As a startup founder, you have plenty to occupy your mind. Included in your mental checklist of things that probably keep you up at night is marketing. How will you get enough corporate exposure and build brand equity without busting your bank account?
To be honest, you don’t have to overspend to gain traction and differentiate your company. At the same time, you do have to be thoughtful—not to mention shoestring-budget clever. In other words, don’t just think outside the box. Think so far away from the box that it might as well not exist.
Not sure how to get yourself out of status quo marketing mode? Try these Startup Marketing Tactics to break through the digital chatter and get seen by your target audiences.
1. Advertise in uncrowded social spaces.
You’ve probably already looked into advertising on Facebook. While it’s not a bad consideration, you’ll be neck-and-neck with competitors. Facebook has reached a level of maturity and saturation that makes it both popular and tougher to rely upon.
Here’s the good news: Facebook isn’t the only game in town. As mentioned by Aleric Heck, founder of AdOutreach, YouTube ads are the new clear, untouched “blue ocean” of online marketing. Many startups forget to advertise there, allowing you to tap into both the power of advertising on video as well as the advantage of ‘intent’ based targeting as you reach people who are actively looking for solutions to their problems on YouTube. And that’s where you can swoop in.
While you’re taking advantage of YouTube’s cheap ads and eager audience, be sure to consider other untapped social platforms. Tinkering on TikTok or puttering on Pinterest could net you some sales if you’re innovative and generate an executable plan.
2. Expand your network through thought leadership.
You’re one of the experts at your startup. Start sharing your know-how whenever you can, à la Neil Patel or Gary Vaynerchuk. Both gurus have set themselves apart by not holding back. Instead, they freely give out valuable information—and get tons of link love and visibility in return.
Most entrepreneurs think they need to be secretive about their expertise. They’re afraid that if they advertise the recipe to their grandmother’s secret sauce, all will be lost. That’s a lot of hogwash, though.
Rather than buttoning up your lip, start talking. A lot. Find opportunities to write articles for guest post sites. Generate posts for your website or LinkedIn account. Offer to be an engaging, tell-all speaker at a Zoom conference. The more you position yourself as a top dog, the less monkeying around you’ll need to do in terms of eliciting paid publicity. Startup marketing tactics like this can set you apart from competition.
3. Stop being camera shy.
Consumers like videos. So do B2B salespeople. A well-conceived “how to” video can explain the most complicated subject in a matter of minutes. And that’s a powerful way to win over prospects who have questions.
You don’t need to buy fancy camera equipment in order to start creating videos, either. A typical smartphone has everything you need to produce a video that you can upload immediately. Once it’s live, you can direct people to watch it.
Not sure what you should talk about? Ask your salespeople what kinds of questions they’re getting. Speak with your customer service representatives. They’ll give you the insider scoop on the subjects most important to warm and hot leads. Use what you find out to construct a lineup of irresistible video topics to tackle.
4. Make your email marketing content count.
You probably have built an email marketing list. You might even have an email content management system in place that automatically pushes out copy. However, you need to ask yourself: Is the copy really worthwhile?
Email marketing isn’t what it used to be. People are savvy and tend to ignore email unless, as Micheal Brenner of Marketing Insider Group points out, it’s personalized. Bingo. That’s your key to getting those wonderful, rich clicks.
Now’s a good time to scrub your email marketing campaigns. Revise headlines. Refresh the creative. Oh, and revamp the level of customization. The more relevant you can make your emails, the higher their conversions will be. This takes some work and time, but it’s well worth it, especially if you’re just starting out.
5. Ensure your team uses your product or service.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but many startups fail to supply their employees with their own products. That’s a shame, because your workers could become some of your biggest cheerleaders by touting what you do or sell. This is one of the easiest startup marketing tactics to implement.
For instance, let’s say you design websites. Offer a free website or web-based portfolio to each of your employees. Make those sites really, really good. You won’t even have to beg your team members to talk about the experience. Most of them will start speaking up right away.
At the same time, use what you sell yourself. Be bold and supportive. You don’t want to become obnoxious, but it’s okay to tout your business’s products or offerings. Too many corporate CEOs forget that they can also be their own customers! As a side benefit, having everyone on payroll as a client will help you find problems early. That way, you can rectify them before they land you a negative review.
Is it tough to get noticed when you’re the new kid on the block? Sometimes. But the new kid doesn’t have all the baggage, either. Make consumers or business clients curious to find out more about your startup. You can do it craftily, and without spending a whole year’s marketing budget in the first quarter.