So I’ve been volunteering to help with marketing and social media activities for a new centre that opened near my old college. This has opened my eyes to perhaps a new side of marketing to me, marketing for a startup, rather than one that’s been running for years. It’s also given me some inspiration for this post – marketing for startups.
Great, so you’ve launched your new business, helping to boost the economy and generating jobs and you get to meet your dreams of setting up your own business and being your own boss. However, have you thought about the strategies and plans to put in place to get your business heard? With already successful businesses, marketing could be as quick and simple as sticking the company’s logo on a large billboard at the tube station – as long as you can get people to stop and look, your brand is remembered. If someone in the street asks you to name a company beginning with an M, chances are you’ll think of McDonald’s eventually. Now is the question of what if you were brand new, how can you put your name out there and be heard?
The issue with new things is that people get nervous (possibly slightly scared) about trying something different and people like to stick to what they know and what they think they know best. It’s therefore essential to build trust to generate repeat purchases and in the long term, customer loyalty which will make your business go further.
1. Get involved with the social media action
First of all, it might be a good idea to set up accounts on the key social networking sites for your business early on, such as Facebook and Twitter. This way, consumers know that although you’re new at the moment, you’re here to stay. Customers will also know that there’s a way of contacting and staying in touch with you or maybe just not to miss out on their goodies for being your guinea pigs!
It’s also better to keep things consistent across multiple social media platforms and to keep everything integrated. Users ideally should be able to easily find your other active accounts as it could help to build a stronger online presence. Content is also very important, having a voice online doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be listened to, so keep the content interesting and valuable to customers and they’ll be sure to engage with you better online. KissMetrics advise business startups to create a topic list before writing, with the perfect list being based on your business’ core keywords for SEO purposes. This will help to build your startup’s credibility on search engines which is handy for startups looking to develop brand awareness. Another useful tip is to know the popular usage times of your audience so for maximum exposure, post during these peak times when traffic is high.
2. Developing relationships with your new customers (and guinea pigs)
Once you know that people know of you, you need to build on trust and maybe avoid what is sometimes called ‘hit and run’ marketing (or transactional marketing), basically only focusing on one-off transactions instead of considering customer retention. You can start off with the biggest bang and get tons of people visiting and purchasing, but without retaining them whilst competitors are, your consumer base may start deflating, badly. So, always put your customers’ needs first. Monitoring social media accounts can give you a resourceful insight into what your customers want and by acting on these needs, your customers will thank you in the long run. Michael Welch, founder of BlackCircles, highlighted in an interview with Smart Insights that customer satisfaction was the key drive behind turning what was previously his startup, into a business with an impressive turnover of over £18 million.
3. If you haven’t already, put your marketing strategies into full swing!
There’s five key marketing communication tools: Advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing and personal selling. Yet again, integration is key so create a consistent strategy across the tools you choose to use to give consumers a more rounded experience. Not all tools will be relevant to everyone, but consider which tools are useful for which occasions. For example, advertising can be relevant near the beginning in order to generate brand awareness and can also be useful to remind customers of the brand, whereas direct marketing is essential for customer retention. Having a deeper understanding in your customers’ spending habits for example, can lead to more possibilities in reaching out to them again by targeting relevant communications or promotions that can appeal and encourage purchases in the future.
All startups are different, but these are general suggestions that can hopefully be applied to most startups. Although marketing is a big thing, it works best alongside a strong product/service. So marketing can be a powerful tool behind the startup’s growth as long as the owner never forgets the real passion behind their startup – their product or service.
Featured Image: Spyros Papaspyropoulos