We called the multi-millionaire fashion mogul to glean his tips on how to promote your product like a shark. Here are his top seven:
1. Know what your customers will want.
Your first step when launching a new product is to think backwards, John says. Brainstorm on ways you can make the product something your target customers would want to buy in the first place.
“Like I did with FUBU, we created a product for people who understood us and who were just like us, people who love rap music and who love rap culture,” he says. Envision your ideal buyers — what they generally like and dislike, what pains they have that need to be solved — then build your initial product concept in a way that will “speak to them.”
2. Directly involve your target customer in the creation of your product.
“You don’t build it and they will come,” John says. “You have your target customer be an integral part of your entire launch, from concept and beyond.” For example, when he came up with the concept for his latest book, he polled his followers on Twitter and other social media platforms on what color they’d like the book cover to be and which topics they’d like to see broached in individual chapters.
“I gave them choices so they felt part of the launch process, rallying them around the product and driving up the likelihood that they’d actually want it,” he says.
3. Build a vocal community around your product ahead of launch.
Brand ambassador community-building is key long before you launch, John says. Like he says he did with The Power of Broke, if possible, send out early versions of your product to potential brand ambassadors, influencers on social media with large follower counts who can amplify news of your coming launch. The end game is to preemptively build brand loyalty through early brand ambassadors.
John did this long before social media came on the scene, in the heart of his stomping grounds in Queens. “Before FUBU got to the LL Cool Js of the world, before we became official and before social media got big, I made sure all the coolest kids in my neighborhood that everyone respected had my stuff on,” he says. “They took a bullhorn and talked it up in the rap community, which then influenced the influencers and maximized our reach — from neighborhood to city to world.”
4. Gather as much feedback on your product as you can. Then gather some more.
To attract brand ambassadors who get behind your product and promote it, John suggests collecting their first impressions and making any necessary tweaks before you launch. “To get people who will truly love your product and spread the word, make them proud of it and make sure you don’t embarrass them by putting something out there that isn’t 100 percent,” he says.
Be sure to ask the brand ambassadors you recruit what they do and don’t like about your product. What would they like to seem improved and why? “Pay attention to what they say because it’s critical to your product’s success,” John says.
5. Cross-promote your product with power players.
O.P.M. doesn’t just mean other people’s money, John says. “It can also be other people’s momentum, other people’s mind power, other people’s marketing and other people’s manpower.” You should strategically latch onto all these things when releasing a product via power players in the realm or industry you’re selling in.
For example, John tapped marketing pro and Entrepreneur contributing writer Jeffrey Hayzlett to cross-market his new book when it launched. “I say cross-market because this is where it really goes both ways,” he says. “I promote Jeffrey and then he promotes me, on his Twitter on his podcast — wherever is going to make the highest impact. I borrow his audience where they live and the same goes for him. We’re in a mutually beneficial relationship. My book is being moved and he’s passing value on down to his readers and listeners.”
6. Get your product on local retailers’ shelves first.
Think locally, aim globally. The reality, John says, is that small mom-and-pop shops will promote your product far more than a larger, big-box retailer. “Neighborhood boutiques and small, local retail shops are the fabric of communities,” he says. “Important conversations happen there. The owners typically have trust with the neighbors who shop there and their endorsement of your product goes far.”
If your wares become successful from initial small-store sales and the buzz grows loud enough, the big retailers will eventually come knocking. “They’ll see that they don’t have to risk too much because they’ll see and know that your product is working and they’ll want to back it as well,” he says.
7. Don’t forget to say “thank you.”
The final step in promoting your new product is to do something your mom taught you to do: express your gratitude by saying thank you often and genuinely. “Once people are part of your brand tribe, show them you’re thankful for their purchase, then show them you mean it,” John says. One way John did this with his FUBU customers was to send them free products when they’d bought a certain amount of items.
More recently, with his newest book, John personally thanks people who buy the business how-to at his book-signings. “I look them in the eye, connect with them and say ‘thank you.’ They then snap a picture and spread the moment on social media,” he says. “They’re going to remember me over the person who just took their money and said an empty ‘thank you.’ At the end of the day, the reward is loyalty.”
