Attention is a limited resource.
Competition for it is fierce.
And it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get noticed.
That’s why today, we are going to discuss nine creative ways to promote your product.
Want to cut through the noise and stand out from the crowd?
#1 Build in Public
You can increase brand recognition by simply sharing the behind-the-scenes of building a business.
Here’s how it works:
- You set a goal publicly.
- You invite others to follow along.
- You share your failures and your successes.
Over time, people become invested in your success, start rooting for you and support you by spreading the word and buying your products.
And what if you fail to achieve your goal? No one cares as long as you did your best. And you still have your audience.
So if you want to launch a new business, consider building in public. It’s a great way to get a ton of exposure without spending a fortune.
Example: Andrey Azimov’s “Hardcore Year”
In March 2018, Andrey Azimov quit his job to become an indie hacker, meaning to make software without any outside investment.
He was living in Bali at the time, so his goal was to get to $1,000 in monthly recurring revenue in one year, which would have been enough to pay his bills there.
He had only learned to code recently and had only released three products between December 2017 and February 2018:
- WhenToSurf app which generated $16 from donations.
- PushToDeploy app cost him -$77.13 (he didn’t get enough pre-sales revenue, so he refunded everyone).
- DarkModeList which generated $100 in revenue.
So his track record consisted of three products and $116 in revenue ($38.87 if you subtract his PushToDeploy loss).
Let’s keep it real; a guy who barely knew how to code quitting his job to become a software entrepreneur did not look promising.
Spoiler alert #1: Andrey failed his “Hardcore Year” challenge. He did not reach $1,000 in monthly recurring revenue in 12 months.
Spoiler alert #2: However, he did reach $1,000 in monthly recurring revenue in 14 months. Now he’s a full-time indie hacker.
So how did Andrey manage to go from a guy with basic coding skills to a software entrepreneur that can travel the world thanks to his app revenue?
Well, he took his “Hardcore Year” challenge seriously, was committed to making it work, and stayed focused on shipping products no matter what.
He also made lifestyle sacrifices that allowed him to live off his savings and app revenue for those 14 months.
He stayed in Bali, ate cheap street food (think $2 ramen), and walked 4-5 kilometers a day because he couldn’t afford to rent a bike.
It’s probably safe to say that his dedication to his goal alone was enough to separate him from the hordes of wantrepreneurs who never make it.
That being said, making his goal public and sharing his progress along the way was crucial to his success.
Everyone was skeptical at first.
But as the year progressed and it became clear that this likable Ukrainian was serious about becoming an indie hacker, he started getting more support.
People followed his journey, cheered him on, donated to him on Patreon… And, of course, bought his products!
#2 Create a Landing Page for Your Product and Start Collecting Email Addresses Before You Launch the Product
Email marketing is the most effective form of online marketing there is.
That’s why it’s ideal to have an email list before you launch your product.
So create a landing page in which you “sell” your upcoming product but instead of asking the potential customer to pre-order, ask them to give you an email address.
That way, you will build an email list of people who are interested in your product before you launch it.
This will help you get your first sale and make it easier to create a buzz around your product on social media.
Example: Taylor Pearson’s “The End of Jobs”
It took Taylor Pearson nine months to go from an idea to the launch of his first book, “The End of Jobs.”
He is a marketing expert, so he put a lot of thought into writing the book and promoting it.
One of the things he did was create a landing page for the book and promise everyone who subscribed a free copy of “The End of Jobs” after it was launched.
This helped him get more people interested and invested in his upcoming book.
It may seem like giving away your product for free means sacrificing sales, but it often increases sales because it helps create more buzz around it.
Of course, this approach works best with products that are cheap and digital, such as ebooks.
That being said, you don’t need to give the entire product away for free to build an email list; you can also give away a fraction of it (e.g., free chapter).
In fact, you don’t need to give it away at all; you can simply put up a landing page and drive traffic to it.
Keep in mind that the less you offer to a potential subscriber, the harder it will be to get them to sign up to your email list, though.
#3 Create a Premium-Quality Online Course, Give It Away For Free
You can attract new people and build goodwill by creating a premium-quality online course, then giving it away for free to anyone interested.
You just need to make sure that the online course is relevant to your target audience. What does that mean?
It means that it needs to offer a solution to a problem that they are struggling with.
This approach works especially well for SaaS companies because they can use the free course to show people how their product can help solve that problem.
Of course, the course must provide value beyond that. Otherwise, people will be annoyed.
