You’ve poured your time, energy, and capital into a startup. So it’s easy to feel like you’ve already done the hard part: dreaming up the product or service that’s going to set you apart from the competition. But how do you make sure other people, especially your target audience, realize how exceptional you are? Unfortunately, a great concept is just not enough to succeed in today’s competitive, global market. A product or service without a solid marketing strategy is like a ship that never left the harbor. Sure, it looks great, but it’s not going anywhere. Luckily, there are several simple, low-cost marketing strategies for startups of every ilk to help effectively identify potential growth opportunities, reach actual customers, attract a dedicated fanbase, and position your startup as a community fixture.
Ever heard the saying “you have to learn to walk before you run”? In the marketing world, you have to learn to research before you strategize. What is marketing research? Using data insights to learn more about your target audience so you can create content that appeals to a specific market segment. “But,” you might be asking yourself, “don’t I want to create content that appeals to everybody?” Not necessarily.
Let’s say you sell hiking boots. Your audience would be hikers, right? Easy. However, within that audience you’ll find quite a bit of variation. Are your boots better suited for casual day trips? Or are they best for month-long backcountry treks? Are they insulated for cold climates or designed to breathe in the heat? Are they eco-friendly? Stylish or functional? Innovative or old school? Knowing your product’s unique features and who they’ll most appeal to should be the foundation of your marketing strategy.
Once you know your target audience you can begin using some of the following marketing strategies for startups to provide your product or service as a unique solution to their voiced and unvoiced needs.
These days, most of us have overflowing inboxes (or efficient spam filters). And, we have not enough time to sift through the daily flood of information that lands in front of us. So email marketing is dead, right? Maybe not. According to Forbes, despite the recent rise of social media platforms, email marketing is still the top way to generate leads. So how do you break through the clutter and keep your customers from hitting “unsubscribe”?
Antoine Bonicalzi, the director of marketing at a leading email marketing provider, says “Whatever you do in 2019, don’t forget that there’s another person who is on the receiving end of your emails.” In outlining three predictions for email marketing in 2019 he emphasizes the importance of building personal connections with your audience. Also, leveraging interactivity wherever possible, and using automation cautiously. “Instead of resorting to spam-like tactics,” he advises, “invest in your content plan and strategy to attract an audience of prospects who are interested in the value that you provide.”
Leverage Your Website
The days when your website served the sole function of helping clients find your brick-and-mortar are long gone. With the rise of digital marketing, your website has to fill a variety of roles. It should provide customers a rich, user-friendly interactive web experience that educates, entertains and encourages engagement. So how can you best leverage your website?
Often, your website is the first impression a potential customer will have of your company. According to a study conducted at Missouri University of Science and Technology it takes users less than two-tenths of a second to form an impression of your website. Even more important is this. This first impression often determines whether the user has a positive or negative view of the organization. Your web design and content should match your business’s persona. If you’re a CPA trying to attract an on-the-go millennial crowd, ease of access and brevity will be more important than if you’re a family dental clinic trying to make potential clients feel like a part of your community.
In addition to putting your company’s best foot forward, your website is a low-cost opportunity to give your customers access to your original content. Blogging or maintaining a newsletter, regularly posting helpful or entertaining videos, and even creating a platform for your brand community to connect with one another are all useful ways to make sure your website is pulling its weight in your marketing strategy, including this pre-launch website checklist.
Consider that 77% of individuals living in the US have at least one social media account. So odds are good you’re already using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat in your personal life. But are you effectively using social media in your marketing strategy? Hank Wasiak, an instructor at USC’s Graduate School of Business with over 50 years of industry experience, says “social media has changed the way people interact amongst themselves and with their media.” According to Wasiak, “people play multiple – sometimes simultaneous – roles. These include receivers, creators, critics, advocates, transformers and transmitters of messages.” In other words, social media allows your family, friends, and biggest fans to become brand ambassadors.
The bad news? In recent years social media marketing has become much more competitive and commercially-saturated. So what’s changing in social media marketing? And how can you use these changes to your advantage? One of the biggest shifts in recent years has been the popularity of live video content over automated posts or paid ads. Forbes reports that “More than possibly ever before, social media is all about being in the moment.”
Thanks to its immediate nature, live video can be a huge asset for companies looking to boost their social media presence and strengthen online marketing strategies for startups.
Not ready to go live? Social media can still serve as a feeding ground for industry insights. Whether you use a hashtag search to see what’s trending with your target audience, or research posts to learn the language of your target audience, the content you analyze can be just as important as the content you’re putting out.
Though the specifics of marketing strategies for startups will depend on the industry and objectives, these low-cost, high-return options are essential to ensure your startup has a competitive edge. Not sure how to get started? Consider contacting a marketing agency who can help. They can help you identify your target audience and ensure your marketing strategy is working for you. When you take the time to understand your unique selling points and center your marketing on providing customer-value, you’ll be amazed at the results!