Instagram recently dropped the news that it will be adapting a non-chronological newsfeed order, similar to its big brother, Facebook. Instead of sorting posts in a familiar linear order, the new algorithm will weigh in a variety of social signals, such as a number of post engagements. It will also consider content you liked before in an attempt to sort images in the order of “relevancy,” or as what Instagram perceives to be of most interest to you.
Instagram has already carved out its place among top networks for businesses, thanks to its almost exponential growth. What started as a teen photo-sharing app bought by Facebook in then-incredible $1 billion deal, the network is projected to rack in $1.86 billion in revenue this year as its user base growth outpaces general social network usage.
The update, however, has caused a storm of complains. It went as far as to prompt a petition on Change.org asking Instagram to leave its chronological feed alone. The outrage was mostly caused by comparing this change to Facebook’s algorithm. Notorious for discriminating business pages’ content, it upset many business owners when organic post reach plunged to unbelievable lows. In a lot of cases, Instagram was their network of choice because of its chronological order and an unlimited reach of posts.
However, the comparison of the two networks is unfair. Unlike Facebook, Instagram does not separate “personal” from “business” accounts. As of right now, a profile is a profile, independently of its use. So, this move is not discriminatory of businesses (I am looking at you, Facebook).
So let’s examine what this change in algorithm really means and whether it’s as scary as it looks to marketers.
Chronological newsfeed was truly effective only in two instances: businesses posted to Instagram every half an hour or their followers had a very limited number of handles they followed. This cannot be a widespread trend, because according to Optical Cortex data based on 20,000+ Instagram users, average number of people they follow is 822. So, for a majority of brand’s following those images most likely weren’t the first thing they saw; and that chronological order didn’t really matter anyway.
Now what really made a difference, and still will continue to do so, is getting ahead of the game with smart strategies. What you have (to continue) to do as a smart marketer is to focus on quality content that drives engagement.
Instagram was so gracious to let marketers know of its algorithm change before it kicked in. Use the little time that’s left with chronological newsfeed to jumpstart your new marketing strategy. Make an extra push to increase engagement now. Start to finally notice those comments people leave on your images! Respond to them! Use this as an opportunity to strike a conversation.
A lot of people who follow brands and celebrities will deliberately go to the handle to see what’s new. People follow Nike, Lexus or Kylie Jenner, because they know that each new post will be amazing (whatever their definition of amazing is). So, strive to make your Instagram account a mecca for striking visual content. This is the only way to ensure people won’t stop engaging with your content, whatever the algorithm is.
There are also a few other tactics you can employ to stay ahead of the curve. For example, if you are seriously using Instagram to grow your business, you already track and analyze results. You already know when your audience is online. You can still schedule your posts to go out at those times and increase visibility of fresh content.
Another reason to dive deep into analytics is to see which hashtags perform the best. Always test which hashtags improve engagement, always vary them to improve your odd of being discovered by a new group of people. Finally, constantly monitor trending hashtags (didn’t you already?) to see if any of the applicable and relevant hashtags are popular, giving you the opportunity to enjoy a remarkable rate of impressions. Yet, don’t go for an overkill. Don’t spam people with irrelevant content and thirty hashtags – that won’t increase your engagement or chances of being lovable.
Plus, while being strategic about your visual content (that has to rock their socks off), you should also become extremely strategic about your captions. It is proven that captions with a call to action are beyond effective in getting desired results. Do you want more engagement? Just ask for it! Foundr Magazine, for example, ends a lot of their captions with “double tap if you agree,” or “tag your friends.” What’s an easier way to gain numerous shares and an audience insight than to simply ask for their opinion?
Businesses that enjoy high engagement rates know their respective audiences very well. They know what type of imagery is catchy, what content needs to serve; and these companies have also figured out a context for consuming this content. They cater to their audience, so the latter wants to stick for the ride ahead.
Finally, don’t shy away from occasional boost. Employ the power of Facebook advertising capabilities on Instagram and target the right people.
