Ed Ackman shares 11 time-honored marketing principles that are still relevant in a digital business world.
I am a dinosaur.
I had advertising and marketing companies, but that was some time ago when the only marketing options were radio, print, posters, and television.
I wondered if the basic marketing techniques that worked so well would do the same in the digital age.
There was only one way to find out.
So I built a prototype product five years ago, started a Chinese manufacturer, built a website on Weebly, and got started. It worked well enough that three years later I had a large amount of money in the bank and had a problem. It got bigger than I could handle on my laptop alone.
Now that my original marketing question was answered, I sold the business for a profit.
“Good for him,” I hear you say and I have to admit it was satisfying that everything worked, but to be honest, it wasn’t that difficult.
The times have changed. The most important communication tool of the last 30 years (possibly at all) is the Internet and it is as important for the economy as the industrial revolution.
If you are interested in starting or maintaining a business like the one above, here are my guiding principles – condensed but never complete:
1. If you say you can, you can.
While most suspect this is true, many believe that selling on the internet is not something to get involved in as it is far too complicated to learn, difficult to control, and too technical to manage.
Just not true!
However, there are some considerations when looking to market profitably on the World Wide Web. Incredibly, they are all Marketing 1.1. Really fundamental!
2. Massive range at a low price.
Along with all the information overload that comes with such a powerful medium, there is a great opportunity.
Global marketing from your own keyboard.
You can now build a marketing business that will reach the world at a cost that was unimaginable just a few years ago. Don’t let the unlimited possibilities overwhelm you. To get started, just select the few that you want and understand.
3. There is nothing new in the world of marketing.
Facebook, Instagram, Google Words, etc. are only there so you can get your audience to view, consider, and buy your product. There are many other known ways of accomplishing this without paying the margin these people are asking.
Pick up the phone, send samples, identify resellers, embed yourself in others’ newsletters, receive the e-newsletters of publications related to your market. How many more can you think of?
4. Don’t be afraid of failure.
The cost of choosing a product that doesn’t sell or an unsuccessful execution is almost zero. All you need is a URL (web address) for $ 20 or less and an Internet site that can be built for absolutely nothing by the very many uncomplicated online builders available on the Internet.
Valuable experiences are created by learning how to use the tools.
5. Don’t use your own money.
The internet has made it the standard practice to pay for goods remotely when ordering. For example, if you have a production line, you can announce a special pre-sale offer with a future delivery date.
I did! I never had to put my hand in my pocket for production – the money was there before I even started.
6. You don’t invent the wheel.
Any product you choose doesn’t have to be an original or one that isn’t already sold by others. Think about your experience as a customer – if you were to buy almost anything on the internet, you can be sure that there are identical deals elsewhere that you have never seen before.
7. Always work according to your own knowledge and experience.
If you are knowledgeable about cars, boats, fashion, confectionery, technology, and so on, use that experience to create a product offering that you would find enticing, and then translate it into something that reflects that sentiment.
Shop into your own dream.
8. Too much service is not enough.
Your product is only half of what you offer. Easy ordering, quick and polite communication, efficient delivery, effective problem solving, and keeping your promises are just the bones of the other 50 percent. Try calling a customer instead of texting them or emailing them. Believe me, they’ll suck!
9. Solve a problem.
Good marketing requires a solution. In your area of expertise, ask yourself what needs to be solved and what does not get solved. Maybe something that annoys you. This is a great place to start, but even if you can think about it, someone else probably thought about it before you.
Don’t be discouraged, your solution could be a lot better than yours.
10. Third Party Assistance.
This is still the most effective tool for selling your product. Customers who tell other customers that they like your product and what it does are your strongest allies. It is wise to market your product to identified influencers – those people who are widely recognized as experts, who know what they are talking about and whose support will be believed by your potential customers. That is why they are called influencers.
11. Fish where there are fish.
A lot of money is being spent too far on marketing because so much of the message is being lost to people who cannot or will not buy your product. By considering your market before actually executing your plan, you can reach the real prospects in the most effective way possible.
Personally, you may or may not be the market. Does not matter. You’re just a sample of one. Many people have gotten very rich selling products they would not have in their own home. Never forget.
Remember, when people ask, “What can I do,” the answer may not be “anything” but simply “something”.
The world is full of people who avoid tempting opportunities.
Don’t be one.
Ed Ackman lives in Takapuna, owns and operates advertising agencies and has worked for local and international clients for more than three decades. He is a marketing consultant and copywriter with many award-winning campaigns. In the 1990s, he was the first Australian agency to create commercial websites that sold products online. Email to [email protected]