Once you have your website up, and it's listed anywhere, anywhere at all - you will get the first flood of emails to your business account. You will get excited! So many emails!!! And then you will open them one by one, and you will find, that the vast majority of them are from ad people trying to sell some ad space. Most you'll never have heard of. Some you may have. They will be print journals, online communities and marketplaces. They are excited to share the opportunity with you!
So before you take the next chunk off the line of credit, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Who sees their site/journal/community/magazine?
2. What's their readership (how many views)?
3. What's their tracking/follow up procedure?
4. Can they show results that are measurable as a direct result of advertising with them?
5. Is it cost effective? Is the space overpriced?
6. Is it a one time thing? Will it be in place for months?
If you're like me, you will get frozen over this, and not advertise anywhere that it costs money. I've decided to go the PR route. And the PR is all being done by me. Now at first glance, one may think that this is the wrong route, that I won't be able to penetrate any markets without purchasing ad space. But think about how many products you buy that don't ever advertise in your paper, on tv. But you've 'seen' them somewhere. And that brings me to the brilliant new age of the internet.
There are thousands of sites that sell ad space. If you want to, go for it. There are thousands more of consumer sites that write about products that they've seen/used/tested. They have huge email lists and viewership, and much more so than the ad groups, they actually test and track the results of their work. And to me, those are the people you want to get in with. They write about your product because they've seen it, are impressed with it, and have something truly valuable to write about it. And it's that added extra for me that counts - because you didn't pay for it, someone is directly giving you a vote of confidence that your product is good, aligns with their vision, and furthers their purpose as well as yours.
To that end, I wrote away to all of the sites I wanted to be featured in, and sent support materials. I have heard back from all of them.
For starters, look out tomorrow Thursday April 3 for Smicko'z in Sweetspot.ca! Look me up under sweetmama (the childrens area). Better yet, sign up on their email list, and you'll get their fabulous 'sweet nothings' sent to your email box every day. Very simple, very effective marketing. They send out an email, 200 words or less, with product pictures and links, and they send out just one a day. You can read about something wonderful near you locally or nationally, your choice when you sign up. (no cost).
I don't mean to put down the ad route. But the truth is you need a great deal of money and ability to commit to it. I am aware of a meal program (because of effective advertising) that will deliver healthful meals to your door for every day of the week (It is a diet program, but health focussed). I know of them because they are in my Saturday Globe every Saturday. For the last few months, there they are. Same ad each time. You can ignore it once or twice, but every week for months on end, eventually will stick in your brain. I don't need the service, but I would recognize the company, so in that sense the ads have worked - they have achieved recognition from me. But I hesitate to guess what the ad space has cost them, and the size of the ad, in Canada's National Newspaper. I would guess a lot more than I can pay.
I have spoken to a company that strictly goes for editorials, and keep a PR firm on retainer (at great expense) to get stories written about the company and the product. Looks pretty effective, but they are more than three years into a multi year strategy that is paying off. Either way, it's an interesting game, with many possibilities. Do you have some strategies that have worked for you?
Let me know. Leave it in the comments, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org