Sharon Greenberg is the CEO of CryptoNext plc.
The hi-tech world is all about innovation, but selling a spanking new product or service can be a daunting prospect when your target audience has little or no understanding of what it is you do. If you don’t know where to start with marketing your business, here’s my guide to selling a product no one understands.
Educate your audience
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
The first thing you need to do is educate your audience. Establish your target market, then provide informative materials using engaging media such as infographics, videos and simplified guides to effectively communicate the problem that your product is solving, and explain why your audience needs it.
Don’t assume any foreknowledge, but don’t talk down to your audience either; use images, analogies, graphs and figures – and if possible, humor – to avoid sounding patronizing.
Providing informative materials and engaging on online forums or platforms such as Quora will not only help explain your product but will also generate interest from the right people, and quickly establish you as an industry expert in a field which is not yet saturated with digital content.
Put the horse before the cart
Often, it is not your just product that requires explanation but the system on which the product is based. For example, my company provides platforms for digital currencies such as Bitcoin. Before I can market my platform, I often have to explain digital currencies and their merits; only then can I sell the products that complement their use.
As above, providing informative materials, giving talks, blogging and sharing industry news will make people associate your brand with this new area of business, giving you a strong first mover advantage.
Repetition, repetition, repetition
When your product is not well known or understood, purposely making your target audience hear about it often will create a level of familiarity that can add credibility and spark the curiosity to learn more. There are plenty of inexpensive online advertising solutions that are designed to re-appear, thus planting your brand firmly in the consciousness of your customer.
Make sure you post content regularly on social platforms and repost some of your more successful entries. You can use time-saving tools and applications to schedule social media posts in advance.
Try to attend conferences and events regularly and put your name on everything you can get your hands on – cheap sponsorships at local events can get your brand seen by the right people and in a new market that can actually work.
Keep it light hearted
Humor is a great way to break the ice, and with products that are unfamiliar, this persona is even more important. The emergence of social network platforms as important marketing tools has affected the type of content that is acceptable in business.
Lighthearted materials with a good blob of personality are no longer seen as unprofessional – just be cautious and keep them tasteful.
Quote facts and statistics
You can’t argue with well-researched, carefully-sourced facts and figures. This will add credibility to your pitch or marketing materials and inspire confidence in both you and your product.
Remember to include the source of any external information that you use, as well as the date or broader context if applicable. When using images, graphs or figures, make sure that you are not in breach of any restrictions on use.
Create excellent materials and be social about it
There is nothing worse than marketing materials that contain mistakes, or a poorly-designed website. Take the time to create professional-looking tools that keep with the latest technological developments, and ask for help with proof-reading.
Consumers expect hi-tech companies to have a broad understanding of social networking and online marketing tools. Regularly maintaining social network profiles, posting intelligent content, having a kick-ass website and polished presentations will show your consumers, investors and community that you know what you are doing.
Even if your product is brand new, there will always be a small community of people who understand it. Connecting with them on social outlets can open doors and provide invaluable insights.
Use online and offline methods to engage with those who do understand your product, or the technology it is based on, and find out how they came to discover it, why they are drawn to it and what their concerns are. This can help you better understand your target audience, adapt your marketing strategy and engage your community to build a fan base.
Be friendly in your messaging and encourage consumers to communicate with you by sounding open and approachable. A great example is a charming message that I received from Buffer when I signed up for the service:
“I’m guessing it’s not every day that you sign up for a new service. That’s why I want to make sure everything is in place for you to feel welcome and at home. On the slightest whim, please drop us a line or Tweet us.”
Social platforms may seem to have taken over traditional methods of communication, but sometimes consumers just want to pick up a phone. Make sure that your telephone, fax and email details are available on your website, and provide extra communication tools such as live chat or a quick contact form.
Where possible, provide personal email addresses and direct telephone numbers for staff members so that they can be contacted directly.
Remain open minded
Test different strategies for online and offline marketing and keep in mind that you may have to adapt your methods. Analytics are an essential tool for tracking real results not just perceived successes, and are provided by most online platforms.
Tools such as SimplyMeasured provide free social media analytics reports across a variety of platforms. Importantly, create your own analytics based on what motivated you to try new marketing strategies and record your rationale, methods and results for every time you make a change. You may be surprised by the common denominator of your successes.
Share the love
A new thing is an exciting thing, and your enthusiasm will rub off on your consumers if you share it. Don’t hold back on your affection for your product – let it shine through and others will love it too.
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