It’s a problem that just about every rising entrepreneur has to face. You know that if you could just get your name out there, the public would recognize the genius of your idea and the quality of your talent, and line up to buy your products or hire your services.
It’s just a problem of communication.
And the solution usually involves spending giant bags of money on promotion and advertising.
If you happen to have giant bags of money — or if you know an investor who does — it’s an option that has the advantage of being tried and tested. If your capital consists of the change left over from last week’s groceries though, all you can do is look enviously on as better-funded competitors grow fast and dominate the market, leaving you to pick up the remains.
The Internet has changed that dynamic a little. Online advertising lets even small businesses set their own marketing budget and reach potential buyers around the world. It might not be as powerful as billboards on the 101 and a 30-second spot during the Superbowl but it can be enough to help a small business grow bigger at a pace it can handle.
Some Internet Viruses are Good
Even that costs money though and sometimes you want to develop faster than your funds should allow. Fortunately, the Web has shown that it has another solution: viral marketing that costs little more than time to prepare but which can have an effect to rival even a McDonalds-sized marketing budget.
It’s a solution that requires creativity and coolness — something that’s almost impossible to manufacture. But it also requires dedication and an awareness of how different online networks function.
One woman who’s shown herself to be a master of viral marketing — even if that wasn’t her intention — is Kina Grannis. A 22-year old social sciences graduate, Kina has been playing music for six years, performing for five, and presumably dreaming of hitting the big time for a lot longer.
A talent competition with a first prize that included a chance to sing at the Superbowl presented a giant opportunity to achieve that dream. The winner was selected by online voting which meant that the competition became as much a test of networking skills as musical talent.
Kina’s approach used the strengths of each of the main social networking sites. She started with a song about Digg, a service that she and her sisters — who provided back-up vocals — were familiar with.
“My sisters and a friend and myself (all of us who spend a good amount of time on Digg.com) were discussing the quirks of the Digg community, and the song just kind of came together. I came up with the melody in about a minute and recorded it after singing it through a few times” Kina told us by email. “I just see Digg as this extremely entertaining and powerful social tool.”
Not surprisingly, the tribute to Diggers hit the home page, leading to a massive spike in views and plenty of extra votes in the competition.
Playing to each Network’s Strength
But Kina didn’t stop there. The bookmarking site had created awareness but the voting was taking place on MySpace, and Kina also saw that Facebook and YouTube had plenty to contribute to her promotional work too.
“I use Facebook for event promotion and posting videos, but I find it harder to use as a primary site for my media stuff,” she explained. “[It’s] definitely great for getting in touch with people, but YouTube is clearly the place for videos in my mind, as is MySpace for music, because people have just come to expect that.”
Nor did the marketing stop when she logged off. Kina also did promotional shows at schools and shopping malls. She put up fliers and networked through alumni groups. And she reached out to other bloggers for their support and tried to bring people to look at her daily video posts.
The result was that Kina won. She sang during the Superbowl, has signed a recording contract with Interscope, and is expecting to release an album or EP within the next six months or so.
Kina says that her success could not have happened without Digg, but there’s clearly more to it than that. She doesn’t restrict herself to one promotional tool and makes the most of each network’s strength, placing her music on MySpace, her videos on YouTube and placing performance notices on Facebook. She uses her blog to keep close to her fans and doesn’t neglect offline marketing. Despite the effort of doing all that while also singing and recording, she’s persistent and professional — all of which are good models for any entrepreneur to follow.
And she sings pretty well too.
[tags] kina grannis [/tags]