Say Hi (It's Great Marketing)

Mar 7 2014, 8:48am CST | by

Say Hi (It's Great Marketing)
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

By Neal Taparia, co-founder, Imagine Easy Solutions.

“Hey you,” I yell to the man strolling in a purple shirt about 15 feet ahead of me.  He slows down. I think I’m going to reel him in, but he speeds up again to New York City walking pace. With some gusto I shout, “Hey you, in the purple.” He stops, turns around, and is greeted by my smile.

I should clarify that this wasn’t just any purple shirt; he was wearing a Northwestern purple shirt. As a fellow alum, I wanted to introduce myself. I found out that we lived in the same freshman dorm and both studied economics. He was looking for finance opportunities in New York City, and knowing some people in the space, I facilitated introductions for him that evening.

I love doing this, and I do it whenever I see someone wearing a Northwestern logo. We share a special experience, so the ability to develop a rapport is natural. Moreover, these opportunities present themselves everywhere — from transatlantic flights to the New York City subway.

When it comes to marketing a new product, then, why do so many people struggle getting the word out? In my experience, the key to marketing is to simply start talking — preferably to the people most likely to listen.

When my friend and I launched our first product in high schoolEasyBib.com, we postered flyers in our school and even left them at barbershops. We invaded AOL chat rooms (remember those?), and even naively reached out to the Chicago Tribune, which later featured us. Today, due to our efforts, and of course some luck, EasyBib has over 40 million users.

Now, as a Northwestern grad, I can do one better: I can tap into a native network whose members often have genuine interest in what I’m doing. Recently, using Northwestern’s alumni database, we’ve been reaching out to targeted alumni to get feedback and product validation on the beta version of our new product GetCourse. Not only has their insight been helpful, many of these individuals asked to be our initial customers, or recommended others. What more could you want when trying to get initial traction?

We’ve now gone beyond Northwestern. My business partner reached out to his Brown University database. Then we asked part of our team of 35 to become part-time marketers to reach out to their respective databases to get more feedback and cast a wider net. The more we learn, the better the product we can create. And, not uncommonly, those who give us feedback are also truly interested in GetCourse.

Don’t get me wrong. Not every alumni connection is open to providing their thoughts, but the ability to have a material conversation is significantly higher than cold outreach.

In fact, we had some fun and crunched the numbers to see which alumni network was more receptive: 40.6% of Brown alumni talked with us, with 15.4% interested in trying GetCourse when ready. Only 7.8% of Northwestern alumni talked to us, but 75% of them asked for early access to the product. We consider this an interesting snapshot of alumni affinity.

Such outreach doesn’t have to be limited to your alumni network. You could try:

  • Attending a conferenceBeforehand, research which attendees or speakers you’d like to connect with. Two weeks before the conference, ask if they have availability to provide feedback on your work. Be sure to explain why their feedback is valuable to you and your product
  • Joining a meetup.com (or similar) group. Get in touch with those attending the next meetup session, and ask if you can talk with them at the session. While direct contact is alway a great way to develop a relationship, meetup.com also has tools to send messages to the group (if appropriate).

When launching your product, yes, tell everyone. But focus your energies on those groups of people who are mostly likely to engage with you, like your alumni network. More importantly, don’t shy away from saying hello to someone you may have something in common with. It may lead to an opportunity to relevantly promote what you’re working on, which can lead to introductions or new business.

As Wayne Gretsky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Neal Taparia is the co-founder of Imagine Easy Solutions, whose newest product GetCourse enables simple online course creation. Prior to working on Imagine Easy full time, Neal graduated form Northwestern University, and worked at Lehman Brothers but left 8 months before its demise. Follow him @tapneal.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

NASA's flying saucer among 'Best of What's New'
Washington, Nov 22 (IANS) NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a spacecraft that aims to facilitate the safe landing of future Mars missions, has earned a place in the the Popular Science magazine's "Best Of What's New" list.
 
 
Indian helping to light up Gambia (Diaspora Feature)
Banjul (Gambia), Nov 22 (IANS) Like many Indians who are proving to be philanthropists around Africa, Ram Mohan has set up a social business called Comafrique Intelizon Initiative and has embarked on the replacement of candles in villages in the Gambia with solar lights from India.
 
 
Leopards in human areas not conflict animals: Study
New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) Leopards in human areas are not always "stray" or "conflict" animals but residents with strategies to thrive in human dominated areas, says the first GPS-based study of leopards in India.
 
 
Golf courses are hotspots for ticks
Washington, Nov 22 (IANS) Golf courses are prime habitats for ticks, the tiny bloodsucking creatures, says a new study.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Sharif urges Obama to take up Kashmir issue with India
Islamabad, Nov 22 (IANS) As US President Barack Obama confirmed his India visit for the Republic Day next year, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged him to take up the Kashmir issue with India. Obama spoke to...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Hiding tattoos irks Chris Hemsworth
Los Angeles, Nov 22 (IANS) Actor Chris Hemsworth says he hates having his tattoos covered while shooting for films. In an interview with PEOPLE magazine, the actor also mentioned that it takes hours to cover the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Bynes has real medical issue: Ribeiro
Los Angeles, Nov 22 (IANS) Actor Alfonso Ribeiro says actress Amanda Bynes, who grabbed headlines recently for her erratic behaviour, acted strangely on the set of the film "Love Wrecked" in 2005. In an interview with...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Walmart 1-Hour Deals also Available Online
The Walmart Black Friday 2014 Ad revealed 9 1-Hour Guarantee Doorbuster deals available in the Walmart Black Friday 2014 Sale. The Walmart Black Friday 2014 sale will start online Thanksgiving morning and lead right...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Pune FC aim for semi-spot in King's Cup
Thimpu, Nov 22 (IANS) Pune FC will be up against fellow Indian side Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) in a crucial third round group stage encounter of the King's Cup at the Changlimithang Stadium here Sunday. The...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
We're doing okay: Zak after Robin Williams' death
Los Angeles, Nov 22 (IANS) Late actor-comedian Robin Williams' son Zak says that the family is still coming to terms with life after the actor's death. Zak, 31, opened up about how his family is coping since his...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Indian golfers Shiv, Chiragh tied 13th, 14th at Manila
Manila, Nov 22 (IANS) Indian golfers Shiv Kapur and Chiragh Kumar fired five-under 67 each to finish tied 13th and joint 14th, respectively, after the third round of the $1 million Manila Masters at the par-72 Manila...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Saarc panel decides to close regional centres
Kathmandu, Nov 22 (IANS) The Saarc Programming Committee, meeting here Saturday for its 49th session ahead of the 18th Saarc Summit, has decided to close down three regional centres and merge four others, bringing down...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Nepal-India border to be sealed during Modi visit
Kathmandu, Nov 22 (IANS) Some parts of the Nepal-India border will be sealed during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, an official said here Saturday. Three...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Australia rest pace trio ahead of India series
Melbourne, Nov 22 (IANS) Cricket Australia (CA) Saturday opted to rest pace trio Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Josh Hazlewood for the upcoming Sheffield Shield round matches, keeping in mind the upcoming Test...
Read more on Sport Balla