How to Market Yourself When You Can’t Deliver Your Product or Service

why you should run a signal collecting campaign

During the COVID-19 lockdown many businesses have discovered they are perfectly capable of working remotely and delivering most of what they do online.

Sadly, this isn’t the case for millions of businesses working in fields like hairdressing, massage, physiotherapy, children’s parties, cleaning or catering. But this doesn’t mean that business needs to completely stop. 

There is a type of marketing campaign that is particularly effective during this time that ensures you will be completely booked out as soon as the lockdown ends.

Signal collecting campaign

A “signal collecting campaign” doesn’t ask people to buy anything, just to signal their interest in buying at a later date. Rather than getting people to book a haircut, you ask them to register their interest in getting a haircut as soon as possible.

Instead of booking a table at a restaurant, you get people to join a list of people who want to be invited to the reopening. You don’t ask people to attend an event but you do get them to join a Facebook group for people who want to attend an event when it’s safe to do so.

Marketing for signals rather than sales is a powerful approach because, if done correctly, your business can become rapidly oversubscribed when the time is right. Powerful signal-collecting campaigns are done in a way where there is some transparency of how many people are signalling interest.

For example, if 1000+ people join a special Facebook group in order to stay connected with their local childcare centre, it becomes clear that this business will be in hot demand from day one after the lockdown.

There’s literally no-one joining a gym right now but there are thousands of people who would join a waiting list. It’s impossible to grab a latte at the local coffee shop but its effortless to join their Facebook group.

Warming up prospectsOversubscribed - Daniel Priestley

When you ask someone to buy something they can only give you a binary answer – yes or no – in uncertain times it’s far more likely to be a no. Even if someone is 90% sure they want to buy from you, if there’s only two choices they will decline at this point.

When you give people the choice to signal interest they might do so even if they are only 20% interested.

As soon as people signal interest, you can begin the job of warming up their level of interest. You can send them videos, downloads, podcasts, reviews and surveys to get them to engage. You can call people and get to know them before they come and visit you in person at a later date.

Gauging potential demand

In 2019, Elon Musk launched the dystopian looking 4X4 Tesla “Cybertruck” to very mixed reviews. He put one on a stage, showed it to the world and then asked people to put down a $100 deposit if they intended to buy it.

Many industry commentators wrote it off as an ugly vehicle that would embarrass the company. It didn’t matter, tens of thousands of people placed their order amounting to over $10Billion worth of sales if they all go ahead when production begins in 2021.

Elon Musk knows how to collect signals before he has anything to sell. He didn’t produce 10,000 Cybertrucks and then try to sell them, he simply asked people if they would want one when they became available. He is now in a position to build desire and excitement with those who placed a small deposit.

On a smaller scale, every business can apply this thinking to their own business during the shut down and ask their potential customers to signal interest rather than commit to a purchase.

When marketing your business at this time of uncertainty ask for signals first, then warm people up before asking them to buy when the time is right.

About the author

This article has been written for ByteStart by Daniel Priestley, author of Oversubscribed: How to Get People Lining Up To Do Business With You, published by Capstone, and co-founder of Dent Global, a business accelerator working with over 3000 clients to stand out, scale up and make their dent in the universe.

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