The First Rule of Marketing Online

What’s the secret to marketing anything online? Whatever idea you ever have in life, the #1 obstacle to success will be marketing it. Humans have a natural aversion to anything new. That’s why brands like Nike stay on the top of their niche – because if you come up with a new running shoe, buyers intrinsically have some trepidation about the product until word of mouth validates it. No matter how great your idea, if you’re an artist, musician, social media person, entrepreneur, online entrepreneur, no matter your field, you have to acquire clients and keep them happy. So, here’s the number one rule everyone forgets:

Don’t be a narcissistic marketer.

What do I mean by that? Simply put, don’t market in a way only you are interested in. The problem is, we are wired to build on what we believe, thinking others believe the same way. Let’s delve into a local television commercial – be it for a car dealership or a furniture store. In this example, we’ll use a new car dealership. The owner – who really isn’t very good and doesn’t look great on camera – is trying to get you to come in and purchase a vehicle from him. In all actuality, he thought it would be cool for him to market himself in that way, for him to become the brand. Yes, it can be argued that his cheesiness makes the spot memorable, but that same cheesiness has a psychological affect which makes many think twice before going to his car lot; if he’s that cheesy, maybe the dealership isn’t that great. It’s one thing if the dealership is well-established; you can get away with that cheesiness as long as it’s done tongue-in-cheek and as if you’re letting the audience in on the joke. It’s another thing totally when you have no history and you try to break into the market in less than a professional manner.

So how do you get into the minds of people and get them to start buying your product? How do you know what will flip that switch and cause customers to come flocking in?

The simplest way is to do rapid experimentation. Don’t pre-supposed you know what the target audience wants (like that aforementioned car dealership owner who thought people would relate to him rather than his product). Experiment. Put together five, 10, thirty variations of an ad. Run them across the various platforms. Get inside the minds of the people and figure out what floats their boats. Study the numbers and see which variation(s) garnered the most responses. Analytics rarely lie, so monitoring what works and what doesn’t will help you build your marketing plan.

And remember the core advertising principles – the old 5 Ws and an H: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. What I can tell you is that the more successful ads are those that bring up a problem (5 Ws) and give a solution (the How). There’s not an “I love it so you should too” mentality. There’s a whole lot of researching that needs to occur so you can effectively know what the public worries about or wants and offering them the perfect solution.

Keep narcissism at bay. Don’t focus on what you like about a product and think others will like it too. Do your research. Step out of your own mind and listen to what others are saying.