Here’s the scenario: You are building up your new venture. Exciting. You know that you need marketing. But, a quandary arises.
Do you promote an empty site? Or do you grow first and then do the marketing? How do you grow without marketing? How do you afford the marketing before you grow? Are you doomed to just shout into the void?
Putting it into my realm of content marketing, do you write the content for your site first, then promote it with social media and guest blogging? Or do you do social media and guest blogging to raise awareness first?
A quandary indeed. No-one wants to shout into the void, writing without any sort of audience. But if you drive that audience from social media or guest posting and then they find you only have a handful of great content… then what? They go away?
How are you going to grow without marketing? How are you going to do marketing – to afford it and maximise it – without growth?
It’s the chicken and the egg
So which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Everyone knows it is an impossible paradox. Everyone apart from Neil DeGrasse Tyson (of course) who knows that the egg came first – laid by something that was not a chicken.
So where does that analogy go, you rightly wonder. Am I suggesting you lay eggs? Am I suggesting you are a chicken, or not? Maybe a dinosaur? (I’m guessing Neil DeGrasse Tyson was thinking of dinosaurs. I hope he was.)
You’re not a chicken or a dinosaur but I do think a lot of this depends on your personality.
First off, content
Are you a “get it off the ground now” sort of person, or a “let’s wait until we’ve got a six month buffer to back us up” type person? Money in the bank, blog posts as drafts, whatever. That is going to make a difference.
If you are fine with plugging away at filling your site with content while no-one is looking then go for it. You will have a solid base to act on. But you should define what “enough” looks like. When will you be ready to move onto the next step? Because otherwise this could be an avoidance tactic.
A good way to put together a lot of content on a shorter timescale is to have other people doing it. You have other stuff you need to be concentrating on. Something like the blog starter pack that I offer is perfect to hit the ground running with.
On the other hand, if you are impatient and want to get going, like, yesterday, then you want the big push.
Outreach and marketing is a great way to validate your ideas and plug into what people want. You can track clicks and views to see which pieces of content you do share do best. It builds more of a buzz early.
If you don’t have much content to read once people get to your site and finish reading that one article make sure they have something else to do. A good old call to action.
If they can’t read more you need to make sure what they can read is really top notch stuff.
The thing is, you already are marketing
There’s a big assumption going on here, that you are not already marketing.
You are. If you have a website up you are marketing. If you have even one user you must have done some marketing – even if it is your best friend you convinced to beta test for you. You still had to sell that prospect to them, even if it was pitched as a favour or secured with bribery.
Convincing your best mate, or your mom, to be the first sign-up to your app or your blog (Hi Soph! Hi mum!) isn’t so different from convincing anyone else. Which is marketing. Pitching it as a favour is marketing. Securing it with bribery is marketing – we’re talking nice bribery here, not corruption, obviously.
You can do the same thing for your customers – it will be worth it, you do this for me and I’ll do something great for you, “sign up to our emails and get a free report on chickens and dinosaurs!”
By the way, no-one pinch this whole chicken and dinosaurs thing I’ve got going on please. I’m definitely using that again. Self, get in here. Starting taking notes.
The chicken and egg dissolve into paradox
This is something I hear a lot from people: They can’t afford marketing until they grow more.
I sit and I sympathise and one day I will be brave enough to say, “Okay, cool. I get it. But, uh, how are you going to grow without marketing?”
So, I am working on a new project. The ins and outs of this are for another blog post because they are proving most educational. But it fits in here for the way I have chosen to go about this.
It’s a new community for indie authors and everyone in self publishing and you can check out the sign-up page if you so choose. For everyone reading this is the future that will be the main page and I hope it is looking good. Hi futurelings!
I am running a sign-up promotional “coming soon” type affair. There is no site, there’s just a sign-up page where people can get on the launch mailing list to find out when the curtain goes up. When it does they will get an email and the real fun begins.
The reason this works is that I’m upfront about the fact it is coming soon and there is nothing to see – yet. It would work even better with some freebie giveaway as a lead magnet and hey, guess what I am going to be writing this weekend?
But it does mean that when the site goes live there will be a bunch of people signing up straight off the bat and we will hit the ground at a brisk trot at minimum. The momentum is there.
Of course there are quick and easy and expensive ways to do this. Maitre really got hold of the whole viral launch thing and it looks fantastic. Leadpages, Unbounce and their ilk are a great way collect leads for a pre-launch.
Essentially, there’s a buzz. And if you are a cash-strapped startup or solopreneur then you don’t need to have any of the bells and whistles. That’s okay. Like I said – another post. Hi future-me who is coming back to link that new post!
See, marketing does not have to mean multimillion dollar Super Bowl advertising buys. That’s about all I know about the Super Bowl: new ads are shown at great expense and Beyonce is sometimes there.
Marketing is making connections with people. People who can become your customers. You started marketing to them as soon as you reached out, as soon as you asked them what they needed and how you could make their lives better.