Every so often I go to a business networking event such as those hosted by the Canton Chamber of Commerce. More often than not, someone I meet says the words "I've never heard of you." This should not come as much of a surprise; considering that up until a few months ago all of our sales were word of mouth referrals. Fast forward to today and we are launching new software that, without getting our name out there, is not so easily profitable. Now the words "I haven't heard that name before" hold us back a lot more.
With the marketing landscape laid before us; we started working on better stategies to promote our new product Enterprise Hero as well as our custom software services. As soon as anyone mentions selling a new product, the most common response is Google Adwords. We played around with some campaigns to see what might work. And although it is a valid way to make ourselves more known and increase traffic to our website, it's also quite expensive without creating a lot of Adwords targeted material. The thought of writing content specifically to improve our "Google score" irks me a bit.
Why don't we write content that gives our customers something useful as opposed to purely trying to manipulate search engine rankings.
Another way we started trying to promote Enterprise Hero involved attending Chamber events, business pitch events, and other professional networking events. These events have several benefits. You get immediate branding in your local space. You see what other businesses in your area are doing. You build your professional network and create opportunities. For example, while attending a Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce event, we discovered a potential partnership that would enable us to finance software projects for customers who can't afford the lump sum right now. We met a few companies interested in our software as well.
However, these events do have some drawbacks. Events that go on during the day take away from any work you could be doing during the work day. Some events can be very pricey. We receive "invitations" to events frequently asking upwards of $4,000 to attend. Events can also be hit or miss. We have attended events where barely anyone else showed up. We have found that it may be more beneficial for us to attend events as a visitor rather than a vendor.
One of the most recent and seemingly obvious ways of solving the "We've never heard of you" problem for ourselves may be through a product giveaway. We realized that students frequently have limited or no access to collaborative business software that is essential in helping them understand real world operations. So, we thought:
Why don't we give students with a valid .edu email address free license to Enterprise Hero for up to four years?
This promotion will kill two birds with one stone. First, students will have free access to software that may help them collaborate on projects. Second, more and more people will learn about our product either directly, or indirectly as students begin discussing their experiences. We feel there is likely three, four, or more birds this promotion might kill, but we like birds and we don't want to kill them; so we will leave it at two.
Questions, comments, concerns? We would love to hear from you.