There is a modern day revolution going on right now. In the real sense, it started way back in the late 90s and with every passing year this uprising has intensified. It is the global startup revolution, and no country has been immune from the fervor. Every year, many talented professionals launch their own companies with aspirations of making a lasting impact on society. In the startup world, marketing and promotion could make or break your company’s future. In this post, we take a closer look at the key principles to get ahead of the competition.
The Who, Why and What of Promoting a Startup
Before drafting any promotional plan for your venture, it is essential to be crystal clear about three aspects. This trio appears simple but controls the entire outcome of your promotional effort.
- Who are your primary customers? (Targeting the correct market segment)
- Why should people consider using or buying your product? (Are you providing them with a useful solution or making things easy for them)
- What makes you different from your competitors? (What is the unique selling point that you possess)
Any promotional plan without taking into considering the above three factors is bound to be a failure and seal the fate of the startup. Also, as a startup (depending on your funding and capital), you are bound to have financial limits. Therefore, carry out a promotion in tandem with your available budget and gradually cover more mediums as revenue increases.
Target your core customers and focus on user experience
The most significant promotional mistake any startup can make is going all out in targetting every possible consumer. However, in the desperation to impress everyone, you will end making more people unsatisfied.
For a startup to gain speed, the first batch of customer feedbacks must be favorable to spread a positive word of mouth review. Therefore, start with a smaller focus, targeting exclusively the segment of people who are more likely to do business with you.
Try your best to make them happy with your services and customer care. Make sure they realize how your company is different and better than others in your niche. From that point onwards, that small segment of people will become your loyal customers as well as active promoters.
The best example in this regard is Facebook. When it started, it was focusing only on students and that too in selective universities. There was an aura of exclusivity around it. With time Facebook gradually widened its focus, and today it is as powerful and famous as Google, if not less.
Points to remember:
- Do not be over-aggressive or over-enthusiastic in the promotion.
- Do not go all out when investing finance into advertising. Start with a small focus and gradually widen it.
- Always emphasize how your startup is different from rest and provides a better solution.
Optimize your inbound marketing and online presence
For every startup out there (whether a SAAS or otherwise), it is utmost essential to have a robust online presence. In 2017, having a vibrant online visibility requires covering many different aspects. Lets us summarize those in short.
Focus on your website & its contents
A website is the first point of entry for consumers to know about your startup. Therefore take it very seriously. If required, seek help from quality web designers to create a website, that not only appears professional but also encourages the visitor to try or pay for your services. The key here is to find the right balance between being gentle and yet persuasive.
When you are designing the website for your startup, then the home page is of great significance. It is the page on which the users land when they first arrive at your site, and thus it plays a significant role in retaining the visitors and also in converting them to paying customers.
See the article below on creating an ideal homepage.
Be found in Google search
Creating a website for your startup is important. However, having a site, that does not appear prominently in various search engines (when users search for a service related to your niche) makes the website of no use. Therefore, right from the beginning, take planned efforts in covering all the aspects that are necessary for a good SEO. It includes:
- Create quality and useful contents at your website. Words have the power to make your brand visible. Therefore, select the keywords that define your service and go for those.
- Create referral contents mentioning your services on other blogs and favorite community sites like Quora.
- You will also need to run paid ads on search engines, for example, Google Adwords to appear at the top of the search results. It can be valuable in getting the much required initial traction.
Creating a viral online presence (Using social media & websites)
Social media is all around us 24×7. With the faster internet and mobile apps, people are spending a minimum two hours every day in browsing their social media profiles. That is a vast number of online users to target.
Therefore, take efforts in creating a mixture of quality and shareable contents, that your social media followers would like to share. In the current scenario of overstuffed social media timelines, it is not straightforward to do so. However, you can follow the nine steps mentioned below to create contents that get shared more thus leading to higher brand awareness.
Email marketing is a very upfront way to boost SEO and also connect with your old clients as well as newer prospects. The best point about email marketing is that it is not wholly dependant on social media. It can work as an independent entity, and that is why every startup must pay close attention to it.
From the start, use various modes (quality contents, email subscriber options) to collect emails from your visitors. It takes some time, but over the course of few months, you will have an increasing leads of people who can be your potential buyers in the coming times.
Using paid Ads
All the major search engines and social media platforms are offering paid advertising that a startup can apply to appear prominently in the search results and social media timelines.
