The glamour of starting a company masks a truly challenging task that every brave entrepreneur is forced to confront and that is “How do you market your product idea in a highly competitive marketplace?“.
If you are bootstrapping your company and have limited or no seed funding to rely on, you have a steeper mountain to climb!
Assuming you have done the basics right, namely, identified a gap in the market that you can address or tap an unmet need, and your target market has the required scale to fuel rapid growth for your product, the Million Dollar question is “How do you market your product or idea without spending money?“.
I started Jodi Logik in September 2015 with my own money. Till the end of February 2016, Jodi Logik was a bootstrapped company. For over 6-months, I was on my own but managed to move things along in terms of marketing without any major spend.
Reflecting on the 6-months I was on my own, there is one key lesson I learnt.
Let’s say you have an idea to sell mangoes online. You can just set up an eCommerce site for your mangoes. However in order to attract customers, you will need to spend a lot of money advertising your site through the Internet or traditional media outlets. To further compound the problem, you will have to deal with other sites selling mangoes! You will have to outspend your competition even if your mangoes are better than that of your competition!
Now that you understand the problem, here is a simple way to get your name out without burning cash.
People are looking for answers and that’s one of the reasons Google exists. As an entrepreneur selling mangoes, all you have to do is to find and answer questions people have about mangoes!
The first thing any entrepreneur should do to get started with product marketing is to seek questions that your target customers have about your product or product category and make sure you make a genuine effort to provide the best answer.
Here is an example of what I did.
The target audience for my company includes young Indians who are single. Jodi Logik offers an online solution to create a biodata for marriage and hence my area of interest was to answer questions from single Indians about marriages, arranged marriages, love marriages, dating and relationships.
So here is what I did. I was already a member of Quora and it has millions of users and a lot of them are young Indians. I quickly figured out that there were plenty of questions on the topics that fall squarely in my product category and the quality of answers for many of the questions that I consider as important were below par. I decided to invest my time in answering as many questions as I can on Quora.
In 6-months, the number of views for my answers have grown significantly from nothing to over 160K!
Guidelines For Earning Good Karma
When you answer questions on Q&A sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers or in Discussion Forums, make sure you follow these guidelines:
- Provide a high quality response. Do your homework before answering anything. Providing an in-depth and meaningful response is always appreciated.
- Don’t try to pitch your product. Try answering the questions genuinely.
- Don’t take a holier than thou stance even if the question is really “bad” or poorly framed.
- Don’t get into heated debates with anyone over your responses or someone else’s response.
- Remain consistent. Find time every week to contribute to the community.
- Humor always helps.
Here is a simple thing you can do on Quora. Create a headline that includes your brand. Every time you answer a question, you give your brand some free publicity and potential traffic!
An added bonus in answering questions is that you become very aware of your target customer’s needs and expectations from the product category you are interested in and this feeds directly into your product road-map!
If you are selling a B2B product, LinkedIn and industry forums / sites are a great place to demonstrate your competence and showcase your unique take on the subject matter.
In summary, good deeds are always rewarded. The rewards are not instantaneous nor they come to you in ways that you planned for. In hindsight, you will realize that every attempt you make to help others comes back to you in the form of goodwill, free publicity, and if you are lucky, droves of customers!
For details, visit Jodi Logik
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(If you are an amazing startup founder or enabler of startup eco-system in India or elsewhere and would like to be interviewed or featured on Startups.in then please read this and this before you reach out)