Every day we are inundated by brands fighting for our attention; how can you possibly make your startup top of mind? Marketing your startup in today's competitive business economy is undoubtedly difficult, but there are steps you can take to make sure your startup gets a fighting chance at success.
Before you read the following tips, make sure you have a firm grasp on two key things. First, you want to make sure that all of your marketing strategies identify and build upon what makes your business unique in your space — so identify what those characteristics are and keep them in mind as you plot out your tactics. Secondly, identify what the goals of your marketing strategy are: Do you want to gain social followers, convert prospective customers into purchasing customers or merely increase brand awareness? Knowing exactly what you want to gain from your marketing efforts will help you choose the best tactics. So, read on below for seven different tips for marketing your startup.
1. Focus on Your Target Customer
When you first start marketing your business, it is easy to get overzealous and want to reach out to everyone at once all the time. However, it is important to stay focused on reaching your target customers who are mostly likely to help establish and grow your business.
Rather than trying to attract any potential customer, zero in on a target segment that will help you reach your short-term goals. Maybe this target segment is made up of early adopters, who you think will buy your product quickly — or quite simply, they may be a target audience you know how to reach. Whatever the case, staying focused will help you reach your target customer more efficiently, and it is a better use of your limited resources.
2. Build Strategic Partnerships
Aligning yourself with an established brand will help your startup gain credibility. Choose a business that you are enthusiastic about — ideally one that has complementary services so that you can refer business to each other. You can always consider implementing a referral fee on both sides, so that there is a monetary incentive on top of the new business partnerships that each of you will bring in.
3. Engage in Community Outreach
Getting featured in your local news outlets is a great way to gain some brand awareness. Reach out to your local newspaper or radio and tell them about your new business venture, convince them why covering your business is worth their time and energy. Another option is to go back to your university or college, and see if they would be willing to publish your story in their student newspaper or website. Universities love to report on alumni who are doing cool things after graduation, so it never hurts to ask.
Another way to market your startup through community outreach is by sponsoring local events or competitions. If you're still looking for investors, sponsoring a tech startup competition would garner targeted publicity and investor awareness. Additionally, you could reach out to bloggers and send them a product to review, or hook them up with the service you provide. You should also provide them with a referral link for their review post so you can track your ROI. Lastly, you could offer to write a guest post for their blog — which would establish yourself and your company as thought leaders in your industry.
4. Incentivize People to Share
If you want people to talk about your product or service, there's nothing quite like giving them an incentive to do so. Offer an immediate discount for tweeting about your product or service, or ask them to post about it on Facebook. Or, in exchange for "liking" your company — maybe they could receive some additional perk.
Another way to incentivize your customers is through a contest. Rafflecopter is a great resource to manage giveaways — you can embed the giveaway code anywhere, including your own site, then you can pick a winner at the end. Get creative with how you incentivize your customers, just make sure there is actual value in it for them.
5. Develop Branded Content
This might be more of a long-term strategy, but developing branded content is a phenomenal way to market your startup. If you're working with a small team and you just don't have the manpower to write custom content, then wait a few months until you are a bit more established. Branded content is a great way to align your company with themes that are pertinent to your industry, and if you have something intelligent to add to the dialogue you immediately establish yourself as an expert.
The important thing to remember with branded content is that it should be non-promotional — don't tout your company's services or business offerings; instead, release an article about once every quarter or so that reflects on issues that your industry is facing with some thoughtful commentary and analysis. Another way to produce branded content is to conduct surveys in your industry and publish the findings that are relevant — the more unique the information is, the more likely it will earn attention.
6. Leverage Social Media
One of the obvious tactics for marketing your startup is using social media. However, there are right and wrong ways of using social media marketing. You want to make sure that you are posting consistently, and that you are engaging with your customers. You don't want your Twitter and Facebook platforms to just spout off promotional information about your company. Instead, post interesting and shareable information. You want the content you offer to have value — it's crucial to know your audience so you can give them information that is either helpful, interesting — or both.
You should always consider which platforms make the most sense for your startup. If you can market your product best visually, focus your energies on Instagram or Pinterest. If you offer a service that is best expressed by sharing information, develop a strong Twitter or Facebook presence. With Twitter in mind, be sure to use it to engage B2B as well as B2C. Thank anyone who mentions your business in their articles, and even engage with your competitors from time to time — this puts your brand on the map, and can bolster relationships with people in your industry.
7. Apply for Business Awards
Whether you've developed a new service to ease the lives of your customers, or you are touting a product unlike anything else in the market — getting the recognition from a local business award will surely increase your brand awareness. No award is too small, because it only means increased press for your company. Winning a local business award will also give your startup more legitimacy.
View the full article here: http://mashable.com/2013/06/03/marketing-startup/