Bigcommerce was created after the two founders met in an online chat room. Four years on, the Aussie eCommerce start-up has secured $35 million in venture capital funding, built offices in Sydney and Texas and attracted 30,000 customers. In the latest in a series of insider tips provided to StartupSmart, co-founder Mitchell Harper explains how to best reach your target market.
Last time in this series, we talked about creating a typical customer profile and positioning your products.
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This time, we’ll look at ways to spread the word to people who fit your typical customer profile. This is where we get into guerrilla marketing.
There are two goals here:
- Affordably attract as many people as possible who match your customer profile
- Ask them to recommend you to their friends who share similar interests (and therefore buying habits)
Because we’re on a shoestring budget, we need to get a good return for every dollar we spend.
Our aim is to take our profits from guerrilla marketing and put them into search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), which we will automate (more on that in future columns).
Let’s look at some proven guerrilla marketing techniques.
1. Like-like partnerships
In this case, you find a handful of online stores which sell products that are complementary to yours and link to them on your website or in invoice emails to your customers (so they don’t leave your website before buying from you).
In our example from last time, we sell custom sports jerseys, so we’d find partners who sell sports memorabilia, hats, poker chips – maybe even alcoholic beverages.
(Note: Call these potential partners on the phone – do not send them emails. You want to build a relationship, and the good old phone is still the best way to do that.)
Get these partners to do the same for you, instantly sending you targeted traffic for free. If you’re just starting out, then set up an affiliate program and share revenue with partners to earn their trust. To get more visitors, simply bring in more partners.
As a bonus, these partners can become your “mastermind” group to share ideas that can help you all grow your business at the same time.
2. Twitter find and answer
This involves a couple hours a day of effort, but the payoff is huge. Go to http://search.twitter.com and search for keywords around what you sell (in our example, the name of NFL teams such as “Washington Redskins”).
You want to find and answer questions people have about what you sell – without being self-promotional.
After answering their questions, encourage them to follow you on Twitter with a friendly follow-up tweet.
You can then use your Twitter account to share coupon codes and useful bits of information that they can easily retweet to their network. You want to get them and their social network to your website and onto your mailing list.
3. Facebook “Get to know us”
If you live under a rock, and you haven’t set up a Facebook fan page for your business, get to it!
Use your company logo as the photo of the page to build brand awareness. Be casual in what you post on your wall – the idea is to give people a real insight into you and what you do.
Importantly, be real. Don’t post “corporate speak”, and don’t fix typos or grammatical errors.
You want to come across as genuine, not smarmy. Post photos of your office or warehouse, whatever you can to show the “inner workings” of your business, even if you work from home.
Every few days, share a coupon on your Facebook page (and on Twitter) and encourage people to share it with their friends.
On Facebook, free shipping promotions work really well, but use them no more than once a week. You don’t want people getting used to them.
Next time, we’ll share a few more guerrilla-marketing tips – and where to go from there.