We discuss the different ways you can promote and market your business:
- Public Relations
- Content Marketing
- Community Building
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Business Development
- Direct Sales
- Affiliate or Commision-Based Marketing
- Paid Advertising
This episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast was turned into a blog post here: How To Get Customers For Your Business
S: Hello and welcome to another episode of the lazy entrepreneur. I am your host, Sam Priestley, and once again I am joined by Emma Priestley, my wife. Say hello Emma:
S: So for the last couple of episodes we’ve used a new format, so let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org. So let us know what we can do with these podcasts, I am open to suggestions. A few people mentioned they’d like to hear a jingle at the beginning. If you’re a jingle producer to create one for me, I’d really appreciate that. Alright, on for today’s topic. Today I’d like to talk about how to get customers for your business. So we’re assuming you’ve got a business, you’ve got a product to sell, there’s a blog that you’re writing that you want people to read, software as a service that you want people to sign up for. Maybe start freelancing and you’re trying to get customers. Generally, the way you market these businesses is quite specific. And some general guidelines we can follow, or pretty much all of them. And hopefully this gives you a look into how I think about marketing, how I think about getting customers. So what we’re looking at today are marketing split into 10 different categories, and generally what I try to do with any of my business is to do a bit of trial and error for each of these types of marketing and I see which ones work and then I really go in deep onto that one type. Generally, you’ll find that one will work really well for a while and you’ll reach a saturation point and then it is time to move onto the next one. Or you change your product slightly on the original product you’re doing, and then you tweak the product, or you get higher margins so you can spend a bit more and do a different style of marketing. It’s one of those. So we’ll cover a bit about each of these and then we’ll talk a little bit about how I’ve implemented each one to a business. And Emma is going to help with that because she is a marketer. She was a marketing manager at PWC and then freelanced doing digital marketing for a year and a half after that.
S: So we’ll get a pretty good discussion out of that and hopefully you don’t disagree with everything I say.
E: I think I will because I am a corporate sellout and you’re the entrepreneurial do things differently.
How do Sam and Emma’s approaches to marketing differ? [02:44]
S: You’ve actually odne courses, I just make things up as I go along. Alright, let’s dive in. So the first one I want to talk about is PR, public relations. And by that one I mean is getting other people to write about you or produce content for you that can be other bloggers, it can be from instagram, but generally we’re talking about media, about newspapers, online news signs, stuff like that. One of the reasons I really like this type of marketing is that it doesn’t cost you anything. You may have to hire someone to do it or your time to do it but you’re not actually paying them any money for you to appear in their newspaper if you just get all that free publicity. It’s something that Donald Trump has honestly done very well when it comes to his presidential election, he has an incredible amount of free publicity by creating these PR storms that people just love to write about, as compared to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump was the first person who spent less and won, which is quite interesting and shows the power of this type of marketing.
What type of marketing did Donald Trump use well in the presidential election? [03:30]
It is also quite a daunting one and one that I’ve only really started doing since pretty much Pipehouse Gin about a year ago. Like how do you get in touch with newspapers? How do you write a press release? How do you provide – who do you email? Editor at the times dot com or something? Editor at bbc news dot com? These are obviously really big companies that specialize in just that. People that are probably ex-editors of these places that have all of the contacts and it is a bit of an old boys network. It works very well.
What sort of marketing did Pipehouse Gin use? [04:51]
S: So for pipehouse gin, we went quite a traditional route. We submitted a press release statement which went out to all of the local newspapers and media outlets about something that is interesting about our business. We just won an award, or we have a new flavor coming out, or a launch party coming up, or any excuse. We will send it out, if it’s an event we might invite some of the journalists along as well or the local bloggers or the instagram celebrities. And hope that they will then translate the sort of information we have given them into newsworthy articles.
E: Yeah and we also attach some professional photos of the product and of us because we wanted to promote ourselves and tell the story. So, actually having pictures of us was quite crucial in that.
S: Yeah definitely. It is kind of like we wrote that article for them. We gave them a structure of what we thought they might want to write, we gave them the pictures, and just made it very easy for the journalist to turn that into something. It works quite well in the local settings like where we are. Especially for a small time business, local newspapers or bloggers want to hear about the latest Kent gin .They’re all keen to write about it and they notoriously don’t have much to fill their papers with.
