Note: This post was guest blogged by me, Mitchell Harper of www.HarpzOn.com. I’m filling in with a few posts while John’s out and about on his well deserved Canadian holiday
John’s blog is #1 in Google for “make money online”, and everyone writes about John and links to his blog. In a way this is a self-reinforcing system that tells everyone JohnChow.com is the number one blog for making money online. When you’re number one in search, in the top 100 in Technorati, have thousands of link backs and are mentioned and quoted everyone online, people can’t help but be intrigued and visit your site.
I’m sure you’ve seen ads that say “We’re number 1 in [product/service]”. The reason companies spend millions of dollars self-reinforcing their dominance in a particular market is because they know it works. They are playing for top of mind awareness and want to be the first company you/I think about when we need a product they sell.
Becoming #1 in a particular industry isn’t necessarily hard. We’ve done it with PHP software and John’s done it with his blog. Richard Branson of Virgin’s philosophy is simple and it’s something I agree with: to become #1 in any market you look at whose currently #1 and you find something they’re doing wrong and you beat them at it. He’s taken this approach countless times with music, international travel, mobile phones and credit cards, and 9 times out of 10 he will take the #1 spot he was going for.
When you’re #1 in a particular industry you have to work hard to stay there because there’s always going to be someone nipping at your heals. Online it’s especially hard because besides intellectual property most things can easily be replicated with money and outsourcing, so how do you do it? You grow a community around your products/services and offer them the tools they need to keep them loyal to you, so that when a competitors comes along they don’t think twice about sticking with you.
If you sell software you give them whitepapers, blogs, discounted licenses, free support, etc. If you run a blog you turn it into a community and focus on the needs of your readers instead of spending all of your time trying to optimize your ads. If you sell tangible products online you make sure you have fantastic customer service and go out of your way to make sure each and every order is delivered on time.
To become #1 you have to take out the current leader. You do this by looking at what they offer and breaking those offerings down. You then look at ways you can offer the same thing but at a higher quality or for a lower cost. It’s a continual process that evolves over time, but if you’re persistent then it’s not hard to take the #1 spot from any of your competitors, regardless of how big they are or how much money they have behind them.