Once your product is ready for sale (and even before then) you need to think about marketing and launching your product to maximise your product sales.
Shona Chambers is a freelance marketing consultant with a career spanning in over 20 years, working with both large and small companies. She helps small business owners create marketing that sells their products and services.
These are some of her top tips on how to market and promote your physical product.
1. Start before your product’s ready
It’s so important to start building a rapport with the audience that you hope is going to buy your product before you even have anything to sell. Find out where your customers are online, start to build a presence and deliver content that is actually valuable to them.
You can’t really start that process too far in advance – even doing it six months ahead would give you a really good run-up. In this time you’d be focused on building an audience who’ll be so excited to hear from you when you’re ready to actually bring your products to market.
2. Build connections
Once you know who your audience is and who you’re trying to reach, the best thing that you can do is to start to look for them and engage with them. There are so many great communities already out there that you can become part of and build a relationship with people, so that when it comes time to you actually bringing out the product that you have for them, they already know, like and trust you.
You’re never too early to really start engaging with the audiences that will eventually become your customers.
3. Create interesting content that your customers are looking for
Look for the benefits that you’re bringing to people with your product and talk to them about that. You’re not trying to sell them on the actual thing – you’re trying to sell them on the experience that you’re going to offer them. If they’ve got a problem and you can help solve it, they’ll be grateful to hear about solutions.
4. Set up your own social media channels
Do this as possible, because it takes time to build an audience and you might find that you want people to be listening when you’ve got something to say to them. Decide which ones that you’re going to prioritise, then you can put time into engagement.
Think about where your audience already hang out on the internet. This may take a bit of research but is it Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? To figure this out you are looking for engaged communities discussing topics around your product. Depending on what you are launching some categories are more visible and easier to engage with than others. Once you have a good idea of this, you can decide which social media tool is best to be your primary point of contact for customers. If you find lots of brilliant Facebook groups for example with your target customer in, it makes sense to be active on facebook too, and bring people across to your own channels, but still engage in those places too.
I wouldn’t recommend trying to be everywhere because you’ve got to maintain those channels. Think about what kind of content you enjoy sharing. If you’re somebody that likes to do a lot of video and a lot of stories, then it might be that Instagram is a great place to be. If you prefer talking to a smaller audience, you might want to set up a Facebook group and start to do a few Lives in there.
It’s about trying to make sure that the profiles that you do establish feel natural and authentic to the product that’s coming. Why are you doing the thing that you’re doing? Why do you care? I think it helps when people can see why you’re aligned with the product that you’re trying to launch.
5. Start building an email list
I think social media is brilliant, and you should totally invest in it, but you also want to be gathering email addresses from people that would be interested to hear from you about your product.
When you have ‘met’ people online it can be a good idea to steer anyone interested towards a mailing list. Mailchimp is one free tool you can use up to 2,000 email addresses. Once people have agreed to receive your emails, set a regular contact period, a month, once a week, and stick to it. Send them content that really delivers value. Don’t oversell to them. Although it isn’t seen as a popular tool, having lots of email contacts is more valuable than lots of social media contacts, because they really see your content and can take direct actions from it.
Have a link to your email sign up everywhere. For example, on Instagram and Twitter, your website homepage, your Linkedin Bio, etc. Give people lots of opportunities to sign up, wherever you’re on social media.
Mention your call to action on all your marketing materials. If you want them to sign up to your email list, you need to tell them that. So never put anything on the internet without a clear call to action. And it works. You know, people, people are busy, people are bombarded, and I think making it as easy as possible to just get them to do that next step is the thing that works.
Maybe you’re just saying if you get on my email list, now you’ll be the first to hear when my product’s ready, or you’ll get 10% off the price. Whatever it is, give them a reason to sign up.
6. Create a lead magnet
A lead magnet is some kind of download that you provide, in exchange for someone signing up to your email list. If you’re not sure what topic would be most relevant for your customers, jump onto Google and look up topics around your product and see at what other people are searching for right now and use that to create some useful content.
Your lead magnet has to relate to a challenge your customer might have. Ideally your product would solve the problem they’ve got or at least be relevant.
For example, I have a free guide on how to swaddle your baby.
7. Think about creating a blog on your website
You want to be building up traffic to a website that you’ll eventually be selling your product on.
Blogging is one of those things that had a real moment a few years ago, but it’s still valuable today. It gives you something to share, you can pull out quotes to create posts for social media and if you can write a new piece of content ideally a few times a month it’s great for your website because Google loves new information.
If you’re talking about your topic and one of your blogs does particularly well, then that will start to be suggested to people in search results as well. So it’s kind of like having lots of little bites at the cherry to get people’s attention and have them coming back to your website.
8. Create a consistent email schedule that adds value
If people decide to sign up to your list, you need to tell them when they’re going to get an email from you and what they’ll get. I tell people that all the time on all my posts, that if you like my tips, sign up and you’re going to get an email every Friday for me with tips and articles. So that helps to build that trust that when I pop up in our inbox, they’re not surprised.
Your emails should be full of value. You don’t want to be selling in every email. You know, maybe one in four emails can be just about selling because people appreciate they’re on a commercial mailing list. And at the end of the day, hopefully they want to buy what you’re selling. The art of a good marketing email is something that delivers value that people are grateful to receive, but also it reinforces the fact that you are there to sell a product.
9. Get infront of other audiences
If you’ve got a product coming out, then you want to be getting, getting in front of the right audience. So you should be thinking about who has podcasts or who’s doing Facebook Lives. Can you maybe do a shared Facebook live with somebody else that’s relevant? It can be built in a discussion, but you can still add value and mention your product.
10. Have a (simple) plan for your marketing
A marketing plan, in its simplest form, is about getting you organised. You should have your business goals and then you decide how you’re going to achieve them using the communication channels that you have.
A marketing plan doesn’t have to be something that you have for even a year or longer. You can have it for three months. That’s quite a useful period to look at. For example, you might think about what’s going to be the big things for January, because January and February are massive months for sales. You’ve got Christmas out of the way and people are excited for something new.
Depending on what you sell, there’ll likely be dates, events and times of year that you can create relevant content around. Even brainstorming a list of topics to blog or post around is a good start.
Shona’s Book, 100 Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners, is available now