Rule #9: Marketing is your job.
Marketing you say? Hell yeah, I got this one…
I mean, marketing is all about making things look good, right? Check this out:
OK, I’m only slightly kidding. I know marketing is more than just pretty pictures, and making things look good, but I do believe that’s definitely a part of it. Just look at the stuff that Evil Mad Science or Adafruit does. They both do their best to provide good, clear photos of their products. Check out the Make Flickr Pool. Some photos are really terrible, and others are really well done. I’m much more likely to view a photo and read about a project if the photo is awesome. (Awesome photos can also help you get in the roundup.)
I may have a bit of an edge, because I’m sort of a photographer, but even if you aren’t, there are some great tutorials online to improve your photography no matter what you shoot with (even an iPhone!) and if it’s really important, find someone to take good photos! If you can find a maker who would take some great photos in exchange for a free widget, send them the widget. A good set of photos go a long way.
OK, enough about photos… on to the other parts of marketing.
You should be blogging about your progress, and tweeting, too. Take pictures and videos of every milestone, and post those. Use every opportunity to talk about your work in progress and get people excited about it, which will not only start to form a community around it but will also build demand for it.
That’s all marketing. Community management is marketing. Tutorial posts are marketing. Facebook updates are marketing. Emailing other Makers in related fields is marketing. I suppose what I’m doing right now, writing this list, is marketing.
You can have the greatest product in the world, but if no one knows about it, you may never sell one. Marketing is sharing, it’s telling your story. It’s also hit-n-miss, and there’s no formula to make sure your marketing is effective, but you need to do it anyway.
I’ll also add in this little update: I created a store, and have already sold one unit. Starting slow, right? I’ve not opened it to the general public yet, but invited a few interested people to order. I’ll ramp up a bit and see how it goes. As for the rules, the next one is not fun…
(See all the posts in this series: Begin, Stock, Buy Smart, Basic Rules, No Leeway, Be Open, Community, Manufacturability, Marketing, Shipping, Lessons Learned, The Real Costs.)