[intro]If you're starting out with your own online business, it's important that you develop a clear plan to work towards to ensure your success. In this Guide, you'll learn how to define your brand, identify your target market and plan how best to promote your EKM online shop. 




Summarise what you’re all about

Before you begin, you must develop your marketing strategy. A good marketing strategy allows you to identify your strengths and how you should highlight these when promoting your brand to potential customers. When you launch your EKM online shop, you are competing with hundreds of thousands of online competitors. Of course, the competition level you face depends entirely on the kind of products you are selling. Still, regardless, a strong marketing strategy is essential to your long-term success. 

This is because when you are competing for sales against different competitors, you need to discover your own particular ‘niche’ and invest your time into targeting the potential customers there - this is a much more effective way of encouraging sales than simply ‘targeting everyone’ - especially when you invest in online advertising in the future. 

Identify USP

You may sometimes see the term USP when you are online. USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition and it is how you define your product or service from the rest. It’s important when defining your business strategy that you define your own USP as being able to identify it’s characteristics allows you to formulate a successful marketing strategy for yourself and your EKM online shop. 

a) What makes my products unique?

You can determine this by researching and identifying who your competitors are and then comparing the benefits of your products to their equivalents. Do they sell exactly the same products? If so, are they cheaper, or more expensive? If they’re different, what makes them so? What is their Returns Policy? Do they offer a loyalty scheme at all? Are they running any promotions or discounts on these products? All of these factors must be considered to help you determine what makes your products unique to you.

b) What needs do my Products meet?

This is an essential part of your USP; all products can be related to a benefit or solve a specific problem and should be, as this will help you market to your target audience. The easiest way to determine this is to list the features and benefits of your products. For example, a mobile phone would look like:


  • 5g

  • 100gb data

  • Camera


  • Video streaming on the go

  • Constant fast connectivity

  • Photos that wow!

While customers will look to the product descriptions for a list of the features of the phone, it’s the benefits that you use when marketing it in your online shop, on social media posts, and in email newsletters. ‘5g’ is not as enticing and exciting as ‘video streaming on the go’! With this in mind, you need to begin to list the features and benefits for your products which will give you a useful resource that you can refer to when promoting your product lines. 

c) What makes my EKM online shop stand out - what is unique to me?

You must also identify and highlight what makes your business stand out. For example, at EKM, our Evolution Mode service is unique to us. There are many competitors for us, but we are the only ones who offer this service. Your unique selling point needs to be a characteristic that sets you apart from your competitors - this could be particular product features or services, but it ideally needs to be something unique to you that your competitors can’t imitate. 

d) ’What’s in it for me?’

Your next step is to place yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself ‘what’s in it for me?’ Why should the customer purchase this Product from your EKM online shop? If you look at some of the biggest brands and household names, this is often defined as their ‘tagline’ - a statement which summarises exactly why their people should purchase from them and not their competitors:

  • L’Oreal - ‘Because you’re worth it’;
  • McDonald's - ‘I’m Lovin’ It’;
  • Ronseal - ‘It Does Exactly What It Says On The Tin’;
  • Mastercard - ‘There Are Some Things That Money Can’t Buy. For Everything Else, There’s Mastercard’.

When writing this statement, make sure it is short and concise, has no negative connotations, and ideally highlights a key benefit. For example, ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ - you know McDonald's food is not at all healthy, but very tasty. 

e) Create a list of bullet points that summarise your unique Product or service

With the notes you made in steps a-d above, make a list of bullet points summarising what makes your own EKM online shop and the Products you offer stand out from the rest. Defining this will help you create the foundation of your marketing campaign, and memorising these points will help you streamline how best to present your brand and products to your potential customers. 

Identify the Competition

Your next step is to identify exactly who your competitors are. When trading online - dependent on the kind of products you sell, of course - you could be competing with lots of small businesses and start-up enterprises, household names and brands, or a mixture of both, so it’s vital you understand who you’re up against and what resources you have that can help you claim your particular niche within that marketplace. For each competitor you discover, you need to ask yourself:

  • Who - are they?
  • What - do they sell that’s the same as you?
  • Where - are they located?
  • When - did they begin?
  • How - do they differ from you, if at all?
  • Why - are they better (or worse)?

