African entrepreneurs want and need low-cost ways to attract future customers. You have new brands for your country and our continent, so we need new ways to help the brand (product or service) stand out from the crowd.
Jayson DeMers, professor and founder of AudienceBloom has studied several companies who successfully used creative and low-cost techniques to create a buzz for their products and services. Read on to find out how to attract attention and generate excitement about your brand.
A creative marketing hook
A marketing hook is simply a short message intended to capture attention and get people talking. Ideally, it will leave people wanting more. A creative hook can/should be any of the following:
A short phrase that conveys your unique value proposition
A ‘slant’ or angle for your business: something that gets people talking to their friends
A catchy jingle, message or unique offer
An important benefit
Some examples could be:
A restaurant: “We offer authentic Italian pizza until 10pm….or until the dough runs out.”
A gym: “The only ladies’ only fitness facility in the city.”
A lead generation website: “Find out the secret to closing 80% of your deals by downloading this free guide.”
Offering a wait list for your product or service can be risky, but it can also help contribute to a sense of anticipation and scarcity; both of which can generate huge buzz for your business.
Wait lists are hugely popular right now for apps and new social networking platforms. Test out wait lists for new products, services and events. Offer “limited” seating at webinars and live events. During busy times, put clients on a wait list for your services rather than telling them you’ll get in touch when you have an opening.
Teasers, hints, sneak peaks…(…) by sharing enticing details of an upcoming product or promotion, you pique interest and leave people wanting more.
Build up anticipation by hinting at what’s to come. For instance, instead of simply posting a contest on social media, start hinting at it in the week or two prior. Leak out bits of information to give your followers a chance to anticipate what you have in store.
(…) People want to buy from those whom they know and trust. Being transparent is a key ingredient for building this trust. Some ways you can be transparent include:
Be honest, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Share your personal side by offering honest opinions and personal anecdotes.
Be open in your communication with employees: an employee who feels trusted and valued can be a great brand ambassador.
Be accountable: Be prepared to take responsibility for mistakes or oversights.
Be open with prospects about your intentions or goals: People know you’re in business to make money, so there’s no need to hide this fact.
Easier said than done, right? Many small businesses struggle with knowing how to get their name out into the popular media. Getting mentioned in a national magazine or website can seem unlikely or even impossible.
A free PR tool like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) can help you get free publicity on a scale that small business owners of the past could have only dreamt of. Simply sign up to receive daily digests of media queries, and then respond to the ones that are relevant to your business. This is a great way to get quoted or mentioned in well-known media outlets.
Borrow credibility from influencers
If you have a relatively new business, you haven’t had a chance to build up credibility within your industry. Connecting with influencers in your niche can help by lending you credibility until you have your own.
Find ways to connect and engage with influencers online. Share and retweet their content, or reach out to them via email. Mention or tag them in posts, and participate in discussions on their social media or blog posts. You never know where these types of connections can lead; and the potential to get a link or mention from an well-known industry expert makes your efforts worthwhile.
Eco-friendly diaper retailer The Honest Company has only been around for a few years, but some estimate that the company, founded by actor Jessica Alba, is now worth a whopping $1 billion US.
I believe a big part of their success can be attributed to the use of freebies and samples as an online marketing initiative. Through offering completely free products (pay only shipping), the company has been able to generate significant buzz around their brand; buzz that has helped them reach the much-coveted millennial market.
Generating buzz for your brand doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does require some outside-the-box thinking. It can also mean subjecting yourself to risk. But for those who are creative and brave enough to try, the rewards can be priceless.
You can use many of these tips for your business. For example, we have seen entrepreneurs in Uganda use the “Freebie” approach to get the more customers switching to their product, we have seen a startup in Nigeria use the “Borrow Credibility” idea to turn the corner on sales; and we’ve even seen a prototype business in Namibia use the “Creative Marketing Hook” to get customers to talk about their product on radio and TV. We challenge you to try one or two and get ready for the results!