Last week I was visiting with a friend who opened an antique jewelry store. The original and handmade items are exquisite and the store built out of an old railway car is charming. Here is her facebook page. The business is in a small town, but I spent some time explaining to her that it really didn’t matter, the world could be her oyster and it would not cost much.
One of the big challenges getting start up businesses to grow is raising money, most have to borrow from friends and relatives and eventually bootstrap many lean years, 9 out 10 fail. The obstacle has always been producing media and marketing to generate sales. Television advertising, the tried and true way to reach a large audience is extremely expensive. Further, it is hard to gauge success, as an old time VP at Doyle Dane Bernbach (now part of Omnicom) remarked “I know that half of all television advertising works, the question is which half.” That is because television advertising is usually done in tandem with other media like print, radio etc. Those days are drawing to a close. Television is dying.
In the third quarter of 2013, Time Warner Cable lost 306,000 broadband subscribers, since 2011 over 5 million have pulled the plug. (http://www.businessinsider.com/cord-cutters-and-the-death-of-tv-2013-11) That figure also includes internet users. Does that mean internet is in decline? No. The reason is free wifi. Between access at work and at stores like Starbucks, people are cutting their internet connection. What is growing is mobile. So, now all it takes to mount a media marketing campaign is a mobile provider, smart phone and computer. Further, mobile rates are predicted to fall due to market saturation.
What this all adds up to is that, one big obstacle to starting a business is gone, marketing overhead can be as low as $50 a month.
What is important for starting a business is understanding the sensibility of prospective customers. Returning to my friend, I know exactly the right web/mobile designer for her, he does interior designers, photographers, and specialty personal items, over the years hundreds of sites and happy clients. He is very affordable. Getting the word out requires some planning, the key to any media marketing campaign is to understand that media creates media.
The trick is to get that ball rolling and to keep it rolling. Due to blogs, facebook, speciality e-zines, online groups and social media sites there is no shortage of media outlets to get your message on.
How do you get them interested? Answer is you need a good story, in the case of my friend operating in a business in a railway carriage getting the local and state tourist or chamber of commerce interested is a no-brainer. That will not be enough, what is needed is a tie in to another media event, such as in the case of her antique jewelry business, a movie, a historical costume drama like Anna Karenina (2012), creating pieces inspired by, that is an important qualifier. Finding out what are those tie-ins requires work, research, and hours on the computer finding every scrap of information. In tandem with finding tie ins is reaching out to influential bloggers, sites in the same market space and getting linked to them. Most webmasters will only be too happy to link to a site that is well designed and has good merchandise. It make them look good.
Another important and potentially lucrative investment of time and energy is to use big online retailers like Amazon.com, and the granddaddy of online sales e-Bay. The story of Sophia Amoruso is worth telling. She is now a multi-millionaire with over 500,000 customers world-wide. Sophia was a thrift store maven. She bought items and resold them on e-Bay, started a company called Nasty Gal, business became so brisk she began manufacturing her own versions of popular looks.
Doing this does not cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, most can be done for a couple of hundred dollars, hard work and some smarts. That is why there has never been a better time to end the daily grind and start your own company.
image credit: linguistics research digest
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Peter Doyle is an award winning media marketing, news and documentary producer using rich media to accelerate innovation and commercialization. Check me out at http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterjdoyle