How do you get your business noticed? Seriously, how do you do it?

How the hell do you get your business noticed these days when consumers are being bombarded with so many messages? Seriously, I’m asking. Because I have no idea.

Yeah yeah! I know all about the usual “tricks” like, Facebook advertising, blogging, guest blogging, blogger reviews, appearing on podcasts, Google Adwords, Instagram ads, daily deal sites, influencer marketing, PR, landing pages, and blah blah blah.

Presumably those tactics have been successful for many businesses, but not so much for mine.

I know some of you are like, but you gotta try those “tricks” because they really do work. Here’s a quick rundown of my experience with some of those tactics.

 

Facebook and Instagram ads

I’ve spent over $7,000 advertising on Facebook and Instagram the last three years and have gotten less than $1,000 in sales from it. In the early days, I hired reputable Facebook marketers, and have friends who are killing it as Facebook marketers for their clients, and who graciously showed me how to properly advertise on Facebook.

For whatever reason, it doesn’t work for my business. But I’m still trying! I’m currently using an automated Facebook marketing tool, Needls, which does a nice job with its algorithm of easily and quickly setting up multiple ads for you, and optimizing them to get the best engagement rates at the lowest cost per engagement. A recent campaign I did had a cost per click to my website of $.05, which is way lower than anything I’ve been able to accomplish on my own. Unfortunately, I’m not getting any sales from it.

 

Blogging and guest blogging

I blog right here, but haven’t been writing the last few months because I haven’t been inspired. Not many folks read this blog, but those who do, tell me they dig it.

I am a contributor/guest blogger for GoDaddy’s small business blog, The Garage. And I contribute for some of my favorite people over at SheKnows media, and BlogHer, where I had the honor of being recognized with the prestigious Voices Of The Year award.

 

Blogger reviews

I’ve had dozens of bloggers review my product. I’m talking talented and well-respected writers; that helped some with sales and awareness, but not nearly as much as people probably think it would. I’ve made some great friendships with lots of these folks though and I’m thankful for that.

 

Google Ad Words

In my best Clay Davis voice from The Wire, Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit! I wish I had that $20,000 back that I spent on Ad Words. I didn’t get any meaningful sales from it.

 

 

PR

PR? Don’t talk to me about PR. I’ve been killing the PR game. I don’t know any entrepreneur who has been as successful getting PR for her company as I have been. I’ve had amazing PR hits, such as:

These hits have all generated sales for the business, with the TODAY Show being the most effective sales generator, followed by Money Magazine, and the DIY Network. GMA and West Texas Investors Club surprisingly didn’t do much for sales.

These types of PR hits are great for brand awareness and credibility markers on your website and social media channels, but the sales impact is always temporary.

 

 

The net result of all that

The net result of all that activity is a business that is STILL struggling to get traction. In three and a half years, and raising $400,000 in capital after completing a startup accelerator, my business has cumulative sales of $250,000, and a 10%  growth in sales in 2016 to $80,000.  The company will have a loss in 2016 primarily due to the Groupon campaign I did at the end of 2015 that nearly put me out of business.

Despite all that productive activity and doing all the “right” things, my website gets an average of 100 visitors per day. And with less than a 2% e-commerce conversion rate, which is comparable to other large companies in the photo product space, and an average revenue per order of $100, that dog just ain’t gon’ hunt.

Something’s gotta give if my business is going to be the breakout success I imagine and get acquired for $50 million, which is my goal.

 

So now what?

It’s clear the tactics from the regular playbook, for whatever reason, don’t work for my business. I know for a fact my product is brilliant because customers tell me so, but clearly, that’s not enough.

It seems we live in an age where to get attention, you have to be provocative. Exhibit A is this recent election. Donald Trump, like him or not, has laid down the blueprint for how to get attention in America.

An interesting example of how provocation resulted in enormous growth, was the riff Trump had with Vanity Fair magazine, when he tweeted the following:

This one tweet by Twitler-er-Trump, had an enormously positive impact on the magazine’s sales. Here’s a quote from Slate.com about what happened:

 

Trump meant to mock the magazine, but he ended up giving it a big boost. Vanity Fair’s new subscriptions soared 100 fold after the tweet, reports Folio. “This was the highest number of subscriptions sold in a single day ever at Condé Nast,” a company spokesperson said. Vanity Fair quickly saw the potential of the tweet for its business and launched a digital marketing campaign urging readers to subscribe to the “magazine Trump doesn’t want you to read.”

 

Subscriptions increased 100 fold! Vanity Fair’s marketing team could try for years to achieve a result like that and would likely fail, despite being a quality and reputable publication.

So now I’m wondering what can I do that, as my man Mario Armstrong says (paraphrasing), doesn’t compromise my morals and integrity, but will be so provocative that it will get my business noticed and put it on the map for good?

I would love it if Twitler-er-Trump would tweet something like:

 

. @WeMontage is the worst company EVER. The owner @jamesoliverjr is such a LOSER. I’d FIRE him!

