Can you imagine this scenario?
You’ve developed the most amazing new product and are able to offer it at an incredible price. You’ve produced 1000’s of units and the warehouse is full. Your new website is super slick and everything is ready to go. You launch the business and what happens?
You’ve forgotten to do any marketing. No one knows about your company and there are zero sales. It’s a disaster!
Fact: If someone doesn’t know about your product they will not buy it.
When I launched my pet products company I partnered with the most popular modern cat blog in the US. We shared all the same interests and my products fit very well on their site. And that site had tons of readers, so my products were instantly discovered and sales started immediately. In the first six months I enjoyed watching the viral spread of my brand from zero to mentions all over the internet.
I was lucky - my products are perfect for blog coverage - they look good, they’re for cats (which the internet loves), and they are affordable.
Viral coverage is still absolutely possible, but these days a little planning and strategy goes a long way. The next time I build a company, these are the things I’d focus on:
- Building an audience first - so they know, like and trust my brand.
- Making great imagery - photos, graphics.
- Having an active social networking community.
Marketing is a simple concept, but one that can get complex very quickly.
The simple part is that you want people to know, like and trust your company so that they will buy your products.
The complex part is how to go about doing that.
Let’s focus on the high level goal of getting traffic to your webstore. What they do once on your webstore is a whole other topic, but for now I’ll assume that your goal is traffic.
The two main ways to get traffic (traffic=the result of “marketing” - still with me?): paid and natural.
Paid traffic is:
- Ads on search engines - Google Adwords is the most popular.
- Banner ads on sites.
- Print Ads.
- Radio Ads, Tv Ads, etc.
- Basically, any place you pay to put your company in front of their audience.
Your webstore showing up in search engine results - but not as an ad.
Reviews, mentions, and links on other sites that talk about your company.
Direct visitors to your site - If they’ve heard about you before and have the link.
A common tactic for small businesses like mine (and yours) is as follows:
- Create a compelling website with great content, and optimize it for search engines (SEO).
- Get other sites to link to your site through reviews, guest blogging, or product giveaways.
- Get visitors to your site to sign up for your mailing list, and then email info about your company so that they get to know, like, and trust you.
- Google Adwords.
- Banner ads on other sites.
- Affiliate arrangements.
- Facebook or Twitter ads.
So say you’re back at day one of building your company. You’ve got a great product and compelling brand concept. It’s time to start building a following. It doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take some work. Here’s the basic idea:
- Get a simple website set up under your own URL. Be sure there’s at least basic info and a blog section. Here’s how.
- Make sure there’s a reason for people to visit you. These days, content marketing is the tactic and generally giving people free info is a great way to get a following. (Read more here from the masters of content marketing.)
- Put your site out where people can find you.
- Be sure to get people to sign up to your mailing list. Mailchimp is a great service for this, and has a free option.
- Set up Facebook fan pages, and accounts at twitter, Pinterest, and maybe even Tumblr. Be smart about your time and reuse content from your main website on the social platforms.
- Be active with your followers and continue to give, give, give.
I’d do all that at stage one, as soon as you are beginning to develop your product, *not after*. Things take time and you want a solid audience *before* you start selling.
Having an audience wasn’t something I considered before launching my pet products company, but now I’d argue that it’s the #1 important thing that contributes to the success of your company. Not just any audience, but people that know, like and trust you, will be much easier to sell your products to.
Luckily, it’s never been easier to reach anyone, anytime, anywhere. You can build a website on day 1 and have readers on day 2. You could start a Facebook page and be interacting with people in your niche immediately. It all take some work and some strategic planning, but anyone can do it.
Now, re-imagine that scenario
The one where you have 1000s of products in your warehouse, ready to sell. But this time, think about what it would be like if you had 5000 fans across your email list and social networks. You’ve been talking to them for the last 6 months and they know, like and trust you. Then you tell them that you are selling your awesome new product. Imagine how much faster and easier you’ll grow your business!
Read next: How to Sell Your Products