I studied writing in college, and I recall one particular class entitled “Writing For Media” that taught how to write news releases, radio advertising copy, TV ads, etc. That was 1995.
Well, it’s an entirely new world. Of course good writing skills never go out of style, but marketing has changed dramatically with the introduction of the internet. Now that we’ve started our own T-shirt design business, we’ve had to re-learn some basic concepts about marketing in 2010.
First, we’ve decided (for now, anyway) that we don’t need a marketing budget. *Shock*. A decade ago, that might have spelled instant failure in the business world, but thanks to the internet and its immediate global reach, we’re able to spread our message for free. Social media outlets like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are wonderful ways to convey our ideas and meet potential customers.
Secondly, there are social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon and Delicious. These sites spread your web url to other members in response to the interests they listed upon joining. We joined several of these sites last week, and though we’re still learning how to use them, they seem to be working. (In fact, don’t tell Graham, but I’m secretly addicted to StumbleUpon).
We also participate in online forums, which are incredibly helpful online communities of like-minded people willing to share tips and advice about a particular area of interest. For us, the best we’ve found is t-shirtforums.com. We also started this blog (the one you’re reading right now), which is another online vehicle not only for marketing but for sharing information.
All of these media, in one way or another, provide an opportunity to market your business.
But how do you get your message heard amid the internet’s gazillion others?
First, you have to market specifically to your particular audience. This is called “niche marketing.” Who are your potential customers? Identifying your demographic is important. If your business sells, say, hammers for left-handed people, then you have to search the internet for elements of that exact group (and believe me, the internet contains information on some very specific groups. One quick search on blog publisher WordPress yielded 177,588 results for “left-handed”).
You also need to find a way to help potential customers solve their problem quickly. When a customer visits your site, the site design should enable him to make his decision rapidly and efficiently, and to enter into the buying cycle with ease.
Establish a genuine online persona in order to garner trust and create relationships with potential customers. Just be yourself. Leave status updates on Facebook and let your personality shine through. Write blog posts that not only talk about your products, but help your customers solve their problems and get to know you better. People are more willing to buy things from someone they feel that they know.
At this point our business is only three weeks old, so we still have a lot to learn. But teaching a couple of old dogs new tricks is still possible. And, we have to admit, it’s fun.