You don’t want them to feel like it was a bait-and-switch to get them to watch an extended commercial.
Example: Ahrefs “Blogging for Business” course
Ahrefs sells SEO software.
Their target audience is businesses that want to grow their blogs through SEO.
So they created an online course called “Blogging for Business” that explains exactly how to do that.
This course is available for free on YouTube. You don’t even need to give them your email address. You can just go there and watch it!
And it’s not just a few videos strung together; it’s a premium-quality course that offers almost 5 hours of expert SEO advice.
As you can see, it was published on April 1st, 2020, and has gotten 23,769 views so far.
And sure, this may not seem like much by cat video standards.
However, it’s not the quantity but the quality that matters here.
People who click on this video likely:
- Have a business.
- Have a business blog.
- Want to grow that blog through SEO.
In other words…
They are Ahrefs target audience!
This means that the traffic that Ahrefs attract through this free online course must convert well.
Plus, there’s also the fact that it is giving a course like that for free builds goodwill, which can help a company’s brand image.
#4 Create an App, Give It Away for Free
Using a free app to attract potential customers to your website is a marketing strategy that is becoming increasingly popular.
It works best for software companies because it allows them to give the potential customer a taste of their premium product without asking for anything in return.
That being said, it isn’t limited to software companies; you can apply it to pretty much any business, as you will see with the Casper example.
So get creative. Think outside the box. What kind of free app could be helpful to your potential customers?
Example: Ahrefs Website Authority Checker
Ahrefs is arguably the best SEO tool out there.
It’s also expensive, with the cheapest plan being $99/month and the most expensive one being $999/month.
But they offer several free tools as well, such as the Website Authority Checker.
These free tools attract potential customers and condition them to use Ahrefs software for their SEO needs.
Even if they don’t need or cannot afford the premium software right now, that may change in the future.
And who will be the first company that comes to their minds when that happens? Ahrefs!
Example: Casper’s Insomnobot-3000
This chatbot provides value and builds goodwill.
It also helps strengthen the relationship between the potential customer and Casper.
And when that potential customer needs a mattress, which brand will they think of first? You’ve guessed it.
#5 Host a Free Webinar to Promote Your Products
You can also invite your potential customers to a free webinar where you share a solution to a problem they are struggling with.
It can be either pre-recorded or live; what’s important is that you provide value, not just promote your product.
Live webinars work best because they have that “event” feel and allow you to interact with the audience in real-time via live chat, shoutouts, etc.
Keep in mind that if you promote a webinar as a live event, then it should indeed be live because people can tell when it’s pre-recorded, and lying about it can damage your reputation.
It also makes sense to offer an invitation to the webinar and a recording of it so that the viewers who missed it could watch it at a time that’s convenient for them.
Example: Nick Stephenson’s “Your First 10,000 Readers”
Nick Stephenson is a best-selling author and writing coach who helps writers make a living from their books.
He hosts webinars to promote his products, but they aren’t just extended sales pitches; they offer actual value to the attendees.
For example, here’s an excerpt from a confirmation email for one of his webinars, in which he explains what he’s going to cover in it:
All this is highly relevant to his target audience of aspiring authors, who often know how to write a book, but have no clue how to sell it.
Webinars like these help Nick Stephenson grow his email list, establish himself as an expert, and pitch his products to people who may benefit from them.
#6 Use Paid Advertising to Grow Your Email List
Email marketing offers an insane return on investment.
The average estimated return on each £1 spent on email marketing is £34.56. Told you. Insane.
However, for some reason, people are hesitant to use paid advertising to grow their email lists.
That’s a shame because it can put your email list on steroids.
Example: Noah Kagan’s OK Dork Email List
Noah Kagan, the founder of AppSumo and Sumo, used Facebook ads to get thousands of email subscribers for $1 each.
He explains that there are two things that you need to do:
- Drive super cheap traffic to high-quality articles.
- Capture that traffic with a landing page using retargeting.
Okay, so let’s take a closer look at this strategy…
One of his most popular articles was “Why I Walked Out on Tony Robbins.”
Meanwhile, his readers were predominantly men between the ages of 25 and 34.
Of course, these were not just random men in that age group; they had other relevant characteristics (e.g. they followed Tim Ferriss, etc.) that could be used to narrow down the target demographic.
So Noah Kagan used Facebook ads to drive cheap traffic to the “Why I Walked Out on Tony Robbins” article without attempting to collect visitors’ email addresses.
