Any website just starting out can be called a “startup”, but the name isn’t the important aspect of getting off on the right foot. If you have a product, an app, or something that people will use or want then you need people to know about it. In the past, without the internet, people would have to do some serious legwork in order to get the public in front of the product. That meant buying ads in newspapers, door-to-door sales, stopping people on the streets for surveys and much more. It’s sucked pre-internet when you wanted to become a monster in retail.
Making a great product is only one step in the journey. I produced physical products between 2001-2013 and I would sell them on eBay, Amazon, my own website and across social media to get seen. I had to sell below cost, make deals, and even giveaway things in order to get people to pay attention. I worked 20 hours a day to get the positive reviews and make relationships that lasted into multiple sales. It paid off in so many ways though. I was able to get my products out there using guerilla marketing and standard methods. How I built my small empire was challenging, fun and I want to share some of those ideas with you.
Methods In Attracting Honest Reviews
After you created your brand, came up with your product and need to get it into the wild you have to think about expanding past the first sale. That requires word-of-mouth or reviews in the online world of today. There are several ways to achieve the raving reviews that you need to push product.
The easiest type of review is the paid one. You hire a company or some freelancers to put out bogus reviews saying how awesome your product is and you sit back and cash in until the real ones come in. The last thing you want is to pull a fast one on customers. You will struggle to show your face again in the niche you are after because people can see quickly when a company has bought fake reviews or followers on social media profiles. It looks terrible and works in the short-term. I highly advise against this practice at all costs.
The hardest thing to do is to roll out a product honestly and letting the market control the influence. It has the longevity if positive, and is the most rewarding on so many levels. We get these reviews by sacrificing postage, hours on the telephone, shaking hands in person, and accepting a loss in revenue by giving away the product or reducing the cost in some cases. These are the type of reviews I am after and the ones I recommend anytime to anyone wanting to know how to do things the right way.
Let’s dive into a list of ways to go about grabbing some attention and building your credibility. Remember, if any of these make your wallet feel the pain that it is normal and okay. The benefits come quickly if you have a quality product that people want, and your market research should have given you a good hedge if you did it right.
The best ways to get solid reviews, good or bad:
- Freebies! Give the product away for honest reviews to people who review in your niche. Look for YouTube channels, bloggers, social media influencers, and the like that will do you justice. Yes, giving things away hurt the bottom line, but this could be enough to give you a great start. Simply reach out and ask if they would consider reviewing it in exchange for the free gift. Tell them that they have full control over the review and DON’T try to influence their integrity! Honesty is your friend and if your product sucks then your market research failed you and it’s not their fault. Also, please send your products to people in your niche. Don’t send a baseball bat to a channel or blogger who reviews car parts.
- Engage! Go out and set up at a mall, flea market, or a public venue like a festival. You can engage with the audience directly, record interactions and get testimonials in real-time and it’s fun too! I loved doing this and met some awesome people while building a following. Don’t be afraid to shake hands and offer your product. People who like your approach will go home and tell people about you and your product offline and online if you did your job correctly. Maybe they will take a picture of them using your product and share it on Instagram. This is by far my favorite way to get reviews and meet my customers/fans.
- Discounts! Offer discounts in exchange for an honest review. While it’s not free, it’s a good way to entice people to exchange something in return. This might be harder because a lot of people don’t want to gamble with their money, but if you offer a refund without questions you will fair so much better.
- Pay! Pay someone to review your product. There are people out there that will do this. Even I will review a product that I believe in if it fits my role. An example is if someone created an amazing WordPress plugin that I would use and asked if I would review it in exchange for a free license or payment. I would do it if I liked it and as long as there were no conditions. I can’t be bought though if I don’t like something. Keep that in mind just in case you get surprised by a less than stellar review.
- Sell! Sell your product on Amazon and hope that verified buyers will review your product in time and build up a winning listing. This applies to eBay, Newegg, and many other websites that allow third-party sellers. You should be doing this no matter what so don’t wait on this.
- Trade! Offer a future discount in exchange for a review. I was at Chili’s having dinner a couple weeks ago and they offered me a free basket of chips and salsa on my next visit if I took their online survey. You can do something like this too. It works, especially when you have amazing chips and salsa!
- Loan! You can reach out to influencers and see if they want to try your product/app for a period of time for a review or exposure. Mail it to them, and have them mail it back…but pay for the postage at least both ways! I don’t recommend this, but companies do it still. It makes you look cheap and is offputting to many. If you can’t help yourself it is at least an option.
Now that we covered some ways to grab attention for reviews we can cover some ideas to bring attention to your product in hopes to get some reviews down the line. Let’s think of these as “longtail reviews“. This list is basically a marketing plan to target customers and let them naturally review you without giving incentives. This takes longer, is more of a gambler (since you can’t directly bargain for a review), and is the cheap way out. It will do a lot more than just get reviews though. This list will make you money, build reviews, grow customers, and increase your brand’s influence.
- Hold a raffle or giveaway in return for their feedback or just to say thanks for paying attention to you. People love a good giveaway.
- Pay for advertising on forums, Google, Facebook, and elsewhere with a landing page built on your site that encourage them to want more. Once they click through you can pitch them an opportunity to review or however you want to engage with them. Remember, we are focusing on rolling out a new product here in hopes to build a good reputation.
- Buy social influencers to tweet about it, post, take pictures of it, or whatever it is that they do. This is where you might need to send them your product, in addition, to pay for their influence.
- Ask friends and family to submit reviews or help get the word out. Mom and Dad love you and will be willing to help out, but this could make it look like fake reviews so be careful about how you leverage this quick win.
- Find a Fiverr gig that reviews things for money. I don’t really like this, but it exists.
- Trade reviews with another website that is similar to your niche offer a synergy. You might find some good Facebook groups, forums, or other online hotspots that you can find people like you looking for a start.
Those are just some ideas that I have to share with you. Maybe some people will provide more below in the comments. We all struggle in the begining and I have rolled out many products over the years. I had some bad ones and many good ones as you might too. We are all in this together and with a positive outlook you will succeed. Listen to your reviews and make adjustments where and when needed. Never pivot on a whim or the first feedback either. Adjusting takes a lot of input, but we will save that for another post.