The advertising systems are sophisticated and can be used to target specific demographics, people, age group, gender or profession depending on the market segment you want to focus. The only hindrance in this aspect can be the budgetary limitations. However, irrespective of that every new startup must plan and know how to use the various modes of paid advertising efficiently.
Be Innovative and think out of the box
In the case of online and social media promotion, change is the only constant. To gather more attention for your startup, you need to look out for the favorite trends and also the contents being consumed more. At present, videos are more popular than ever, both on online media and more so on the social timelines.
Creating viral video campaigns are not that difficult nowadays, considering the variety of online services and tools available to you. Therefore, invest time in building high-quality explainer videos to make consumers aware of the benefits of your service and efficiency you add to their everyday work.
For example, in the initial days of DesignBold, we created a short explainer video to describe how easy it gets to create professional graphics with the help of DesignBold. It was time and money well invested, and we received an excellent response to the video.
Take care of your online reputation
A very crucial promotional aspect of every startup. We can have a detailed discussion on it in a separate article. However, to cover the cornerstone of building the online reputation you need to manage two modes.
- The first task to build your positive online reputation is by virtue of your product or services and proper customer interaction.
- Second is to safeguard your brand against any false online propaganda and reviews. There are professional services which take care of this aspect. You can also set Google Alerts for your company to monitor any damaging publicity against your brand.
- At present, there are a wide variety of online modes to cover. It is wise not to jump into all the online channels at the same time. You will not be able to manage them all, and there are high chances of coming across as a brand not conscious of its online presence.
Establish personal connections with influencers and loyal customers
Before rolling out your startup, it is practical to communicate with online and offline influencers in your niche. Influencers are those persons who have an established command among the customers of your target sector.
So, it is essential that you interact with them and make them understand the benefits of your services/product. Influencer marketing is a widely used promotional technique, and many companies have used it in unique ways.
For example, take the case of Sprint, an American company providing wireless and internet services. It was facing fierce competition from established players in the sector. To tackle the race, Sprint started #LiveUnlimited, where real-life influencers advertise the company in a new light.
Public figures like @lelepons, @gerardadams, @princeroyce, @bradleymartyn, and @rachelc00k are included in this campaign, each with their own niche and following.
Another excellent example of influencer marketing is the Sprite campaign involving NBA Star LeBron James. In the ad campaign, Longtime Sprite endorser LeBron James is making a softer, gentler pitch for the soda brand. “I never tell you to drink Sprite, even if I was in a commercial for Sprite, which I am,” he says in a new ad. Instead, “I’d ask you.” Mr. James also tweeted a 60-second version of the ad today to his more than 33 million followers.
The campaign was viral right from the word go and is a perfect case scenario of synergy between a famous influencer and a powerful brand (competing and trying to reinvent against other large cola giants). However, when managing a startup, it may not always be possible for you to hire powerful or known influencers. In that case, customer testimonials are an efficient and cost-effective way to spread a positive vibe for your brand. Many companies use this method to significant effect.
It can also be used as a bridge to connect with the influencers in your sector. When influencers see that your brand has a strong response from the customers, they will be more inclined to interact with you.
You should also provide your initial supporters, some additional advantages like free coupons, discounts or giveaways. These can go a long way in laying the foundation for a long-standing association with your early users. The very same initial users over the time will become your active and vocal online promoters. This partnership will be beneficial to both the parties. It is more like you scratch their back and they scratch yours.
Leverage Online Tools like DesignBold
Graphics are the cornerstone of every promotional effort. Whether online or offline, there is a definite requirement to create original graphics to put across the message of your startup. It is where DesignBold, comes to your aid.
Being a young venture ourselves, we understand first hand, the issues faced by entrepreneurs in regards to creating pictures for using on websites, print promotions, and social media. DesignBold aims to fulfill this requirement quickly and cost-effectively.
- You get to use a fast, intuitive online image creator and editor to design graphics.
- A huge of collection of design elements (200,000 free images/vectors + More than 40 Million Premium stock images) with simple drag and drop use.
- More than 9000 ready to use design templates covering all the social media, website, advertising, ebooks, pitch presentations and print requirements.
We hope the startup marketing strategies discussed in this article will help you with your own startup. The journey of converting a startup to a growing and self-sustaining enterprise is an adventure hard to find in other corporate environments. But always keep in mind that the product or service itself is the most important determinant of success. Product/market fit should always take priority before marketing tactics.
“No growth hack, brilliant marketing idea, or sales team can save you long-term if you don’t have a sufficiently good product.”
–Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator