Have you ever tried to get someone’s attention in a crowd? You raise your arms, shout, and jump in the hope that the right person will notice you.
Building an online platform for your business can feel a lot shouting in a noisy crowd. Now imagine everyone in that crowd is shouting, as well.
How can you make your presence known when everyone around you is doing the same thing?
Traditional Marketing Isn’t Enough
Whether you are a parent or not, odds are you’ve seen a television commercial for diapers—likely for several different brands. Huggies, Pampers, and Luvs all spend millions of dollars every year to convince parents that their product is the best. Except, we all know that every brand of diaper effectively does the same job.
The companies know this too, which is why their advertising is as much about who is being depicted in the ad, rather than the job the diaper is doing. For example, ads for Pampers are often soothing and convey a sense of luxury. Pampers ads typically feature busy moms shuffling about the house. Luvs ads are typically set in more ordinary household settings to convey a sense of value.
Try Platform University!Want to give Platform University (your one-stop shop for building an online audience) a spin? Get your first week of Platform University for just $1. Cancel anytime. Try Platform University for Just $1
If multiple brands do the same job, their identity must be based outside of the product they offer. These examples represent smart distinction on behalf of each company’s ad agency, but these campaigns work because the companies have nearly endless resources to promote their product. Additionally, the customer pool for diapers is so broad that even a small percentage of market share is worth tens of millions of dollars per year.
But when it comes to building your platform from scratch, simply telling people you’re different is no longer good enough. They need to see that you are different.
Simply telling people you’re different is no longer good enough. They need to see that you are different.
You Can’t Control the Conversation
In the age of Twitter and Facebook, everyone has a megaphone. The voice of ordinary citizens is amplified. If they don’t like your business, your product, or your art, they are not afraid to say so. Bad news travels faster than ever before.
But good news also travels fast. Apple spends less on marketing as a percentage-of-revenue than any other consumer electronics company. They don’t have to spend more because the remarkable products they produce are the marketing. People are willing to spend hours in line on launch day just to get their hands on them. Their customers are their sales force.
In today’s marketing landscape, you can’t control the conversation people have about you. You can only control what they have to talk about. In other words, you can only control what you offer. A good product isn’t enough anymore—lots of products are good.
You need to be great if you want to get noticed.
Here are three considerations to keep front and center as you develop your brand and platform:
1. Be sure the “why” of your brand or product is compelling. In the world of developing brands, a great story—the “why” of your existence—beats a weak story every time. If you are compelling, your audience will be more likely to ignore any weaknesses in your platform.
2. Do the best work you’re capable of today. Again, your audience has no shortage of choice. You can’t afford to “phone it in.” While your work will always improve with time and repetition, you must always bring your best to the table today—and every day that follows.
3. Build your social network now. If you wait until you think you’re ready, it will be too late. You build a loyal audience over time: one post, one tweet, one status update at a time. You have to build your audience before you need it. Plus, if you grow transparently, it will only help to deepen your relationship with your audience.
The work you do every day—your brand—is your first line of marketing. Focus on your craft, connect with others, and watch your audience grow alongside your platform.