E: We’re doing them a favor
S: THis process wouldn’t work so well in much bigger places and it’s a sort of PR that we’re probably going to outgrow at some point but right now it’s working quite well for us. The other side of PR is what, called like PR stunt where we do something potentially outrageous or silly to try and get sort of media attention.
E: Like BrewDog
What sort of PR does Brewdog use? [06:48]
S: Brew dog is a good example they’re constantly doing things to get people to write about them. Whether that is brewing beer while skydiving or any sort of craziness. There’s loads of examples like people who protest their own store opening. Which is something I really like the idea of to create a sort of false outrage to trying to get people to hate their product. There was one writer who wrote a book about picking up women and his marketing strategy was to contact all the feminist groups and try and arrange protests against his new book. So he created a big uproar on one side so that people could disagree with him, and even if they don’t then people will still just come hear about it.
How can outrage be leveraged for success in marketing? [07:20]
S: I always think about blogs and blogging and youtubers and generally if you’re liked by everyone then you’re loved by no one. We’re quite a clanny people. People like outrage, they like, there’s something about being unpleasant that makes people want to write about you or be really polarizing. It’s something I don’t really do on my blog because I quite like being liked by people, but I know if I start having opinions on controversial subjects, not only will I get people writing about me to support me but I also have people writing about me to disagree with me, and all of those people that are disagreeing with me will be inadvertently promoting stuff. Giving me extra SEO, introducing me to their audiences, most of whom have probably never even heard of me.
E: Yeah, but you don’t want to go down that route from a personal perspective.
S: Yeah, but in some ways PR is the most exciting type of marketing. If you have a really good creative idea for a PR stunt, it can translate into something really great.
E: Would you want to talk about the video.
What is content marketing? [09:37]
S: I do but I think there’s the next topic of marketing I want to talk about ,which is content marketing. So I am differentiating slightly between PR and content marketing because content marketing is when you’re creating something, a blog post, video, instagram pages, whatever, you have control over the content vs. PR where you are trying to get other people to write about you. And there is a bit of a crossover, so you can do something with your content marketing which leads to more PR and other people are then writing about you, sort of a classic example of this is stuff that goes viral. Say a video. That you create like a–the example from my experience is from our table tennis business, we created a video of me learning to play table tennis, it was kind of a one second a day video going from a complete beginner to fairly good, and that video did really really well. It was shared by lots of people, it went viral, and it now has over 10 million views and has led to a bunch of other PR. We were on BBC news, a few TV shows, all sorts of newspapers. And also to some extra sales for our table tennis business, and some extra SEO for my own personal blog. But all around, that was something where we created content with the hope that other people would look at it and it would help whatever else we were doing at the time. Another would be my blog where I am trying to produce good quality content that people like and people read but that hopefully will then lead to some sort of marketing for me whether that is someone will go out and buy a bottle of our gin because I have told them you really know in depth how to start a gin business, or someone might sign up something unaffiliated with a commission. Content marketing is something that you’ll see quite regularly basically most articles you see online by any sort of businesses is content marketing . you often have whole teams to do it, they’ll hire people out to create content that keeps people interested. And I’d include social media as well, where one of our directors on Pipehouse Gin is in charge, she takes pictures, does some nice animations under the hope that people will see that and go off and buy our products. Content marketing is one that I think is a bit more wishy washy, it’s not my favorite which you might be surprised about because I have a whole website about that, but you can go viral and the work will be totally worth it, or you can spend two years writing blog posts and no one reads it at all. It is something that could work but it isn’t my favorite it. There is no guarantee. Compared to something like PR, where if you get into a newspaper, that will translate into something good for you because they already have a readership.
How does Sam feel about content marketing? [12:45]
By producing the content yourself when you don’t have leadership, knowing how that’s going to go down is a lot more variable.
E: On that, what do you think it was about the youtube video of you playing table tennis one second a day that made it go viral?
