buy from Amazon or eBay which together account for 70% of the market.

Now the good news: you can sell your wares on Amazon and eBay! Granted, these platforms may all take a piece of the action, but you will get more sales. It’s kind of like being in a major mall versus a remote shop. But until you can create a word-of-mouth marketing about your products, you are stuck – people are still going to buy the name brand products. So in addition to listing your products on the major marketplaces, you need to create a buzz about your products. This is the hardest thing for business owners to do, but the most critical. Here are a few things that seem to work:

•    Create a funny YouTube video commercial
•    Give away something for free
•    Win an award and promote it
•    Be the first to do something
•    Get a celebrity endorsement
•    Be controversial, but stand for something
•    Create your own Facebook application

Once you start making sales, you can start referring your customers to your own webstore. You can build brand loyalty and you can start taking advantage of search engines. You can create blogs and provide lots of content. You can send out press releases, coupons, email newsletters and do all other sorts of e-marketing like Google Adwords. But until you start getting customers talking about you, you are throwing away your time and money.

If anyone has any ideas for other methods to generate buzz, I’d love to hear about them.