The most fundamental part of any business transaction is offering value to customers for which they’re willing to spend money. However, when it comes to marketing, most people think of it as a one way street: you spend money merely to attract the attention of your audience. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get anything back in return.
That’s the mindset you need to change if you want to nurture an audience of brand advocates. Figure out ways of turning your marketing into a value-driven transaction. Offer something that encourages people not necessarily to spend money (that will come with the right product-market fit), but to spread the word and amplify your online store.
By the way, this is nothing new or radical. Companies knowingly or unknowingly do this every day. Have a look at these 5 ideas and you’ll see exactly what I mean:
1. Product giveaways in exchange for engagement and social sharing
During my days of online marketing for a tech publication house, one of the most effective promotions we did were book giveaways. We’d contact a tech journal that had the right audience for our books and organise a book giveaway with them. All they would do is create a blog post about the book and ask people to add a comment to the post to enter a draw to win a copy.
Within a day or two, the blog post would be full of thousands of comments, and we’d get thousands of pageviews out of that single promotion, which inevitably would lead to increased sales. For the price of one $35 book, we’d end up with thousands of highly relevant individuals browsing our book pages and website. Those giveaways were more than worth the cost.
That was great for us, but what did the tech journal get in return? Imagine the extra page views, ad clicks, engagement, and social sharing they’d get on their page as a result of this promotion! A complete win-win.
2. Support a charity or event
You can support a charity or event in many ways that don’t involve spending money. Find an event or charity that will benefit from your product or expertise. Not only does this help the event offer something for free to its attendees, but also allow you to showcase your product or service to hundreds of people.
3. Use your expertise to develop material that people will want to share
(Image from laptopscreen.com)
A few months ago I was looking to replace a broken laptop screen (I am a tech enthusiast and I wanted to fix my laptop as a personal pet project). I found a few different online stores that sold laptop screens, but one in particular stood out: laptopscreen.com. Not only did they have a great selection of screens, but also videos that showed you how to install it on your laptop. Now, I was prepared to go on YouTube and spend some time trying to find the right video and learn how to do it, but with laptopscreen.com, I didn’t have to go looking. For my specific screen, there was a video on exactly how to install it.
You’re probably wondering that producing videos does still cost money. In this case, it doesn’t. Laptopscreen.com has a program where if a user submits a video of installing one of their screens, they offer a rebate in exchange. Most of their videos are created by their customers!
I loved my experience with them because not only did their product work perfectly for me, they also went the extra mile in helping me use it right! And now here I am, spreading the word.
4. Co-branding with other complementary non-competing businesses
We’ve covered this in my previous blog post on 5 amazing promotions we saw earlier this year. Co-promotions allow you to tap into the subscriber lists of other businesses, effectively doubling your reach. They are also compelling to audiences because they typically include a combination of products at a price far lower than the sum of individual prices. Once again, a win-win-win.
5. Affiliate marketing
This is another excellent way of encouraging people – especially those who know how to make money by selling someone else’s products – to promote your store. There are no upfront costs, and affiliates get paid only when they bring you a sale.
As a variation on this, you could also implement a referral program wherein if a customer refers another person to your online store, both the parties get a discount on the product. That way, not only are you encouraging a customer to refer other people, but also making it attractive for the person being referred. Dropbox has used this strategy to achieve excellent growth in the past.
Offering customers value in exchange for helping promote your business has many advantages, the least of which is low cost. The biggest one, in my view, is the goodwill that it creates among people who are delighted by your offer or content. Build upon that foundation, and soon you’ll have something far more valuable than a giant email list: a list of people who trust your brand.