Guest blogger: Matt Friesen is the founder and CEO of Thirdi, a Vancouver Software Development and Internet Marketing company.
What do you do if you are selling something new and original: like a hoodie designed to look like a monster. Even if you captured 100% of the people looking for “Hoodies that make you look like a monster”, you likely aren’t going to have a substantial business. Search advertising can’t capture that intent. Display advertising is too easily ignored, and lacks the necessary credibility, to sell someone on a radically new idea. To make someone take the leap into buying something silly the best way is to have a personal, human recommendation.
Unique products require a human touch and a personal connection. Unique products must fit into communities or they will not be appreciated. Here are 3 questions we ask ourselves, at Thirdi, before starting to market a unique product:
1. What specific groups would enjoy this product?
Don’t cop out and say that your audience is ‘everyone’. Some groups will always be better suited to your product than others. Are you looking for kooky soccer moms or under-18 scenesters. Maybe your audience has an obscure profession, like cartographers or jugglers. You have to have a clear idea of the answer to this question before you can proceed.
2. Where do these groups congregate online?
Start doing Google searches for key terms related to your audience. Make lots of bookmarks using tools like Delicious or Faviki and keep them organized. You’ll also want to qualify these groups by their scale and influence somehow as well, to make sure you aren’t wasting time on communities of 20 people. Two easy ways to do this are to use the Google Toolbar to measure the a site’s pagerank or a service like Alexa.com to measure (rough) size. The details aren’t important, you just need to establish a set of priorities.
3. Who are the most important members of the group?
Every group has a leader. Spend a bit of time digging through each of these crowds and a clear leader will start to emerge. Usually, you can just look through 20 or 30 random posts and start to notice that one name keeps popping up over and over. These leaders will write 10X the post of average users, and command 50X the influence. If you can win them over, the rest of the group will take notice.
Finding these individuals may seem like a lot of work, especially since these efforts may only lead to a handful of immediate sales. What they do offer you is a great place to test your marketing messages. Start a conversation with these individuals and see if your message is resonating. If they like it, they’ll tell their friends and your product will start to catch on. If they don’t, you will have received free marketing feedback from your exact target consumer. Either way, you will have gained some valuable data and possibly a few helpful allies.