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How to Use the Ansoff Matrix to Develop New Products for Your Blog

A Guest Post by Allan Ward from Blogger Business Plan

A few weeks ago Darren wrote a post called Brainstorming Activity: What Could You Sell from Your Blog? In the article he suggested you think of products or services you could one day add to your blog. The post generated a lot of comments and many people agreed on the importance of planning ahead. A few years ago as part of studying an MBA I came across the Ansoff Matrix – a tool that helps business owners generate ideas for new products. It’s easy to adapt it to the blogging world and use it to brainstorm ideas for products and services you can offer and also how you distribute them. The Ansoff Matrix consists of four quadrants:

  • Market Penetration
  • Market Development
  • Product Development, and
  • Diversification

Ansoff-Matrix-Slide-1.png

Market Penetration is all about selling more of your current products to your existing markets while Market Development looks at selling current products to new markets. Product Development is concerned with selling new products to existing markets while Diversification is about selling new products to totally new markets. Let’s look at each of the four areas through the eyes of a blogger, and think of ideas for new products or services.

Market Penetration – Current Products / Existing Markets

This involves taking your existing products, and selling more of them to either your existing customers (readers), or new customers who fit your target market. Ideas you can consider include:

  • Guest posting on other blogs in your niche.
  • Having people guest post on your blog.
  • Article marketing posting blog articles to Ezine articles and other directories.
  • Post more articles on your blog.
  • Joining with other bloggers in joint ventures.
  • Using Facebook or Twitter to promote your blog and find people who could be interested in it.
  • Improving the SEO of your site so you rank highly for relevant keywords.
  • Promoting your blog or product through the email list of another blogger – perhaps you can reciprocate?
  • Allowing affiliates to sell your product.

Market penetration can be the simplest way to increase sales, as it uses the products you already have.

Market Development – Existing Products / New Markets

This looks at ways you can increase sales by selling your existing products or services to new markets. Things you could consider include:

  • Geographical reach – if you currently only sell your product in one region, could you increase that area to include more regions?
  • Guest posting on blogs in different niches i.e. if you write about personal finance, guest on blogs that are about other topics, but are read by people in your target audience.
  • Language – is it possible to get your e-book translated into foreign languages to increase sales?
  • Is your product suitable for other industries? Say you help realtors with their web marketing. Could you offer the same suite of services to attorneys?
  • Is there a new or different use for your product that makes it attractive to new markets?

Product Development – New Products / Present Markets

This is aimed at introducing new products or services to your existing clients / readers. If you understand the needs of your target market, it gives you the opportunity to create products that solve their problems. This is potentially a very lucrative area, if you get it right. Ideas to consider include:

  • Repackaging your existing product – can an e-book become a video or a live workshop? Can that live workshop be recorded and then become a new video or audio product?
  • Can your e-book become a real book, or could you create an audio book from it?
  • Creating add-on products. If you’ve already written one e-book, is there another subject you could write about that is a natural progression from the first e-book. You could write a new e-book and sell it to all the people who bought the first one.
  • Can you write another e-book about something different? Or update your original one?
  • Can you create a membership site or forum?
  • Can you create an iPhone application or another piece of software that complements your business?
  • If your target market is bloggers, why not create a WordPress theme or plugin?
  • Are there other products that you can sell as an affiliate that your readers would be interested in? In Darren’s case, he promotes WordPress Themes, Aweber, Amazon products and other blogging related products.
  • Is it possible to create a new blog on a topic related to your existing blog? Darren did this when he started TwiTip. A lot of ProBlogger readers were also interested in learning more about Twitter and TwiTip provided this information to them, whilst also finding new readers.
  • Can you create joint ventures with other thought leaders in your niche?

Diversification – New Products / New Markets

This is perhaps the toughest one to get right. It involves moving into a totally different line of business selling different products to a different market. Virgin is a good example of a company using a diversification strategy – their airline has little in common with their banking company. Ideas here include are unlimited – forget what you’re currently selling. Is there another opportunity that you consider to be profitable? Again, Darren provides a great example of the diversification strategy when he started ProBlogger a few years after Digital Photography School. The two blogs are in totally different markets, yet are both hugely successful.

