When you’re the founder of a new startup tech business (or any new business for that matter), reaching new customers will weigh on your mind – a lot.
At it’s core, marketing is about finding new customers and convincing them to buy. If people aren’t buying, you’re not making money. And if you’re not making money, you can’t buy 2 minute noodles. No noodles = hungry. Then things can get serious.
Building a cool product, designing a sweet logo and creating a shiny website is all for nothing unless fresh people who have never heard of you are streaming through the gates. They then need to be convinced that it’s worth parting with their hard earned cash in return for what you’re offering, but that’s another story.
If you’re ready to start driving customers to your website or app right now, here are 6 ways to make it happen:
1. Hustle (Networking)
All too often, it’s the people looking to take shortcuts who skip over good old-fashioned pressing the flesh. Nothing, I repeat nothing beats personal connections. People are social creatures who (for the most part) enjoy interacting with others, even if some might say otherwise. Once you have met someone personally, you have a far greater chance of convincing them to become a customer than if you’re just represented by a bunch of pixels on a screen.
When you’re first starting out, having a small group of loyal customers (who aren’t your Mum) who know you personally is critical. They will want to see you succeed. They will provide feedback and advice you would probably never predict otherwise. And best of all, if you’ve done a good enough job, they will become evangelists, telling others and sharing your message.
So, get some business cards printed. Sign up to meetup.com, check out your local startup community events page, hit up your LinkedIn network, or just head down to the corner pub. Talk to some real people and gather some genuine feedback.
Never lose sight of the fact that your customers are people and people are everywhere.
2. Google Adwords
When people know what they want, more often than not they will turn to Google.
This article is about finding customers fast, so where I would normally talk about SEO and content driven strategies (which take time), I am recommending Google Adwords. Without rehashing the well-known figures about Google’s search market dominance, if you want to be found, you pretty much need to be on Google in one way or another.
Adwords essentially lets you trade money for relevant traffic. As soon as you set up an Adwords campaign, Google will begin circulating your ad at the top of it’s regular search results. The catch is, people need to be searching for the keywords you’re bidding on. And to maximise your ROI, the site you’re driving people to needs to be relevant to those keywords. It gives you access to an extremely targeted market of people searching for your exact keyword. This means if you’re promoting ‘bananas’, don’t go bidding on keywords like ‘fruit’ – be as specific as possible.
The great thing about Adwords is you will learn very quickly whether people are actively searching for your product or service category. And you will be able to measure which keywords drives the most traffic, which ones give you the most conversions and which keywords have the most competition.
The bad thing about Adwords is paying for traffic is no substitute for quality organic traffic. It’s a bit of a quick bandaid fix, but it works.
Before creating your own eCommerce site or online store, I highly recommend testing the waters first by listing your product with Ebay.
If Google is for people who know what they want, Ebay is for people who are ready to buy.
Even if you’re not selling a traditional physical product, Ebay opens up a tremendous market of people with preloaded Paypal accounts who are in a buying frame of mind.
Ebay listings are also crawled by search engines and often end up on sponsored Google results which will help drive more traffic to your product.
4. Facebook Advertising
Advertising on Facebook is the ying to buying keywords on Google’s yang. It’s the TV ad of modern digital marketing.
Instead of showing ads when people are actively looking for your product, Facebook ads let you show ads in their news feed amongst videos of naughty puppies, cute kittens and photos of last Saturday’s drunken shenanigans.
If your product is perfect for 21 to 25 year old Australian males who are interested in off-road motocross, but they don’t yet know you exist, Facebook is a great place to start.
Facebook allows you to display your ads to your target market using every demographic and psychographic (how people behave) customer segment you can imagine. It really is an embarrassment of hypertargeted riches.
By running a campaign on Facebook, you will gauge the interest of your target market very quickly. Be warned – the less interested people are in your message, the more you will pay for each impression, view or click.
My advice with Facebook is you’re best off removing the middle man as soon as possible. Spend cash on driving people to your own landing page where you can collect their email address directly, rather than trying to turn them into Facebook page likes and then paying again for the privilege of communicating with your ‘fans’ on Facebook.
This might surprise you, but at the time of writing this article, Instagram is probably the world’s most effective free way to reach fashion, food and lifestyle markets right now.
With a little thought and a bunch of hipster photography, you can target your message to a genuinely interested and engaged market using the mystical power of, wait for it, hashtags.
Rather than fleshing out the process here, check out Entrepreneur’s 7 Ways to Turn Instagram Followers Into Customers for Life
The nuclear option. If you have a great product or service and it gets listed on Product Hunt, you’d better hope you’re ready.
That’s because your product will be thrown in front of literally thousands of product critics. The kind who love trying new things and giving brutally honest feedback. If you can pull it off (listing is invite-only), Product Hunt can get you noticed by heavy hitters in Silicon Valley, tech journalists around the world, and possibly even angel investors.
Sometimes you can’t avoid it, but don’t list on Product Hunt unless you’re sure you’re ready.
Keep your marketing message consistent
A quick final note: all of the above methods will only result in sales if your message is spot-on. There’s no point in driving people to a website only to quickly realise what they’re looking for isn’t there. If you smack people in the face with your message on an ad, be sure to smack them again with the exact same message when they land on your page. That way they’ll be far more likely to become customers.