If you’re just starting out in business, it’s likely that both your time and your budget are limited. That’s why we’ve developed this checklist of quick, easy wins specially for startups. Our tried and tested tips will ensure you get maximum exposure, and a fighting chance of success in a busy market.
So you’ve just started a new business. Now, how the heck do you find and engage your potential customers? The aim is to create an awesome marketing strategy that doesn’t cost the earth. It’s a theory expounded by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Start Up.
As he puts it:
“Lean Startup isn’t about being cheap [but is about] being less wasteful and still doing things that are big.”
So what ‘big’ things should you attempt when you’re just starting out. Here are some tactics that we at Louder.Online have found to be super successful:
1. Choose the right social network
It’s tempting to jump right into the world of social media. But it’s important to consider which networks are right for you business. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Reddit, and Instagram are just some of the most popular social networks today.
But each one works in a different way. Facebook is great for engaging existing customers, while Twitter is often more useful for drawing in potential customers (especially if you’re posting regular, engaging blog content).
Be mindful of the demographic of the social network you’re using. Pictures of kittens and funny memes won’t go down too well on LinkedIn – unless, you happen to stumble upon the rare meme that does actually go viral on LinkedIn. Full story here.
Check out this infographic for some statistics on each of the core social media networks.
TOP TIP: If you’re struggling to reach people who aren’t already in your community, try using relevant industry or sector hashtags in your tweets and posts, and also joining relevant groups within the chosen social network and be sure to engage with the community and provide value.
2. Automate as much as possible
If you don’t have much time to spend on marketing your business or product (and who does when you are a startup?) then think about automating as much as you can. Tools such as Hootsuite allow you to save time by scheduling social media messages and launching multiple campaigns at once. They also enable you to monitor and manage all your social profiles from one spot, and keep track of messages. Sproutsocial offers a similar way to track all your social media activity in one place.
Bufferapp is another useful tool that lets you make it easy to share pretty much any content as well as anything you find worthwhile to share with your social communities. Keep your Buffer topped up and it will automatically share posts for you through the day according to a predefined schedule that you set. This ensures you are posting to your social networks when your audiences are most likely to respond so that you can ensure you get higher engagement.
Automation isn’t about becoming a robot, churning out mindless tweets and status updates. It’s about optimising your time and using the right tools and applications for the job.
Although the tools listed above may take a little while to understand and set up, you could find they save your hours in the long run.
3. Start a subscription
Setting up an email subscription base on your website is worth the investment. While you might have many followers on social media, the truth is that email outperforms both search and social media as the best source of conversions.
While collecting email addresses for a simple email newsletter might be a good start, try to think bigger. How about creating an online course delivered via email that includes a series of ‘how to’ tutorials and videos useful to your sector. If it takes off you could even start charging for access, bringing you a nice source of repeat revenue.
4. Invest in SEO
Of course you’ve built a search engine-friendly site, and have optimised your content for the relevant keywords. But your SEO journey doesn’t stop there. Now you need to work to build up legitimate backlinks (no buying links please), increase the time people spend on your site with engaging content, and encouraging your readers to comment on and share your posts.
Another key part of a successful SEO strategy is posting regular, engaging content, which leads us to our next tip.
5. Get press-friendly
Make it easy for other bloggers and press folk to talk about your business and product by creating a simple Press page on your website. The easier it is for others to find content for an article about you, the more likely they are to write it.
Try to put yourselves in the shoes of the journalist or blogger. What do they need to know to write their article? What would be the hook? What assets would they need to support the story?
Ideally your press page should be linked to from your main navigation or from the footer. Make sure you include:
– A simple introduction or overview of you and your business
– Some high-resolution images for print
– Your logo in a variety of formats
– Embeds of any relevant YouTube videos.
– Links to useful supporting pages
– Links to any press releases as PDF files
– Links to any previous press coverage
– Links to social media sites
And if your business or product story has a personal angle be sure to include your own bio and a head shot.
there are some fantastic services out there that are worthwhile signing up for to receive regular emails from journalists, reporters and other authors looking for professionals to quote or interview for new content they are putting together. Sites like HARO, Profnet and Source Bottle all provide emails multiple times a day with various requirements from different journalists and authors needing experts sources. It’s an easy way to get the sort of exposure that many startups are craving.
6. Build strategic partnerships
Is there an established brand in the market that you admire? It’s a great idea to approach another business (ideally one that has complementary services) and try to develop some kind of partnership. This could be as simple as creating a referral program for new business, or partnering to create a product or resource that is valuable to both businesses target clients.
7. Apply for business awards
Gaining public recognition via a local business awards is a great way to boost your brand. Not only will it offer increases press opportunities, an award also acts as a stamp of approval for your product or service. Award-winning businesses often feel more legitimate than their non-award-winning competitors.
Look for opportunities in your local area, as well as National awards for your industry or sector. Several blogs also run blogging competitions.
So go for it. Any award, no matter how small, can be a boon for your startup.
8. Focus on customer retention
It’s one of the basic rules of business and yet so many startups forget it: Keeping customers is easier than finding new ones.
Work hard to keep your early customers happy by delivering the best possible service you can. These customers will become your advocates, spreading invaluable word of recommendations throughout your network.
Offer them incentives for referring new clients. Reward them with discounts for repeat bookings or purchases. And provide them with unique content or access to VIP tools and offers.
Also, be brave and ask these customers for their support in the form of testimonials, recommendations, likes and tweets.
Admittedly, all the tactics above will take time to set up. And manage and when you first start out the learning curve may be step. We advise you to tackle one tactic a week or a fortnight so you don’t suffer from startup overwhelm.
Over to you
What marketing strategies have you implement for your startup? Do you have any startup tips to share? Comment below and let us know.