Build it and they will come.

Bah. Humbug.

Build it, support it with decent marketing and then they will come. Any entrepreneur worth the name knows that by now.

A good product sells itself is a line that worked for salesmen selling used cars.

You know why? Because the car was usually right in the front of the potential buyers.

That’s why it won’t work for your product right out the gate.  For your product to sell itself, people have to see it first.
Obscurity is not sexy – nor profitable.

You need to be intentional about putting your product in front of your possible users (it’s all that marketing is about).

But how do you do that? Especially when you don’t have oodles of marketing money?

This is what this post is about. And here we go:

1. Give beta access to a few people

When launching a product, build momentum around the actual launch by giving beta access to a few people. To make this soft even more successful, make sure a reasonable number of your first few users are high-value influencers.
If your product is good (and this is important), they won’t stop talking about it. And by the time you launch, there is a small army of people already waiting for you.

2. Give the best darn customer experience

The more “wow” your experience, the less you have to promote your business- because other people will be doing that job for you.

Zappos hangs its hat on being the company with the best customer service in the world. That has been the differentiator and the biggest marketing hack for Zappos.

Almost everyone who receives this “wow” customer experience tells another person about it.  With that strong word-of-mouth, you probably won’t be touching your marketing budget till you are ready to scale to Mars.

3. Get on top of your SEO

Search Engine Optimization may be getting less popular as content marketing becomes more entrenched, but it still holds a pride of place in any marketer’s arsenal.

And there is a good reason why that is. People don’t search for a business, they search for solutions (to their problems). So, your task is to make sure your company shoots into people’s radar when they search for the problem you are solving.

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If you are a Dental shop in Lagos, your business should come up in search when someone searches for “places to whiten my teeth in Lagos.”

Create a website and populate it with the sort of content your audience is looking for. Also register on local directories, because Google prioritizes your listing when it has mentions in many places online.

4. Reach out to industry publishers

Reach out to industry publishers to write about your company. It’s about as simple as that. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Getting journalists to write about your company requires a certain kind of skills set. Top of which is impeccable storytelling.

If you can craft and sell your story well, you can get press mentions anywhere. And press mentions mean more people are hearing about you – both investors and customers.

5. Try out guest posting

While SEO’s popularity wanes, guest posting is rising in the content marketer’s armory lineup.

Publishers want new content all the time. And guess what you are? A walking and breathing content machine. As an entrepreneur, you have access to unique experiences that people would want to read about.

Imagine if you captured those experiences in a written format and published it in one of the trade magazines in your vertical.

6. Reach out to your audience on Social Media

Even if you sell life assurance for dead people, you’ll still find your audience on social media. Everyone is there these days. On Facebook alone, 16 million Nigerians log on there every month. 16 million is almost the entire population of Lagos, Nigeria.

With that mass of users, it’s hard to miss it with a well-tuned social media strategy. Open an account on a relevant social media platform. Relevant because some networks are audience specific.

Women love Pinterest, while LinkedIn is skewed towards men. Use a Snapchat account if your customers are in their early teens.

There is a long checklist of tasks for strike off in order to have a successful social media outpost. Crafting a detailed social media strategy is the first step.

7. Organize Contests

When we launched in January 2016, one of our KPIs was to grow our mailing list to 1000 subscribers before March 2016.

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Looking back now, we realize we were not daring enough, because, in two weeks, we already had 2,000 people subscribed to our newsletter.

We achieved this through a contest. This contest didn’t just get us those emails, we also got press mentions in all major industry magazines.

Speak of killing two birds with one stone.

8. Partner with other brands

When you partner with other brands, people will often extend the admiration they have for your partner-brands to yours.

The thinking, often, is that; to land a partnership with this other big brand, you deserve to be taken seriously. This is why the first rule here is not to dumb down – partnering with a brand with a little goodwill.

When we ran our contest back in 2016, we also added some elements of partnership by bringing on brands like DIYLaw, Printivo, and Audeo. These are brands that our audience already knew.

9. Set up a referral program

If you can’t organically engineer word-of-mouth awareness (because quite frankly, it’s hard to please everyone), a referral program is a ready alternative.

Give people incentives to talk about your product and see the whole thing take off. For example, Uber gives out free rides when users onboard new users with their personalized invite/discount codes. Dropbox has used the same tactic.

The hardest part is probably finding a worthwhile reward. But when you figure it, this can literally take on a life of its own.

10. Optimize conversion

Turn every online touchpoint you have into a product conversion point. For instance, Sumome, a suite of marketing tools for businesses uses the free tier of its product to draw more people into its product.

On its list building tool, for instance, you will find a “Powered by Sumome” text linking to a details page about the tool. Curious people will click to get more information only to find themselves wanting to use the tool also.

11. Give F=freebies to high-value users

When Uber launched in Nigeria, it gave free credits to a lot of influencers. These influencers had a good feel of the product and often talked about it to their audience across multiple platforms.

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This tactic set the tone for the adoption of Uber in Lagos and later Abuja.

12. Create free Tool your audience needs

Hubspot has a host of tools that different audience clusters find useful. One of their more popular tools is the Marketing Grader which allows visitors to get suggestions on where and how they can improve their marketing. The product has been used over four million times. Bringing along with it, four million possible leads to Hubspot.

Create a tool (along with your product) that your audience needs then you can find your way into their consciousness.

For example, if you are a tech-forward barber shop, create a tool that lets users see what a hairstyle would look like on them before they even step into your shop. Most people will play around with it and will probably not walk into your shop immediately. But they’ll never forget you.

NB. Apparently, creating a tool like the one above for a barber shop will be expensive. The point we are really trying to make is that you think outside of the box.

13. Pay attention to your email sign off

Your immediate network is the first audience cluster that should know about your product. Use your email sign-off to bring your product to their awareness.

Ps. I’m working on a new tool that helps business rent out extra space in their office. Take a look here {insert link}

14. Start an affiliate program

Get other people (often, influential publishers / creatives) to promote your product for a commission.

All you have to do is create custom URLs for each person promoting your product so that you can track conversion and also pay your promoters.

15. Make your products visible in local marketplaces

This is an extension of the local directories we mentioned earlier. Local marketplaces, ensure that your product is visible to every possible audience cluster out there.

In Nigeria, start with the popular ones such as Konga, Jumia, VConnect, Jiji and Kaymu.

These ideas are great when executed individually, but they are even more effective when combined strategically. Let’s know if any of this worked (or is working) for you.

Featured image via Futuristically Yours