Launching a new venture is tough.
Aside from your overactive mind and endless array of ideas, it’s the burning question which keeps you awake at night…
“How do I get ‘it’ out there?”
That depends entirely on what ‘it’ is. Each startup is different.
Fortunately, any business can be simplified down to the bare bones with this essential yet commonly forgotten WWWWH method:
What is your product or service?
Who is your target audience?
Where do they congregate?
How do they buy?
Why would they buy?
Suddenly, everything becomes much clearer.
Each one of your marketing campaigns should be deployed with these questions (and their answers) in mind. Otherwise, it’s a pointless mission.
Your startup needs nurturing. What better way to foster growth than to deploy tried and tested digital marketing tactics…
Whatever you do, never lose sight of those questions above.
Tactic #1: Create Epic, Thought-Leading Content
Unless you’re Seth Godin, it is nothing less than critical to produce innovative content which impresses and delights.
I’m not referring to a run-of-the-mill 500-word blog or news post. I’m talking 1,500 word industry insights, 3,500 word guides, whitepapers and ground-breaking discoveries which aid the industry reader in ways they could have never comprehended alone.
Your content must stand out in an overcrowded space – and be remembered. It’s as simple as that. For startups, even more so!
Nobody knows who you are right now – the only way to achieve recognition is to get noticed.
Great content is your stepping stone to getting found because Google is based on words. Crack Google and everything else will follow.
- Spend an adequate amount of time creating your epic content
- Spend more time distributing your content
- Spend even more time researching where to distribute your content
- Ensure your content is helpful to your audience in some way
- Include correctly sized, dazzling imagery within your content to make it easily sharable and attractive on social media
- Reach out to influential people who have written and shared similar subject matter
- Create throw-away posts consisting of 100 words
- Create a big block of rough content and believe it’s finished
- Promote yourself directly
- Expect everyone to share your material just because it’s been published on the internet
- Distastefully nag influential people to share your material
- Give up because it’s difficult
With the support of great website content, you have the ammunition to confidently approach respected thought leaders. This brings us nicely onto Tactic #2…
Tactic #2: Growth Hack Your Website Using Relationships
Growth hacking. It’s the coined term everyone’s talking about. I won’t be delving into its definition. You can find that here.
For your website to gain visitors, it needs visibility. To gain visibility, you need strong relationships to leverage.
A great growth hacking tactic (and one of the easiest) is to tastefully use any industry relations to your advantage.
The trick here is to always help others. Unquestionably.
Relationships in marketing work in exactly the same way as romantic relationships and should be treated as such. (Don’t send saucy pics though – that’s just weird.)
It’s the ‘you-scratch-my-back’ mentality which facilitates reciprocal favours, resulting in great outcomes that are mostly direct and occasionally serendipitous.
Either way, it’s all healthy promotion.
As an example;
I received a Twitter notification the other week from a brand called Wideo.
Now, I’d never heard of these guys before, yet they asked me a simple question…
I endeavour to respond to everything directed my way, whether that’s through email, phone or social media.
This is why:
I replied to Wideo out of simple courtesy – and it turns out they were looking for suitable content for their new video marketing blog post.
Less than a week later, I was featured in their ‘panel of experts’ alongside my Twitter response, a link to our website and my Twitter profile:
We now have a budding relationship – I’ve trialled their platform and shared it with the team at Midas Media for future use. So everyone here knows about them.
I’ve been speaking to Sofia (their lovely content specialist) about an interactive business time saving calculator designed for startups and small businesses. They are due to be featuring this in a blog post soon.
As we are so impressed with their content, we’ve invited Wideo to write for our website.
PLUS, their content is now frequently scheduled in my Buffer, shared with my audiences and always in mind.
All this excitement from an initial tweet, followed by a little courtesy and respect from both parties. It’s fair to say, what a winner.
So, how can you apply this tactic to your startup?
It is important to grow your personal brand as well as your company brand. They are two separate identities which contribute to the same objectives – exposure, recall and recognition.
- Begin your quest on social media – talk to influential people in your industry, take a genuine interest in their material and never directly promote your own. This is an instant turn off and will usually get you nowhere.
- Until your brand is established, use your own professional Twitter account to reach out to persons of interest. You are more likely to gain responses if there is a face in your profile image.
- Begin curating content and inspirational quotes from industry leaders. Create roundups and let the influencers know they’ve been featured on your website.
- Reach out to lesser-known / moderately popular influencers asking them for valuable input on your venture or content.
- Leverage any existing relationships – who do you know and who do they know? Somewhere in the pipeline there will be a hidden gem just waiting to be unearthed. Never discount anyone because serendipity is your friend!
