Let’s face it, as much as we all wish it was so, starting out really isn’t as easy as becoming an overnight sensation, especially with such a new industry. That simply doesn’t happen. When it comes to getting your name out there, startup marketing is a huge deal. But what can you do when you just don’t have the budget for a big marketing campaign?
Let’s go over a few things that can get your CBD marketing moving in the right direction, without having to spend much besides sweat equity.
Build a Network With Online Influencers in Your Industry
Building a strong online network should be the foundation of any free CBD-based marketing strategy. Having other people share your brand, simply because they want to, is an incredibly powerful thing.
If you find yourself in a position where your network is…lacking, get out there and start being active with influential people in the CBD industry. Follow them on their social networks, comment on their posts, share their content with your friends, engage with them and make them notice you. Don’t be a pest, but show them that you care about who they are and they should care about you too. Always be sure to include a link to your site in your signature.
You can use a tool like http://buzzsumo.com to find influential networks and bloggers based on your products target market keywords. If, for example, you are selling CBD Water online you might search for “water”, “CBD”, or “CBD Beverage” within the tool.
Start With a Smaller Niche
This is how and why my companies have experienced the success they have. I am a true believer in “niche, niche and then niche again”, even in an industry already niched-up such as CBD.
If you don’t start with a niche you could have some larger problems…
Grow Your Email & Lead List
If you don’t yet have a list of subscribers, you can start building one by utilizing a landing page or set of opt-in forms on your website. If you haven’t built a website, you can even use your landing page as your main page – until yours is up and running.
Offer potential subscribers an incentive for signing up – contests are a great way to collect email addresses!
Publish Industry Specific Content Regularly
This goes hand in hand with networking and social media. A great way to get your name out there without having to spend any money is by publishing great content on a regular basis. The cannabis industry is small and CBD even smaller. The things you write should cover topics that are in your general niche within CBD, but you really can write about almost anything relatively close to applicable. You don’t need to be a master of prose to start blogging, just make sure the content that you post is relevant to your potential customers.
Post about things that your ideal readers will be inclined to share with their friends, family and colleagues. Do a little SEO research and make sure your blog contains keywords that are going to help your blog rank higher than other blogs posting similar content. This is, again, where a tool like Buzzsumo can help.
Publish Higher Value Content for Subscribers
If you’re really not sure where to start, make an awesome how-to guide as a downloadable resource! People have a thirst for knowledge and when it comes to the Internet, “how to…” is the most commonly used search phrase. Take advantage of this by making a how-to guide that is better than anyone else’s. It’s amazing how much more value people place on something that’s downloadable vs “just another blog post”.
You want to write something that people will use and remember. Not only will this make your readers more likely to share your guide with their friends, it will make other content influencers more likely to promote your guide to their readers. You can also utilize your landing pages and opt-in forms in this manner by asking readers to submit an email address in order to gain access to the guide.
Leverage Other Bigger Audiences with Guest Posting
Your own blog is a long-term play since you’ll be starting without an audience, but this effort will pay off with a larger SEO footprint down the road. However, you can also jump start your blogging by leveraging other bloggers audiences.
In addition to doing your own blogging, it’s also a good idea to reach out to fellow CBD or medical bloggers. Offer to write a few guest posts and be sure to include a link to your own site. Alternatively, extend the offer for fellow bloggers to write guest pieces on your blog, as well. Guest blogging gives you the chance to share your brand with someone else’s customers.
Keep Leads Warm
Once you’ve got a list of subscribers, start sending out newsletters and updates to keep your customers interested and intrigued about what’s going on with you. Don’t bombard them with daily updates, but a weekly or bi-weekly update is enough to keep your subscribers in the loop without making them feel like you’re sending them an alert every time you sneeze. Make sure you include links to the great content you’ll be building (see below) so that your subscribers can follow you and share your content with their friends.
You can also use these emails to help stay engaged with your customer base. Send out polls, ask questions and provide a platform for your subscribers to send responses. Sometimes, all the difference comes from making your customer feel needed and involved in what you’re doing.
Utilize Social Media – Start Small
We all know the issues with cannabis and social media. Is it the same for CBD? Pretty much. If you don’t have at least one social media account, you may as well be a dinosaur. That being said, not all social media networks are created equal, and just because Instagram works well for people in the fashion industry, doesn’t mean it will be all that effective for someone looking to promote their new CBD start-up.
Start by leveraging social media as a way to amplify the content you are creating.
Find the networks that will work the best for you (start with just one or two) and really work those ones. I recommend Instagram and Linked In. Post relevant content and post content that people who follow you will want to share. Respond to any messages and replies in a timely manner. Don’t talk down to your followers. Be active and involved. The biggest disservice you can do yourself is having your social media page look like a ghost town.
Sometimes the easiest way to get your name out there is by starting local. Utilize your friends and family! Ask them to share your brand with all of their friends and families. Make a few posts on your local Craigslist community and discussions forum. Place a free ad in your local newspaper or a local magazine. Get involved with a like-minded Meetup.com group and share your start-up with them.
Additionally, you’ll want to add your company to as many local directories as you can – and be sure to leave your link!
You should also consider speaking publicly about what you have to offer. You can speak to local Chambers of Commerce, rotary clubs, other professional organizations, meetup groups, etc. This is a great way to help show others that you are considered to be an expert in your field and to get your name out there with a community of people who have common interests.
If you happen to have an eBook or any published works, this is also a great opportunity to promote yourself and give away (or sell) your content. A lot of people may be intimidated by speaking in front of people, but it’s really just as simple as talking about things you know and relating it to your audience.
I definitely recommend having your talks recorded so that you can re-use them online.
Use Viral Features to Stretch Your Budget Further
When someone signs up for your email list or your product are you asking them to tell their friends about you? If you simply take the time to ask them for a referral you could easily generate 30% more leads for the same amount of money and traffic generated. The trick is to find the right time to ask for this referral. Typically, it’s right when they are already engaged on your site, you’ve just delivered them something useful, and they’ve had a good experience. That’s the moment when you want to ask for a shout out.
Create a Remarkable Customer Experience
Any product or technology even the tiniest amount of success can easily be copied. What can’t be copied, as easily, is the complete customer experience. What you do to make your customers lives easier and how you handle their support questions will ultimately determine how likely someone is to recommend you and become a repeat customer.
Even if you choose not to utilize all of these methods, as long as you put the time and effort into a few of them you should see a noticeable growth in the exposure you are receiving. I wish you the best of luck in your CBD marketing endeavors!