Not every startup will face the same struggles, but one consistent stumbling block that every entrepreneur knows is marketing. It’s an issue that surfaces early, and there seem to be so many easy solutions. Don’t choose the easy solution that doesn’t have any return or is a blatant waste of time. Instead, use proven marketing strategies that you can put into effect immediately.
1. Use Your Network
Creating a business Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn profile won’t immediately connect you with everyone in your network. When you’re getting your startup going, be sure to utilize the network you’ve spent years building. From people you used to work with or your old friends, the people who have connected with you through social media probably know you as a person. Not just a business name.
Use your network to boost awareness of your brand and business. Keep business cards on hand and use them in appropriate settings. Your business is not separate from yourself. It’s something that you created. With that position in mind, it doesn’t seem so imposing to hand out a business card or ask people to share a Facebook post about your upcoming grand opening.
2. Learn A Little About Marketing Before Hiring Anyone
Many people decide to hire someone to manage their marketing — generally, a smart move. However, startups often bootstrap their way through the first few years, with little to invest in marketing. So, you want to hire someone that will give you a ton of bang, for a little bit of buck.
Startup companies are often familiar with freelancing communities, or solopreneurs who provide professional services at cutthroat prices. How? Well, they’re probably not paying a massive overhead so they can keep their prices low and their quality high. However, it’s a common story that people hire a freelancer or “Independent Marketing Professional” only to receive outright disappointing work.
Before you hire anyone, regardless of if you hire them as an employee or as a contractor, learn a little about marketing. Read a few marketing books, Digital Marketing for Dummies, if full of great explanations for marketing terms and slang. Or listen to podcasts such as Marketing Over Coffee.
After learning more about different marketing channels and strategies, you’ll be able to tell who is right to handle any marketing for your company.
3. Grab Attention Off The Street
Think the days of neon signs are over? Think again. Neon signs, in-store events, and more are great ways of grabbing foot traffic. If you have a storefront, then you need to grab attention from the people walking past your business.
Consider your marketing strategy as part of your business’ design. Make your physical and digital branding seamless by creating a space both inside the building and outside that entices customers.
Don’t forget to make your business location visible on Google so that anyone nearby can find your place quickly and easily. Additionally, work with neighbouring vendors to draw attention towards your storefronts rather than the street.
Other ways to grab attention off the street involve decorating your shop’s front (if you have a physical store) if your landlord and city allow for decorations.
When you have people, who make it into your shop, browse around and then leave, they are likely going to make their final purchase online. What are stores doing to combat this? They’re using signs to inspire them to buy there and then. As people walk out the door, they see a teasing sign saying, “You won’t find our items on Amazon” or “Buying Online Closes Businesses.”
4. Create A Voice Through Social Media
Social media can make startups happen. However, it can also be the downfall of businesses so you must treat social media with care from day one. Going beyond the changing field of social media ethics, focus on your brand development and how you want the general public to perceive your business.
Will you respond with sass or a “clap back” to a negative comment? Using humour to change the tone of a situation or to take a direct approach may be part of your brand and may appeal to your target market. Or, will you see a negative review and apologize publicly. Maybe you’ll offer something for free to show that you’re dedicated to positive customer experience.
The decision in how you handle social media is yours, of course, and no one can tell you that any one strategy is right or wrong. Many top-earning influencers have “attacked” negative commenters and had long successful careers afterwards. The difference between a sassy influencer taking this approach and say, JC Penny, doing this, is the brand’s voice.
Approach your online presence with tact and plan for a long-term impact on your brand.
5. Get Involved In Your Community
Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar store or a rising ecommerce startup, your community needs support. Across the US, UK, and many other countries, businesses have made a point to give back into their neighbourhoods.
It’s a marketing strategy that has a substantial impact far beyond an ROI. How can you get started? There are a few organizations that always need help, and they are schools, hospitals, and emergency services.
Reach out to the administrative office of your school district, local hospital, or fire department. They probably already have a list of events planned for the next few months. If you’re a restaurant or similar, you can offer your location as an event location. Alternatively, you can contribute your goods, or provide a monetary donation and participate in the event in a different capacity.
Outside of working with organizations you can get involved with your city. Participate in city activities and be present at these networking events. As you show up to more community events, you’ll learn of more ways that you and your business can contribute.
Marketing is quickly moving away from TV and print ads. Even Google and Facebook ads, which claim to have a massive return rate, are slowing down. Marketing relies on reaching people in new and creative ways.
Author Bio: Lara Douglas is a young woman who loves interior designing and home decor. She is passionate about new trends and fashion-forward home décor ideas. She regularly posts at Neon Signs Depot.