Niche Project: Hawaiian Honey For Sale

It all started over breakfast just about 2 weeks ago. “Hey! We should sell this online!” We talked about it for a few moments and, already completely convinced as to the quality and “sweetness” of our potential product, we decided to give it a go. We brainstormed some ideas and did our research and, a few days later, in between time spent on freelance work, RawHawaiianHoney.com was born.

We worked out a deal with our beekeeping friend and his small farm in Hawaii, put together a simple website, and launched an AdWords campaign to drive some initial traffic.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be detailing the results of this little project. My goal is to present a simple example of taking a good idea and turning into a successful niche marketing reality.

Here are some initial project stats:

Project Inspiration: An idea mentioned over breakfast

Initial Research: Checking search estimates via Google AdWords and WordTracker.

Initial Action Steps: Registering honey related domains via GoDaddy.com – Setting up hosting – Putting together an initial design and coding it in CSS – Integrating “Buy Now” buttons from Google Checkout – Added pMetrics stats tracking – Setting up an AdWords campaign and launching it.

Money Spent: $40+ in domain registrations (2 years each – free privacy for buying 5 or more) – $1.87 initially with AdWords

Approximate Time Spent: 2 hours in brainstorming – 4 hours in design, coding, integration (spread out over several days)

Results: As of May 16, 2007, 2 days after going live, we’ve had 10 clicks through Google AdWords. This is very low considering the number of searches for “honey” per day and has much to be improved on. As time progresses, I’ll be sharing more information on AdWords and setting up a successful advertising campaign.

The challenge with this project, and one that makes its way into most good niche marketing projects, is that my family and I know and are completely convinced as to the exceptional quality of what we’re offering. The honey is some of the best we’ve ever tasted and we’ve tried lots of different honey. Our challenge, now, is to convey that message to our potential customers. Once they try the honey, we’re convinced that they’ll be happy with their purchase. The challenge is to encourage them to try it : ).

Alrighty, and that’s that! Take a look at the site: Raw Hawaiian Honey

Call to Action: This will be the first of many public niche marketing projects and as such, your questions and comments are not only welcomed but eagerly looked forward too. For those of you with experience in niche marketing, I welcome your suggestions and reviews. For those of you new to niche marketing, I welcome any and all questions you may have.. nothing is too simple : ).

Questions for my readers: Visit the site with the mindset of a first time visitor. Imagine that you have an interest in honey and, even if you don’t, imagine that something about the site caught your interest, you clicked, and now it has a few split seconds to try and win your attention.

  1. What initial impression are you left with after first taking a look at the site?
  2. Does what you first see encourage you to read more or would you just leave? Are you encouraged to read the content, skim it, or just leave?
  3. After reading or skimming through the content, do you have a desire to try the product for yourself? If so and if anything, what stands in the way of making the purchase? If not, what could be different to have changed your mind?

While this feedback will be very valuable for the project itself, much more so I’d like you guys to be able to get an idea of the things that need to be taken into consideration as you make your way towards a successful niche project.

This little project has a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to sharing the progress as we go along : ).

Next: After getting more feedback (though you can do it “alone”, peer review is a very important part of a successful niche project) I’ll make updates to the site. We have several new sections of content to add as well as a few new forms of advertising to bring in, all of which I’ll be documenting over the next few days and weeks.

Until the next update,

-Jonathan

10 thoughts on “Niche Project: Hawaiian Honey For Sale

  1. Joel Osborne

    Very good idea.. I’m waiting your next posts :)

    As for any ideas from me….
    You may want to include a FAQ page, with answers like, do you ship international? other forms of payment.

    Another idea that may help calm some nervous buyers (not everyone is use to buying food online) :), is to maybe have some pictures of the farm/field/bee thing, and of the whole process that you describe on the site.

    Joel Osborne

    Reply
  2. dan in Seattle

    My first thoughts upon skimming your site: I’m more interested in why this honey is special (meaning facts, not opinions), which I need to scroll to the bottom of the page to find. I rarely “read” the top of a web page, I go straight to the bullet points to see if I want to proceed. If I’m sold on the bullet points, then I’ll read the About Us parts. These seems flip flopped on your site. Also, have you thought about seperating the pricing onto a second page, to test pricing as a factor in buyers leaving the site? In your current set up, you can’t isolate copy vs. price. Just my two cents.

    Reply
  3. Jonathan Wold

    @Joel: Thank you for the suggestions! A FAQ page is a good idea and I’ll take note of it for the next update. I’ll also check and see if we can get some actual pictures of the honey process from the farm in Hawaii. Excellent idea.

    @Dan in Seattle: Thanks for stopping by Dan and thanks for your suggestions. Excellent point, especially in a market where the processes, the “what makes this special”, are important. Thank you for the suggestions and I’ll definitely be taking note for the next update.

    Reply
  4. Matt

    Hey Jonathan!

