“Hello, would you like to buy something?”
Does that sound like a valid marketing method to you?
However, some small businesses think it’s OK to start off like that. They start a business and then immediately get down to convincing everyone that what they provide is the best in class and everyone should want it.
I remember seeing an episode of Dragon’s Den where a guy tried to convince everyone in the room that his invention was the best thing ever created.
It was some plastic device which you attached to your car to show how much space you should give cyclists.
It was terrible. But the guy who had invented it obviously thought it was amazing.
Everyone else in the room could see it was a terrible idea, and pretty much everyone who was watching thought it was, too. He was given a mauling on Twitter, but still, he continued.
What does this say about his marketing?
It pretty much proves that he’d done none, and that’s the problem. Many people don’t do any marketing or any research before they start their business, and they don’t seem to be able to connect with reality.
These are the businesses that fail.
So how do you make sure you’re not one of them?
Do your research
A businessman I knew had a “great” idea for a product.
His market research consisted of asking his friends and relatives at a party.
He launched the product, and a few months later, and 20K down, he closed the business.
It was a terrible idea.
The problem is, many people are trying to provide a solution to a problem nobody has, and that’s one of the biggest and most common mistakes in any industry.
If you’re starting a business and you want it to succeed (and who wouldn’t?) then your first step is surely to ensure you provide a service or product that people will want to buy.
You can do this is many ways, but simply asking friends isn’t one of them.
Sometimes it’s an issue you are having yourself, in fact, many Kickstarter campaigns are created this way. The inventor has to invent something to solve a problem they have, and they find other people are having the same issue.
An idea is born, plans are laid and then people are invited to invest.
Consider Guerrilla marketing
Limited budget? Want to be a bit different? Then maybe guerilla marketing is for you?
The technique was borne of the idea that to get noticed, you need to be different, and you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money.
This type of marketing can be particularly disruptive and powerful, and it often does well simply because it makes people look up and take notice.
For example, a local stationery supplies company made waves by placing a safe with a combination lock in the middle of a shopping centre with a note saying “got the combination?” above it.
This intrigued people.
They announced a clue on their Facebook page which, if decoded, would give the person clever enough to work it out, the code to the safe.
This stunt made its way to local TV and radio, and it got them lots of publicity.
So think – is there anything you could do that would get people talking but wouldn’t cost much?
This is useful if you can market to people who might not need your product now, but maybe could in the future.
It essentially involves stating that your offer is for a limited time only, or that you only have a certain number of a product available.
Of course, you need to make sure that your product is indeed limited. If you then go on to sell millions then you’ve effectively duped your customers, and they won’t be happy.
However, if you can make a limited edition of a product or service and make it available for a limited time, then it can pique the interest of people who were on the fence about your product.
In some cases, a good guerrilla campaign can lead to a great viral campaign.
Viral marketing is all the rage on the Internet, but unfortunately, there’s no real formula to explain why or how a campaign goes viral, they just tend to work or not.
But you can help it by again making your advert or promotion a little different to the rest.
You then need to spread the word, and that’s when it can go viral.
Of course, some things help to make it go viral, here’s a quick checklist:
- It’s short and simple
- It contains emotional content (babies, cats, puppies)
- It has universal appeal (again, babies, cats, puppies)
- It’s relatable
If you can target your potential customers well, you might find that your short video skit or advert gets in front of just the right amount of people who are willing to share it far and wide.
Do you ever ask for referrals?
If you’re like many people, then you’re just too scared to.
That might sound harsh, but it’s so true of many companies. They simply fail to take advantage of their best assets, which are usually existing customers.
And it’s really not difficult.
Simply ask the question, “Hi Matt, you’ve been using us for a while now and I hope we’re doing a good job, do you know anyone else who might benefit from our services?”
Or if you have people on an email campaign, send them a link or even a coupon so they and their friends can get a discount off something.
Give something away for free
To some, this is a crazy idea, and yet some of the most successful businesses give tons of things away for absolutely no cost.
Usually it’s in the form of downloads and e-books, but nonetheless, they give lots of information away, and they don’t ask a penny for it.
The thing is, in this digital age, email addresses and contact details are worth something.
If you can get someone interested in a product of yours via a free version, then they’re more likely to sign up to a more advanced or better paid-for version.
Whatever type of marketing you attempt, you have to remember that in this world of full-on information overload, you’ll probably have to try a few times before it really hits home.
The type of marketing you eventually decide to pursue will be down to your resources and creativity, but it’s always worth trying a few different types to find the one you’re more comfortable with.
In the end, if you get your name out there, your customers are more likely to be receptive to your products.