Are you a new startup? It’s not an easy job. Every startup wants to become a sensation from nowhere. There is nothing like “overnight” success in today’s business world - Let’s face this truth.
Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, put it best: "What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed."
You have your business name, a beautiful website, and awesome products. Now what? Never follow the theory “build it and they will come” - your startup needs demanding work and your full dedication. You must market your brand. Without marketing, people won’t know your startup exists.
I hear you ask, “I don’t have a big budget; how can I then promote my startup?”
Don’t rely on traditional and old marketing strategies which need a significant amount of money. Here are five proven ways to market your startup online without a big budget.
1. Network with industry influencers
Professional networking (both online and in-person) can be the most fruitful strategy for startups. And the best part? Networking is free.
Building a meaningful business relationship with your industry influencers is the best thing you can do for your brand or startup. Social media, blogs, and email make it easy for you.
Go out and start engaging with influencers. Make a list of your industry’s influencers, follow their social profiles, read and share their content, show passion for their project, send an email and show your gratitude to them, start a conversation and make them notice you. But remember, don’t sound like a stalker.
Buzzsumo is a beneficial tool to find influencers in your industry. Just type your keyword into the search box. Let’s say you’re offering food nutrition; you might search for “food nutrition” within the tool.
2. Quality email list can help you a lot
Building a quality email template can be the most important tactic for any business. If you don’t have a list of subscribers yet - you’re leaving a significant opportunity on the table. You should start building a list from today.
You should build a list of people who are genuinely interested in your content and products. How can you make a list of potential subscribers? Your website visitor’s email address is like gold. If you want their content information, you must provide them something valuable.
Here are some ways:
- Offer an eBook, case study, whitepaper, or tutorial.
- Host an online seminar or event on a relevant topic which asks email address to reserve the spot.
- Offer a special discount or coupon code to new subscribers.
- Run a contest which asks email address to take part in it and offer an irresistible incentive.
See how Birchbox is offering a special discount to new subscribers:
3. Create informational and engaging content regularly
A startup should not ignore the power of content marketing. Repeat it after me. Creating informational content (and promoting it) can help you to improve your visibility, build your reputation, and increase your brand awareness. Your content should connect with your audience and encourage them to engage.
Always look for the exciting and creative content ideas in your niche. Content is not just your blog posts. You must also start designing the visual content like infographics, videos, presentations, etc. Content comes in some other forms like podcasts, webinars, guides, magazines, email newsletters, quizzes, etc.
Avinash Kaushik put it best: “Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.”
Buzzfeed is a fantastic source to find the interactive content ideas. Don’t shy away from creating creative quizzes as you can find on Buzzfeed.
4. Use the Power of Social Media
We live in the social media era. Social media channels are no longer just for upload photos and chatting with friends. Social media has become a powerful marketing tool for businesses. Social media can help your startup to become a brand. It allows to communicate with your audience and build a strong and loyal community.
If you want social media to deliver excellent results for you, you must generate interactive and user-centric content consistently.
Here are some quick ways to help you:
- Choose the best social media channels for your presence.
- Share content regularly and engage with your audience.
- Run social media campaigns (they don’t ask for much money).
- Run social media contests.
Look at ModCloth Facebook page; you can see they share content every day and make a conversation with their audience.
5. Amazing Customer Experience
“Customer service is the new marketing” - Derek Sivers
Customer service is vital for every business, no matter if you’re a startup or an established brand. Your satisfied customers are the best promoters of your company. And the best part? It’s free. Understanding your customers and providing them relevant solutions will make you stand out from the crowd. Wondering why you should give a great customer experience? See this chart below:
The only advice I can give for a startup is: Always be there when they need you.