While investment in European startups has grown tremendously in recent years, the reality is that most startups start out bootstrapping their way to growth. With ever more competition and limited funds, CEOs and founders of new and exciting companies need to get more creative than ever. Most VCs, especially in Silicon Valley have stated that they invest more in the team than in the idea itself. Aside from a strong team, marketing is one of your most powerful tools to get your startup up and running. Good marketing can give your imagination a workout, and give you the opportunity to truly share your vision, mission, and goals with the outside world.
Don’t rely on the banner ads and Google reviews to get where you want to be. Instead let’s take a look at 10 innovative and fun marketing tips for a startup:
1. Know your user very well. It is useless to create strategies, actions, hire AdWords campaigns or use Twitter if you do not know exactly who will use your product. Although this seems simple to do, it is very common that startups change their target audience while validating the business model. Evaluate deeper than figuring out who they are – look into their interests, their day to day routines, their pains and gains, etc. The more information the better. A common pitfall is to believe that everyone is a target – and if you try to appeal to everyone, you will fail to create any connections with your real potential customers.
2. Sit with your team and involve them in the marketing plan. Working as a team is what makes a product meaningful, avoids misunderstandings, saves time and money, and aligns expectations. The magic always tends to happen when everyone is sitting at one table – when each individual is able to blast out ideas that can make a startup grow quicker. These angles and solutions are much more diverse and interesting than just sticking to the “basics”.
3. Use social media and ensure quality content. Ignoring social media shouldn’t even be an option anymore. Some businesses have been built solely on the back of social media. At first it almost seems impossible to grow a following, but as you grow momentum, you’ll notice it gets easier. Hiring a trustworthy social media manager should definitely be a part of the bigger picture, but until you have that money to spend, be authentic, consistent, speak to your target audience and make them aware that your product is solving one of the biggest pains they have. Make sure to steadily improve your Google rankings by using hyper-targeted keywords and help people discover your content and power your social media-based audience aquisition.
4. Attend events. Though we do live in a digital age, networking events serve a very important purpose in the business world. Make sure to identify events in your startup’s industry, in order to avoid not getting to know anyone who is of interest to you. Take time to introduce yourself, and your product. It is definitely the best way to grow a network of potential customers by speaking to them face-to-face. Not only attending, but also co-sponsoring events within your niche is a great way to give you and your company a good name.
5. Market Yourself. As a founder or an owner of a startup, you are the public face (or one of the faces) of your company. Make sure to always appear professional and to present yourself well. Say the right things, be transparent, open and honest, yet avoid certain topics (especially on social media) to avoid conflict. If you turn yourself into a trusted and professionally-looked at founder, it will have a great effect on the business.
6. Don’t just sell, engage! Of course, you want to make as many sales as possible, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with really giving your customers a brand that they also feel a part of. Nothing is greater than returning users who also recommend your product to their environment. Ask for opinions, feedback, offer test versions, build trust by showing that you are interested in what they have to say. Next time somebody looks at your product, they will remember what good experiences they have gathered.
7. Develop a narrative that differentiates your company from others. Answering a simple question such as “What do you do for a living?” with “I am an entrepreneur” is mostly frowned upon. Start out by showcasing your idea or product as something great that could pretty much change the world. Find causes that your startup could support, and make sure to mention them! Have a great story about how you founded your company during a tough time in your life? Inspire those around you.
8. Follow up. Customers have never been more interested to provide feedback on a product. Make sure to go above and beyond to do anything in your power that the feedback is positive, but if not, hopefully you will learn some valuable lessons.
9. Measure the results and use them to grow. To see if your strategies and actions are working, you have to! In order to do so, use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) as a measuring tool. Some of the basic KPIs are: conversion rates, bounce rates, the duration of one visit on the website, CAC, the number of RT, number of likes, and so on. Google Analytics or Search Console are smart and efficient helpers to analyse your KPIs.
10. Study your competition and if they are doing better, copy them. This doesn’t mean you should let all your values and your identity go, but while investigating your competition’s marketing and communication, try to see if their successful points could help your startup as well. And by learning from their mistakes, you will save your own startup quite a few hardships. Sometimes you don’t need to innovate, because you found something that has worked for many. Again, don’t forget to measure your results.
Your modest marketing budget does not have to stop you from showcasing you startup. In order to grow, leveraging connections, special events, engaging your customers and showing your skills can give your startup a great starting point to get known.