This headline is a variation on the famous quote from the movie “Field of Dreams.” The line, “If you build it, he will come,” is whispered to actor Kevin Costner portraying the character Ray Kinsella. In this fantasy movie, the line was true. Kinsella built a beautiful baseball field in the middle of a cornfield. And famous ballplayers came to play.
In the real life world of entrepreneurs, that line is usually wishful thinking.
Sure, you have to create a startup or have an idea that is revolutionary and remarkable. At the very least, it’s an improvement on an existing product or service.
Just because you build a terrific business doesn’t automatically mean you’ll have customers. Your customers need to know you exist — and how to find you.
How to get customers aware of your idea:
- Start by branding your company with messaging that conveys what’s so great about your idea. Talk about how and why that idea could be invaluable to your audience. And then add marketing and promotion so the brand messaging reaches an audience that agrees with your assessment.
The marketing that will reach your ideal customer:
- Use your website (with well-crafted design and relevant, appealing, content) to verbally and visually speak to your audience’s wants and needs
- Tell your brand story, including the history of your idea, any trials and tribulations and why your idea makes sense…for them
- Include blog posts on your site that offer helpful, valuable, relevant content to your audience — the better the content, the more your audience will spread the word for you
- Write case studies: illustrate how your idea has benefitted users; what problems does it solve?
- Continuously publish original content on your website’s News Page and Blog — content marketing helps search immensely
- Utilize SEO on your website so you show up in organic search
- Gather testimonials from satisfied customers
- Get Followers, Likes and Shares on Social Media
- Build two mailing lists: one for email and one for direct mail — distribute helpful content and valuable promotions
- Save Google Adwords for later but you can make minimal investments in ads on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter
- Announce newsworthy events about you or your company using Press Releases, on your site and to your mailing list
- Build a referral program, including discounts or incentives, to boost word of mouth recommendations
- Give it away: distribute free samples or “how-to” help allowing customers try before they buy
- Demonstrate, in print, online or in-person, how your product or service is better, new, and different
- If applicable, investigate guerrilla marketing or street marketing options
- Explore influencer marketing — research where your audience hangs out and join the party
- Depending on your idea, budget, and marketing strategy, you can brand and distribute t-shirts, tote bags, phone chargers, Google Cardboard (and more)
- Include a contest to win your product or service…or a related prize
- Show up (and talk it up) in person at trade shows, expos, events, presentations and speaking opportunities
- Sponsor an event that your customer would attend or listen too — the best events to sponsor are those that promote YOU — in their emails, on promotional materials and at the actual event. Before investing in the event, make sure this level of promotion is included.
- Solicit reviews of your idea — on Yelp!, Google, Amazon or on sites more specific to your idea (tripadvisor, Opentable) — check out Hubspot’s 19 Online Review Sites for even more sites
In short, make a spectacle of yourself. Once you’ve built that, your customer will know exactly where to find you.
Interested in coaching to get customers? Contact Martha. Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based branding, marketing, content marketing and social media expert. Using traditional and online marketing strategies to start, grow and promote businesses, she works with startups, entrepreneurs and small- to medium-size companies. Let’s chat!