In the early days of launching a startup, things happen in private, behind closed doors. You set up your business bank account, you build your products, you construct your website, and you get your finances sorted. But after all the IP has been secured and you’ve written out your business plan in meticulous detail, the time comes to get the message out.
There’s just one tiny, little problem: you’ve got no money.
Fortunately, you’re not alone. In fact, promoting a business when you’ve got very little money is actually half the job of startup founders. And by half the job, literally half the job: 50 percent of your time will be spent reaching out to the community and trying to attract clients.
So what are the essential steps to take to get your brand out there and to build a successful business? Here’s how to break through on the marketing front without bankrupting yourself in the process.
Capitalize On Marketing Opportunities
Launching a new product is never easy. Even companies and startups who have amazing products wind up failing, simply because they weren’t effective in getting the message out. When launching a new product, it’s essential to get the message out as quickly as possible. One way to do this is to send out press releases to media outlets in your area. Another way that you can build your brand is to get your product in front of established companies who are aligned with your interest. For instance, if you are starting up a program to help graduates succeed in their studies, partner with university print publications and the student union’s website.
Create Business Profiles On Facebook And The Rest
Why are so many companies on social media these days? After all, there doesn’t seem like there’s much of a reason for them to be there. One of the reasons is, of course, that it’s cheap. But there’s another: when your business is on Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus and YouTube, it’s in a lot of places all over the internet. Search engines love this, as do social media sites themselves. Being ubiquitous makes it a lot more likely that customers will actually find you and be exposed to your produce.
The advice from professionals is to choose one or two platforms that target your particular customer base and ramp up your efforts there. Like your website, you need to make sure that your social media accounts present your company in a compelling way, one in which clients will be interested and engaged. Right now, the vast majority of marketing and click-throughs are happening on visual media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Both of these networks are in the early stages of introducing the option to buy images the people see directly through the social media platform itself. A good camera and photography skills are, therefore, a must.
It’s also a good idea to position yourself as an expert in whatever field you happen to represent. This includes doing things like blogging, Tweeting, and posting articles on topics that are particular to your industry and will help your customers. Even if you think you’re in an industry that isn’t all that interesting, there are still things that you can do to meet your customers’ needs. Just reflect on why it is that clients come to your business in the first place – what need are you meeting? If you’re a plumber, write a post on all of the different symptoms of bad plumbing and what different symptoms mean. Then customers will be more informed about what’s wrong with their homes before they decide to ring you up and do business with you.
Social media can also be used to trial and feature new products and get community feedback. Liz Bohannon, the founder, and CEO of Sseko Designs uses her Facebook page to promote new products and share the stories of the people who made them.
Use An Email Service
Using a regular email service to market a new product or business is a bad idea. It is not a good idea because most of the non-business email services aren’t set up for marketing purposes. Often, these email services will penalize you for spam if you send out an email to hundreds of recipients, but also, they’re also not set up for producing beautiful marketing messages. It’s hard to convey how great your product is without the right images and visual presentation.
The first thing a new company has to do is to build up its email list. Don’t go to a third-party supplier of emails – most of the addresses won’t work, and even if they do, you’ll lose the respect of the people you are marketing to. A better strategy is to build a list of emails which is permission-based. This can be as simple as asking people who visit your website to sign up, but the most efficient way to get sign ups is to offer something free in return. Most companies offer something that is useful to customers, like a products guide, or an e-book or even a tip sheet. Rob Oyler, the founder of an internet firm, offered a free white paper on a technical subject to get people to sign up to his site. According to Oyler, the article helped his customers – mostly K-12 administrators – understand the significant benefits of using fibre-optic cabling in their schools for digital learning tools.
Networking Should Be A Way Of Life
The way that entrepreneurs get to the top is through networking with other people who are in the upper echelons of the business community. Many entrepreneurs do indeed spend a lot of time networking: they love it – but some don’t spend their time as wisely as perhaps they should. The advice is to focus on quality over quantity, targeting only those events that are likely to result in a positive effect on your personal brand and business.
Top networkers are really good at remembering names. In fact, Donald Trump’s ability to remember a person’s name after meeting them is credited as being one of the main reason’s he managed to make so much money. Remembering a person’s name is a powerful tool, as the next time you meet, it’ll indicate that you took them and your conversation with them seriously.
It’s also a good idea to exchange business cards when you first meet a new person and then to jot down on the back all of the stuff that you spoke about. This will help solidify the conversation in your memory so that you have a bunch of ready-made talking points for the next time you meet.
You can supercharge your networking and become even better known in your industry by offering to talk at events. Yes, for those introverted entrepreneurs out there, this might sound a little scary. But volunteering at conferences, libraries, and other public engagements can quickly help spread the word about what you’re doing and why your business is so important in a particular space.
Go Flat Out On Stationery
You might think that your business cards and stationery aren’t all that important when it comes to managing your personal brand and promoting your business. But according to Forbes magazine – the font of all knowledge for entrepreneurs and businesses alike – these tools help to define your business and reassure prospective customers about how professional you are. Look online to find out more about how to create the perfect business card, and what different styles of cards say about your business. While you’re at it, you can also investigate how to build incredible brochures and the many ways in which branded pens can help spread the message of your business around. Make sure you include things like your email address, phone number and social media handles on any stationery or business cards you distribute.
List Your Site In Free Directories
Remember the phone book or the Yellow Pages? They were vast repositories of numbers for businesses and homeowners. Well, they didn’t disappear entirely – they just went online. And since they are online, they’re now a heck of a lot more interactive and personalizable.
There are a couple of big review sites out there that cater to the vast majority of businesses on the web: Google and Yelp. The first step is to make sure that your business is accurately described on both websites. The next is to ensure that there are outbound links from directories to your official business website. Finally, make sure that you keep on top of the information contained in these directories so that you can update them when you launch a new product.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that reviews on the internet today are critical for businesses, especially those launching new products. Around 70 percent of customers read some sort of online review before purchasing a product. The more reviews you have, the merrier: so offer clients discount coupons or freebies if they post a review about your new product on one of the review platforms.