Marketing your business early on can be a headache. Frustratingly, it can seem like there are too many ways to do this, especially with the advent of social media. Whilst there certainly are a myriad of ways to spend a marketing budget these days, I’ve found that sometimes the old fashioned way is often the most effective. By that I mean: getting current customers to speak to other potential customers about your product.
Word of mouth (WOM) marketing and public relations may seem very old school, especially in the age of data and algorithms. Whilst these may have a place in new client prospecting, there’s nothing like getting people to validate your brand or product to build trust in what you’re doing and drive a successful sales pipeline. Even in this new age of data, two major marketing practices are based on these core principles: Influencer marketing and writing reviews. Both of these are a form of public relations, and because they’re written and seen by ‘real people’ (there’s been quite a lot of fraud uncovered of late, especially in written reviews) – therefore they’re viewed to be much more trustworthy and therefore valuable.
Having a customer rave about your product and/or levels of service is a great way of getting new customers to take the plunge and buy into your offering. I’ve always found that a referrals scheme is also a great way for incentivising current customers to tell their friends or colleagues about a your offering, and you see a lot of smaller businesses offering this, usually by deducting 20% or so off of your next purchase or monthly bill.
I’ve also found a great way of getting your name out there is courting the trade press. Now, not all industries will have a trade press, but telecoms certainly did when I was starting out. Thought leadership is a great way to grow your credibility, as someone else is writing about your product or service instead of you writing about yourself. Speaking to industry journalists regularly, writing pieces for them, or giving them information on upcoming trends, builds and supports the notion that you are an expert in your field, and deserve to be listened to.
If you don’t have an industry press, then becoming a thought leader on social media is a great way of utilising these platforms. A value exchange is key for building a dedicated following – what can you give away for free and showcase your expertise in the process? In the podcast I mention car valeting. If you could build a YouTube channel showing users the best way to clean their cars, this provides them with a useful piece of information whilst all the time cementing yourself in their minds as an expert. If they discover your business operates in their area, then they are much more likely to book their car in for a clean.
A key lesson in all marketing (one which is frequently forgotten in my opinion) is keep it genuine. If people can see you as an honest arbiter, working to improve the accountability, quality and transparency of whatever your industry offers, then you’ll be onto a winner. Trust equals sales!