Sam and Emma discuss viral content [13:36]
S: I think it was that it shows what it takes and generally it seems that what it takes is a critical mass of interest in a short period of time. So with that table tennis video, it wasn’t that we slowly got loads of views over a load of time. 9 and a half million of those views happened in over a two year period. But what made it go viral first was a lot of views, probably about 40,000 in the space of a few hours and that kind of trending really pushed it up and then pushed it into a lot of other people’s consciousness. So it reached the front page of reddit, we were on the youtube trending for a while. Then loads of other people picked it up and started promoting it, loads of mainstream media. Which then looked like a long tail of the majority of views that you ended up getting. So there are ways to game this system. There are ways to fund the clap for twitter, where you get a group of people together who support you and then you all tweet about the same hashtag or subject at the same time within a few seconds of each other and that will push you up into the trending section. There are more black hat ways of doing it. Reddit has an up or downvote system, so some hackers create loads of fake accounts and then upvote their own stuff to try and force it, to try and set off the avalanche. But there are people who are experts in creating viral content, knowing a bit about psychology, what people want to see, tweet their interest. The wording, the imagery, the outrage, And you see them all the time. So a recent one I saw is that someone posted that he had got in an uber and the uber driver took him to a baseball game and he had a spare ticket and there were pictures of him in the uber and then gave him the ticket and then they all went and watched a game together. And that went viral, loads of people read about it and loved it, but then it quickly transpired after people did some digging. The guy who created it was a marketing specialist who happened to be working for a company that was hired by uber in order to create viral marketing. There is quite a lot of that going around. And it is the stuff that you can do to your own advantage. It is not something I would really spend much time looking into or doing. But it does work. And again it is kind of thinking creatively outside of the box. Ways in which you can get that interest. I suppose the other way you can have that kind of instant viralness is by already having a large community or audience that you can push out to. Which brings me to our next form of marketing.
What is community building? [16:47]
This is where your focus is on building a loyal fanbase or really selling or really marketing to people who have already heard about you or already are your customers. So now we’ll talk about building an email list and sending out emails. Let’s say you saved the email of everyone who’s bought your product on your online website, and then when you release a new product you send out to all the people on your list. Or you upsell. They buy one thing, and then you send an email about whatever the next step is. Or, if you’re not actually sending something, you could do it the other way around, where you try and get people onto your email list, maybe free content marketing, and then hopefully turn them into loyal customers way down the road. I am also talking about having lots of followers on social media. WIth our instagram post, that is content marketing but it is also community building. We’re trying to get as many followers as possible. Right now, we’re running a giveaway where if you like or share a post, and tag in a friend, then you’ll be entered into a free giveaway for a bottle of gin with the hope that this will be pushed out, people will share it, it will have enough of a spread that we’re now getting more customers and followers and more people who have heard about us basically. Now, community building works really really well if you have the type of product that loyal fan base would be into. Particularly if you are doing something quite creative. Let’s say you’re writing a comic book, or doing an online webcomic, or running a youtube series or writing a blog, all of those things rely on a big community or following, whereas if you’re doing something different like selling table tennis bats, its harder to build a loyal fan base of people who are into your table tennis products
E: Also, it would be harder for them to become a return customer wouldn’t it.
S: It will be harder to make them a loyal customer, and also it’s a game that people love. If you’re cards against humanity and people love your board game and PR stunts, then that builds your customer base. That is not always the case. Some brands have done a really good job of building a loyal fan base. THink about Apple and all their crazy fans. Think about the supreme, the clothing brand, who have hour long queues to buy their stuff. THink about high fashion that has built a loyal fan base that has a value in itself, where people put more value on a brand than they would if it was more generic. I am going to take a slightly different twist with the next one. Let’s talk about events.
What role do events play in marketing? [20:27]
S: WHere I am going with events is more talking about building a presence. Building sort of what people know about your product, on the marketing not on the direct sales. FOr gin, we do market stalls. For one, we’re making money off of them. We’re there, we’re getting sales. But the more important thing is that it brings people to us, it is a kind of free advertising because we’re covering all our costs by selling there, but then we’re also handing out fliers, and everyone sees us as they’re walking past.
