Getting People to Use, Buy and Pay for Your Product
Emerging Companies Roundtable Takeaways
At the October 2013 Emerging Company Roundtable session, Gianna Arnold and Phil Bogart of Saul Ewing moderated a discussion about how to get customers to use, buy and pay for your product. Valuable advice was provided by UmarHameed of Productivity Cubed, and Ida Cheinman of Substance 151, along with Saul Ewing attorneys Kathryn Hickey and Heather Pruger. A few key takeaway points from the group’s discussion are as follows:
- Your company’s brand and message. Before putting together a marketing and/or PR plan, consider the message of your company. Understand why you’re doing what you do. Why is your product different than your competitors’ products? Why should consumers choose your company? Keep in mind that we, as human beings, tend to be feeling machines rather than thinking machines. Consumers often choose to buy a product or service based on how they feel. Think about how you want people to feel after a conversation with you about your company, and use that notion to drive your brand and your company’s message. Make sure your brand and advertising campaigns explain how your product solves your customers’ problems and/or meets your customer’s needs.
- The use of social media. Consider whether your audience is engaged in social media. If your target customers use Facebook and Twitter, think about implementing a social media plan. Putting in the effort and time to update your social media pages can improve the public’s awareness of your company or product. Posting updates such as a new promotion your company is running, or providing information about new products, and engaging in dialogue with competitors, are good (inexpensive) ways to increase brand recognition and market your company. At the same time, make sure that the public and your employees understand the role that your social media accounts play. Make clear that your social media accounts provide a public forum for informal discussion related to your company, and that you do not necessarily control all aspects of that discussion. Establish ground rules for your employees so that they understand how to appropriately interact with your company and target customers on social media. If you don’t have the time to update social media pages, you can consider appointing an employee to handle this task, or outsourcing to a company or contracted worker that specializes in this field.
- Make sure you and your company are covered. While outsourcing social media — whether to an employee or an external contractor or company — is often effective, there are a few things to keep in mind. 1. Make sure it is known upfront that the effort will be a collaborative one. You have to educate your employee or contractor on your brand and ensure that they relay appropriate information to the public in the company’s voice. You want the ability to oversee their work, and make sure the social media posts speak to your company’s message. 2. If you’re unhappy with the work product, make sure it is known that you can terminate the contracted individual/company’s assignment at any time. 3. Finally, if the assignment is terminated, make sure that all intellectual property isyours after the termination, and that the web pages and social media accounts do not belong to the contracted worker. Make sure you have a written agreement in place that states the profiles belong to your company and have a practical way to regain complete control of the social media accounts. You want to own everything. It is prudent to engage in a 90-day trial period, to make sure you are happy with the working relationship and the work product.
- Use a focus group. A valuable technique to getting feedback on your company, product or service is to poll your customer base. Interview the public, find out why they chose to purchase your product or go with a competitor. A customer may have chosen to buy your product for a different reason than what you or your company might perceive. Getting to know why others are buying your product can help you tailor your messaging to reach a broader audience.
- Mistakes that startups often make. 1. Try to avoid falling in love with your product. If you can recognize its flaws and make changes based on your customers’ feedback, you will be more successful. 2. Don’t assume that you can’t afford to develop your brand. Spending the time and resources to slowly build your company will prove to be worthwhile. 3. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out how to write your marketing plan yourself. Hire an expert who can help. You will save time and multiple rewrites by using an outside consultant who can accomplish this more quickly. 4. Make sure a media kit is part of your marketing plan. When reporters are on a tight deadline and call you for a story, make sure you drop everything to talk to them. This will get you on their A-list and you will find your company in the news.
Helpful resources for you and your company: