After writing last weeks post regarding new media and entrepreneurism, what I called, "the new American dream", it was picked up by The Tech Block and my twitter lit up in discussion. After that piece, I thought it was apt that I discuss how marketing in new media has changed and share a few tips for anyone new or thinking about pursing the new American Dream.
Power To The People
In the mid 1990's digital technology and faster internet bandwidth blew the doors wide-open for entrepreneurs and consumers to take control of their digital destinies. It enabled musicians to create music in their bedrooms for a fraction of the cost, allowed writers to publish their thoughts online without the need of a traditional publisher and creators to sale their products without the need of a physical store. The internet is the great equalizer, it gives everyone a voice (yes, even trolls) and allows two-way communication between creator and consumer like never before. What used to take hundreds of thousands of dollars could now be done by one person, in their home. If a product is amazing or terrible people will talk about it and share their experiences with their friends and family. Now that distribution and publishing have been democratized and everyone is selling online, how do you market yourself or your products? Without proper curation, or community it's easy to get lost in the flood of things that are being created everyday online.
Pull, Don't Push
The idea of "pulling" people to your product is not a new idea but one that has become more valuable in the rise of new media. It's been proven time and time again that if your product/art is great or moves someone enough, people are going to go out of their way to find you and tell others about you. Think about the number of times you've looked up a song you heard (shazaam app) or a product you saw someone else with. Occasionally traditional ads can be this effective but a lot of times it’s coming from a personal experience or word of mouth. As a music fan I'm constantly on the hunt for new music. Sometimes I'll hear an artist name either on social media or from a friend but won’t bother to click the link or check them out when initially presented to me. (There are too many new artists to hear them all) But after hearing a name repeatedly, eventually I'm going to look them up and see what all the fuss is about. That's the power of social media and that's the power of word of mouth. Your friends and family are the greatest curators because you know their taste and if it's compatible with yours. People often ask me, how will people know they exist if they don't use "push" marketing techniques? (spamming, email blast, other annoying tactics) I always tell them the same thing, if you build it, (and it's great) they will come. If you've been creating something for a consistent amount of time and new people are finding you then maybe whatever you're doing just isn't that good. Reevaluate and refine whatever you're doing. It's ok, rarely does anything start off great.
If everyone is selling, who is buying? Musicians, designers, apps, content, information, everyone is trying to get your attention when you're on the internet. Most of this stuff we ignore and tune out, occasionally serendipitously stumbling into something we actually like. In the earlier days of the web, companies thought bashing you over the head with annoying, intrusive, flashing billboards were the way to sale you things. People don't like to be "sold" a product; they want to feel a part of something. Regardless if you're a musician, have a podcast or sale jewelry on Etsy the number one thing to focus on is creating the best art/product you can. Everything else is secondary to the quality of what you're selling. The harsh reality is that good is no longer good enough. You are in competition with everyone for one or both of the two most highly valued commodities in the world, time & money; no one likes to waste either. You have to be great if you want to stand out from the herd. What makes you unique to everyone else in your industry? If you're just emulating someone else expecting the same results then forget about it. The internet is too large and the competition is too tough to do what is already being done.
Know Who You Are
Having a sense of who you are (or your product) and what you or your product represents is essential in new media. It allows you to better identify who your target audience is and how to best serve them. Find your niche; learn as much as you can about it and super-serve those that are interested. You don't have to convince the world, convert those that want to be converted.
Quality & Consistency
Like I mentioned here, quality and consistency are the two most important things anyone in new media should strive for. High-quality is a no-brainer but it is often sacrificed usually due to laziness, lack of time, money, whatever. No matter what the excuse is, it doesn't matter, always put your best foot forward, especially in the beginning. Make sure anything you put out into the ether is the best work you're capable of doing. My father always says, "If you're not going to give it 100% then why bother doing it at all". Most of the time you only get to make one impression. Take yourself seriously, and others will as well.
Consistency is another problem that plagues a lot of new blogs, podcast etc. You start following a person’s work and then they go weeks, or months even without new content. Eventually you stop going to the site because something else has filled that void. Become reliable and you may become a regular in someone’s life.
We've all gotten unsolicited emails, Facebook messages or Tweets from someone trying to get us to click a link to something. The majority of the time, if I don't recognize the person, I delete the message and sometimes block the person that sent it. Don't be that person. Randomly sending out links or info to people does not work. In fact it's counter-intuitive and makes the person who receives the message relate negative feelings/thoughts about you and whatever you're selling. No one has ever become successful by using spam.
Use the social media networks that work best for you and your product. You don't have to be on every social network. Dedicate the time and nurture the communities you feel the most comfortable using and fit what you're trying to do. Just because you have a lot of followers it doesn’t mean anyone is actually listening. A highly active and responsive 10,000 is a lot more valuable than an unresponsive 100,000.
If you're getting into new media for the money you're in it for the wrong reasons. We all would like to get compensated for our work but making that the focus in the beginning will usually distract you from creating the best content/art possible. Not to mention, the majority of people earn little to no money that operate in new media right now. The internet is the wild west but the opportunity is boundless, so if you're passionate about it, do it. I'm not saying to never think about how to monetize your audience, but GET an audience first! There are a number of ways to earn income once you've established enough readers/watchers/listeners to interest advertisers. When the time comes, do what works best for you, your platform and your community. There are many ways to earn money, some more successful than others. (Traditional click ads, sponsorships, subscriptions, Amazon affiliate program, donations, and more.)