E: ANd it also gives us an opportunity to talk to our customers. So some people say that they saw us in the paper and really wanted to buy a bottle. Or i saw you in our local pub and I wanted to come and meet you. Whatever it is, it gives us an opportunity to see what marketing is working.
S: Yeah, and there’s a bit of community building in there as well. They’ve met the makers, and now when they buy a bottle of gin as a present, they’ll buy ours because they have a story. So that’s market stalls. There’s also going to trade shows to meet customers. We’re spending quite a lot of money on a stall and on staff to man it, but then also hoping to build off customers on the back of that. Build publicity for whatever it is you’re selling. Or we can do some market research to see what over stuff is working, what people like about the brand. I’ve also put down here speaking engagements, so talking at conferences. Things like that. And then there is the slightly different side of the events, which is going to other people’s events vs. putting on events yourself. When we launched the gym, we had a launch party where we invited local media and the press and tried to create a bit of a buzz about us in the local area. We had a bit of PR and told local newspapers what was happening.
E: ANd the local bloggers as well. All the amateurs that have really big followings locally.
S: ANd people who are amateur photographers. Instagram photographers as well who can come along and take some nice pictures. THis kind of event marketing is what Emma used to specialize in when she worked at PWC.
Emma describes her specialty within marketing [23:09]
E: Yeah I love it, it is all about meeting customers face to face and having a relationship with them, getting to know them, and then promoting your product or service. It is all about developing relationships rather than a hard core sales.
S: So PWC where obviously what you’re selling is worth millions and millions of pounds, spending quite a lot of money on an event where only us small group of people are coming but are all high value customers, you’re not selling them anything then and there, but you’re hoping to build that relationship and do some marketing to let them know about you. HOpefully that will then translate later into big sales.
E: Yeah, the ultimate goal was always first of all the decision makers turned up to the event and then second of all, we would get a follow up meeting in their office with one of our directors or partners to then have a more formal business conversation rather than a more broader hot topic related conversation or even a personal conversation.
What are direct sales? [24:15]
S: WHich brings me on to the next one. Let’s talk about direct sales, which is when you’re actually speaking to people one on one. So direct sales in what you just said would be your directors coming to your office and then selling something in person. For us, Pipehouse Gin, that is going into local bars and restaurants and trying to get them then and there. Or maybe in the future to place an order with us. That is also going to biggest distributors or supermarkets. Pitching to their buyer team and then hoping they’re going to place a big order. Direct sales works very well for something like Gin, but it doesn’t work well for something like my blog, where for each reader of the blog, I make a very very small amount of money and so actually me talking to everyone, me going and walking the street and trying to get people that I meet randomly to read my blog is not a very good long term marketing business. Whereas on the flipside, if you’re working for PWC, maybe going through and trying to sell directly to the CEO of the top 500 companies in the UK directly might be a very good use of your time. It might be you spend a year and only get one sale, but that sale could be work it. So this is kind of dependent on your business. But where it could work better for smaller business is affiliate based marketing or commission based marketing.
What marketing might work best for smaller business? [25:50]
S: This is where you are getting other people to market your business and you’re paying them to do it through commission. An example could be say pipehouse gin. We could find and influencer through instagram. We could go to them and say, let’s do a deal. If you post about our stuff, we’ll give you a discount code and anyone who uses that code, we’ll give you a commission. Say, 1 or 2 pounds a bottle for any sale that you directly deliver. It is also one of the ways I make money on my blog. A company will come to me and say, you need to talk about our product, talk about it a bit more and any sale you drive to us, we’ll give you a percentage of whatever they’ve done. It is what amazon does quite a lot. I’ll tell you about the microphone we’re using right now for this podcast, and if you go buy it off amazon, I’ll get a bit of commission. Affiliate marketing works well because you don’t have to have any upfront costs. It is all about the cost, the costs are back loaded so you can open up your affiliations to anyone. You can have just a sign up thing on your page and then anyone can sign up and start promoting it. It is also refer a friend deals. If you have a good community, all of your customers could get a refer a friend deal. For everyone else they refer, they will get a bit of money or a bonus.
E: Or a percentage of your product or service.
