Throughout the first half of 2018, the economy expanded, consumer spending improved, and the labor market tightened. As such, it’s been boom times for many small businesses and retailers.
Fortunately, the second half of 2018 should afford many opportunities as well. However, success is far from guaranteed and it’s up to you to seize the moment.
I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside countless small businesses and entrepreneurs. I’ve watched many of them succeed, but have also seen some crash and burn. Such is the way of the market.
At crowdfunding standout Gadget Flow, founder Evan Varsamis bootstrapped the retail website into a 25-million-visitor-per-month juggernaut—now nipping at Amazon’s heels for the latest in craftily-curated tech and gadget wares.
Who said that aesthetics—a big part of sales content, mind you—wasn’t still king?
Varsamis explained that, along the way, his team learned a great deal and observed some of the commonalities that lead to business success. Every success story is different of course, but they often share many of the same attributes.
Gadget Flow, through its unique position, has nabbed a birds-eye view of over 5,000 crowdfunded projects that were both launched and marketed through their site.
From those very campaigns, these are the five growth hack insights I gleaned from my interview with Varsamis, now known as a top crowdfunding market expert, that are relevant to nearly every business—including yours:
1) Use Social Media Today—It’s Going to Get More Expensive Tomorrow
We’re living in an era of cheap social media—use that to your advantage.
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and other social media websites are looking to make money. Because of this, they’re going to continue to monetize their platforms, meaning that ad prices are going to rise.
For example, right now, the average cost-per-click (CPC) is right around a dollar on Facebook.
Within the next 10 years, expect it to rise to three or four dollars per click. So take advantage of cheap social media now. Best of all, if you take the time to build up your brand, audience, and community, you’ll be able to leverage that on an organic level later on, even as CPC rates rise.
And of course, make sure you closely measure your results. If you’re under performing and can afford it, consider hiring a social media expert.
2) Be Prolific; Be Everywhere
Thus, if you want to be king, you’re going to need to produce a lot of content. Blog posts, YouTube Videos, Instagram photos—there are tons of opportunities for producing content. To the maximum extent possible, you should be producing as much high-quality, relevant content as you can.
By so doing, you’ll build an audience and establish your expertise.
You can also improve SEO performance, increase sales, and improve a variety of other metrics. It’s best to adopt a multi-pronged approach, using a variety of platforms and different types of content to reach as many people as possible.
3) Experiment With Different Sales Channels and Tactics
Don’t stick with one way of doing things and don’t give up on sales channels and tactics that don’t seem to work. Maybe eBay didn’t produce great sales two years ago, but perhaps you’ll have better results today. Perhaps your last crowdfunding effort fell short, but consider giving it another go.
Of course, you can’t do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
If an effort fails, try to figure out why.
4) Sell Like It’s 2018
Tactics that worked in 2001 won’t work today.
Emails with CAPS LOCK, bold claims (THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!), and hard sales pitches are unlikely to produce good results with most audiences. People prefer more subtle, educational pitches.
Your tactics should start around building trust and empathy.
Instead of promising the world, focus more specifically on the challenges people face and how you and your products can help. Gadget Flow’s “value,” for example, was to help people cut through all the “noise” on the Internet, enabling them to find fantastic, unique products.
5) Be Authentic. Be credible.
We operate in a knowledge economy. Smarts goes a long way.
When people want something, they’ll often turn to experts.
Countless entrepreneurs have approached Varsamis for help with crowdfunding, an area in which he’s established expertise. Meanwhile, when he needs help with SEO, web design, PR, or a host of other niche skills, he reaches out to various industry experts.
In other words, stay in your “swim lane” and focus on what you know.
One way to build up credibility while remaining authentic is to get published or mentioned on credible news websites. Do you have a mention in Forbes magazine? Did the local newspaper run a story on your business?
If so, make sure you mention it on your website, print it on fliers, and make it known on your various social networks.
Conclusion: Be Hungry
Finally, Varsamis noticed that most successful entrepreneurs are hungry.
They don’t just show up from “nine to five.”
They chase down every opportunity, follow up on every lead, and give everything their all. This initial hunger is vital for growing your business, especially in the beginning. So be hungry, and use the above strategies to grow your business as quickly (and effectively) as possible.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.