How To Create A Hype Machine & Get People Buzzing About Your Brand
In our series Selfmade U, we’ll tackle the most common questions and pain points that come up for business owners with tips and tricks from Selfmade, a virtual business coaching program, founded by Brit + Co founder Brit Morin and sponsored by Office Depot OfficeMax. We’ll hear from Selfmade members and business coaches on what it takes to run a successful business and make it as an entrepreneur.
You have a great big idea and you’ve put in all the sweat and tears to launch your business. Now what? Getting customers to take notice of your product or service takes creative thought and action. Hype-building strategies can include social media marketing, influencer partnerships, collabs with parallel brands, local pop-ups, contests and giveaways, and even traditional media.
“I’m a solopreneur with a limited budget, “says Allison Ullo of Leaves of Leisure Tea. “I don’t necessarily have the money to do social media ads or endless time creating TikTok videos. I do public relations full-time for a living so I really leaned into that. That's definitely helped the brand a lot by just focusing on what I was already good at.”
Earning stamps of approval from Forbes and BuzzFeed and other publications helped Allison reach her early customers, even customers she didn’t originally have in mind. “I’m not a mom and I wasn’t necessarily thinking that moms would be a group of women who would easily connect with my brand. But they’ve been a really big supportive group,” says Allison.
When Allison was ready to take the next step in her business, she applied for an Office Depot OfficeMax scholarship to Selfmade. “It was such a relief to finally be among women who understood the struggles of being an entrepreneur,” she says. “They’re the ones who like every single Instagram post. They’re the ones who I go to with questions about manufacturing or freelancers, and they always respond. It’s so important to have that when you’re by yourself.”
Here are ways to get people to notice your brand and start buzzing:
Have a unique brand identity: Develop a compelling and unique brand identity that stands out from the competition. This includes a distinct logo, color scheme, and overall brand personality that resonates with your target audience. “All of our teas are paired back to leisure activities,” says Allison. That includes teas like Road Trip, Picnic in the Park, and Bath Time. “I really wanted Leaves of Luxury to be something that you could leave on your desk. That it’s so beautiful you want to show it off and feel inspired and be reminded of something happy.”
Tell a good story: Allison says she notices an uptick in sales when she gets out IRL to promote her brand. “If I put in time emailing, chatting, and networking, going out to events and talking about the brand, I see a reflection in sales versus when I don’t do anything,” she says. Crafting a good brand story takes being authentic (showing your human side), knowing your target customer and tailoring a story that will resonate with them, and being consistent across platforms.
“It’s really about how you want your customers to see you and your business,” says Selfmade coach Bex Moxley. “It’s not enough to have a great product or service. You need to have a strong brand to attract customers.”
Engage on social media: Create content that entices your audience, like pre-launch teasers, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and contests or giveaways. You don’t want to oversell though. Make sure you're giving your followers some added value that relates to your brand, maybe it’s travel content or wellness tips, then an informative call to action. “Value, value, value, then sell,” says Selfmade coach Emily Merrell. Respond to comments, messages, and feedback too to build a personal connection with your followers.
Reach out to media + influencers: Positive reviews can significantly boost your brand’s credibility. “When you’re pitching people, you want to pitch them earlier in the day,” says Allison. “No one wants to get your pitches at 8pm at night, right?” Make your pitch to media or influencers authentic, as if you’re telling a friend about this really great brand you discovered, and keep it brief with relevant links to learn more. Seek out media where your target customer likely spends their time too.
Collab with other brands: Partnerships with other brands or organizations that align with your values and target audience can expose your brand to a wider market. Always keep collabs in mind when networking or engaging online with other founders.
“There were so many amazing brands, so many amazing people [in Selfmade], but the ones who really hit home were the ones that had a really great tieback,” says Allison, referring to her next step of looking into a charitable component to her brand.
Another perk of Selfmade? Earning a Office Depot Office Max gift certificate for presenting in the Selfmade pitch competition. “I live in a small apartment and currently work on the couch,” says Allison. “I’m getting a new office space and decking it out fully. It’s going to be life-changing for me. To know that I don’t have to pay out of pocket for those things is huge.”
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Illustrated by Daniela Jordan-Villaveces
Getting the word out about your business takes time but can be a rewarding creative journey. Office Depot OfficeMax can help you organize & save time with a suite of business services & solutions to help you accomplish more – from signs, posters & banners to get your business noticed to marketing materials to help bring your brand vision to life.