Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Will my idea work and how should I market it?

Before you decide to go and quit your job for your startup, I would recommend trying out your business part time if you’re able to instead of going all in at once, so that you don’t risk more than you can lose. Then be sure to TEST, TEST, and TEST your idea. (Be sure to check out one of my favorite books for more information about this: Lean Startup.) Large corporations will often use focus groups where the company will pay its target customers to try out its products or ideas. Instead of reaching out to your friends and family who love you and will probably not tell you the truth if your product doesn’t work or isn’t a great idea, you should be reaching out to strangers. A good suggestion to help you get a real response from people you talk to is to try telling them that your “livelihood depends on them telling you the truth,” so that they don’t feel bad about potentially hurting your feelings.

Another great idea for some free marketing to spread the word about your idea is to consider finding out if there are any trade magazines or blogs in your industry or sub-sector. These magazines and websites will often have a section on new trends or products and they typically don’t charge anything to be portrayed in that section of the magazine, especially if you go through all the effort to write the article yourself, include pictures, and sign a release form for them to go ahead and publish it. After reaching out to the magazine or blog with the article, be sure to follow up within two days with a phone call and say you’re looking to publish the article in their trade magazine or website in order to see if it will reach your target customers before you decide whether you want to advertise through them. This almost guarantees that they won’t charge you anything because it’s as if you’re trying out the magazine or website before agreeing to buy advertisements (even if that's not your original plan).  You can also consider writing your own press releases when you get new customers (be sure to get permission to include this potential form of advertising in your contracts with new customers) and you can display it on your website or include the press releases on these industry websites and magazines.

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