When starting up a new business, there are many pitfalls you have to avoid. Some will be pretty minor, while others can completely tank your company. Since you won’t have much excess cash to dig yourself out of a hole, you must take proper steps to avoid such an issue.
Despite the common knowledge that many startups fail, many seem to make the same mistakes. One of the more common ones that new companies are guilty of is failing to have any sort of marketing campaign. This is because business owners don’t want to put the little bit of money they have into something that may or may not churn results for them.
While that’s an understandable reason, it’s a bit misguided. Now, if you put all your marketing budget into ad space, you may not see the returns you’re hoping for. However, there are many cheap and even free ways to get your name out there. Using them is a crucial step since you won’t be able to convert sales if no one knows who you are.
That’s why we’re here to go over some of the best forms of marketing that a startup can pursue in the early days of the company. While not all of these may be the best fit for your business model, they’re ideas you should at least consider and look into as possibilities.
Limited Paid Ads
Even though we mentioned that paid ads are the main things that scare people away from creating a marketing campaign, we don’t want to treat them like bogeymen. In limited quantities, paid ads can be extremely effective for small companies. You just have to be careful not to go overboard with your spending.
Whether you pay for online ads, outdoor displays, or TV commercials, you need to do so strategically. Don’t shoot for the most expensive locations and events that’ll give you the most traffic. Most of those people won’t care about who you are or what you’re selling. Instead, you should save your money and only display ads in places where a majority of your target audience will see them.
If you want to save even more money, only pay for ad space during your busy seasons. There’s no need to spend money if it’s a time of year when people won’t be interested in what you’re selling.
If you’re on a strict budget but still need to get your name out there, focus on some PR tactics. Even though you can go out to the public and tell them about how great your product and company are on your own, having a third party do it for you will come off as much more credible.
This is because this outside group already has a following of people who trust their thoughts and opinions. If they tell their followers about your business and speak about it in a positive light, that’ll help your new potential customers trust you as well.
While many people tend to think of local news stations when it comes to PR, many other sources that you can utilize exist. Podcasts, YouTube channels, and influential blogs are just a few examples. Of course, some of these might cross the line into becoming paid sponsorships, but the increase in recognition you receive will be worth the money you put into them.
Search Engine Optimization
Even though those previous methods are great for getting your name in front of others, most people find new products and services on their own through the internet these days. If they have a need, they’ll simply type it into a search engine and see what advice or product suggestions it gives them. When people know what they want, they might even search for it directly.
However, an important thing to realize as a new business is that your brand doesn’t carry much weight. Even if people have heard of you before from outside sources, there’s no guarantee that they’ll come searching for you when the need arises. That means you’ll need to find people where they’re at, which requires you to target keywords through the practice of search engine optimization (SEO).
The more you optimize your website and all the pages on it, the higher in the general search results you’ll climb. Targeting the right keywords early on will be quite tricky, but through practice, you’ll learn which ones are worth your time.
However, if your website doesn’t have that many pages, it’ll be difficult to spread the reach of your SEO campaign. That’s why many other companies pair that strategy with a content-based one. If you don’t know how to create a content marketing strategy for your business, you’ll be happy to know that it’s actually quite easy. The main thing you need to do is figure out what format of content you’ll want to use. Typically, this involves creating a blog on your website that covers various problems and solutions your product or service can help with.
If you target these pages correctly through keyword optimization, you’ll expand the possibilities of people online finding you through a web search. They may read your article discussing how to fix a problem they’ve encountered and quickly discover that you sell something that can help them. It’s a win-win for both parties involved.
Another form of marketing that all startup businesses should take the time to pursue in one way or another is the use of social media. Since blogs used in content marketing focus more on problems and solutions, your social media pages can concentrate more on branding and customer engagement.
The best part is signing up for these sites is free. However, that doesn’t mean you should make a profile on each of them. Updating your socials takes time, so you’ll only want to focus on the platforms your target market is on, especially early on in your company’s life. Once you’ve built a loyal following and hired more employees, you can begin experimenting with other social media sites to see if you can expand your target market.
The one problem with social media is that it’s too public to have meaningful one-on-one interactions with customers. While you can talk to them directly on those sites, especially if they have a direct message option, nothing beats the personal touch you can give them with an email.
Despite email getting overshadowed by many other forms of communication that exist online, most people still use it heavily, most notably when it comes to important information. That’s why you also want to find ways to interact with consumers on this front.
Once you’ve built up a mailing list through account creation or other small forms of information retrieval on your site, you can start sending out newsletters, ads, and other personalized emails. Of course, you’ll need to get permission to do so and give people the option to unsubscribe. But if they’re happy customers who want to buy from you again, they’ll likely welcome these types of emails.
Speaking of having customers buy from you again, we need to cover the most important part of any marketing strategy: retargeting. No matter which methods from this list you decide to use, the most important thing for you to do is ensure that your past customers keep coming back for more. If your company truly makes an outstanding product or service, your work will speak for itself through word-of-mouth, but you can simply rely on that alone.
You need to give people a reason to return and bring their friends. A referral program is usually an effective strategy to do just that. If you give both the returning customer and the new person they bring some sort of bonus or discount, both people will want to take advantage of such a deal. Plus, this can create a chain of new people bringing others they know to check out your business.
Another viable method is a loyalty program. If people know they can receive bonuses for continually returning to your company for whatever you sell, they’ll be more willing to sign up. Of course, that means you need to create a reward system that’s enticing enough to draw people in but not so good you lose money.
These are just a few examples of retargeting methods. You’ll be able to come up with even more through the other marketing strategies discussed in this post. Just be sure not to forget about the people already supporting you. Marketing isn’t always about bringing new customers in.