If you thought that running your business was a fulltime job, just wait until you start marketing that business. While you already know that marketing is absolutely essential, you also know that it can be expensive, and if your startup, like most startups, are strapped for cash, it can be daunting to consider investing what little spare cash you have in what essentially feels like a gamble. These days, however, there are plenty of ways to spread the word about your business without draining your bank account and without that much risk. Here are ten tips to get you started…
Pick The Right Audience
You might think that casting the widest possible net is the most effective way to find customers, it will actually be more cost effective to find your target audience and to market directly to them. These are the people that will actually want to hear your message. Don’t assume that just because you think everyone can use what you’re selling, everyone is your target market. That will make crafting your marketing message impossible. Really think about the people who will purchase what you have, and if you can, narrow it down to one ideal customer, one pretend person to whom you can tailor all of your marketing materials.
Consider Hiring A Marketing Department
We know you don’t necessarily have the funds to go out and hire a crack team. But you might have the cash to hire on one person who really knows the business and how to build a message that your audience wants to hear. They don’t have to be the Mad Men, they just have to get the job done. Better yet, have everyone in your company start studying up on marketing and marketing methods. This will be cheaper than hiring a new person and because the people already in your startup are probably the most familiar with it, there’s one better to help build your message to the world. Having your marketing in house is much more effective, especially at the startup phase, and will save money in the long run.
Don’t Be Afraid To Partner
In this stage, it’s like that the only people that have heard of your company are your family and friends (no offense). A great, low cost (or no cost) way to get your name out there is to be active in your industry, especially on blogs and forums. Offer to guest post, leave helpful comments, write reviews, and get your business reviewed by others in your field. Generally, established companies will take a liking to new startups and be willing to help them out, hoping that you’ll repay the favor when you’re rich and famous.
Invest In Email Marketing
Email marketing is the grandfather of online marketing—but it’s also still a huge favorite and one of the most effective strategies. And there are plenty of services that will manage this for you, for only a couple of bucks a month. The most important thing to remember with email marketing is not to spam your customers. If they are getting constant emails from you, they will unsubscribe from your list. When implemented correctly, however, with relevant content in a template that is easy to view both on mobile devices and typical computers, it can still be effective.
Work Your Social Media
Everyone is on social media. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but most consumers who are going to be interested in your startup are also going to be on social media. Work those connections! Social media accounts are free, so get your startup’s page online as soon as possible and start filling it with relevant content. Share at least once a day, but no more than three times a day. You don’t want your name to be clogging up the consumer’s screen. When your followers, fans, or friends ask questions, answer them right away!
Become An Industry Authority
Once your website is online, start using it to build your reputation. A blog that pumps out lists of helpful tips relevant to your field, or that writes step-by-step instructions, or has other useful, friendly updates will become a first-stop when someone wants to know something about the field. While it’s nice to have your name recognized at all, you really want it to be recognized for being an expert in the field.
You Can Have A Widespread, Low-Budget Marketing Campaign
It would really boost your company’s profile if you had the budget for the same kinds of marketing campaigns that big companies have. Until you are one of those big companies, you might think you are relegated to small-time marketing. That just isn’t true. Think about what your target audience wants. Would they benefit from an industry-related app? Would they participate in a Facebook contest? Get your following involved and get them to do your marketing for you. Creating something that your followers want to share is the first step to a viral campaign.
Always Be Professional
Our society, even in the business world, is becoming more and more casual. So much so that we have begun to believe that it is alright to casual in our business dealings. How would you feel if you showed up to a business meeting in a suit and tie and the owner of the startup you were meeting with was in jeans and a t-shirt? How you present yourself matters, especially in these early years, when you want to be taken seriously by your industry. Meet your deadlines, dress appropriately for the meeting, and be polite and courteous, even if someone else is not—this is especially important in responding to bad reviews.
Never Leave Home Without A Business Card
Never walk out the door without a few business cards in your pocket. You never know who you are going to run in to, and the last thing you want to do is scribble your name and phone number of a scrap of paper. The same goes for all of your marketing and networking ventures. When building your business, you need to be on and ready to pitch your company one hundred percent of the time. Keep in mind the concept of “elevator pitches.” What if you were on an elevator with a potential investor and only had thirty seconds to introduce yourself, explain your business and convince them to invest? What would you say?
Learn How To Make An Impression
The ultimate goal of all of your marketing endeavors should be to leave an impression. You want to be remembered, in a good away—in a way that makes the viewer want to investigate your company further or even make a purchase. Every industry is saturated with startups, and many may even be in your niche. How do you stand out when it feels like there are so many other companies vying for the same customers? Be clear, concise, and buzz-worthy. Be as unique as possible, but don’t be afraid to look at what your competitors are doing well. If they are succeeding in an area you are not, try to figure out how you can turn what they are doing into something your business can use, too.
Don’t feel overwhelmed! It feels like a lot to heap on top of your other responsibilities, but once you incorporate marketing into your day-to-day life, it will begin to become second nature. It will be easy to market your business because you know what makes sales and what doesn’t. You’ll hone your strategy as time passes, through trial and error and you’ll be seeing the returns in no time!