Use It!

The aim of this article is to help create a framework you can use to brainstorm new ideas. Reading it is only part of the process – using the information to create a plan for your blog is the next part. Plan to spend half an hour in a quiet place where you can think about this concept. Take something with you to capture your thoughts – pen and paper, a computer or an audio recorder. Some do this best by themselves, others prefer to do it as a group exercise. Go through each quadrant one by one and brainstorm ideas using the list I’ve provided as a starting point. Don’t censor yourself at this stage – just get your ideas down. Once you’ve created your lists, work through them and prioritise your ideas. Then get to work! Please leave a comment below and let us know about an idea you’ve thought of that fits in one of the four quadrants. Together, let’s see what ideas we can come up with.

Allan Ward runs a financial planning business in Adelaide, South Australia and also works as a business coach. He blogs at Blogger Business Plan where he helps bloggers implement offline business strategies (like the Ansoff matrix) into their online businesses. You can also follow him on Twitter. This article is one of his Market Penetration strategies!

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Comments

  1. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Allan,

    Brilliant job in breaking this down for bloggers. I remember learning this in college. You just reminded me staying up late studying this stuff and thinking when will I ever need to use this. Well…Today! You Rock!!!

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  2. I remember having studied this at university. It’s definitely a powerful matrix and really refreshing to see it used for this purpose. Thumbs up, I like your Market Penetration strategy!

    Cheers
    Patrick

  3. Suzanne says:

    Thanks for spelling this out so clearly. Excellent post!

  4. Hi
    This is really awesome.Guest posting is must to get traffic but I don’t believe in article submission.Facebook, twitter, blog commenting and all other ways should be used.Taking action is must not just reading

    Thanks For Sharing
    -Abhishek

  5. Really Great Post Allan. Awesome work.

    All awesome points.

    Guest Posting is one of my favorite way to get traffic. I think it’s one of the best way to get targeted traffic and backlinks. I’ve done 5-6 posts so far and i’m really happy with the results.

    And last week i started using ezine articles and submitted 1-2 articles.

    I like your point on doing adswaps. I see many people ignore this, but it can be useful sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing this great Post man.

  6. Brilliant idea for making real business. I haven’t heard about this matrix before. Thanks for bringing it to my knowledge and excellent piece of article!

    Jane.

  7. Love the matrix! I really need that kind of hand-holding when it comes to needing a break down that goes further than “Come up with a great idea and…Just Do It!” Having a target before just taking the plunge is really helpful.

    Knowing when and how to diversify always seems the hardest to me. Finding the delicate balance between branching out wisely and stretching yourself too thin in any given direction still seems difficult to me.

    Thanks for the great food for thought! I’ll be going over this for awhile!

  8. Hi Allan,

    Nice write up. I think Guest posting and submitting articles to article directories are the two best ways, to gain traffic and quality backlinks for our blog.

    Also, I never heard of this term “Ansoff Matrix”. Thanks for provding an insight into it.

    Sathish

  9. I think you analyzed things In the right way to get better blogging performance. diversifying products is what I’m tryng to do. I’m trying to create a new blog. I hope this will increase my earnings and increase my traffic…
    Thanks for the brilliant post!

  10. Vik Tantry says:

    Thanks for the informative article; I’ve found that diversifying is one of the hardest things to do. We get stuck in a rut and feel safe with what we are doing, whether a job or an online business. It becomes difficult to branch out into other areas. When we do consider it, we can find one excuse after another not to try it. Starting with, “What if I fail?” We become complacent with the success of our current project and worry that something else might be too difficult or time consuming.
    I recently posted an article about procrastination, and some steps to overcome it. Your post reminded me that diversification is important on more than one level. Even if we are happy and making good money with what we are doing now, we have no guarantee that it will continue. Diversifying allows us to build up multiple income streams. If one fails we have a back up.