S: Affiliate marketing works very well for software as a service type business. Business where there isn’t really an upfront cost to the product. IT could work quite well for Pipehouse Gin but we couldn’t get everyone in the world signed up using and promoting it because we can’t deal with that sort of quantity and there’s quite a lot of costs per product that we’re selling. Maybe the commision we can give people probably isn’t really worth their time. Whereas let’s say I have a video course online on how to play table tennis, and everyone who signs up to it pays 100 pounds. It doesn’t matter because it’s just a download and the cost per sale is low to me, so I could afford to give people who are affiliated with me very high commissions, say 50%, which means that suddenly, someone getting to buy a bottle of gin could be worth only 1 pound while getting someone to sign up for the video course could be worth 50 pounds. That is how commission based things work, it is only worth the time of the people you’re getting to do it if you can get them a decent chunk. Next, I am going to talk about business development.
What is business development [29:33]
S: Business development is used to talk about a few different things and often if you find people hiring a business dev manager, what they often mean is just a salesperson. That is not what I am talking about here, I am talking about building relationships with other business where you can do a sort of collaborations or partnerships or joint marketing stuff that benefits both of you, where you coming together, leveraging both of your audiences and communities actually benefits both of you. So this could be, I actually haven’t written down any examples here. Let’s say with my blog. It could be working with another blogger and us both producing a bit of content together and then pushing out to both of our audiences. If you have a youtube channel, it could be having other youtubers onto your channel and doing collaborative videos that hopefully both of your audiences will want to listen to. With your podcast, it could be having guests on that my guests would want to hear from and then combining audiences. Let’s say you have a big brand, it could be partnership deals or Coca Cola or teaming up with someone where they end up building something or creating something that is more than the sum of their parts.
E: And both their followings have a mutual interest.
S: BUsiness development can work very well and come quite naturally just by networking and being friendly and helping out other people in your business or industry. So, for instance, with the gin, because I have written quite frankly about what it takes to start a gin business, quite a few other people who own alcohol business have contacted me just for a chat. Not wanting anything from me, but by talking to them we’re able to share tips, like saying what margin they got with distributors
What are the benefits of talking to other businesses within your market? [31:27]
S: So generally, I think it is a good idea to be on good terms within your industry because you can help each other. It’s not a zero sum game, but generally, by working together, you can grow the market and can benefit both of you.
E: Yeah, you can better both of your businesses.
S: One sort of example of how we’re doing this at the moment with the gin is by going around and doing professional photography at each of the bars. So we’re paying the money it takes to get all of those lovely pictures, and now these pictures, they can use for their own marketing and they can use for our marketing. We don’t need to rent a location to take great pictures and they don’t need to hire a photographer to take great pictures. Alright, let’s talk very quickly about Search Engine Optimization.
What is SEO? [32:30]
This is a bit more specific topic but I have put it up because it is very important, especially if you’re running an online business. And this is about hitting high on the search terms. It is called SEO, but really what I am talking about is whatever platform it is that you want to appear high on. It could be google, youtube, amazon, if we want to appear high when someone searches for gin. SEO is a skill in itself and it is often combined with a bit of content marketing, right in the stuff that you know people want to read and will get people coming back to the website.
E: It’s popular.
S: Yes, it’s popular but it’s also about PR as well. One way to appear high is to have links coming in from other places. These are the only two other things that are important for optimization. You want as many readers and customers as possible because surf engines are quite good at picking up on that. And you want people linking to you.
E: Making you look credible.
S: So let’s talk about biz dev again, what a lot of bloggers do is they’ll get friendly with the other bloggers in their industry and then they’ll link to each other so their combined SEO rankings go up. It is quite important so those are really the two things. You have good content, quality stuff that people want to see and you get as many people as possible going to you and linking to your site. And that is all I am going to see about search engine optimization because it is quite a big topic but is something you should take quite seriously. Onwards, and for the last two that I want to talk about are paid advertising.
