So you’ve done lots of hard work, establishing a target customer, designing something they should love, validating it with enough people you’re sure it will work, and figuring out how you will convince these people that your product is everything they ever wanted. It’s posted and ready for sale.. now what?
There are lots of people out there who match your target customer’s wants and needs, who are dying for the thing you make, but have no idea you exist. Now you need to get the word out.
This is the “Awareness” stage of the Customer Journey. If you’re not familiar with the Customer Journey, I’d recommend you check out that article first so you see how this all fits together.
I need to warn you up front: the ONLY difference between using the techniques in this post to spam people and using them as part of an effective awareness campaign is that you know who you are targeting, what you want to say to them, and how your product/service will improve their life. If you don’t have that part figured out, you won’t see results from them because you are essentially spamming people.
These techniques fall into four categories:
- Meet new people
- Speak to new audiences
- Use other people’s networks
- Get found
Let’s take a look at them!
Meet New People
This first set of methods requires a major step for most business owners: getting out of the house/office and talking to people. This will help you build a customer base locally, which lets you get much more detailed feedback and test out new ideas more quickly. It also helps you hone your customer service and communication skills.
The big thing to remember is that you need to convince anyone you meet that your product can benefit them. No one wants to buy (or carry) a product unless it benefits them in some way. Your job is to be interested in what’s in it for them, so you need to know what they are interested in and what needs they have.
You may find that you need to improve your conversation skills and sales skills to get these working for you.
Some techniques to meet new people are:
- Cold Calling – we’ll start with the most terrifying first: calling stores to get an appointment to show them your product and convince them that it’s in their best interest to carry it (in a prominent place in large quantities, ideally)
- Attend Event/Shows – if you have a booth at a show, lots of people will wander past and will self-select whether they want to talk to you. The hard part is finding the right shows… a double-juried craft show brings a different crowd than an industry trade show.
- Attend Networking events – meet other professionals in your area. Remember, the goal is to help them… so when they hear of an opportunity, they think of you and are inclined to call you. The more specific you are about what you do, the easier this will be for them.
- Be active with your local Chamber of Commerce – again, meeting people so you can help them, only this tends to be business owners who are all working together for mutual gain
Speak to New Audiences
This group of techniques helps you reach larger groups of people. They might not all be your target customer, but if your message is clear and concise, they will have an easier time remembering what you offer and think of people they know who might benefit from it.
- Write for content sites – sites like Medium, Quora and Reddit. Write about things your target market finds interesting AND relates to your business.
- Speak at events – conferences, networking events, club meetings, parent/child breakfasts all have keynote speakers, who automatically earn respect for being the person giving the speech. If it’s you, then you can reach new people who are interested in the type of work you do… and are more likely to look you up and contact you afterwards.
- Display your products everywhere you go – if you make clothing, wear it (or dress your kids in it). If you make jewelry, wear it. If you make signs, have them all over your house when visitors come over. Make sure your product is visible in as many places as it can be.
Use Other People’s Networks
These techniques let you seek a mutual benefit from someone else’s network. Maybe they get a commission or maybe you will bring new customers to them, all while you are getting more orders. It’s possible they just charge access for the service.
I can’t say this enough: you’re seeking mutual gain here. You need to build a relationship and offer the other person something they value. This is not asking for favors from strangers.
- Write a guest post on someone else’s blog – Offer a blogger to write an article on something that relates to their topic, but you know better than they do. Then you both promote the article.
- Get interviewed on a podcast – Podcasters are like anyone else: they constantly need more content. Interviewing you could be just what they needed.
- Get your product carried in a local store – when stores carry your product, you get more sales than you would otherwise, while the store owner gets additional sales and you promoting them.
- List your items in an online marketplace – sites like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay all offer this. They bring in customers that are more likely to buy, so you reach more people, and they get a percentage of the sale
- Run paid ads – most media out there, from social media to magazines to TV, are paid for by ads. They reach a certain audience and rent space for businesses to reach them.
- Get your local news to do a story on you – the local news usually has stories about local businesses once in a while. See if you can do a reporter a favor (which will take some work to find out what they like) so they will do a story on you.
- Influencer marketing – there are people with millions of social media followers who offer to promote your product to them. Just make sure they have actual followers (not bots) and that the people following them include a large number of your target customers
- Get your customers to tag your company in social media – your customers all have friends and family on social media. Everything they post gets seen by those people (unlike your business’ Facebook page). If they post a photo of your item in use and tag your business, a lot more people see it than if you posted that same photo.
The last group of techniques helps you get found when someone is specifically looking for what you make. A potential customer goes to where they prefer to look, they type something in, and if it works, they see your name in the first few results.
- Primary Search Engine Optimization – these are the big ones. Google, Bing, and (increasingly) Pinterest are where people are going to search for both answers to questions and for products. If you want to grow big, you need to get found here when people search for what you do/make (not just for your business name). This takes a lot of work to build their two primary requirements, relevance (how much your site relates to what someone typed in) and authority (how many other authoritative sites link to you and how many searchers visit your page for any length of time).
- Marketplace Search Engine Optimization – every online marketplace has its own search rules. Etsy, Amazon, and eBay all have different rules for how you can use keywords and how they will search for them. And they like to change the search algorithm pretty frequently, so expect to have to update it pretty often.
- Social Media Presence – if someone goes looking for a keyword or a hashtag, you want your business and products to show up. Instagram and Twitter let users follow a hashtag… it’s up to you to offer content that’s engaging enough for people to interact with it, and not just scroll past it.
This is a huge post with lots of ideas that can help potential customers find you. The important thing is that you need to know who your target customer is so you know which tactic(s) will best reach them and what you want to say when you do reach them.
You could use every one of these methods to spam people to the point that they want to permanently sign off the internet or you can use them to reach people who really want to hear what you have to say and would be thrilled to buy from you. You need to do the hard work first, then you can worry about whether people know about you.
The worst reaction you could get is for them to know about you but not care.
If you want to keep the discussion going and get several tips on running your business every week, join my Facebook Group (and be sure to answer the questions… I only accept new members who answer them).