As a startup, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is getting your name out there and promoting your brand. But many fledgling businesses don’t have the funds to invest in a high-budget marketing campaign.
The good news is that a solid marketing strategy doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The following four tactics are simple and cost-effective ways to boost your startup.
- Focus on referrals
- Maximise your social reach
- Partner with big businesses
- Nurture leads
So here’s how to grow your business and build your brand without breaking the bank.
Focus on referrals
Word of mouth is one of the simplest, yet most powerful forms of marketing. What better way to build credibility and trust in your fledgling business than through personal recommendations?
In other words, let your customers do your marketing for you.
Consider that 83% of people would trust a brand that’s been recommended by family or friends. What’s more, a referral programme could cost you very little or even nothing at all.
Before launching a referral programme you need to ensure you’re offering not only an excellent product or service, but also providing a great customer experience.
How to get your first referrals
A happy customer means repeat business. And loyalty brings with it new customers.
- Listen to your customers and act upon feedback – from a simple thank you for positive feedback, to addressing and resolving customer grievances.
- Offer an incentive for ‘referring a friend’. This could be a discount on a next purchase, a cash reward or a gift. Think about who your customers are and choose something they could actually benefit from.
- Make your referral programme easy to understand with a clear CTA so your customers know exactly how it works.
Maximise your social reach
The number of people using social media per month across the globe is predicted to reach 3.02bn by 2021. This gives businesses the potential to reach up to a third of the world’s population.
Social media platforms are one of the most cost-effective and easiest ways to get your brand out there. Every time you like, comment or share on social media, you’re marketing your business.
How to maximise your social reach
Establish a brand profile on major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Focus on channels where your target audience is most likely to be found to determine which ones work best for your startup.
Before you start promoting your business, reach out to like-minded individuals and interact – whether it’s a like, a comment or a share of the content by influencers you admire. Once youstart building a network, you can focus on creating and promoting your own content.
Create useful, shareable content your target audience can relate to. Focus on what’s in it for them. Get influencers on board by referencing them in your content. If it’s high quality and meaningful, they’ll be more likely to share it. This in turn will help build credibility in your brand.
Popular strategies such as a contest or survey are great ways to get others to interact while boosting your online visibility.
It takes time to build up followers, so be patient and consistent. By providing answers to problems, adding valuable insights and producing engaging content, your efforts will eventually be rewarded.
Partner with big businesses
If you’ve got something you can offer in return, you may be able to benefit from the help of a larger company. Partnering with a big business with a larger marketing budget could offer you a greater reach and much needed stability as your startup grows. You’ll also create a powerful ally.
Finding and convincing a bigger business to partner with you can be a long game, so you’ll need patience and perseverance. But if you get it right, it could be a win-win for both parties.
How to attract potential business partners
Before approaching another business, you need to be confident that you can offer something of value that will benefit them. In many cases, established corporations are looking for agility and innovative ideas that may be lacking in their own business framework.
- Research larger businesses that have a similar target market and brand message as your own. If you share the same goals and values, the easier it will be to collaborate and work as a team.
- Find out if your target company has any suitable pitch competitions or investment opportunities.
- Network both on and offline. Follow your target company on Twitter and LinkedIn and engage with them by liking, commenting on and sharing their posts. You may even be able to make valuable connections within the organisation. Meeting face-to-face can be even more productive. Trade shows, seminars and conferences provide opportunities to introduce yourself in person.
- Prepare a solid business case and cash flow statements and when the opportunity arises make sure you communicate your vision and goals effectively. Include case studies to demonstrate what value you can bring to their company.
Marketing doesn’t end with new leads. On average, around 50% of leads aren’t ready to buy. These potential customers are the ones you need to focus on. By guiding them through the sales funnel, effective lead nurturing has the potential to create more sales without having to dip too heavily into your marketing budget.
Use content and email to nurture leads
Many businesses put all their efforts into generating leads, then fall short by failing to follow up.
The key is to inform and educate leads with email and content marketing strategies that will transform their interest in your product or service into an actual sale. As with referrals, consider offering incentives to encourage leads to subscribe to your email list.
Whether it’s blog posts, infographics, videos, newsletters or webinars, your content needs to be relevant, engaging and useful. Create your content around your leads’ pain points and offer solutions. Case studies can be used as an effective marketing tactic to demonstrate your success stories.
A successful marketing strategy doesn’t need to cost a fortune, but it does take hard work, dedication and belief in your brand. These simple marketing tactics, coupled with a consistently excellent customer service, will go a long way to establishing your startup while helping to build a solid reputation for your brand.