So, after all, the change in algorithm might be for the better. If you post amazing content, it’ll be waiting for your followers in their newsfeed even if it was posted a few hours ago. Instagram user survey indicated that 60% of Instagrammers learn about products and services on the network and 75% take action after being inspired by an Instagram post. Now is the time to bring your A-game on.
DotGreen Community, Inc. Retains JOBS Act and Crowdfunding Expert Kendall Almerico for $3.5 Million Regulation D 506(c) Private Placement for Accredited Investors and Upcoming Regulation A+ Crowdfunding Filing
LARKSPUR, CA–(Marketwired – Jan 26, 2016) – DotGreen Community, Inc., the company behind the new .GREEN top level domain name, part of the largest expansion of the Internet ever, announced today the launch of an Internet capital raising campaign to raise $3.5 million. The first offering, a Regulation D 506(c) Private Placement solely for accredited investors, provides an early-stage opportunity of common shares with voting rights for accredited investors looking to own an equity stake in the green economy and green movement. A Regulation A+ “equity crowdfunding” filing is scheduled for early 2016. The Company will use the proceeds to fund its rapid global growth.
With exclusive global rights to the sales and renewals of the .GREEN domain name, DotGreen provides an online platform where companies can consolidate and showcase their green initiatives and connect with the growing, more values-driven consumer base. Investment in the green economy is expected to reach $10 trillion by 2020.
The Regulation D, Rule 506(c) offering, available to accredited investors only, beginning on January 26th, 2016 at RegD.green, takes advantage of the JOBS Act-mandated easing of restrictions of Regulation D filings.
“.GREEN is positioned to take its place alongside .com, .net and .org as one of the most recognized domain names globally and the world’s first and only Internet platform for the global green movement,” noted DotGreen Community CEO, Jeremy Coon. “Our mission is to build a powerful, all-inclusive voice, and crowdfunding is a democratization of early stage investment opportunities and a way for everyone to participate and own an equity stake in the rapidly growing green marketplace.” Also a DotGreen Co-founder, Coon participated in the first $5 million raised by the Company from private individuals. He has committed to the purchase of additional shares through the Regulation D offering.
Since March, 2015, when .GREEN domain names became available, businesses ranging in size from start-ups to General Motors, along with individuals and NGOs have acquired their .GREEN names.
DotGreen has retained JOBS Act expert and the leading crowdfunding attorney in the country, Kendall Almerico, to oversee both its Regulation D, Rule 506(c) offering and the Regulation A+ filings.
DotGreen will list its offerings at BankRoll Ventures, a website that allows startup and emerging companies to raise millions in new capital from “the crowd” online. “The JOBS Act removed barriers for both companies looking to raise money and investors looking for early stage opportunities, and we are very pleased to have the opportunity to connect investors with the DotGreen opportunity on BankRoll,” said Tess Hottenroth, Co-founder of BankRoll Ventures.
DotGreen Community, Inc., with roots in the Northern California environmental movement and Silicon Valley innovation and based in the San Francisco Bay Area, was founded in 2011 to support the green movement. DotGreen Community, Inc. manages and markets the new domain address, .green and donates a percentage of sales to organizations supporting sustainability around the world. Visit www.going.green for more information. Follow on Twitter @DotGreenTLD and Facebook at DotGreen Community, Inc.
About Kendall Almerico
Kendall Almerico was the top ranked practicing attorney on VentureBeat’s list of the 20 most influential crowdfunding thought leaders in the world. Kendall practices law with DiMuro Ginsberg firm in the Washington DC area.
About BankRoll Ventures
BankRoll (http://www.BankRoll.Ventures) is the premier Regulation A+ and Mini-IPO website that assists companies with raising millions of dollars using new JOBS Act laws. BankRoll is operated by BankRoll Ventures, LLC, which is not a registered broker-dealer, and does not give investment advice.
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L x C x M x F = Growth Potential
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It looks like this…
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We’ve cracked the money raising code! With NEW laws enacted as part of the JOBS ACT we have the answer for entrepreneurs looking to raise millions.