 

That would turn half the country against me, but whatevs, this is America-with 300 million people. And that would leave 150 million people who’d love my business! Exaggeration yes, but you get my point.

Now I’m brainstorming. I have one idea so far that I’m tossing around that would include a collage of the incoming first family superimposed on a wall in a nicely decorated room and I’ll ask a question like, ” Would you put pics of the incoming first family on your wall with removable wallpaper? Yes or no?”

This is just one idea, but I need a bunch more. Let me know in the comments if you have any outrageous ideas I could use.

Have you done anything provocative that got your brand/company on the map for good? If so, I’d LOVE to hear about it in the comments.

 

Tallyho!

 

12 thoughts on “How do you get your business noticed? Seriously, how do you do it?

  1. Good stuff James. Real and raw. I hollered at The Wire clip. I almost feel like this needs to be the cool thing of the future but now. Dont give up. How do we get teenagers to want it? That would be a win right there. Lil girls have to have their fave photos on their walls.

    1. I agree. It could just be timing.

      And it’s perfect for college students, too. We sold a bunch in August and early September for back to school and got rave reviews. But it didn’t result in any momentum. It’s a head scratcher.

      I have evidence that when college moms know about it they buy it for their kids and are happy to do so. But not sure how to scale that up.

      1. James your company should get with the college admissions team! Every college has 2 to 3 days where they register for school and have many companies there selling stuff. I remember dropping my son off to school in NC and the process to get ready for school. I think you having a booth or a place where the students/parents can easily purchase the product. Maybe they can download the App and get 10% off their 1st purchase. You have to make it easy for the fast pace kids nowadays. I hope this helps you 😊

  2. Very interesting insight and wish I had the magic cure all to get our business noticed and help us increase income significantly, but honestly still not 100% sure myself. But would love to see what others have to say and weigh in, as well now. That said, I truly still admire your perseverance as you really do have amazing product and only hope that others will take note for 2017 now 😉

  3. You could make a WeMontage to sell that features the funniest Trump memes. People could purchase it at a modest price with a slightly lower profit margin (or a break even point) with the goal of having it go viral. Include your product info on the bottom. You’d both be helping people to express their contempt of Trump and getting the word out about your product. Eventually you’d get the attention of Trump, which would help your business in the Vanity Fair way. Shameless plug: I made a meme with the picture of Trump mocking a disabled reporter paired with Maya Angelou’s quote about believing people when they tell you who they are; you can use it, ha ha. It’s here: http://www.tootimidandsqueamish.com/2016/12/stranger-things-in-the-age-of-trump/ I would feel worried about activating the Trump trolls, but I also hope people will express their disagreement with Trump and fight to preserve the American values that make America great already. Aside from the Trump idea, maybe that could be a new product idea — selling already made WeMontages that feature great Creative Commons/public domain photos centered on certain themes (places, sports, food, hobbies). People could be drawn to your web site to consider those, and then have the option to design their own.

    1. Marcy great idea! Multiple heads are better than one James. Memes are big! Also having designs already made for people. We love things that we don’t have to think too much….remember this is the microwave generation. If people want to design their own they can but just give us some already made ones to order.

  4. Thanks for continuing the conversation for ways to promote your business. As much as you want an explosion in sales from a viral media splash, it might not be the way to go. Are you prepared to handle 1,500-5,000 orders overnight from a tweet gone viral? Or more? As much as it would seem like the perfect problem to have, the back-orders and possible mistakes from the volume could create bad press and dissatisfied customers that would backfire your efforts.

    Getting a strong emotional connection to your product could generate greater sales. Proud parents love showing off their kids. How could you get doctor offices to do a “Cute baby contest” of their patients and then create a winning montage that they display in their waiting area? They could re-do this every year. They would like the win-win social media buzz, the parents would love the recognition of their babies, and you would certainly appreciate the extra business. 🙂

    Another idea might be to partner with wedding planners and photographers for them to be a brand ambassador for you where they get a commission for encouraging your product.

    1. Hey Scott,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Mistakes from volume is a high class problem and one that I would welcome.

      Regarding those other ideas, they don’t work. They’ve been tried and have delivered no results.

      Happy New Year!

  5. Great write-up as always, James. And I love the ideas offered by readers. I know you’ve tried a ton. Throwing another one at you: Piggybacking on the idea of marketing to young folks, how about selling wholesale to stores that cater to kids. For instance, my 10-yr old son and his friends love to “roast” each other.

    Can you create a handful of good, but not-so-offensive-as-to-put-off-the-parents, roasts boys might use and market that to a store (Journeys Kids, LLBean, Crazy 8, Justice, etc)?

    They can buy a “Meme Montage” from WeMontage and choose from say 10 sayings (or give the option to come up with their own). Maybe allow them to sprinkle in their pic and some pics of their friends?

    Or maybe motivational song titles from popular movies for little girls (Let it go, Love is an Open Door, I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here, You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile) with a few main pictures from those movies?

    Or what about partnering with a school pictures company like Lifetouch? Every year they seem to come out with a new way to sell the pictures – keychains, bookmarks, etc.

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