If you’re a small business owner, how do you launch a new product in a Covid-dominated world? A world where most customers are sitting behind their screens instead of going into stores? That’s the challenge I’m facing right now, as I and my team launch our newest book, The Sh*t’s Hit the Fan: Now What?! 99 Recession-Proof Tips for Small Business Success.
I’m not alone. Many small business owners and startup entrepreneurs wonder how to market their products and services in this crazy atmosphere. To help you figure out how to get customers’ attention now, my editor asked me to share our go-to-market plan for our new book and how we’re planning on reaching book buyers when they’re not necessarily browsing in a bookstore.
First, it’s important to know why this book even exists. When small businesses all over America were wondering how they were going to survive, I decided I had to help. In the midst of the pandemic, I sat down, and with my team, we came up with 99 DO-IT-NOW steps that small business owners can take to help them survive and thrive. We don’t expect entrepreneurs to do all 99, but we’re confident that everyone will benefit from some steps to help them prosper, and that will help some small businesses survive.
That’s the first lesson of successful marketing: you must have a product or service that addresses a direct, immediate need or desire. Whatever you’re selling has to fit what customers’ need right now. Combined with a genuine passion for what you’re doing—we desperately want to help small businesses—customers’ are more likely to respond. This book came from our hearts, and we hope that shows.
Some keys to our marketing plans:
1. Strategic partnerships with corporations serving the small business market
We’re experimenting with a new business model to get “Now What?” into as many small business owners’ hands as possible. By having corporations that serve the small businesses give the book to some of their customers, we have a win/win/win situation: The small business owner gets a very valuable book, our corporate partner develops a deeper relationship with customers, and we make income from the sale. We have already partnered with two Fortune 500 companies.
2. In a big change from our normal business practice, this is the first book we’ve conceived as an ebook (though it is also available in print)
We knew customers weren’t in stores or schools, and we had to provide a product that fit their current purchasing patterns. Entrepreneurs can get an immediate download.
3. Leveraging our own platform
The first prospects to reach out to are always those who already know of you. We are giving early discounts to our newsletter readers and social media followers.
4. Holding virtual events with small business influencers
We’re reaching out to media personalities and others who small business owners follow to connect with their audiences. We will share our expertise with their followers and provide a discount on “Now What?”
5. Traditional PR
Getting the word out as broadly as possible, we’ll send out a press release using a wire service as well as sending to those in the media we already have relationships with.
6. More graphics
In a social media world, images matter. So we produced a video, and we’ll be creating more to keep the social media channel filled with pics and videos.
7. Walking the walk
We are giving away a portion—a big portion—of our sales to help fight hunger in America. Twenty-three percent of our sales will be given to Feeding America. Why 23%? Because earlier in the year, a whopping 23% of Americans were food insecure. We didn’t make this decision for marketing purposes, but we might as well share that we’re doing it to drive more awareness of the need.
8. Social media ad buys
While we’ve done a bit of social media advertising in the past, this is the first time we’re going to be spending a great deal of our marketing budget on social media. This isn’t just because our prospects are on their devices, it’s because we now have a product that’s a good fit for social media: an ebook with instant download. Next, we’re going to experiment with a few different social media channels to find out which one works best. We are naturally going to start with Facebook, but we’ll experiment with LinkedIn and Instagram, and perhaps something like Pinterest or Etsy, which a lot of small business owners use. The key to social media advertising:
- first, find the right channels
- second, experiment with different ads, images
- third, experiment with different offers
- finally, focus on your analytics. It’s important to really analyze what is working and what isn’t. Most social media channels offer you good analytical tools to help you decide on which ads and offers to keep and which to change.
Finally, through November, I’m offering USA Today readers a 20% discount on all ebook downloads. Just use the code “USATodayNowWhat” at https://planningshop.com/product/shts-hit-fan-now-what-ebook/ We really want all of you to survive and thrive!
Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2020
This article originally ran in USA Today on November 4, 2020