The reality is, most start-ups are bootstrapping their way toward growth. With limited funds entrepreneurs are forced to get creative in their problem solving. Marketing lends itself perfectly to this way of thinking, with savvy practitioners capable of making a big splash without breaking the bank.
Unfortunately, you will encounter some challenges along the way. How do you decide where to focus your marketing efforts? Where do you allocate your limited budget? Who do you market to? No matter how good a marketer you are, there’s always going to be a certain amount of guess work involved in answering these questions. Put yourself on solid ground by following these 10 marketing tips for start-ups.
What’s Your Budget?
In a recent study, BDC highlighted that 30% of Canadian small and medium enterprises have a marketing budget of less than $5,000 per year. Avoid the temptation to get caught up on the total dollar amount you’re spending. Instead, budget on a figure you can comfortably afford. How effectively you spend these dollars is more important than trying to break the bank on your marketing budget.
Make Use of Different Platforms
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. With the plethora of channels out there, marketers have never had it better. Start off by experimenting with different strategies. Craft an elevator pitch; Invest in online display ads and make use of email marketing software like MailChimp. Keep trying different ways to spread the word until you find one that works for your business.
Find Your Niche
A common pitfall for new entrepreneurs is the belief that everyone is their target market. If you’re trying to sell to everyone, you’ll fail to create any connections with potential customers. Establish who your target market is and tailor your advertising effort toward them. Speak to these potential customers, understand their lifestyles, concerns and needs. The better you know them, the more effectively you can sell to them.
Make Use of Social
Social media is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Find out what platform your target market uses and engage with them. For example, you won’t find many male tech enthusiasts on Pinterest, so it’s not essential for you to be on every platform. Join in the discussion on social, talk to potential customers without giving them the hard sell. Ensure your personal profiles are also up to date. Customers will be curious who you are and some may want to follow you.
Ensure Quality Content
Content Marketing isn’t just a buzz word. It’s one of the most effective ways to get people talking about your products. Create a blog and link to it on your social channels. People love reading lists (after all, you’re reading one right now), try to think of lists that provide a jumping off point for conversations. Note what topics are trending in your industry, or local area, and use them for content. If you’re creating the content the only investment you’re making is your own time.
No matter what industry you’re in there will be key figures and influencers in positions of power. Work toward building a relationship with these people by sharing their content, interacting with them and even introducing yourself to them at events. If they can be convinced to share your content it will give your marketing and legitimacy a massive boost.
Though we live in an increasingly digital age, networking events still serve an important purpose in the business world. Identify events in your industry and attend. Take the time to introduce yourself to people and ask questions. Grow your network of potential customers by speaking to them face-to-face.
Use SEO to Grow
An entire cottage industry has popped up around search engine optimization but it’s an area you can tackle yourself. Make use of Google Analytics and Search Console to see which pages on your site are performing well. If your site runs off a platform like WordPress, the Yoast plug-in can point out tweaks and improvements you can make to aid your SEO ranking. If your content is well written, lacking in errors, and hits the keywords you want, you’re already doing well.
Customers have never been more empowered to provide feedback. Go above and beyond to ensure the feedback you receive is positive. These testimonials are worth their weight in gold as a marketing tool. Reach out to your customers and ask them how you can improve your product and service. A satisfied and engaged customer has the potential to do your advertising work for you.
As the owner, you are the public face of your company. Take the necessary steps to always appear professional in the eyes of your peers. Present yourself well, say the right things (avoid divisive topics on social media) and show up at all your industry’s major events. If you turn yourself into a trusted figure in your field, it will have a tremendous effect on your business.