Which marketing strategies work well for expanding a startup? With countless companies competing for attention, it’s not enough to have a great product. You need to find a variety of effective ways to promote it.
Even without a large marketing budget, you can develop powerful marketing strategies and launch successful campaigns. Along with performing research on your competitors and your industry's trends, the following are several key ways to promote your amazing startup along with a customizable template you can use to promote your startup.
Join a Startup Directory
Getting your startup on various directories is one way to increase its visibility. The best directories for startups receive a high volume of web traffic each month, including visits from investors, journalists, entrepreneurs, and potential clients or customers.
Some sites, such as My Startup Tool and Crunchbase, allow you to create a company profile for free. Additional services, however, may be part of a premium plan.
You should also look into getting featured on industry-specific sites. For example, Hacker News may not be formally thought of as a startup directory, but a front-page post on the site often mentions tech startups, new products, and interesting websites.
Give Your Startup a Powerful and Attractive Website
Your company’s website is an integral part of its online presence. When designed well, it becomes a key way to attract customers and convince them that what you offer can be found nowhere else.
Posting Unique and Authoritative Content
Every bit of content you post on your startup’s website plays a role in persuading site visitors to become clients or customers. Text, photos, videos, and infographics can all be used to your advantage, convincing people that there's no other company like yours and that you’re trustworthy and authoritative. Your content also communicates your startup’s personality.
Although it isn’t a requirement, you may want to create a blog for your site and post regularly to it. Each blog post is another opportunity to draw web traffic to your site and display your expertise, creativity, and usefulness to customers. With your blog, you may also gain an edge over competitors without blogs.
Adopting the Best Practices of Search Engine Optimization
No content marketing strategy is complete without good SEO practices. To drive more organic web searches to your site, there are many things you can do, such as:
- Reducing the amount of time it takes for pages to load.
- Organizing your site properly. This includes adopting a hierarchical structure with landing pages and using internal links.
- Keeping your site's content updated. A blog that you post to consistently helps.
- Judiciously using keywords in the site's title, headings, and content.
- When applicable, optimizing the site for local SEO, helping it perform well in searches connected to your geographic area.
Along with relying on SEO, consider paying for search ads. A paid search ad buys you an ad that features your company more prominently in search results.
Paid searches should never replace SEO, but they may be used as a supplement to it.
Showing Site Visitors What to Do
To convert website visitors into customers, prompt them on what to do after they arrive at your site. The possibilities for your call to action include:
- Reminding them to follow you on social media.
- Encouraging them to provide their email address. In return, they can enjoy various perks, such as access to an e-book, tutorial videos, an online course, or a limited-time discount. Email is also a way for them to receive updates for your newsletter or blog.
- Inviting them to contact you for a free quote or other services. If they provide their contact information, you'll expand your indispensable list of email addresses, helping you launch more effective email marketing campaigns.
Make Your Startup a Powerhouse on Social Media
Billions of people around the world use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms for a range of purposes, including the discovery of new products. They pay attention to recommendations from family, friends, and influencers. Also, assuming you provide them with great content and value, they'll promote your startup.
The following are a few key ways to succeed in social media marketing:
Even if you set up a profile on every social media site, you won't be directing an equal amount of effort to all of them. When choosing where to focus your energy, consider the following:
- Your target customers’ demographics and patterns of site usage, such as when they’re likely to be browsing Instagram or what kind of content they’re most likely to retweet.
- Your industry and the type of product you sell. For example, LinkedIn can be a great platform for business-to-business companies.
- The best kinds of content for promoting your startup. If you’re planning to make videos, for example, what length will they be, and what tone will they have? Are you aiming for quick and humorous clips, or do you plan to draw people in with documentary-style videos or detailed how-to demonstrations?
It's also important to consider sites that aren't typically thought of as social media but that still serve a social networking function. For example, software developers frequently connect with each other on GitHub and discuss new products and services. If you run a tech startup, GitHub may become part of your marketing strategy. Another example is Stack Overflow, which is hugely popular with developers, data scientists, and tech entrepreneurs. You may be able to form connections on these sites that help your startup succeed.
You may also consider developing your own online forum, such as a community for executives, artists, researchers, or other professionals in your industry. With the right tools, you can carve out a space online that positions your company as an invaluable resource.
