Thinking old and going digital
Ed Ackman shares 11 time-honoured marketing principles that are just as relevant as ever in a digital business world. I’m a dinosaur. I had advertising and marketing companies, but that was a while ago when the only marketing choices were radio, print, poster and TV. It got me wondering if the basic marketing techniques that […]
Ed Ackman shares 11 time-honoured marketing principles that are just as relevant as ever in a digital business world.
I’m a dinosaur.
I had advertising and marketing companies, but that was a while ago when the only marketing choices were radio, print, poster and TV.
It got me wondering if the basic marketing techniques that worked so well then would do the same in the digital age.
There was only one way to find out.
So five years ago I built a prototype product, set up a Chinese manufacturer, built a site on Weebly and launched. It worked well enough that three years later I had a large chunk of cash in the bank, and a problem. It was growing bigger than I could handle by myself on my laptop.
My original marketing question now having been answered, I sold the business for a profit.
“Good for him”, I hear you say, and I have to admit, it was satisfying that it all worked but, truthfully, it wasn’t all that hard.
Times have changed. The most significant communication tool that’s happened in the last 30 years (possibly ever) is the Internet and it’s as important to business as was the industrial revolution.
If you’d be interested in starting or maintaining a business like the above, here are my guiding principles – condensed but never complete:
1. If you say you can, you can.
Whilst most suspect that this is true, many feel that selling on the Internet isn’t something that they could become involved in as it’s far too complicated to learn, difficult to control and too technical to administer.
Just not true!
However, there are a few considerations if you’d like to market profitably on the worldwide web. Incredibly, they’re all Marketing 1.1. Truly basic!
2. Massive reach at a tiny cost.
Along with all the information overload that comes with such a powerful medium, there is a great opportunity.
Global marketing from your own keyboard.
You can now create a marketing business that reaches around the world at a cost unimaginable only a few years ago. Don’t be overpowered by the unlimited options on offer. To start, just choose the few you want and understand.
3. There’s nothing new in the world of marketing.
Facebook, Instagram, Google Words etc are only there so that you can attract audiences to view, consider and buy your product. There are many other familiar ways to achieve this that do not involve paying the margin these people ask for.
Pick up the phone, send out samples, identify re-sellers, imbed yourself on others’ newsletters, get onto the e-newsletters of publications that relate to your market. How many more can you think of?
4. Don’t be afraid to fail.
The cost of selecting a product that does not sell or an unsuccessful execution is almost nil. All you need is a URL (web address) for $20 or less and an Internet site that can be built for absolutely nothing through the very many uncomplicated online builders offered on the web.
Valuable experience comes from learning to use the tools.
5. Don’t use your own money.
The Internet has made it standard procedure to pay for goods remotely when you order them. So if, for instance, you have a production run coming up, why not announce a special pre-purchase offer with a future delivery date.
I did! So I didn’t ever have to put my hand in my pocket for manufacture – the money was all there before I started.
6. You’re not inventing the wheel.
Any product you choose does not have to be original or one that other people are not already selling. Think of your experience as a client – if you were to buy almost anything on the Internet you can rest assured that there would be identical offerings elsewhere which you wouldn’t have ever seen.
7. Always work within your own knowledge and experience.
If you know about cars, boats, fashion, confectionary, technology etc, then leverage up that experience into making a product offering that you would find tempting and then translate into something that reflects this feeling.
Buy into your own dream.
8. Too much service is not enough.
Your product is only half of what you’re offering. Ease of ordering, prompt and polite communication, efficient delivery, effective problem solving and keeping your promises are just the bare bones of the other 50 percent. Try calling a customer instead of texting or emailing. Believe me, they’ll be gob-smacked!
9. Solve a problem.
Good marketing involves a solution. Ask yourself, within your area of expertise, what needs to be solved, that is not solved. Maybe something that annoys you. That’s a great starting point, but even if you can think of it probably someone else has thought of it before you.
Don’t be discouraged, your solution could be much better than theirs.
10. Third party endorsement.
This still remains the most effective tool for selling your product. Customers who tell other customers that they like your product and what it does are your most powerful allies. It’s wise to start marketing your product to identified market influencers – those people who are widely recognised as experts who know what they’re talking about and whose endorsement will be believed by your prospective clients. That’s why they’re called influencers.
11. Fish where there are fishes.
A great deal of money is spent marketing too widely, where so much of the message is lost on people who cannot or will not ever buy your product. By considering your market before you actually execute your plan you can reach the real prospects in the most effective possible way.
Personally, you may be the market, or not. Doesn’t matter. You are only a sample of one. Many people have grown very rich selling products that they wouldn’t have in their own home. Don’t ever forget it.
Remember, when people ask “what can I do”, the answer may not be “anything”, but simply “something”.
The world is full of people avoiding tempting possibilities.
Don’t you be one.
Ed Ackman lives in Takapuna, having owned and operated ad agencies and working for both local and international clients for more than three decades. He is a marketing consultant and copywriting creative, with many awarded campaigns. In the 1990s his was the first Australian agency to build commercial Internet sites selling products online. Email [email protected]