Then, he used retargeting on that traffic so that people who had visited the article would be shown ads that took them to his email list landing page.
Here’s a YouTube video in which Noah Kagan shows exactly how he set all this up:
This video is from 2017, so some of the details may have changed, but driving traffic to a blog post first, then retargeting them to a landing page is still an effective marketing strategy.
Why does it work so well?
Here’s how Noah Kagan explains it:
“Think about it this way:
I want people to come, have a great meal… And then I say, ‘Here’s your bill.’
And if you have a great meal, you don’t mind paying a little bit of money for it.
But I think what’s happening in email marketing sometimes is that people are like, ‘HERE’S YOUR BILL!’.
And I’m like, ‘I haven’t even tasted the food yet? Like, what am I having for dinner?”
That’s why I like this strategy.”
#7 Collaborate With Social Media Influencers
You are probably already familiar with influencer marketing.
However, the way it’s usually done, which pays an influencer to give you a shoutout is losing its effectiveness.
It worked well when influencers were a new phenomenon, but now their followers realize that these are just ads, not genuine recommendations.
However, you can make influencer marketing more effective by collaborating with them instead of treating them like billboards.
This means involving them in the creative process and working together to develop something original and unique.
Keep in mind that influencers are by definition experts at getting attention on social media.
This means that asking these kids for advice and listening to their suggestions might pay off handsomely.
Remember that if you can’t afford the big influencers, you can work with the smaller ones instead, even with the micro ones.
What’s important is that your potential customers follow them.
Example: Safeguard and Michael Le Collaboration
Safeguard partnered with the TikTok celebrity Michael Le to create a fun TikTok ad.
It ended up hitting over a hundred million views and getting 2.9 million likes.
#8 Don’t Shy Away From Controversies, Use Them To Your Advantage
As your business grows, you will inevitably have to deal with some controversies.
Your initial impulse may be to shy away from them, but what you need to understand is that every controversy is an opportunity.
You just need to know how to take advantage of it.
Example: BrewDog vs. Aldi
Craft beer aficionados recently witnessed an amusing clash between the popular Scottish brewery Brew Dog and the national supermarket chain Aldi.
Rosalind Erskine published a great summary of it on Scotsman Food and Drink.
Aldi released the Anti-Establishment IPA beer that was suspiciously similar to the Brew Dog’s Punk IPA beer, to the point that people took to social media to call them out.
But BrewDog’s founders had no interest in playing the victim and crying about it. Instead, they started making fun of Aldi on Twitter by announcing Yaldi IPA.
Aldi decided to engage and replied, saying, “We would have gone with ALD IPA; send us a crate, and we’ll talk?”.
To which the BrewDog’s founders said, “Deal.”
As if this whole situation wasn’t bizarre enough, Tesco, another national supermarket chain, jumped in and expressed interest in selling ALD IPA.
Then BrewDog and Aldi both pledged to plant a tree for every case sold.
Aldi also released a hilarious video promoting ALD IPA.
This whole beer drama is a case study in PR because both Brew Dog and Aldi handled this plagiarism controversy extremely well.
And it goes without saying that this exchange between the two companies generated a ton of free publicity for both of them.
#9 Combine Offline and Online Marketing With QR Codes
You have probably seen QR codes before.
They are barcodes that can be scanned with a smartphone.
QR codes can be used to create unique marketing campaigns that combine offline marketing and online marketing.
Here’s the main idea:
- You put a QR code on a physical item.
- You set it to open a specific web page.
That way, you can get someone who sees that physical item to go to your website immediately.
Kinsta sells premium hosting.
Their massive article “How to Speed Up Your WordPress Site”is one of their most popular posts ever.
That’s why they decided to turn it into a paper book, which they give away for free at various conferences.
They added a QR code so that the readers could check out the always-up-to-date online version.
That way, the freebie they give to potential customers builds goodwill and drives traffic to their website.
The truth is that all marketing strategies lose their effectiveness over time.
When someone comes up with a new approach, it may work exceptionally well.
But this does not go unnoticed. Other people start copying it. Next thing you know, everyone is using it. And the approach loses its effectiveness.
That’s why you can never allow yourself to rest on your laurels when it comes to marketing.
Sure, your current marketing strategy may be working well, but it’s just a matter of time until that’s no longer the case. And then what?
You need to constantly explore new strategies and try to come up with fresh takes on the old ones.
Otherwise, you will start falling behind the competition the moment you stop.
So never stop.