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FORTUNE Small Business:

Help, my new e-store has no traffic!

A natural products retailer turns to Ask FSB for help getting buyers' attention.

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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: I created a business called NEK Body Essentials. It sells 100 percent natural, custom-scented body products for men, women and children. How can I generate more sales on the Internet? Once I generate enough cash flow, how do I go about finding a manufacturer to make my product for me? Is this a business I could franchise in the future? Also, where can I look to find a company to make inexpensive labels for my product line? Thank you for the advice.

-Ena Drake, Atlanta, Ga.

Dear Ena: Imagine that you open up a store half a mile off the highway, just far enough off the road where drivers can't see your sign.

"That's your situation," says Robert McGarvey, author of How to Dot-Com: A Step By Step Guide to E-Commerce. "How do you expect someone to find the store when they don't even know it's there?"

Generating page awareness and page views is the issue. "You need to find ways to get listed and recognized in as many places as possible on the Internet," he says.

Signing up with a search engine service like Google (GOOG, Fortune 500)'s product search, which can specialize by location, is one way to get your company's name in front of Internet users.

"Search engine optimization isn't simple," McGarvey warns. "All these sites in the beginning need to increase traffic and it's so terribly hard - a never-ending battle, particularly if you don't have a big brand. It breaks down to highlighting specific words on your website, so that when someone searches for 'cocoa butter,' instead of being the 44,000th site listed, you're the first."

McGarvey suggests adding testimonials to your website. "People can be a little wary about putting gunk on their body," he says. "It's one thing if I buy a picture frame. I don't care who's selling it and what's in it, it's not going to make me sick. Either it's going to hold the picture or it doesn't hold the picture. Your product is different." Testimonials can help build trust in your brand.

For information about labelers and manufacturers, check out the Natural Products Information Center, a trade resource center that links to labeling and manufacturing companies' websites. The Natural Products Association can also offer some guidance. Go to trade shows to learn more about the industry and to promote your products.

"Even if you can't afford a booth, go with samples and business cards and network," McGarve suggestsy. The biggest trade shows for the natural products industry are Natural Products Expo East and West, run by New Hope Natural Media.

As far as franchising your natural body products, McGarvey feels that finding a distributor is probably more what you're looking for.

"Find distributors to sell your products for you," he says, "and the beautiful thing is that they'll generate publicity for your product." To top of page

What's your advice for NEK Body Essentials? Join the discussion.

Advice for another new e-tailer: Why can't I get a sale?
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