Business bootcamps: Questions answered for reaching new customers online and in marketplaces

Getting exposure without spending money, taking payments on social media, and whether brand or product is more important for ecommerce. Answers to your Business Bootcamp questions.

Dr. Tiffany Raymond, PHD, ‎Head of Global Customer Advocacy and Experience at PayPal and Tim Osborn, Associate Creative Director, Ecwid

With so much information available, we know it can be difficult for business owners to find relevant advice they can trust. That’s why we created PayPal Business Bootcamps. A series of events that bring experts and successful entrepreneurs together, to help answer some of the most common questions business owners have about starting and growing their business.

How do you get exposure without spending money? We are trying to get our business launched on a shoestring after having been out of work for over a year.

“And as long as you know who you’re targeting, you really don’t have to spend much to be effective. Digital ads platforms like Google and Facebook have made it easier and more efficient than ever to find and engage your audience on a budget. It really is remarkable what you can do on these platforms with just a few dollars.

But of course, spending any amount of money on advertising can be intimidating when you’re just starting out. And there are always situations when spending money isn’t an option. So, if you’re looking to build awareness with zero spend, social media is going to be your best friend. It takes time and intentionality, but with a good plan and a consistent posting schedule, you can still build a loyal and engaged audience on social media. You can also try Facebook groups, engaging in relevant Reddit threads, and visiting local markets and events to get the word out. Anything that gets audiences interacting with and talking about your products is going to be super valuable for building buzz around your brand.” Tim Osborn, Associate Creative Director, Ecwid.

How do I link and set up payments on social media?

“As long as you have a PayPal business account, you can create a product listing with a shareable link for social media in less than 60 seconds, even if you don’t have website. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

1.Select Sell on Social from your PayPal Business account.

2.Click Add Product. Then provide the details and description.

3.Tap Create and you’re ready to share your listing. More than just social media, the link will work across email, messaging apps, blogs, and more.

Your customers can then pay with their own PayPal account, debit card, or credit card. Want to learn more? Visit our PayPal Sell on Social page.” Dr. Tiffany Raymond, PHD, ‎Head of Global Customer Advocacy and Experience at PayPal

I’m new to ecommerce and social media. I was wondering what the most effective process is to make a mark in online shopping. Is it building a brand first without focusing on products or a healthy balance of both?

“I think brand and product really go hand-in-hand. If you have a premium product without a premium brand experience, you’ll struggle to convince shoppers that your products are worth the markup. If you have a great brand without the right products, you might connect with your audience, but you’ll fail to meet their needs in a way that would win you a sale.

Why does branding matter?

You can think of your brand like the roadmap for how you'll present your products to your audience. Before you can create your roadmap, you have to know what you’re making and who you’re making it for.

How much time should I invest in my brand?

From that point, the amount of effort required in developing your brand can vary pretty wildly. Some brands require specialized writing and one-of-a-kind experiences to create differentiation. Others can stand out from the pack just by cutting through the fluff and keeping things simple. But you’ll never know where you fall on that spectrum until you know who your audience is and what needs you’re planning to fill.

Having said all that, you still have to walk before you can run. So, don’t ever feel like you need to have a perfect brand or the most over-built and innovative product on the market before you can start selling. Being first to market and selling something is always better than waiting and selling nothing. In general, for most new ecommerce brands, you don’t need a million-dollar brand on day one. Building a brand that will last really does take time. Just don’t disregard how your presentation will affect the way your audience will perceive your products. Focus on making a minimum viable product that meets the needs you’ve identified for your audience, get that out to market with a brand story that complements it, and then iterate and improve over time.

Making your brand your product

The one glaring exception to all of this would be if your brand literally IS the product you’re selling. Supreme is a great example of this. While Supreme technically began as an apparel brand, they've gone on to sell a variety of different collectibles and memorabilia over the years—all featuring their iconic logo. And no matter what they slap their logo on, it sells out instantly. Why? Because people aren’t actually buying the item itself—they’re buying a piece of the brand (and the status that goes with it, of course). The path to this type of business is all about the brand experience. Getting the brand seen. Building relationships with influencers. Engaging with the culture in meaningful ways. It’s really an incredible business model if you can pull it off, but it’s a one in a million shot. But if that’s what you’ve got in mind, full speed ahead!” Tim Osborn, Associate Creative Director, Ecwid.

Looking for more?

If you think answers to these questions might help improve your business, be sure to check out the Bootcamp recording.

The panelists also created a checklist to guide you through key questions and help you pick the marketplace or social media channel that is best for your business. Download the Checklist.

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