Getting exposure for a well established Business is tough enough, getting exposure for a start up is dead heat, and can be really frustrating if you go about it the wrong way. Most often than not, startups always have the “budget issue”, limited budget to test around the waters. To tackle this issue, I have broken down into two parts, one stop for online exposure.
Here are my “Simple Six Marketing Elements” that will help get you maximum exposure at minimum cost, and other tips to help you even further.
Simple Six Marketing Elements
1) Focus On Your Niche Target Market
The first step to creating online exposure on a limited budget is to hammer down your target market. When you’re bootstrapped for resources, you can’t afford to focus on everyone.
You have to focus your marketing efforts on the customers that will help your business grow the most in the short term. It’s not bad to have lofty goals of reaching a pool of different audiences, but if you want to get the best for your dollars, you need to find a way to reach the most important audience who are ready to know more or buy.
Here are three things to consider when narrowing down your target market.
Who's The Audience:
What are their demographics?
What kind of blogs do they like to read?
What social networks are they frequently on?
What sites do they visit on a daily bases?
How are they buying products (online vs offline)?
Get to know them and their online habits to execute a marketing plan with a clear target.
How Do They Use Search engines: What kind of keywords does these audience use to search for similar products in your industry?
The keywords in your content should match the keywords they’re familiar with, so they can find your company.
What Do They Need: When you find out what your target audience needs you can shape your online content around fulfilling that need and keeping it simple. Also, when you know what they don’t need (or want), you can eliminate that from your content strategy.
Action Steps to Take:
- Get to know your audience by finding out who they are, how they search, and what they need from your industry.
- Tailor your content to appeal to your target audience.
- Focus on reaching a smaller targeted market before expanding to other audiences.
2) Leverage Email Marketing
With limited marketing budget, leverage email marketing. Nearly everyone you are trying to reach uses email today. As of 2013, there are 3.6 billion email accounts, and between the ages of 18 and 64 send or read email.
91% of consumers check their email daily, 74% of consumers prefer to receive commercial communications via email, and 66% of customers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message.
To fully leverage email marketing for your business, consider these tips:
Make Subscribing to Email Easy: Make that signup box big and bold on your homepage, blog, Facebook, or wherever else your customers are active online.
Tell your Readers What To Expect: There should be No secrets here. Whether it’s a promotion, a company update, or a how-to, tell your readers exactly what to expect from your emails and stick to it. (This helps build trust and future business)
Send Subscribers a Welcome Emails: Welcome new subscribers to remind them why they are on the mailing list and to reassure them that you’re not a spammer and will provide the necessary value to help them succeed or find out they are looking for.
Make your E-mail a Quick read: Format your emails with catchy headers. Highlight important terms so your readers can quickly scan through the information. They’re more likely to read something scannable than something that is dense with text. Also provide useful links in your content.
Keep It Consistent: Have a posting schedule, and don’t let your readers forget about you.
- Experiment with your email signup box using an A/B testing tool like Optimizely.
- Format your emails with mobile in mind. (This is very important for screen resolution)
- Understand what spamming is and isn’t. (Stay far away from this, you will go no where without value)
3) Start Doing Social Media Engagement Right
With the rising social landscape, of course, social media is a must for any business on a budget. Almost 58 million Americans visit social media networks every day, and 66% turn to social media to learn about new products and services.
It’s not enough just to be on social media this days. You have to interact and engage, to do it right for your social media marketing campaigns to be effective. Limit your social media platforms to only the ones that will be most beneficial to your business. With so many platforms available, you can’t possibly build a strong presence on each one.
Focus on 3-4 that will best reach your target market. Share quality content that’s both insightful and entertaining. Be active with your users by commenting and sharing, and don’t be afraid to give back.
Contests are a great way to quickly gain followers and create exposure. Visuals and video can also be a powerful way to communicate. Both help to build your brand by giving users a glimpse at the “human” side of your business.
- Always develop your social media goals.
- Research popular content created by your competitors.
- Consider using YouTube videos to create a larger reach.
