5 Top Start-Up Marketing Tips!
1. Specific Targeting
Search engine marketing through Google AdWords and Facebook can be effective for getting new customers, but the costs can run high, especially for a bootstrapped business. If you don’t have the funds to test a lot of different keywords, consider advertising in more niche networks and sites that are more specifically catered to your exact target market.
For example, through a service like LaunchBit you can advertise on email newsletters or blogs on very granular topics, and really hone in on a particular readership of your choosing. If you like the idea of advertising on specific blogs that resonate with your target audience, you can also try using BuySellAds, which connects advertisers directly with bloggers. Being extremely granular in your targeting reduces your chances of serving ads to the wrong customer, and helps ensure that your marketing money goes a little further.
2. Be the PR for Your Company
The first step in garnering attention for your business is creating your own voice. If you’re launching a marketing service, start blogging about some of your key learnings, and share your posts on Twitter. If you’re opening a bakery, start posting your recipes online (with beautiful pictures) and sharing them on Pinterest, or in an email newsletter. To get that extra boost, interview or feature some experts in your field, and they will be more likely to share these posts with their own following and friends.
If you want your business to be featured in press besides your own blog, consider signing up for Help a Reporter Out (HARO), which connects journalists to sources—there are always writers looking to feature quotes from small business owners; being quoted in various articles and blog posts can get your business name out there and give your SEO a little boost.
3. Market Your Product or Service Before It Has Launched
Before your product or service even exists, consider setting aside a little extra time and funds to test whether or not people will actually buy it. You can do this by building a landing page for a hypothetical product, service or business (you can easily build landing pages through services like Unbounce), and directing traffic into the landing page with PPC campaigns. If people sign up, click to read more or follow the call to action you have in place, you have some validation that there is interest in your product or service.
If you have multiple ideas (or iterations of an idea), you can test each of them to prove out which ones actually spark consumer interest; that way, when you build the product, you already have customers who have demonstrated interest in purchasing it. To learn about this process in-depth, check out this free course.
4. Announce it to the World, But Focus on Your World
Sure, it’s all well and good to announce that you’re starting a business on Twitter, on your Facebook page and in any relevant LinkedIn Groups. By all means, tell the world. But know that when it comes to getting those first few customers, the most fruitful efforts will probably be the most personal. You don’t have a business reputation yet, but there are people out there who trust you.
Plan to do dinner with some of your closest friends, with family members or former co-workers with whom you have a close relationship, and somewhere in the course of the evening tell them that you’re starting your own business. Ask them if they have any feedback or if they have any thoughts on who might be interested in this product. People get hundreds of emails a day, so shooting someone an email will not be as effective as getting coffee or at the very least, calling them on the phone. Let people know what your do, and your closest network will be your biggest advocates; a few of them might even be your first customers.
5. Offer Your Product for Free
I know, “freemium” doesn’t necessarily count as getting a customer. But when getting that first paying customer feels like an insurmountable feat, the best solution may just be to give your product away. Or rather, to whet customer appetite with a delectable taste, then charge them for the full meal. If you provide some sort of service or software, you can try offering a free trial; test different lengths of time (3 days, 15 days, 30 days, etc.) to see which is more likely to convert, and which has the highest returns based on the cost of providing it.
If you have a physical product, consider ways you can provide free samples, or at least let customers “try it before they buy it.” Even providing other free products and swag can help get your brand name out there, so people have your business in mind when they decide to buy (or if a friend asks if they know of anyone who does X). Another big kicker for shoppers is free shipping; customers adore this feature, and if you offer it exclusively on their first purchase (especially if the shipping would normally be more expensive), they may be more likely to take the plunge.
Finally, if you provide an ongoing or subscription-based order, consider offering the first order for free. Graze, a healthy snack delivery company, employs this tactic by advertising “Exclusive Free Snack Box” on Facebook, an ad that garners a lot of attention. Many customers sign up for their first free shipment with the intention of cancelling before their second paid shipment comes in, but will either forget to cancel their subscription or be delighted enough by the product that they decide to continue receiving it.
By: Rochelle Bailis