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
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.
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!