Once you’ve established your business idea, it’d be wise to start thinking about where to promote your business online. At this stage, however, your focus is not to decide where. Instead, to have an awareness that you’ll need to promote your business.
Simply ”building it and expecting them to come”, just won’t cut it.
Even more so in today’s day and age, the cognitive load placed on an individual is so high that they often can’t process the information right in front of them.
In fact, extensive studies have been done on the way people process information. And the book Thinking, Fast and Slow does a great job in describing how we’ve got two ways in which our brain processes information. Described as ‘Systems’.
System 1 processes information automatically – fast. An example is, you’re driving along, and you see the traffic lights turn red ahead of you. Without having to think too hard, you’ll automatically apply the brakes.
Whereas System 2 processes information – slowly – and requires you to dust off the sleepy brain matter and engage in what’s happening. An example of that is reading this post and then applying it to your business.
With this in mind, it’s important to realise that we have to work incredibly hard to get to System 2. And hard to get to System 1.
And we aim to work with peoples minds in the framework we’ve created to help online business owners launch and scale. Called BATON.
Now in the context of where to promote your online business, we’ll briefly look at the BATON framework’s first two stages.
To help understand where to promote your business online, you first need to be clear on your business, including where your audience lives.
This is critical. If you’re selling retirement homes to wealthy retirees, maybe TikTok isn’t the best place to promote.
So if you’re forming your idea and establishing your market, focus on this area first before worrying about promoting it.
If, however, you’ve established your idea and/or you’ve got a product already in the market, then you can move onto the next stage.
This stage focuses on getting eyes on your business. If you’ve done your homework right in the Business stage, you’ll know exactly where your customers live.
Once we understand where they live, we can look at ‘Marketing Channels’.
Typically marketing channels fall into either offline and online.
Offline includes; leaflets, cold calling, posters, billboards, industry talks, network meetings, door to door sales, advertising on the side of a bus, on the tube. All the way through to guerilla tactics such as stickers on bins and lamposts (proceed with caution here).
I highlight the above because it’s important not to dismiss offline channels as it could produce a better way to get eyes on your business than online.
This being said, even offline marketing will point people back online.
In the past, you’d ask them to call you.
Now you want them to engage with your website and ideally buy without any human interaction. (Again, business-specific).
Here’s the tricky one because, unlike Offline, where someones likely to walk, say 100+ ads on their trip to town (have a count next time, it’s a fun game, I promise).
People see 6,000 to 10,000 ads per day online. (Now, you’ll get the long introduction talking about how we’re cognitively at max capacity).
This is important because It’ll help put into perspective how much attention the Audience stage needs. Add to that the ever-growing list of marketing channels (and methods) available online.
Including; Facebook ads, YouTube ads, Google Adwords, Programmatic, Blogging, Guest Blogging, Podcast ads, Guest podcasting, Influencer marketing, Content marketing, Direct Advertising, Online Forums and more (lot’s more).
You’ll notice I’ve mentioned the word ‘ads’ a lot. That’s short for advertising and in marketing speak typically means direct advertising.
The reality is not every business has the luxury of advertising on Facebook and spending thousands of pounds on promoting.
So if you’ve just had a round table session with your team, the phrase – ‘we’ll just advertise on Facebook’ – may not cut it.
So, where do you promote your business online?
It may feel like I’m taking you around the houses a bit. But it’s intentional because immediately throwing cash into advertising isn’t always the best measure as to where your audience actually lives.
Or where is the cheapest place to access the attention of your audience?
So you’ll need to dig deeper, especially if you’re launching a new idea. You’ll want to find out where you’ll get your first 10 customers online without spending anything on advertising.
This will begin to give you a truer measure of where your audience lives, who they are and how best to talk to them.
Once you’ve established this, you may discover the best advertising channel to start spending money on.
To hammer this message home, there’s a great article from Paul Graham (a startup godfather) that will inspire you to treat every stage of your business effectively as a startup (as if you had no money). Everything from product creation, marketing, fulfilment, customer service and so on.
Yes, we can leverage software to make life easier, but if we take learnings from the linked article, we’ll, in fact, learn a hell of a lot more doing things that don’t scale.
Discovering where to promote your business online is one of those actions.