  11. I have never heard of the Ansoff Matrix so I am glad I just learn something valuable from this post. The concept is very interesting and practical. So I will give it a try in website. I have also been an adept of diversification i.e not putting all my eggs in the same basket.

  12. Great post, the only thing I would add would be to work on them in the order presented. Start by marketing your existing product to your existing market first since it will take the least amount of work to make it profitable. Then start moving to other markets and other products.

  13. Allan Ward says:

    Hi folks,

    Thanks for your comments so far – keep them coming.

    @Josh – it’s interesting how a lot of the business principles and marketing ideas that we learn in college work just as well in the internet marketing realm!

    @abhishnek & @Dev – I agree that guest posting is a great way to get more traffic. If you take a step back and think of how to find more people in your niche who haven’t yet heard of you, it makes a lot of sense to guest post to get your name in front of these people(like I’m doing here!).

    @Sathish @ @Find All Answers – glad you’ve learnt something new. The Ansoff matrix is such a simple concept yet provides a lot of ideas.

    @Susanne – Yes, I agree. The least riskiest (and most simplest) one is the first – find new markets for your existing products.

  14. jason says:

    Never even heard of the ansoff matrix, but your article totally makes it comprehendable. Great job in interpreting and sharing with readers.

  15. mario monk says:

    This is one more proof – blogging is no different than any other business.

  16. Jimmy says:

    I’m always grappling with what or id I should be selling something on my blog instead of just Adsense or donations. Great post!

  17. Eddie Gear says:

    Hey Allan,

    Good One. Thanks for your insights. it’s interesting a lot of the marketing ideas we learn in college work. However, there is so much change after college. I need to keep myselft updated with IM blogs to see whats in trend.

  18. Guest posts are dead … *

    Nice post, Allan — it’s always nice to read a fresh take on how an older idea can apply to blogging. I, too, wasn’t aware of the Ansoff Matrix, but I’m definitely going to give it a whirl.

    *Just kidding, guest posts rock … but I think their effectiveness can be at risk for some publishers.

    This is kinda branching off from your main subject, but I think bloggers have a great responsibility when it comes to properly filling their own editorial shoes — both for their readers’ sake and for the sake of the integrity of their blog. In other words, publishers need to consider whether or not the content in a free guest post, and the blogger behind the guest post, is relevant to their readers.

    It’s a tricky balance, because while you want the content to remain relevant to your readership’s interest, it’s also good to mix it up a bit and exit the common echo chamber … not to mention how tempting it is to accept free original content.

    Bloggers need to be careful about posting “empty content” from professionals merely interested in progressing their marketing efforts — you can usually tell when you’re dealing with empty content when the content lacks passion or voice. This is because those offering such content merely write what they thing your readership will enjoy in attempt to siphon a bit of your traffic.

    As a guest post provider, I always think about how the readership of the blog you’re submitting to will react to your content — not just in terms of positive or negative responses (both of those can be good), but in terms of relevance.

    I have a feeling readers are catching on to the marketing pros … due to the popularity among the marketing crowd, I think readers can easily tell whether they’re reading a guest post or reading empty content.

    One minute you’re reading about coffee, the next you’ve clicked the name of the guest post author and you’re reading about ceiling fans.

    Anyone else experiencing empty content like this? What’s your reaction?

  19. Hi Allan,
    Thank you for sharing this I was not aware of the Ansoff Matrix but I am a great believer that systems like it help bring us all the clarity needed for the application of ideas.

    Indeed, inspired by the success of matrixes and images used to explain ideas I have created some myself in my work in personal and business development.
    Thank you for sharing this one with me.
    All the best to you,
    David

  20. Stefan says:

    Hi,
    I think that if you like to write and engage others on subjects of which you have some command or experience, then blogging is a wonderful application with which you can interact with people who share similar interests as you.

  21. Carolee says:

    Wow, this is packed with tons of great ideas- I will definitely share this with my accountability partner on our call today!

  22. Allan Ward says:

    Thanks for the comments so far.