4) Reach Out To Influencers on Social Media
Influencers can help you get your message out effectively. Find influencers in your market and reach out to them. Having a relationship with just one or a few can have a dramatic impact on your online reach.
There’s a reason consumers look to these people for information and advice. They tend to have dynamic personalities, and they have built reputations that allow them to impact consumer decisions. Luckily, many influencers are accessible and open to your contact.
To get your name out there and to start building a connection, it’s okay to strike their ego a bit. Quote them in a blog and then tweet at them to let them know. Comment on their blog posts. Ask to connect on LinkedIn or invite them to join a circle on Google plus.
When you directly reach out to influencers, don’t just say hi. Go the extra mile right away and do something memorable, that will make you stand out from the pack. Ask them if they would want to grab coffee or chat over Skype so you can pick their brain and ask a few questions about the industry.
Frame it like an interview. During that initial conversation, look for ways you could bring value to them. If they’re looking to redesign a blog or if they can’t seem to fix a bug, offer to help for free. Do anything you can to extend the conversation and create a connection along the way.
- Gradually reach out to influencers without being too pushy or too over-the-top, this are people just like you - so mind their time.
- Keep it about them, not you. It’s about forming a relationship, not selling an idea or product.
5) Ask And You Shall Receive (Crowdsourcing)
Until recently, marketing was a one-way conversation with you reaching out to potential customers. Now, you have the power to leverage user opinions to make decisions about your service or products. After all, they’re the ones buying the product, let them have a say.
In today's marketing world, crowdsourcing has become a great way to encourage engagement and attract a large following on a limited budget.
If you don’t have the funds to perform extensive market research, why not ask the market what they want and allow them to help make decisions?
Here are three words you should remember when you’re trying to crowdsource.
Brevity: Be clear and to-the-point. Tell your customers exactly what they need to do and exactly what you want from them. Ambiguity is your worst nightmare in this situation, because the moment your message hits the Internet, all bets are off. You’re at the mercy of the users. Make it easy to understand.
Incentives: While you can crowdsource for free, dangling a carrot tends to provide better results. Offer a prize, something that will get users excited to participate. Offer 2nd and 3rd place prizes if you can. Some people like to play the odds and might participate knowing they have a better chance of going home with something.
Preparation: Ideas are going to pour in, so be ready to handle them. Sifting through the hundreds of different ideas can be the most difficult part of crowdsourcing, so have a plan in place.
- Use crowdsourcing software like Crowdspring and PopTent.
- You can crowdsource the odd, time-consuming jobs like transcribing audio, optimizing keywords, and customer support.
6) Form Strategic Partnerships
The saying goes - Two is usually better than one. Forming strategic partnerships with others in your industry can open a lot of different doors and comes with many different benefits.
When you align your brand with other well-known brands in your industry it helps you build credibility. The anchoring effect comes into play as customers have a tendency to use reference points or “anchors” when making decisions.
Associating with the right partner gives consumers a reference for your own brand, and they will begin to relate the attributes of your partner to you.
For example, if your partner is known for having quality products, aligning with them will help customers perceive that your products are just as nice.
On the more practical side, partners can help you do things you can’t. They can help you reach a wider audience. They can help with market research. They can give you a jump-start on your social media marketing with just a few mentions.
You don’t need to take everything on yourself. Find a partner to help you out.
- Identify trustworthy partners that you know you can work with.
- Use online marketing assistant partners such as backlinkfy, to have an edge.
- Be clear about your expectations for them and understand their expectations for you.
General Resources and Tips
Find the Right Bloggers and Reporters
Every reporter has a niche just like your brand has it's own. Obviously, you’re not going to pitch your productivity app to a travel journalist or blogger.
However, it can be all too tempting to pitch your startup to the biggest name on Huffpost, instead of looking for the journalist who has a small, yet loyal following that matches up with your brand’s unique messaging.
Instead, seek out bloggers and reporters whose message resonates with your own and will love to have something to write about. Contact them, letting them know how much you appreciate their content and delivery. You can then proceed to pitch your story.
This brings us to our next tip:
Pitch a Story, Not Your Company
The hard truth is, startups are a dime a dozen and it's hard to really know how a company works. In fact, more than half a million startups spring up every month. The last thing a reporter needs is a fact-filled sheet of statistics accompanied by bragging rights for your startup.
