Here are a couple dates that, depending on what side of the fence you sit on, will have you circling your calendars or hiding for cover:

Black Friday, the quote-official-end quote retail kickoff to the holiday shopping season, is November 28. “CyberMonday,” its online counterpart, is slated for Dec. 1.

Both retail and Internet shopping present pros and cons for me. Being of a certain age, I have fond memories of trips to malls or department behemoths, be it with my parents shopping for me for Santa or making the rounds for my kids during the holidays. I’m also appreciative of the luxuries the click of a mouse and a credit card number afford when it comes to stacking the space around my Christmas tree or stuffing stockings.

In fact, the latter is starting to take precedence over the former. Why battle packed parking lots, hordes of shoppers and long lines at cash registers when I don’t have to start the car? Or require footwear, for that matter?

The big retail chains have prepared for the growth in online ecommerce and have designed ecommerce sites that are extremely user friendly, converting visitors to customers online. This allows them to capture a share of the over $262 billion dollars being spent online. These large ecommerce sites are sure to see a boost in their fourth quarter earnings, courtesy of their well-oiled online sales machines.

Through experience we've found that successful ecommerce businesses treat their websites like storefronts.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for many smaller, market-specific shops with ecommerce presences.

A couple years back, for example, I was looking high and low for a hard-to-find vinyl album for a friend of mine and, despite locating it on a music-geared website from a Midwest record store, it took no small amount of work on my part to track it down within the site’s confines. After purchasing it, I saw it on a competitor’s website that was much easier to navigate.

Our primary goal at Leverage, for all of our clients including ecommerce clients, is to promote and optimize their online operations to gain them the best returns possible. For ecommerce, driving relevant traffic to the site – which we’ve optimized to convert visits to sales – is of chief importance. We’ve seen great success in marketing ecommerce websites and have turned numerous online stores around from stagnation to monthly revenue increases. There is no doubt about it, the online ecommerce landscape is competitive but the opportunity is huge. It requires staying on the cutting edge of online marketing, design and reporting and measurement.

Through our experience, we’ve found that successful e-commerce businesses treat their websites like their physical storefronts. Storefronts, in order to be successful, require maintenance, investments into upgrades, advertising and promotion, customer service, and an efficient sales process. Consider how your ecommerce site would appear in the physical world and ask yourself, would anyone come to that store and purchase a product? If you have any doubts, you may not be ready for the upcoming shopping season.

Nuts & Bolts of Online Niche Marketing | Leverage Marketing

When I was a young teenager – think between 13 and 15 years old – pickings were slim for a lot of my peers when it came to generating income independently.


Too old to completely rely on an allowance from your folks and, with the minimum age to work a proper part time job being 16, too young to find anything steady and that paid regularly, my choices, as well as most of my friends growing up in my neighborhood in the early 80s, were basically regulated to paper routes, cutting lawns, and odd jobs and errands for neighbors and family members.


Danny was a junior high school friend of mine who found a unique approach to lining his pockets:  most Saturday mornings, a couple days a week during the summer and on the occasional school day off, Danny weighed and filled tiny boxes of screws, nuts and bolts for a company that provided supplies to a supply wholesaler that catered primarily to electrical and industrial wholesale companies.


This being junior high, Danny was the butt of many a wisecrack and often went by the handle “screwball” or “screwhead,” depending on which clique you were in. But I gave Danny a lot of credit: he was industrious enough – or jumped at the opportunity offered by a friend or family connection – to take on work for himself at a job that wasn’t the norm for your average young urban teen.


I am extremely loath to refer to the company Danny worked for as “off the beaten path” but, as I’ve seen over the years,  many a small business that caters to a specific professional sect  give little, if any, attention to their wholesale internet marketing.


The business owners or CEO’s rationale for this may be valid: their companies primarily attract vendors and companies with whom they’ve already established working relationships, companies already considering doing business with them, and their competition. Also, given the industry-specific nature of their operations, a niche marketing strategy with a thriving website isn’t essential and/or worth investing in.

a key to specialty marketing success is in the content

Yet Leverage has made many specialized business owners change their tune in this regard and reap rewards he or she never thought possible with their niche marketing and online presence.


