(Photo courtesy Chimera Cosmos)
Now you might wonder what on Earth these two radically different activities might have in common, other than they are being done by two very close friends. The common factor is that they are both promoting something. Fashion products in one case, musicians in the other. Both are following a complex process to meet a difficult goal.
This got me thinking about what it means to promote something in a business sense. At the root of it, there are only three steps involved:
- Make a large group aware of your “thing”.
- Make sure that interested individuals consider your “thing”.
- Ensure the very few individuals who decided to take part actually can (by purchasing, for example)
Ah, but they are not very simple steps. There are specific methods of achieving each of them. In this post, let’s look at the first one, Awareness, which turns out to be the most difficult – but also has the biggest opportunities for creative solutions. How do you make people aware of your “thing”? Here are the main ideas an SL business can consider, although there are likely a few more:
Blog posts. Many SL makers have an accompanying blog in which they can post the details of their new product.
- Example: I do this now and then.
- Positives: a blog post is hugely rich and can include significant text, images and even videos and can potentially reach a lot of people.
- Negatives: Few will read a blog solely for product announcements, and you’ll have to commit to a significant amount of high quality writing.
Notecard. Notecards are not nearly as rich as a blog post, but can be useful if carefully worded and sent to a group of friends.
- Positives: Almost assured delivery to each recipient; can be perceived as a personal message.
- Negatives: Can be perceived as SPAM by some recipients; Typically low numbers of people can be reached compared to other methods.
Group announcement. A well worded announcement can be sent to a group, either a true SL Group or a Subscrib-O-Matic group.
- Positives: Those who subscribe are more likely to partake of your offer than the general public, as they’ve previously expressed interest in your activities; Potentially large numbers of people can be reached.
- Negatives: The message sent is not nearly as rich as a blog post, and in some cases is severely limited in size.
Advertising. This involves somehow visibly placing your product name in a place where many people will see it.
- Example: SL classified ads.
- Positives: Massive numbers of people can potentially be reached
- Negatives: Expensive if you want it to be effective; Very complex to understand how to do this properly; Creation of effective advertising material is really hard to do. (I think I’d better go deep on this in an upcoming post.)
Promotional idea. This one is a little vague, as I mean any kind of game or contest that can be associated with your product. The possibilities here are as endless as your imagination.
- Example: Grid-wide hunt.
- Positives: These can be incredibly successful.
- Negatives: These can go catastrophically wrong. You must have tremendous imagination and effort to attempt to do a successful promotion.
Show Appearance. A podcast interview or an appearance on a popular machinima show can make many aware of your product.
- Example: I appeared on SL Under the Radar a while ago.
- Positives: This medium is vastly different than all the others and so you can portray your story in a unique way.
- Negatives: Show audiences vary considerably, but in all cases few people actually know how to view/listen to them, and thus the potential audience size is limited.
Microblog. Twitter and more recently Plurk offer ways to announce your message.
- Positives: Extremely easy to do, and no cost at all; Large, dedicated audiences are potentially available.
- Negatives: For one, you get only 140 characters, so there’s only so much you can say; You must gain the trust of a large number of people, and that can be very difficult and time consuming, especially if you’re not trustworthy!
Mass Media. You somehow manage to get into one of the major media outlets (press, magazine or TV).
- Example: Crap Mariner’s CNN iReport.
- Positives: Massive number of eyeballs on this one.
- Negatives: Extremely hard to do, and usually out of your control entirely (with the exception of the CNN iReport concept.)
Event. This approach is commonly done by many SL business in the form of a product launch, fashion show or opening party.
- Example: Eshi’s fashion show where she unveiled her new line.
- Positives: Moderately easy to do; Usually effective in bringing good amounts of traffic your way; Fun!
- Negatives: Can be expensive, depending on what you do.
Forum Post: Discussion boards are a great way to post a message viewed and responded to by many people.
- Example: Crap Mariner's SLBuzz posting.
- Positives: Very easy to do; potentially large audiences available.
- Negatives: Unless you have the trust of the audience, you will be ignored.
Press Release. A concise method of documenting your announcment.
- Example: Codebastard Redgrave’s press release on her new filtercam product.
- Positives: Appears very professional; Relatively easy to produce.
- Negatives: Awkward to include video; Who do you send it to? PR services that can send it to many for you are expensive, otherwise it’s just a specially formatted blog post.
Each has their advantages and disadvantages, mainly in the effort-to-effectiveness ratio. It’s been my experience that best results occur when you use multiple techniques on the same campaign, and even better results when you link them together into combination approaches, like this:
You issue a press release on a blog regarding an upcoming event to reveal new product lines. The announcement is echoed on all microblogs, and the text is sent by notecard to relevant groups. Appearances on several shows prior to the event raise the event’s profile, as do strategically placed advertising signs. At the event, door prizes keep people talking, guessing and anticipating.
You can see that there is quite a bit to the seemingly simple task of making people aware of your product. Next time, we’ll talk about what you do after that.
By the way, you can find Eshi's amazing collection at her store, Chambre du Chocolat.