Influential people are notoriously difficult to get hold of – but keep chipping away at building your audience and they will gradually become closer until they are within reach…
As your networking circle grows, your following grows – you’ll get noticed. Once that happens, influencers are much more accommodating and willing to talk. This is when the magic happens and they consider sharing your stuff.
It’s the way of the world, folks!
Don’t forget to reward your loyal website visitors
A great way to grow and preserve relationships with your audience is the deployment of an email marketing campaign.
Masses of valuable information can be gained from this process – you are free to ask direct questions to your visitors in a personal manner. (Although drip-feed emails should be automated, this doesn’t mean they should be written that way. Be personal. Always. Use firstname.lastname@example.org/uk to supplement the personal touch).
Nurture your email database by placing an attractive sign-up box on your website, somewhere it can’t be missed. But don’t just use the words ‘sign up’. Be creative, not rigid.
Those who subscribe are golden nuggets. These guys aren’t cold. They are luke-warm. They have just given you their details which means they not only trust you, but are willing to digest and possibly share your content.
Vast opportunities lie here. Don’t let them go to waste!
- Send emails regularly, but not too regular (depends on your industry and audience – B2C offerings can usually be delivered much more frequently)
- Don’t over-style your emails – sometimes plain text is best
- Nurture your recipients with actionable tips
- Keep emails short and snappy, but not throw-away
- Make sure they get opened by using cryptic or hard-hitting subjects lines
- Include links to your content to get it seen
- Don’t be afraid to link out to other helpful resources
Tactic #3: Drive Your Startup with Paid Amplification
Most things in life are not free – this is especially true for startup marketing.
To really gain traction fast, expect to pay for it.
Pay influencers to promote your material
This is definitely worth considering if you have budget to do so. However, sometimes money alone just doesn’t cut it…
An established presence will support your monetary offer, so don’t expect to go in cold with a backhander and succeed if you have no credible reputation.
Work on building your brand in parallel to any paid campaign; it’s a two-pronged attack.
There are numerous ways in which influencers can help spread your word:
- Social shares
- Promotion on their website (with nofollowed links, to keep Google happy)
Set up Google AdWords, Bing Ads and Remarketing on both platforms
The most instantaneous channel of paid marketing – pay-per-click is a force to be reckoned with, providing your accounts are set up diligently.
For startups, there is no quicker way to get your products or services out there and land sales.
No hard-earned reputation or integrity is required; a well-designed, trustworthy landing page will convince and convert those searching for your specific services.
A little note on why I included Bing PPC:
Yes, Google are the kings and hold around 90% market share, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. There is great opportunity within Bing due to less competition.
- Conduct keyword research to determine highly searched terms with low competition
- Appropriately and tightly structure your account into exact, phrase and broad match (to discover unusual terms people may be using to search)
- Incorporate negative keywords to define what search terms you don’t want your ads to appear for
- Use geo-targeting either at campaign level or within your keywords – this will allow greater control when you begin to see which locations result in more clicks and conversions
- Ensure your landing pages are consistent with your ads – never send visitors to your homepage. Big FAIL!
- Use direct call-to-actions and be explicit with your messaging
- Use remarketing to re-capture those who have left your website – consider who you are targeting and create ads which aid continuity in alignment with individual user journeys
Use native advertising on publisher sites and social media networks
Inject some spend into steering your content towards the forefront of audiences via hugely popular websites.
Native advertising is the strategic placement of ads which are contextually aligned with articles digested by readers at any given time.
It usually works on a bidding system, similar to AdWords. The stronger your bid, the more impressions and real-estate you gain (dependant on the publisher).
Reputable websites such as The Telegraph, Yahoo, The Independent and MSN are all publishers of native ads.
Social-native advertising works to the same concept – but instead, on networking websites like Facebook and Twitter.
These platforms are extremely powerful for promoting material to extremely targeted audiences. You are in full control over your campaigns to the degree of audience age, location and their interests, amongst many more granular options.
You are even able to upload audience ‘lookalike’ lists whereby your ads will be served to similar people who may be interested in your content.
Social advertising is unquestionably a powerful way to rapidly gain an adequate social following and shares/likes of your posts.
Don’t forget static banners!
Sometimes, traditional approaches work wonders.
Don’t discount banner ads – there are many websites which still sell advertising space. Find those relevant to your industry and enquire.
There are usually monthly charges or optionally, pay-per-impression/pay-per-click alternatives.
To get your name out there, it’s definitely worth a shot!
Do ensure all paid links are nofollowed – you won’t have any hope of ranking on Google if you get caught buying followed links.
So, there we have it. Three lucrative, underpinning digital tactics to give your startup business a boost.
I wish you all the best in marketing your startup online – I’d love to hear your input too!