You’ve spent months, maybe years developing your product. You’ve done the market research, you’ve found a need in the market, and your product is the answer to that need. You know your product rocks. Now it’s time to market.
But where are your customers? How do you get to them? What makes them buy? Finding clients and leading clients to you is the difference between your awesome product soaring or sinking. Below are five tips to give your product custom, aftermarket, 3D-printed wings.
1. Understand The Agile Workplace
Agile is more than just a buzzword. Even large, slow-to-change companies are moving toward an agile workplace. To know who to market to, you must understand the theory behind agile practices.
The basic principle of an agile workplace is to create a culture of autonomy, flexibility, and equality. If an entry-level intern has a good idea, an agile workplace will honor that idea and individual with as much gusto as if the CEO thought it up.
Agile workplaces are picking up steam in 2019, and with good reason.
Even in legacy companies, technology and data are changing rapidly. A warehouse worker of yesterday is not a warehouse worker of today. A nurse of yesterday is not a nurse of today.
Reskilling employees is more ethical, more efficient, and more economical than churning through workers.
By adding new, tech-native talent, a partnership is formed between the experienced worker who knows the ins and outs of their job and the new worker who can deploy recent technological advancements to make those ins and outs run even more efficiently.
The agile workforce is designed to decrease the skills gap by sharing knowledge.
In the agile workplace, collaborating is more than getting rid of cubicle walls. It’s about understanding and honoring the individual skills of each employee and developing a “job description” that best leverages those skills for the betterment of the company.
Through collaboration, all pieces of the puzzle come together, instead of innate and invaluable skills of an employee going by the wayside because it exceeds the parameters of their job title.
War For Talent
As baby boomers are retiring, millennials are hitting middle age, and Gen Zers are entering the workforce, companies understand that, in order to attract top-tier talent, they must adjust their company offerings to appeal to those just entering the workforce.
An agile workplace does this by allowing for flexibility in the workplace. Today’s workers want to be able to work from home, and technology is making this easier through internal dashboards and collaboration tools like video conferencing.
New technology is forcing corporations to adapt or die. Because all levels of corporation in an agile workforce operate as a team, they are able to adapt quicker to change.
Ideally, they don’t have to go through the time-consuming process of formally pitching and elevating their ideas to the C-suite to get them implemented.
2. Create A Client Profile
Now that we know what an agile workforce is, we can better identify the person or persons who will benefit from your product. Going straight to the CTO won’t be effective if the CTO who will be using your product—even if they’re the one paying for it.
Therefore, your marketing should target the individual who will be using your product, not buying it.
You know what your product does. Now think about who specifically is going to use it. Think even narrower than the industry or company who will benefit from it. Think about the human being who is going to push your product’s literal or figurative buttons.
What is their education level? What are their hobbies? Who are their idols? What are their dreams? What could make their life easier?
Even if you’ve deployed some of the most innovative, technical, and genius ideas in your product, it will fail if you are marketing your tool’s savviness over what your tool will do for its user. They don’t care about any of the stuff you’ve accomplished or how you accomplished it.
You built the product. Now put all that hard, backend work behind you. Forget about it. Your only job now is to focus on the front end and put yourself in the mind of your target buyer.
Keep the user profile you created handy throughout every step of your branding journey. Print it up and frame it. Become its bff.
This is who you are marketing to. That means you might have to leave out jargon you may deem holy; it might mean downplaying the technical side of your masterpiece. It may mean completely ignoring every blood, sweat, and teardrop you put into your product. Your end user doesn’t care.
You solved your problems—creating the product—and now it’s time to solve theirs.
3. Spend Time With Your Target Market
Sweet, now you know who is going to be into your product. Time to get into their lives. Ditch the startup forums, the coding forums, the business forums you’ve spent ungodly hours on while developing your product and replace them with the types of places your target end user is hanging out.
Find them on Twitter and see what they’re posting and what hashtags they’re following. Interact with them and use some of those hashtags, too. Be one with your future customer.
