“I have been baptised into the brave new digital B2C world”

writingThe Not So Secret Diary of an E-Commerce Entrepreneur continues with his baptism of fire into the digital age.

I was seduced by an article in The Economist that proclaimed:

“E-commerce has matured to a point where speciality online retailers with excellent supply chains can mint money from targeted offerings.”

Right there and then I decided to have another go at my passion project – the marketing of a deluxe tongue cleanser, having given it three years of entrepreneurial blood sweat and tears in the 1990s, with moderate success.

The first time was well and truly the pre-internet age. Since then the business landscape has morphed dramatically:

Finance – Then: Banks and PGs; Now: Crowdfunding

Supplier sourcing – Then: Yellow pages; Now: Alibaba.com and Google

PR in press – Then: Tomorrow’s chip paper; Now: Permanent online presence

Word of mouth – Then: Slow boat to China; Now: Twitter and Facebook

Selling – Then: Salesman in car; Now: Website and SEO

Advertising – Then: TV and press ads; Now: YouTube and blogs

Ordering - Then: Badly written letter; Now: E-commerce

Payment - Then: Cheque or postal order; Now: Online banking

Nearly two years after that Economist article and I have now experienced the joys and tribulations of crowdfunding, Alibaba, Shopify, WeTransfer, Vimeo, Dropbox, online banking, Royal Mail online postal service and many more delightful digital variations.

I have been baptised into the brave new digital B2C world.

Our Amano Tongue Cleanser press campaign started two weeks ago and our website officially launched last week on a Shopify platform.

The first time around in the 1990s, we sent journalists a set of three teasers featuring film stars of the day (Sharon Stone was one) plus an enigmatic statement such as:

“This person has a problem – it’s on the tip of their tongue.”

Cheesy maybe but it drew a great reaction and I ended up meeting more than 20 targets face to face – usually over a breakfast in the Lanesborough Hotel (that was the bribe).

The press coverage swiftly followed – nationals, mags, radio and TV (including The Big Breakfast).

This time 20 years on, the media landscape has also changed:

Communication is far easier (via the internet)

The number of outlets has vastly increased (print and online)

The number of journalists has increased, if one includes bloggers and freelancers

I could have been lead to believe that it would be a much easier sell-in process.

But that would have been a fatal and complacent error. I had been duly warned by my co-director (and PR advisor) Gill Brown.

Easier communication via email or Twitter has simply increased the volume of communication stratospherically. (Gill estimates news journalists receive up to 1,000 emails a day).

To break through all that the noise and get one’s message across to weary, embattled journalists, start-up entrepreneurs still need to think smart and employ the key and crucial elements of:

A compelling narrative; passion in communicating it; boundless energy; plus the ability to ride the occasional knockback.

This time we sent out Amano Testing Kits – basically an Amano Tongue Cleanser and Green and Blacks chocolate. For the brave journalist we will send out petri dishes so they can watch the tongue gunge – swiftly extracted by the tongue cleanser – grow.

We registered a couple of media hits last week and have several promised in the coming weeks. Plus our first orders miraculously appeared on our website last Sunday.

It’s early days still – I’ll keep you posted…