A key to this success is in content, and this is where the specialized nature of the business works in their favor. Online, we have a canvas to be thorough in our description of the business, its products or services, and its operations. We also have the opportunity to educate site readers on the history and workings of the particular industry as well. Throw in continuous updates with industry-minded news and content, and that website becomes a destination for those vendors, prospects, and competitors and the company may be recognized as leaders in their field.


Recently, we broadened the Internet horizons for a data center equipment company, a document scanning business and data storage outfit. And these are only three specialty companies who have seen what informing prospects online can do for them, thanks to the Leverage touch. As a prime example, our client selling data center equipment has seen an 858% increase in organic traffic since May of this year.


While a company’s reach may be tailored to a specific group, the opportunities a well-constructed and informative site can provide can prove to be boundless in the long run.


To get help with your online niche marketing approach, Contact Us.


Per the Oxford Dictionary, misconception is defined as “a view or opinion that is incorrect because it is based on faulty thinking or understanding.”

Over the years, I have been on either the correcting or corrected end of many misconceptions. Most notably – and correct — are these few:

  • Mrs. O’ Leary’s cow did not start the Great Chicago Fire by kicking over a lantern.  This was a myth made up by a newspaper reporter.
  • Bill Buckner’s legendary between-the-legs blunder did not cost the Boston Red Sox the World Series. It cost them the sixth game which resulted in a seventh showdown with the New York Mets.
  • America, not Neil Young, topped the charts with the 70’s hit “A Horse with No Name.”

When it comes to an online presence, one of the biggest misconceptions I hear from business owners and CEOs is “we do not sell products online and our operations aren’t geared towards attracting clients to our site, so there’s no reason for us to heavily concentrate online.”

Recently, we were charged with providing a contractor with an evaluation of his current online operations. In all communications before our sit-down, the CEO of the company was skeptical, to say the least, that our services could benefit his company.

When most companies search out potential contractors and vendors, they will take to the web to get as much information as possible before and after initial meetings to vet the prospects.

“Business has been good,” he said. One of their biggest contracts is with the federal government, and they were able to thrive despite the economic downturn the last half dozen or so years ago. Additionally, the nature of their operations involves no online sales to clients whatsoever. It simply provides an overview of his company’s history, key staff and major clients and accomplishments.

When most companies search out potential contractors and vendors, they will take to the web to get as much information as possible before and after initial meetings to vet the prospects. It’s common sense these days when companies are about to get into business together. Given the nature of the prospect’s operations, mainstays such as the Better Business Bureau’s site may offer little, if any, additional information.

if you were hiring a new employee you were about to invest resources in, what would you think if you couldn’t find a trace of them online or verify their credentials?

Any well-constructed business website allows companies to prove they are who they say they are before the conference call or the multi-media proposition. This step is critical in making the decision of whether or not to go into business with someone. After all, if you were hiring a new employee you were about to invest resources in, what would you think if you couldn’t find a trace of them online or verify their credentials? The candidate would most likely be considered suspicious. Bottom line: You don’t want your company to appear sketchy, cheap or suspicious as a result of your online presence (or lack thereof).

To address these concerns, Leverage tailors a custom program for its B2B clients. Along with a site design tailored to their unique needs and for optimum search engine reach, we implement B2B advertising in their marketing plans. This process lets prospects know that the company is exactly who they say they are. We are applauding a recent innovation by Google that allows for ads to be received on Gmail based upon e-mails the user has been receiving over the course of his or her operations. By incorporating Google’s new product into our B2B marketing strategy, we take B2B advertising directly to the e-mail of the user seeking out operations similar to those of our clients’.


Gmail Ads for B2B Advertising

Gmail Ads for B2B Advertising


Also, Google’s program allows us to target Gmail users seeking out competitors’ businesses. By utilizing the competition’s domain name, prospects can be directed to land on a page showcasing our clients’ operations and, through our specialized program, put our client in the running for their business when the user probably wouldn’t have heard of them otherwise.

Our contractor prospect walked away from our meeting not only impressed by the opportunities available to his outfit but educated as well. And we were more than happy to show him that a well-constructed site and course of action can be as valuable as a site whose primary concern is if its viewers take Visa or Mastercard.

In other words: another misconception debunked.