I should have named this article “how to market to crabs in a barrel” because that basically where we going with this article. Discussing entrepreneurship and marketing and the Black community is enough for me to take some Bayer aspirin before continuing this article. As you know, me and my crew will be creating solutions for the Black community worldwide so we know the routine. And we have no problem sharing our experience and what we learn about marketing to our fellow brothas and sistas so let’s just get to the topic at hand before I have to take another aspirin.
Paid Advertising Ain’t the Business
We discovered paid advertising is simply not the business. From my years of experience and my crew research, what we see over and over is the “claim” that thousands and millions of people saw our advertising but when all is said and done..6 calls, 10 emails and 1 crazy ass person talking about doing business with us. That is all I ever saw from paid advertising since I got into the entrepreneur game nearly 20 years ago. I felt like I threw my money away over the false promise of getting exposure and new business.
In addition, tradeshow marketing and renting space is not good either as paid marketing and you end up giving away free personalized key chains and $25 gift cards and get maybe one paid signup as a result of that loss lead campaign. Many Black startup businesses already hip to that game and gave up on loss lead marketing at trade shows and exhibits. So I do not recommend these options for startup unless you want loser guys lurking around thinking they can score with the cute sista working your exhibit table.
Black Media Wait for Mainstream Media Coverage
Yep, this is exactly how everybody from Your Black World to Black Enterprise to the Grio to Radio One and all these Black media works – they wait for a mainstream media outlet to cover someone Black before they cover that Black person. These Black media outlets only cover one of their Boule ass friends but they do not try to cover new Black businesses because it cost money for their writers to get off their lazy behind and find Black business and economic development stories in the real world to cover.
Another thing about Black media is they got this stank attitude about not wanting to cover Black businesses because Black businesses want “free advertising” instead of paying for an ad in their media. Another chicken-or-egg syndrome here as why would I want to advertise in their stank Black media if they are not covering Black folks organically? So this creates a hostile and adversarial environment where these Black media don’t cover local Black businesses and local Black businesses don’t want to advertise in their crappy media because they don’t cover local Black businesses, a circular reference.
Black People Tend to Act Salty Than Supportive of Startups
This is my favorite paragraph and this is where you got brothas and sistas who want to act like you committed a taboo sin for wanting to do for self. You mention you are going to do something entrepreneurial and then they go silent. Then they make up some bullshit about being silent claiming they supporting you from a distance. And these are your close family members and friends we are talking about doing this kind of crap – not outside people!
What I see and this is why I let you guys be my Facebook friend and also talk to you about my hustles. I want you to witness people I grew up with, see relatives and close friends “go silent” when I’m announcing I’m doing something. And you know what the people in my circle try to do? They always find a way to see how to disrupt my hustle. I caught on to those games years ago and realize that yeah, it is either them or my hustle and I’m going to choose my hustle because the hustle is my purpose and my decision for how I want to live my life.
Let’s talk about the haters you don’t even know! As an African-American, you get these weirdo clowns you don’t know coming out the woodpile. These cats start trying to talk negative about you and your hustle acting like they got you figured out. These are the same crazy people who would stab Martin Luther King while he out there fighting for their civil rights. So what you have to do is make sure you announce your startup away from these fools and not let them distract and disrupt you. For example, as I’m approaching the launch of SistaSphere.com, I’m getting crazy women and crazy dudes trying to post drama in the comment moderation queue unrelated to anything – told you that’s they get down when they think you going somewhere big without their permission to progress.
Fear-Mongering and Lying as a Desperate Tactic
One of the sad things Black business do is reduce themselves to outright lying to Black people or emotionally blackmailing Black people to support or do business with them. For example, I’ve seen Black movie producers send messages around being forwarded that if they do not get support from the Black community, Hollywood will not let them create another Black movie again – spreading fear. Then you have the liars like these pseudo-factual booksellers lying about the history of African-Americans or making up stuff about Black relationship drama passing it off as facts.
This is the line I do not cross and do not recommend any of you guys cross either where you have to lie to Black people. The problem with lying to Black people is you are eventually going to have to compete against truthful cats in the game who will call out your lie. And when you get called out, you can kiss your entire hustle goodbye in an instant.
So What is the Best Way to Market Your Startup to Brothas and Sistas?
The best way we discovered to market to the Black community is to simply have a social network of people we personally know who will support our hustle, plain and simple. Let your real friends be the ones supporting you the first go around and then what happen is other outside African-Americans see your social network supporting you then they join in.
I basically gave up on trying to expect my family and close friends to support me and my hustles. In fact what I done was got rid of them from being family or a close friend. If they don’t support my hustle, then what the hell I want to know them for? Don’t let cats tell you keep these people in your life if they ain’t supporting your hustle – your hustle is your purpose that God gave you to pursue and if cats don’t support your hustle, then they don’t support anything about you and you better recognize them for what they are.
What I done was gathered up real friends who are similar to me in terms of being entrepreneurial and simply ask them to support me. Also, they can call on me to come support them to and I’m on my way. Good people is priceless and they will spread word of mouth about your business and it will mean something and what you should do is quickly associate yourself with those kind of people. So the best marketing technique for your startup is to have a social network of the right people who will refer your business, be there to support you whether it works or not and show you that they care about your dreams and passion.