    @minimalist moms – I’m glad you like the matrix. Your comment is spot on – sometimes we all benefit from some more direction and hand holding. Diversification is good, but I’m learning to concentrate on one or two things at a time instead of spreading myself too thinly.

    @Rhalmi – Hopefully you’ve got some ideas for diversifying out of this article.

    @Vik Tantry – good comment about diversification. It’s true on so many levels. I work as a financial planner, so I’m always talking with clients about diversifying their investments. In the internet marketing world it relates to having multiple income sources amongst other things.

    @Jason – glad it made sense to you – always a good compliment to receive from someone!

    @Mario Monk – So true – a blog is still a business and these business principles apply.

    @Jimmy – thanks for the comment. Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas for you to work on. It doesn’t just relate to selling products (your goal may not be to make money), but it’s also useful to generate ideas to get more readers.

    @ Eddie Gear – I found the challenge during my MBA was making it relevant to my work so I got a practical application out of the knowledge I gained. There’s gold in the uni marketing books! BTW, I learnt something from your Format Painter tip – great looking site – another Headway user!

    @ChristopherR2D2 – good point about guest posting. The barriers to entry for starting your own blog are so low, that almost anyone can become a blogger and start writing. Whilst it’s flattering to have someone offer to write a guest post for your blog, you need to have some editorial standards and decide whether the article is suitable for your audience. Personally, I try and write top quality content in my guest posts – I treat them as a mini advertisement for what I do on my own blog.

    @David – yes, systems work. I love good visuals and images to communicate messages – glad you found mine helpful.

  23. Royal Ranch says:

    Very thought provoking ideas, thanks. I am taking a pad and paper with me later while I have time to kill at an appointment! Like you said, diversification can be much easier done with planning.

  24. Simon says:

    Great article!

    It brings back memories of reading marketing at University!

    I also like to use Porters Five Forces when building a blog – google it for more information.

    Simon

  25. David says:

    Interesting stuff, my combined readership is around 10000 now, of regular visitors. Then lots of one timers that discovered candy on YouTube.

    Would you suggest we start advertising to scale the website up to the next level or produce more points of sale for our existing readers?.

    Thanks

    David

  26. Allan,

    Terrific post, with the bullet points making great actionable items.

    Under the category market penetration, not only have I used Twitter and Facebook to market my blog about baby boomers, I have also used Linkedin.

    I had a post on 3 Ways To Use Linkedin To Find A Job and the traffic for a week was my highest ever. Linkedin can be very effective if you research and join the groups that make sense.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Mark

  27. Great post! Thanks for breaking it down so clearly.

  28. Allan Ward says:

    Some good comments – keep them coming!

    @Royal Ranch – hope you got inspired to write some things down on your pad.

    @simon – I’ve been thinking about Porter’s 5 forces over the past weeks and how it applies to internet marketing. I’ll probably do a series on it at my blog. Thanks for bringing it up.

    @David – good question. The simplest (and quickest) thing is to advertise to get more viewers. It’s still worthwhile to look at what new products you could introduce as there may be some products that are quick and easy to produce that your existing audience would buy. Importantly, test everything and see what works.

    @boomer54Mark – good point about LinkedIn. I’ve also found that a couple of my most popular articles have been ‘How To…’ articles. In your case, you’ve made the article about LinkedIn which, presumably, has users who are your target market. I haven’t had a good look at LinkedIn yet (part of my efforts to focus on a few things and do them well!) but it is on my list of things to learn more about.

    @dotComReport.com – glad you enjoyed the article.

  29. Jenny says:

    Interesting facts on the Ansoff Matrix. I will definately be giving it a try.
    Thanks
    Jenny

  30. Great work in adapting the Ansoff matrix to the activities of bloggers and other digital entrepreneurs.

    In my work with small business clients and entrepreneurs, I’ve found that the mini-orientation in strategic thinking and planning from using tools like the Ansoff Matrix in the ways you do above help business owners think with a more global picture.

    Gestalt theory (and the Theory of Constraints) support this global approach as a much more reliable way to solve complex problems (like those faced by small business owners).

    Great post.