Look into local meetups where your end users gather and hang out with them. Your goal here isn’t to sell them. It’s to build rapport, familiarity, and trust with them.
Startups come and go. To shed that one-night-stand stigma you need to show up, and you need to show up in a targeted and repeated way.
Build relevance by offering helpful content to your end user on your website. Making a sale is ultimately the end goal, but trust generates sales. Give freebies in the way of blogs and articles.
You are creating a reputation of generosity and trust when you create relevant, helpful content for someone who hasn’t given you a dime.
4. Utilize Organic SEO
Pumping your site full of keywords isn’t going to impress Google anymore. Google has evolved. Through big data and machine learning, Google is getting really good at detecting bullshit and punishing websites for it. How can you make the Google gods happy?
Create Quality Content
Good thing you built that user profile. Now create content with them in mind. Touch on industry pain points and solve those pain points, whether or not they relate directly to your product.
Stay On Top Of Industry News And Report On It
Again, you’re building trust in the fact that you even know what the heck it is they do. You’re bridging the gap between fancy-schmancy startup and the actual human who can benefit from your product.
Google Is Always Watching
They know how long your future clients are hanging around. Google wants to see them sit down with a cup of coffee, tea, or a beer—again, know your audience—and stay a while. Google punishes “pogo-sticking,” or swiftly clicking through tabs and posts.
Relevant content helps here, but it also needs to be visually appealing and in-depth. Since so many web users utilize their phones, even long articles benefit from graphics and short paragraphs to give the eyes a break.
Speaking of long articles, because Google has learned to reward quality, it also rewards longform content. Longform content is classified as blogs or articles that are at least 1,500 words. A 1,500-word article helps Google differentiate between a post full of surface-level fluffy pandering and real, actionable, helpful content.
You may be surprised to learn that longform content gets shared more often as well. Knowing your user and really reaching them through in-depth content means you’re writing specifically for them. You’re relating to them on a deeper level than 280 characters. Of course they’re more apt to share what you have to say.
It can be difficult to see the forest through the trees. You’re emotionally attached to your product; not the person who is going to be using it.
Hiring a freelancer or agency to help you with marketing, content writing, and trust building saves you time and stress. You’re going to need that energy because you’re playing…
5. Play The Long Game
If all of that seems overwhelming, it’s because it is. You’re playing the long game, here. Plan accordingly. Because startups are known to come and go, your only job now is to stick around and stay relevant.
Be Picky About Who You Take On As Customers
Don’t be so excited to get those first few sales that you aren’t selling to someone who will truly benefit from your product. Failing fast is a great philosophy when it comes to product development—not product deployment.
Customers who don’t perfectly fit your product are a liability. By being picky in the beginning, you save yourself the heartache of returns, cancellations, and bad word-of-mouth.
All you’re going to have to go on in the beginning is your reputation. You need testimonials and happy customers to grow. Make Sure You Have Happy Customers.
Stay Connected With You Customers
Follow up so know whether or not your product is meeting their needs. Be receptive to feedback. They are the end user, not you. Set your ego aside and consider any pain points they present you with. Fix them or teach them how to navigate around them.
Build your client base slowly and selectively, listen to feedback, and improve your product. Again, you’re building trust in your product and your company brand by making improvements requested by clients.
Be available. Make your contact information easy to find on your website. Hyperlink your email within the blogs and articles you post. Respond to comments immediately. Don’t be shady and mysterious. Remember, trust begets sales.
You dreamt of your product, inseminated it, grew it, and eventually birthed it, but you’re not a Dot-Com Boom turtle and you can’t abandon it now. Your product needs to be spoon fed to its end user. It needs to crawl before you can improve on it and make it run, and it’s going to need its diaper changed a few times in the process.
Set yourself up for success by marketing with eyes wide open. Understand the inner workings of your future client. Create a culture of trust, reliability, and loyalty before you’ve even made the sale. Cultivate a brand persona not of an entrepreneur with a dream, but of a reputable, sustainable business.