Does a great product sell itself? If not, is there a reliable secret to driving customers into your new business? It’s just about 2015: has someone developed a new tool, maybe a social whozits or a mobile whatnot to market your business?
Well, it’s probably a bit of a negative on all of these. However, it’s not a matter of just working harder either. I’m not going to throw my authorial hands up and ask you to shrug your readerly shoulders and just concede that nothing you can do can make a difference in terms of growing a market.
There are plenty of things that will prove effective in bringing in customers to get your startup afloat.
If you know someone who owns a pair of Google Glass, you know an early adopter. Early adopters usually find your product early in its life because they are knowledgeable about the subject area. If your startup makes an electric bicycle, early adopters are probably environmentalists concerned about carbon emissions and they may have owned a non-electric bicycle for years, or perhaps a scooter or hybrid car.
It’s very important to reach these influential folks first rather than just hitting the mass market immediately. Trying to go wide too fast will overextend your budget and cause you to proceed without enough organization.
Early adopters will influence others, perhaps blogging, talking to customers in their field (a bike shop or an organization dedicated to lowering carbon emissions), joining online communities, or just talking to a new friend.
This springs directly from reaching early adopters. To me, virality means having one customer create another customer. If someone buys your product and leaves a good online review, you may be able to create some virality. You need your customers to do some of your work for you, and by constitution, a lot of early adopters enjoy doing just that.
Human to Human
One of the reasons there’s a certain amount of hand-wringing about marketing is that many markets are saturated. One of the ways to rise above that is to show a human face to your market.
This can involve things like a nice profile of yourself or your employees on your website: nothing self-indulgent and certainly not lengthy, just something that will appeal to early adopters.
It can also involve getting out into the community. It has to involve a human face out in front of the company—the company can’t seem like just a company or just a product.
Sometimes people say to find out what your competitors are doing and do roughly the opposite. That may be a bit reactionary, perhaps a bit simple. But you do have to emphasize what is different about your product. Your marketing itself can be unique or strange, and the product can be—just be sure to make it look unique.
Gain an Edge
A lot of what we’ve discussed so far—very important concepts—has to do with some of the larger conceptual issues involved in marketing. It’s all about ways of looking at the big picture, finding ways of looking in the right places.
But there are a few other practicalities to look at as well. Marketers apply a scientific approach—graphs, charts, software—and your small business should be conversant in these as soon as possible. The sort of thing I’m talking about includes using some of the analytical tools of CRM software, obtaining the existing market research, and other strategies.
Just as an example, marketers know a technique called conversion rate optimization. A conversion is a visitor to your site doing a particular thing you’d like him or her to do. The ultimate conversion is making a purchase. Conversion rate optimization means getting feedback, analyzing traffic, etc., and figuring out why it is that some customers don’t convert, then making changes accordingly. The details of this concept aren’t important. What’s important is that these and other refinements are out there, and as your marketing and building gain momentum, you should investigate some of these advanced analytical methods.
Marketing doesn’t have to be about pouring in longer and longer hours or churning out more material. It’s about directing your efforts properly, as laid out above.