Delivering Content Consistently
On any given platform, success depends in part on consistent posting. Whether it’s a daily Twitter post, a semiweekly Facebook post, or a weekly YouTube video, you need to stay active on these sites. However, it’s important not to deluge your followers with posts or sacrifice quality for quantity.
Interacting With Site Users and Inspiring User-Generated Content
Social media gives startups plenty of opportunities to interact with current and potential customers. For example, an education startup may ask people about their favorite subjects, preferred ways of learning, and other topics of interest.
One popular strategy is to periodically set up a poll and give people a chance to help guide some of your decisions, such as topics they want you to write about. Your followers become more invested in the outcome of your company, and they get the message that you care about their opinions and preferences.
From the get-go, brand new startups also want to prompt user-generated content on social media. Examples include:
- Encouraging people to show how they use your product. Depending on what it is, they may be wearing it, creating something with it, or using it to improve their lives.
- Sponsoring contests, challenges, and raffles that require social media submissions with hashtags for your company.
- On your social media feed, signal boosting people’s rave reviews and testimonials; doing this will inspire more positive word-of-mouth content.
- Hosting offline events that are worthy of selfies. Some startups promote themselves with interactive art installations, fun pop-up events, and other creative offline activities. Visitors take photos of themselves at the event and post about it on social media.
- Starting interesting discussions. For example, Reddit has a number of communities covering a range of interests. In a popular subreddit for startups, you may want to go beyond listing your company. Maybe you can start a meaningful conversation or share useful responses in an ongoing discussion.
Connecting With Influencers
The best influencers for your brand aren’t necessarily the ones who have the largest follower count, especially if you appeal most strongly to a niche market. Reach out to people who are reputable, who produce high-quality content, and who have relevance to your brand.
You should also ensure that their online presence is meaningful. Some people who appear to be influencers purchase followers, or they don’t interact with their followers in ways that would lead to more sales for your startup.
Don’t Neglect Offline Marketing
Because of how crucial it is to succeed in digital marketing, startups sometimes don’t take full advantage of offline opportunities, such as:
- Participating in networking events with leaders in your industry and with other startup founders and entrepreneurs.
- Attending or organizing conferences, lectures, or hackathons.
- Giving talks in forums like TED or TEDx.
- Setting up pop-up stores.
- Participating in community events, including nonprofit activities. For example, you may want to work with a nonprofit that promotes science education or another cause that’s important to you and your industry.
- Throwing a party, setting up an outdoor exhibit, and organizing other pop-up events that draw crowds. These uncommon marketing strategies can be memorable and feel fresh and exciting.
- Landing interviews in well-respected publications and publishing your own articles in newspapers, magazines, trade journals, and major blogs. Depending on your product and target customer, you may also want to arrange for interviews on podcasts, radio, and TV.
- Distributing flyers, stickers, and coupons at events and through the mail.
Ultimately, much of what you do offline will appear online as well. For example, a video of a TEDx talk may go viral; as a popular platform, TEDx is a great YouTube channel for startups. Offline events will also receive online promotion, and event participants may continue to share images and comments on various platforms.
Use Meaningful Growth Metrics
To push your startup to success, you need meaningful ways to measure if your promotional efforts are achieving the desired results. To impress potential investors or major corporate partners, you need to prove that you’re enjoying growth and customer or user traction. What kinds of data do you need?
It’s not enough to measure the number of website visits, YouTube views, or Twitter followers you’ve amassed. These metrics don't matter unless you can also show how they’re contributing to your success, which includes:
- Your sales volume and profits.
- Lead generation and customer conversion.
- Customer value over time, such as the number of times a customer returns to you for additional purchases.
- The value of deals you've closed and lucrative partnerships you've formed with other businesses or with investors.
- A return on investment for a particular marketing strategy, evaluating the amount of money you poured into it and how much value it gave your company.
If a specific strategy isn't working well for you, the reason may be ineffective implementation. Another possibility is that it isn't currently a good fit for your startup. Maybe it will work better when your company is larger or more established.
Don't be discouraged if you aren't enjoying immediate success. Even the biggest startups have had their share of setbacks or campaigns that fizzled. With persistence, creativity, and the advantageous use of multiple platforms, you'll be able to differentiate your startup from competitors and experience significant growth.