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For online business ideas to succeed, it is crucial to adopt a marketing strategy that works. People are now seeking new opportunities to build an online business that appeals to their vocation. While this trend has been around for a while, it seems to have gained more momentum since the pandemic. Considering the millions of job losses and salary cuts that people have forcibly gone through, this momentum seems but natural.
What happens when people with no prior business experience venture out in pursuit to build one? While a few succeed and meet their goals, many often hit just another roadblock or, worse, a dead end.
So why does this happen?
Assuming you are very good at what you do, why can you not make it hit as a business? The answer is no secret; it takes a lot more to run a business when compared to a job. You might be an excellent pastry chef who was working at a restaurant in a 5-star hotel. But when you lost your job, you weren’t able to make it through by running your online bakery or patisserie. Similarly, you worked as a fashion stylist for one of the top fashion designers in your country. But when it came to driving your brand as an independent business, you seem to be struggling.
Clearly, it isn’t just about being good at what you do in business. It is primarily that plus a lot more. A significant part of this ‘lot more’ consists of marketing. What good would it be from a business point of view to write the best novel in the world but not market it well and make it a global bestseller?
In the existing day and age, the majority of marketing happens online. People spend more time browsing the internet through their phones than watching TV or listening to the radio. So it becomes critical to bring out your A-game when marketing your business online. However, since online marketing includes many technicalities, people tend to focus more on the medium than the message. While it is essential to cover as many technical aspects to produce optimal results, nothing supersedes the core of the directive itself.
There are three simple aspects to identify to get your messaging right:
- Who is my target audience?
- What do they desire?
- How can I relate my product to their desires?
The answer to these questions will help you bring out a combined statement answering why your service or product is required. This statement will be your core message. This approach is often referred to as – lifestyle marketing or value marketing.
Let me tell you how this works.
Remember Apple’s famous ‘Think different’ advertisement that re-ignited the romance people associated with the brand? After being ousted from his own company, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO, he worked on a marketing campaign that incorporated a content strategy that connects to the audience. An approach that does not talk about the company’s products or its features. It only talks about what the company stands for and who would they like to represent. If you haven’t seen this advertisement yet, watch it here now.
If you want to hear it from the horse’s mouth itself, watch this video to understand (in under 10 minutes) why Steve Jobs was the marketing genius he was.
The best approach to marketing your online business ideas is not by talking about the quality of materials used in your bags and wallets or the quality of ingredients used in your cake. All that is important, but at a later stage. That is not how you initiate a conversation with your audience. To create a connection, your marketing content first needs to concentrate on how it makes the audience feel
In Apple’s example, the ‘Think different’ campaign elicits a feeling of being understood. The campaign identified its target audience as the misunderstood creative geniuses who see the world differently. Its marketing content then made them feel honoured and understood as one of the biggest problems faced by many such people would be not being accepted and understood the way they are until they become successful.
Now I understand that many of you may feel – why am I sharing examples of business giants for driving home a marketing strategy for any new online business ideas, be it big or small?
I will answer that in a bit. But before I do that, let me just give you a few more examples very quickly. Have you ever seen Nike’s ad content talk about their product in their ads? Have you noticed how Coke has been promoting itself by connecting its product to a feeling of happiness? They never talk about what are the features of the drink inside the coke bottle. Cadbury also markets itself with content around celebrating events and moments of joy, not around the ingredients in their chocolates. Kingfisher places itself as the king of ‘good times’. The most far fetched example of all though is that of Marlboro. It very wisely connected its product to a macho cowboy feel, and sales just rocketed. No wonder cigarette ads are banned today. Misuse of this marketing technique will only hamper your brand in the long run. Next time you see a marketing post that you really like, pause and try to find out if it did evoke a certain emotion or feeling from within.
Lastly, while technical aspects like SEO, product/service quality and distribution are essential, there’s a lot more to make it an online business. Take the marketing campaign of CRED, for example. What do their ads focus more on? Do they focus on making you feel something different, or they focus on the features of their product (the app)? When you hear about CRED do you remember the weird, quirky feeling created by their ads or do you remember the features of their app?
You see, there is a famous saying that goes something like – ‘People may forget what you say, people may forget what you do, but they will never forget how you make them feel.’
With all that said, now is time to answer your question. How can you use all this knowledge to grow your online business ideas and make them a success?
Well, here’s how you can do that… Let’s say you are a fashion designer manufacturing quirky bags and wallets that appeal to the youth. Or you are a pastry chef who wants to deliver custom orders for particular clients.
So keeping this in mind, marketing your bags and wallets should focus around a feeling of fun, happiness and confidence of being yourself. The pastry chefs online ads should exude a feeling of personal touch, luxury and warmth.
By connecting directly with your target audience through invoking a feeling, you create a marketing strategy that sticks. With so much noise all around, it is vital not to be easily forgotten. Once you’ve connected with your target audience through a commonly shared feeling, then the audience will be open and receptive to take a deeper dive and know more details about your service(s) and/or product(s). This is the stage where you talk about the quality of your service(s) and/or product(s). Such boring details are a terrible hook, to begin with, and you may lose the audience’s attention before you even realise it.
I hope that I have been able to drill down the point well enough by now. If I have, comment below and let me know how you intend to use this technique to generate more traction and make your online business ideas a success.
Gaurav Achpalea is a qualified journalist, digital content creator and digital marketer. He has acquired his Master’s degree in Media and Communications from University of Wollongong Australia and is also a Google certified Digital Marketer.