Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash
In this day and age, you’ll find a bunch of tools, software, and options to help you get started with that new business you’ve promised yourself you’d create. But, you also probably don’t have thousands of dollars to dump into a new business as you struggle with the house payment and food bill. You don’t need a fancy office or storefront to get your business started. In fact, you can market a product without leaving your home. I had a college student one year who was making serious bank by selling products from home in his spare time.
Now, we’re well into the quarantine period at this stage, and, even as some businesses cautiously begin to open, the vast majority of budding entrepreneurs are sitting at home contemplating what a future looks like after being laid off from their jobs or finding their job just disappeared. Just because you’re stuck on your couch in your PJs and bunny slippers doesn’t mean you can’t start the new business you’ve always wanted – especially from a marketing point of view. As we mentioned, there are so many different avenues to go down these days and many of them require very little upfront cost. So, turn off Netflix and pay attention to these 3 ways to market a product from home and begin your journey toward independence.
Market a product (or service) from home
If you’re an expert at something, or just a little goofy in a way others find entertaining, there are lots of things to market without leaving your home. Just remember, when we talk about how to market a product, we’re referring to bother goods (tangible products) and services (intangibles).
Market a service
Service options may not be possible for everyone, but you’re probably better at something than you think. And, services have the added advantage of costing nothing, so sales are fundamentally pure profit (after you take out marketing expenses).
Here are some examples of services you can offer for sale:
- Business services like accounting, financial planning (for these it helps if you have a license), marketing, or IT support. Fiverr and other marketplaces exist to market these services.
- Creative services like design or entertainment. For instance, folks produce concerts from their balconies or perform entire plays from home. By placing a sign with Venmo or PayPal account information, these performers turn their talent into profit.
- Maintenance services, like gardening or landscaping. Sure, you want to avoid services inside someone’s home to keep from spreading the virus, but outdoor spaces are much safer places to work.
- Personal services, such as hairstyling, are a no-no during the pandemic, but you can plan ahead for the end of stay-at-home orders. That way you’re hitting the ground running once the pandemic is over.
Market a product
Trying to market a product is a little riskier since you incur costs to acquire the product in the first place and, if you’re unsuccessful, that upfront cost is lost. Still, the tangible nature of products makes them somewhat easier to sell and most essentials are tangible products, unlike services, which are often discretionary.
New tools and inexpensive devices mean anyone can set up a studio at home to capture attention (and make money). For instance, during the pandemic, home cooks made a name for themselves by teaching online cooking classes or, in some cases, selling their goods through low-touch options. A few comedians made money posting daily skits on their TikTok channel.
Bespoke products, such as jewelry, art, masks, and other handmade products are in high demand right now and are easily made from home. Pinterest even has a pinboard of the best products to market from home.
I talked earlier about my student who made a tidy sum by dropshipping products. In his case, he sold miniature football helmets emblazoned with the logos for various professional and college teams. Weird, if know, but folks wanted that kind of stuff and were willing to pay for them. Rather than buy a bunch of helmets when many might go unsold, he arranged with the manufacturer to sell the products. Hence, every time a customer bought a helmet from the student’s website, an order went to the manufacturer, who sent the product along to the buyer. The student then paid the manufacturer and pocket the rest.
Now, this may sound implausible. Why didn’t the manufacturer just set up his own website and keep all the money? Well, it’s a reality that manufacturers are in business to make products not sell them. They don’t have the expertise and don’t want to bother when they can sell through a distributor and focus on their own business. That’s the way almost everything you buy gets to you. So, the student’s idea was a sound one.
Marketing your products
Of course, determining what to sell, developing the products, and setting up your channels of distribution are only one part when it comes time to market a product. The big task, the thing that distinguishes success from failure is the marketing part of the equation. Here are 3 options to use when you market a product from home or anywhere else, for that matter.
Social media is the easiest way to get your message across to anyone these days. Whether you’re using a social platform for personal reasons or business ones, a quick press of the ‘post’ button allows the entire planet to see what you have to say. It’s no wonder businesses are using every big platform they can get their hands on as a tool for marketing.
You should join in, too. Gone are the days of using social media to simply chat and meet people – it’s a lot more advanced now!
Facebook even hosts Marketplace — an online shop where you can sell anything from your old couch to your bespoke products or services in exchange for a small commission.
Build A Pretty Website
Or, be like my student to sell something from a website. Websites aren’t as tricky to create as they might appear at first blush and they’re easier now than they’ve ever been. I even offer a free guide to developing a website that walks a novice through the process screen-by-screen.
Sure, if you want to make the most sophisticated website, you’ll need to know a few tricks of the trade, but simple ones are pretty easy to get your head around. Just don’t be fooled by those drag-and-drop websites like Wix and Squarespace. You’ll find their templates limiting and search engines don’t like them much.
Speaking of search engines, folks use search engines all day every day, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re website shows up high in the results when they look for (or something similar to) what you’re offering. You can find out a lot about SEO (search engine optimization) by reading other posts here or around the Internet.
Work With An Agency
Marketing agencies are great for advertising your business and, newer digital agencies handle everything from SEO to content marketing, to social media marketing. Some agencies are pretty specialized, such as an SEO agency, while others offer a range of integrated services.
The entire reason agencies exist is to optimize your business and make it more profitable. Whether it’s an app marketing agency or one specializing in SEO, they offer services and advice to help your business succeed. You sit back and let them come up with all kinds of strategies and campaigns. Sure, there’s an upfront investment with an agency, but your money usually pays off in the long-term if you choose the right agency.
Influencers are well-connected people and they’ve always existed. The trendsetters who determine which fashions succeed or the soccer mom who started the run to Starbucks after drop-off. Some are so popular we call them micro-celebrities and I recently heard that these folks are forever changing the notion of celebrity.
Influencers drive the behavior of others with their ideas and trends. For some reason, the average human being likes to look up to influencers whether it’s the unboxing kid who goes ape over a new toy or the fashionista who demonstrates the proper technique for smoky eyes.
So, it’s a good idea to consider using an influencer to promote your work. Influencers often work for just the cost of the product (making most of their money through advertising), although some demand a hefty fee. Influencer marketing is an easy method and one that many startups use to get their business started.