Discussion on paid advertising [34:46]
S: So first I’ll talk about general paid advertising and then second, I am going to talk about pay per click advertising. First, with general paid advertising is say I talked to a newspaper, they’ve got an advert section where I can put like a big banner or a picture of our gin or whatever it is we’re trying to sell and get people going onto it. Or yeah. So if your Emma’s Nomad Kitchen or supper clubs, you can put a banner up somewhere and get people coming along. Generally paid advertising is easy to get into because anyone will take your money really to appear on it, versus PR where you are putting it in the same paper but you’re not paying for it, and people know what is and what isn’t and advert, and so will more likely trust the one that isn’t. But it is also hard to track how well it is doing. One of the nice things about most of the other things we talked about is you can very easily see the return on investment for what you’re putting in. Whereas with the paid advert, say you spent 1000 pounds for a paid advert in 10 different newspapers, we don;’t have a good way of tracking whether it was worth it.
E: Yeah, you could do a specific email address just for that ad.
S: Yeah, you can do a different phone number so you can track that way, you can have a discount code so you can track it that way.
E: WHich will help you to decide or how you do that again.
S: But then on the flip side of that is sometimes when you’re doing advertising, you aren’t looking for direct sales. So with advertising what you’ll find that it’s very difficult to track, or if you can find a paid advert that is a direct RoI. Really it is more for the direct promotion of your brand. They say the average person needs to see your brand seven times in order to remember it. So maybe our target is doing market stalls, so maybe doing adverts in a few different papers, so they see paid adverts on facebook that are targeted at people who live locally, and then we have it on the front of shelves in local bars, and I think that is the better way to focus on paid advertising. Especially ones where you are just paying a set amount for a banner, or paying a certain amount for an advertorial. That is where you write a fake article that is really just an advert but it is kind of presented as if it were a normal piece of journalism or a blog. That is one type of paid advertising.
What is the other type of paid advertising? [37:49]
S: The other type is pay per click which you can only really do online. For obvious reasons, because the way it works is you pay per person who clicks on whatever it is and then goes to your website. This sort of advertising is very good for very specific tracking, so you can get a very direct RoI for whatever you’re putting in. And if you get it right it’s amazing because it’s instantly scalable. The more money you put in, as long as you have a formula that works and you’re getting it for a cost per click that you know will turn into sales, you can scale it right up.
E: THe other thing is you can pick a specific audience as well. Whether it’s geography, agenda, or age. You can be selective of your demographic as well.
S: You can if you’re doing it on facebook
E: Or linked in
S: And that is the value in that sort of social media advertising. YOu can also just do general pay per click ads on someone’s blog for instance. You have no idea who the audience is, you just know there are people who paid that blog and that might be the type of audience you’re looking for. Or you’re looking for some keywords and you know what words translate into sales for you/
E: How does it work with Amazon?
S: Amazon is similar. It’s pay per click. It is quite simple, where you target keywords either manually or they have an automated thing where it will sort of look for what people have searched for and then bought your products and then target them. And then what you can do with the automated one is you can go back and then remove key words that aren’t relevant to you. So for instance, with our table tennis bats, with automated advertising, we’ll find that we’re finding search terms that are for tennis bats, or tennis rackets, so we can go back and remove them. Amazon advertising obviously works very well for direct metrics because we go on their platform and then it tells you directly your cost of sale. The percentage of each sale that you’ve spent on advertising. Yeah, we can do that with the gin and the table tennis stuff at the moment. You can build in that sort of direct tracking with facebook adverts, with google adverts as well. Technology is very clever these days so you can track with someone who clicks the link on google. You can track them right through to the shopping cart on your website. If you’re running a restaurant where you want bookings, you can track people going through to your booking form and see how many happened and see how many turned up to see if it was worth it. If you take phone bookings, you can track how many people phoned you based off the advert. You can have a specific phone number in the advert and then have automated software which tracks how that is getting on. Alright, those are my 10 forms of marketing that we got into. We’ve got public relations, content, community building, events, SEO, biz dev, direct sales, affiliate marketing or commission based marketing, page advertising, and paid advertising via pay per click. I know we whizzed through quite quickly and each could be multiple hour long podcast in themselves, so if you have any questions please email me and hopefully at some point I’ll turn them into a really in depth blog post with examples and how to go on each one. So if you have any advice or tips, please email me email@example.com, I would really appreciate it if you could leave me a good review on itunes.