Business pros will tell you to do all your homework before you officially open your doors.
This is excellent advice in terms of getting yourself organized, anticipating expenses and revenue, and ensuring you’re heading into this new venture with eyes open.
But with great amounts of preparation comes great piles of paperwork, which you’ll have to fill out for everything from permits to financial projections.
Then comes the task of marketing your product or service to customers, who, unless they’re possible investors, really won’t want anything to do with reams of spreadsheets, quarterly outlooks, market research or any other number stuff.
Potential customers, whether it’s the public or other businesses, are also not going to be especially interested in dry descriptions of product assembly, distribution channels, or that you’ve found inexpensive suppliers.
Your basic customer is going to want to be wowed by what you offer, so your marketing needs to give them this magic. A few customers may be curious about how you make it all work behind the scenes, but unless they’re considering investing, most of them prefer to be amazed first.
Here are some suggestions to dazzle them, not drown them, in the details.
· Make it fast. According to StatisticBrain.com, our attention span is shrinking. In 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds, and in 2013 it was 8 seconds. The average length of an effective Internet video is 2.7 minutes, and 17 percent of online page views last less than 4 seconds. At the other end, only 4 percent of users stay on a page more than 10 minutes. That means you have to get in and get out with your pitch, whether in person or online.
· Make it short. Twitter posts top out at 140 characters, which won’t work for lengthy treatises, but can be good for quick observations, photos, or trivia about your industry. “Did you know how much invisible junk is in your carpet?” “Did you know that 500 credit cards are stolen daily?” Facebook allows 63,206 characters per update, but often hides the text after the first few lines, requiring users to click to read more.
· Use magic words to get people wanting more. Unpack those adjectives to create curiosity and urgency. Instead of saying “new” say you’re “innovative” or “have a refreshing outlook.” If you think you have a great product tell people that it is “exciting” or “cutting-edge.” This might be a good point to hire writers to explore that fine line between promotion language and sales copy.
· Share other people’s expertise. Study news sites and social media regularly for industry info. Share expert columns from non-competitors on Facebook or your blog, and include a message at the top that you also can help. The same with current news about someone in your line of work solving a problem – share the link and tell what you would do. As long as you provide appropriate credit, this is an easy way to promote yourself.
Joe B is a longtime marketing professional and technology writer.