Giving birth to 2-3 startups every day, India has the 3rd largest start-up ecosystem in the world. On the flip side, it also witnesses a high number of startup failures; with a majority of ventures shutting down within just 2 to 5 years of starting up. Though lack of innovation is said to contribute to their failures, the paucity of funds due to bad or no income generation is said to contribute more. Can you guess what would be the main reason behind this drying up of funds and negative cash flows? It is the absence of effective marketing strategies. Yes, despite the founders trying to be smart and ingenious with their ideas, it is their abandonment of marketing plans which leads to the reduced pour in of income and diminished raise of fresh funds after seeding. Using minimal resources for optimum impact is the key to the survival of any startup venture. So, what are the budget-friendly yet effective Marketing Strategies that will help one invest the least amount of resources available and obtain the greatest amount of benefits possible? Read on to find out!
1. Post on social media
The world of social media has taken a huge upturn in recent years, with statistics uncovering that number of monthly ‘active’ users is 2.6 billion on Facebook, 330 million on Twitter, 1 billion on Instagram, 310 million on LinkedIn. With such huge numbers, social networks have become the main instrument of communication between the customer and the brand and also a strong sales tool for many companies. Not all social networks are the same, and not all of them offer the same kind of opportunities. For instance, Instagram works well for image-oriented businesses, Facebook for video-oriented businesses, Twitter for text, etc. So, understanding what type of content performs well on which platform is the key to success in social media marketing. For any business that has a presence on social media - whether big or small, selling products or services, reaching the target audience is absolutely quick, easy and affordable as well. That being said, the startups that don't deal with social networks are definitely staying in the past. How about yours?
Simple ways to craft your social media content:
- These days, smartphone cameras are sophisticated enough to snap stunning pictures, shoot interesting videos, quickly edit them, add filters to them, attach some music and do a lot more. So, grab your smartphone and create some easiest content like product demonstrations, How-to guides, video tours, behind-the-scenes glimpse of your business, etc. by clubbing a few photos and converting them into a video with copyright free music in the background.
- Along with your videos, have fun with hashtags to get your business trending. Some quick tips for hashtagging are: Use hashtags that are relevant and specific to your brand, keep them short and don’t string too many words together, limit the number of hashtags as too many can look spammy.
- Go for live videos. Content for live streaming includes Interviews and Q&As, Events, Brand updates, Product Tutorials, Demos, etc. Before hitting the “Live” button, just make sure you have a good internet connection, good lighting and a solid plan on how it’ll be presented – so that your end result doesn’t get hurt.
- Consider publishing tangential content. Tangential content is anything that is related to, but not directly about, your brand. For example, if your startup touches the niche of online apparel shopping, you can publish a short video about “How to style yourself" or “What to wear for different occasions”. In a nutshell, tangential content is all that is informative, educational, and fun.
- Testimonials make for great content and help earn peoples’ trust more easily by connecting with them on an emotional level. So, encourage your happy customers to offer their testimonials and reviews as videos or pictures - in whatever format, they are comfortable with. These customer stories help people envision other’s success as their own as a result of using your product or service and give a strong emotional trigger to give your product a shot.
2. Launch referral programs
90% of customers trust recommendations from friends, family, industry peers, and colleagues over any other type of marketing. This quick statistics reveals that the existing customer base is the biggest marketing asset a business can have. Harnessing the power of the existing user base and turning each happy customer into an unpaid brand ambassador for your startup is what referral marketing revolves around. Though it seems to be an organic way of growing your network of leads and customers, referral marketing does require certain promotional efforts and some form of incentives or rewards to get your happy customers spread the word about your brand.
3. Publish some great content
Do you know that content marketing produces 3X more leads than any other kind of marketing? Yes, it does. Having a solid, smart content marketing plan in place is the ticket to long-term success. Good content does not always focus on selling, but on delivering some benefit to the reader, like giving an idea, solving a problem or clarifying a doubt. Selling is most often an aftereffect of this. What form can your content take? Any form that will help your potential customers consume information easily - like blog posts, videos, podcasts or infographics, either in written, visual or downloadable format.
4. Make use of SEO
You might spend days and nights creating truly interesting content and publishing it in the most appropriate manner. But even then there are no clicks, no signups and no subscribers? Why? It is because of your poor visibility in the search engine results. Embracing SEO and boosting your rankings can greatly improve your visibility and put you on your prospects' radar. If you are a new kid on the block, this term “SEO” might seem a bit cloudy and technically complex. It involves optimizing your website for the search engines by making structural changes to your website design, identifying and adding keywords specific to your niche, writing consistently high-quality content, attracting backlinks to your domain, and a lot more.
5. Try Press releases and news features
Even in this age of social media, press releases and news features are still alive and help businesses get the word out in the world and spread their stories far and wide. One doesn’t always need a breaking BBC or CNN headline worth story to make a press release; even small stories that are newsworthy and noteworthy can get coverage in trade journals, magazines, blogs, podcasts and industry-specific journals. Announcing an upcoming event, releasing product updates, addressing an issue specific to your industry or responding to a crisis are some of the most common reasons for which a startup can turn to a press release.
6. Use PPC ads
Pay per click is an online advertising model in which you can create custom ads for your startup and buy laser-targeted traffic from the search engine by paying each time when a user clicks on the ad. You can allocate your own budget and specify the maximum amount that you are ready to pay for each click. Creating a successful PPC ad involves a lot: from researching and selecting the right keywords to setting up the landing page which is optimized for conversions. The better you create the relevant and engaging ads, the higher the return on investment.
7. Send E-mails
People always have a high level of interaction with their emails. So, making email marketing as a part of your marketing strategy can help reach your business goals more easily, often with some extraordinary results. First start collecting your prospects’ email addresses by placing a newsletter signup form or through some form of a call to action on your website. Then send targeted messages by personalizing it for individuals and optimizing it for multiple devices. Diversify your emails with various contents like free eBooks, trials, reports, demos, guides, how-to articles, videos and infographics rather than only commercial advertorial contents, so that your subscribers do not lose interest and opt out of receiving your emails.
8. Promote yourself through personal branding
The term “branding” is not only reserved for corporate businesses, but also for individuals. As people tend to trust individuals more than corporations, working on your personal branding allows you to build trust with your prospective clients, which, in turn, can help open many doors for you in the future. It also brings tons of other benefits and empowers you to set yourself apart from your competitors, thus bringing tremendous impacts and far-reaching effects on your startup and eventually a good business. You can establish your personal brand easily by getting your voice out there through various social media pages (like from Facebook to Twitter), blogs, podcasts and various websites where you can publish articles to present yourself to the world.
9. Reach out to forums and groups
Finding the right community for your business through forums and groups can transform the way you engage with your prospects and customers and also help your startup better realise its vision. Here are the few tips for how to join the right forum.
- Do a simple search for a keyword related to your niche + "forum”. For e.g.: If your business is software related, search for “Software Forum”.
- Then hunt for forums that have strength of not less than 1,000 members.
- Before joining it, make sure the forum gets at least ten new posts on a daily basis.
- Avoid forums that overflow with spam posts.