What separates yours from the others?
Do you have a humanitarian angle? Have you birthed your startup from unbelievable hardship? How does your startup serve people in a way that your competition does not?
Your brand has a story. You need to figure out what makes that story, not your company, unique.
Once you have that figured out, go ahead and pitch to the journalists of your choosing. (Again pitch a story, not your company)
Target the Right Audience at Trade Shows
Trade shows continue to be a generous source of leads for those in B2B industries who want to meet potential customers.
Networking is a broad term. However, it doesn’t have to include cheesy social mixers where business cards are robotically served up like tasteless water crackers and you never hear back from these people.
You live and breathe your startup. You need to let people know that you and your startup are synonymous. Networking should happen every time you have a discussion with another person, regardless of the informality of the occasion.
You’ll be surprised at how someone will know someone who knows someone else that needs your startup or is interested in helping to spread the word about it.
“Network marketing gives people the opportunity, with very low risk and very low financial commitment, to build their own income-generating asset and acquire great wealth.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki, Entrepreneur and Author Share on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn
Get Influencers on Board
Reach out to those who have already achieved success in your field, or in a related field. Have you created an app or product?
Send a free sample to someone who has a strong voice in your industry. Remember that they likely receive many requests to test products, so be patient and allow time for them to give you an honest opinion.
Also, remember that unlike brand advocates (usually happy customers, friends, and employees), influencers, or brand ambassadors are typically compensated for providing their opinion.
If you’re OK with that, an endorsement on social media or in a blog post, can go a long way to getting your startup the exposure it needs with the right audience.
Practice Your Pitch
Although you don’t want to waste time pitching your startup to everyone, you do want to use every appropriate opportunity to introduce it to those whose interests align with your company, no matter how big or small.
Even if a meeting doesn’t pan out, it still lets you perfect your pitch. The more you learn how to distill your message and brand story, the better chance you’ll have at landing your dream accounts.
Launch a Press Release
Press releases are oldies, but goodies. They still remain an effective means to spread the word about your startup. Caution should be exercised here, though. You don’t want to launch your press release until you have all your ducks in a row — including a clear picture of how your startup fills a need or solves a problem. After all, why launch something
Here are a few best practices to follow when you finally do launch your press release:
• Include an image, video, or other appropriate visual material
• Include at least one quote from someone within the company
• Ensure that a contact person is listed
• Add the press release to your online newsroom
• Share the release on social media
Become a Guest Blogger
During the creation and launch of your startup, you’ve amassed a lot of knowledge. Why not put it to good use as a guest blogger?
Don’t just show up and expect a blogger to take you on, however.
Pave the way by developing relationships ahead of time with key bloggers in your industry and ones your target audience is likely to care about.
Once you’re about to launch your product or service, offer to blog about a topic of interest to your and the blogger’s audience. It shouldn’t be self-serving but useful. If possible, include backlinks and references to your site.
Use Paid Social
Paid social, when done correctly, can be a great way to target the audience you’re looking for. Since you set the monthly budget, you can reassess how your campaigns are doing and periodically adjust.
Launch a Beta Version
Most people love a Beta version release. It lets them try out new products for free, while everyone else eventually gets charged for the perfected product.
The advantage to you is that in exchange for trying out your Beta product or service, you can request feedback in order to make tweaks before the official launch of your perfected product or service.
A satisfied Beta customer also may agree to provide a testimonial or participate in a case study.
Launching a startup is both exciting and a teeny bit terrifying. However, with a good plan in place for getting the most exposure, your B2B startup will be well on its way to success.
Marketing your business is an endless spiral of research adapt and research. There are always new ways to create new winning strategies that will continually improve your brand presence in your targeted market. Don't wait too long to get started with your marketing strategy.
Divine Tumenta is an entrepreneur and professional digital marketing expert based in Los Angeles. He has worked in digital marketing for more than 8 years. He is currently founder and CEO of backlinkfy.com and a go to consultant for startups and small businesses in the USA.