The quickest way to do this is to grab a pencil and some paper, clear an hour or two in your schedule, and use Google to help you discover the competition. To do this, you need to use specific search terms - often called ‘search operators’ - listed in this Guide; use this to find out who is selling the same products and offers the same content that you aim to do on your own EKM online shop. These will help you quickly ascertain who your competition is. Jot down the names of your ten most popular products - or at least what you think they are if you’re not sure - and use these Product Names as keywords in your searches. 

From your searches, you should now have developed a list of perhaps ten competitors, which you should note down for future reference. Now you know exactly who your competitors are, and you can use their online shops for further research and develop your marketing strategy. Take some time to look at the products your competitors offer and compare the quality, variations and prices. 

Ask yourself what kind of consumers your competitors appear to be targeting. Are they male or female? What is their age, location, and profession? What hobbies might they like? What kind of lifestyle do they lead? Don’t be afraid to check out the social media for each of your competitors, so you can garner further data. How does each converse with their followers? What kind of content do they publish? Do they run any competitions or promotions? How many followers do they have? What social media accounts do they use - are they all using Facebook Pages, or are some using TikTok or Instagram?

Use this information to give you a clearer idea of where your products fit within this area and identify what makes your brand stand out from your competitors in the eyes of the target customers. You should now have enough information to begin noting down some bullet points about your target consumers.

Identify the Target Market

The next step in creating a marketing strategy is identifying your target market. This will help you to create advertising campaigns, social media content and promotions in the future which are tailored to suit your target customers. One of the most common mistakes made by start-ups is wrongly assuming that their product is something that ‘suits everyone, young or old’. This is only true for a minuscule amount of products in the world - everything else is, and should be, marketed to a specific kind of consumer for that product to succeed. Your aim is to identify your unique niche in the online marketplace and deliberately target consumers that your niche would appeal to. Your target market will probably be made up of factors like this:

  • Gender - Example: If your online shop sells make-up, your demographic will likely be nearly all female. This is not to say that men don’t wear make-up, but as a whole, a lot more women buy it.
  • Age - Example: If you sell DIY products and equipment, chances are that your target demographic here will be old enough to have moved out and got a place of their own; your marketing needs to be aimed at adults.
  • Location - Example: If your products have to be used within a certain time (like food or fresh flowers), your target customers will need to be in a specific location; you won’t be able to ship those products to foreign countries without the quality degrading.
  • Profession - Example: If your online shop sells classroom equipment and learning aids, you will need to market them to teachers, classroom assistants, and other members of the education sector by using the correct industry terminology. 
  • Family Status - Example: If you sell toys or children’s clothing, your target demographic is parents and children. Parents ultimately pay for the orders, but children - if they’re old enough and able to access your shop - need to be considered, too, especially in the case of toys. 
  • Marital Status - Example: If you sell wedding dresses, rings, accessories and services related to weddings, your target customers must be in a relationship. You won't need to target single people. 
  • Hobbies - Example: If your online shop sells rock climbing equipment, your target demographic will be adults with an active lifestyle where rock climbing and other outdoor activities are their hobbies; you won’t need to target busy parents, for example. 
  • Device - Example: If you have a physical and online shop, you may want to target potential customers using mobile phones, which can increase your footfall as they visit your premises to see your product lines for themselves. 

Who is my Target Market?

This isn’t an exhaustive list but it will give you a good idea of the kind of information you need to define your target market. Some of the bullet points you have written so far will provide clues about your target customers. 

Existing Customers

Don’t forget that if you have sold these same products previously on a different ecommerce platform, you will already have an idea of the demographics of your customer base. But you should still research your competitors as what were your target customers that you defined years ago may have since changed as the behaviour of online shoppers and product demand have evolved. As your EKM online shop becomes more popular and grows older, you will be able to use the information learned from your customers on both your shop and social media to evolve your target market data so that it is constantly current and your marketing strategy remains relevant. At this point, you should have defined:

  • Your USP;
  • What is your niche;
  • Your target market;

And summarised exactly what your products, brand and EKM online shop are all about!

[contact] If you need our help with your EKM online shop, contact your Ecommerce Expert or the Customer Support Team, who will be able to point you in the right direction. We're open from 8am-6pm weekdays and 9am-5.30pm weekends. If you'd like to suggest a feature or an upgrade on any of the EKM platforms, please let us know on the EKM Suggestions Board. If you have a non-account specific question to ask the EKM Team, join us in EKM Community. If you need some inspiration for your EKM online shop, listen to our podcast on iTunes and Spotify.[/contact]