    This is a great little project! Can’t wait for future updates. Here are some of my suggestions for your little site…

    1) Free Sample: Consider giving away a free sample of honey. When you send it out to them, include a mail order form, plus a little catalog and a coupon where they can get 10% off their order. You can also post your free offer on many of the hundreds of “Freebie Sites”. If the honey is as good as you say, people will definitely buy more!

    2) I could consider changing the line “Hey, we should sell this online!”. People don’t like getting sold to. Make it feel more like, you are doing them a favor by offering them the honey. When I read through the copy, that hit me straight away. Other than that, I really like the copy.

    3) Contact Form – I would put a contact form instead of your email address on the website. It make it easier for them to get in contact with you. They don’t have to copy the email, then open outlook, then paste etc. Your email also wont be harvested by the spam bots [smile]

    4) Skype Number – Perhaps buy a skype in number. Give them the option of calling you. You get a free voice mail with skype in. Record a message and then let all calls go through to the voice mail. Then spend 15-30mins each day calling the people back who left messages. That means you don’t have to answer your phone 24/7. Of course you can have the lines open at times and answer straight away.

    5) Right align image next to opening paragraph. I think the image of the honey bottle would look nice right aligned with some vertical and horizontal spacing next to the opening text and not on the header. On the header you can put an extra box for the free sample.

    6) Switch to Paypal. It looks as if you have to have a google account for google checkout and have a card registered to that account? I would suggest switching to paypal or some other credit card processor that allows you to accept payments without people having to sign up.

    7) Sell on ebay! Similar to the freebie idea, sell the honey on ebay. With the package you send out, include an order form, brochure and coupon.

    I would definitely split test a lot of the things above and see what works.

    Those are my suggestions. This is an awesome little project. I look forward to seeing it prosper in the future!

    – Matt

    Reply
  5. Bev

    I was put off by the bible verse at the top. Made me think I made a mistake in typing in the URL. Maybe at the bottom of the page.

    The Intro story at the top does not make me want to buy honey. I want to know RIGHT AWAY why I should buy THIS honey when there are other choices for me or I’m going to leave. Is it organic? Fresh? Profits go to a good cause? Exotic and unique flavor or aroma? Good price? Good shipping rates?

    I think it’s a worthwhile project to do what you’re doing. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
  6. Jonathan Wold

    @Matt: Thanks for all your suggestions. I have a lot of improvements to make! :) – Good call on switching out PayPal. While I’ll leave Google Checkout as an option, the extra step in signing up for an account is something I imagine would discourage quite a few users.

    @Bev: Thanks for stopping by Bev and thank you for your feedback. It looks like the intro story will be the first thing to make its way down or off the page. I’m going to work on the list of “reasons why” and then try presenting them up at the top.

    — Once I’ve finished up a few more freelance projects it’ll be time to make changes and go for the second draft.

    In less than a week since launching, though not huge deal, it’s nice to see our little honey site already ranking #1 for “raw hawaiian honey” – Now we just have to be sure that once people get to the site we’ve done our part to give them a reason to give it a try :).

    Reply
  7. Funds Zine

    I like the idea, however I have 2 suggestions:
    1) Web design – it would be nice to make it a bit more Web 2.0-ish ;)
    2) Yes, it needs more info on why it’s so special, because the prices are kinda high – I can buy the same amount of honey from local farmers and it will be x2 times cheaper.

    Reply
  8. Joshua

    @Funds Zine
    2) I agree, it would be important to have some facts as to WHY would anyone want to purchase this honey vs. other honey. In a short answer to that, – note, I’ve eaten raw hawaiian honey before (especially richly laden with Lehua), this is one of the sweetest, richest honies (is that a word?) I have ever tasted. I’ve had many types of honey, and a this one tops them all. It is a highly prized type of honey, and therefore it is more expensive. It would be good for him to mention that though :).

    My thoughts: I like that it’s right out there with the price, that’s can sometimes work well, it all depends. I would also recommend putting actual info on the honey vs. our story (place that part below the facts).

    Perhaps add a few more images, something of hawaii, or honey.. :)

    All in all I think it has some great potential, and I look forward to seeing how it works! Keep it up Jonathan :).

    Reply
  9. Dean

    Nice idea!

    I’d agree with Matt on the ‘free samples’…because you’ll find that most people will take it. I think that if it’s a great product, you’ll see repeat business…and of course you’ll remind them to buy more along the way via database :)

    If you could get the supplier to package the samples, then that would be even better…saves you work. They would need to be in some ‘light weight’ packing to keep the postage costs low…and then you’d just need a ‘smokin hot’ salesletter to send along with the sample.

    Another test you could try is to go and hand deliver some samples to people in your immediate area and see how the word of mouth spreads from there aswell. Your fellow church members would certainly take your samples given that they know and trust you (and your family).

    Ebay sounds good also with same ‘sample’ tactic.

    Good luck with this one…sounds like a nice little niche you’ve found. Good for you!

    Dean

    PS. You’re a great blog designer by the way!

    Reply

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