So you’re an entrepreneur. You’ve put in a lot of late nights, early mornings, and a healthy dose of blood, sweat, and tears, but it finally happened– the company you dreamed up in your head now exists out in the business world! First of all, congrats. It’s a difficult process, and we’re glad you made it this far. But, fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective, the challenges of owning a business are only just beginning. How will you meet the changing needs of your growing business? How will you provide the technical support your company needs to thrive? How– and this is the question we’re tackling here– can you make sure people find out about your business and never forget it?
Getting started with marketing can be intimidating. After all, there are plenty of other companies out there doing the same thing you are– trying to get their brand in front of customers. So how do you give yourself a competitive edge? Simple:
- Do your research
- Don’t be afraid to make new friends
- Never underestimate the power of a good blog
- Take advantage of all of the tools at your disposal
Before you can create a marketing strategy for your startup that really blows the competition out of the water, you have to know what you’re up against.
1. Know your competition.
No matter what your business is, there’s probably another company out there that’s targeting the same audience. If you open up a phone book– or search through Google Business Listings– you’ll find dozens of car washes, pet groomers, grocery stores, high-end clothing boutiques, fitness studios, and in all likelihood, dozens of businesses similar to your own as well. So what are you going to do?
Research, research, research!
See how your competition is marketing itself. Some things you might want to think about as you’re perusing their websites and other advertising materials:
- How are they marketing themselves?
- What’s working?
- What isn’t working?
- What message are they trying to communicate to customers?
- How effectively is that message coming through?
- If this was your company, how would you make the message clearer, more interesting, and all around better?
Your business is unique, and you want to communicate that by producing marketing materials that stand out from the competition in ways that make sense. Figure out what the marketing trends are within your industry, and then figure out how you can break the mold to really catch your audience’s attention and show them the things that make your business stand out.
Effective marketing starts locally– here’s how to get your startup’s name out in your community.
2. Get your name out in the community.
When you move into a new space– a new house, a new apartment– one of the first things you do after all the furniture is put together and dishes are tucked in their cupboards is get out there and introduce yourself to your neighbors. Whether you host a little get-together or simply stop to say hello in the laundry room or on the sidewalk, you make an effort to get to know the people around you.
The same principle applies when you start a new company. If you want people in the community where you’ve set up camp to know and love your business as much as you do, get out there and introduce yourself! Here are a few ways your marketing team can make a splash in your community:
- Host an event. Particularly in the summer months, people spend a lot of time enjoying the sunshine at free outdoor events in their communities. Can you set up a booth at a local art show or block party? They are generally an excellent way to get to know your local customers.
- Get creative with publicity stunts. We’ve all seen people standing at busy intersections dressed up as mascots or twirling signs. You may feel a bit blasé about this kind of old school, boots on the ground marketing– it’s been way overdone, right? Maybe. But there are plenty of ways to update traditional marketing techniques, so get creative!
- Good ‘ol fashioned flyers. There’s a reason that flyers remain a staple in many marketing strategies even in the digital age– they’re an easy and inexpensive way to get your name out locally.
Content marketing is a big part of online marketing today. How can your company leverage the power of blogs to stand out from the competition?
3. Meet content marketing, your marketing not-so-secret weapon.
These days it seems like every company out there– from tiny toothbrush companies to giants in the finance community and everyone in between– has a blog on their website. But why?
Regularly posting content to your company’s website is a type of content marketing, which is a kind of marketing that involves generating, publishing, and promoting high-quality online content to help draw attention to your business. Blogs are key to content marketing because they give you a platform to share the content you produce.
Now, that’s all great, but if you don’t yet have the resources for a dedicated content marketing team what can you do? Find some bloggers who write about what you do and reach out– you’d be surprised how many people would be willing to write content about your business or link to it in one of their posts for a small fee. This strategy is a great way for many startups to get their foot in the content marketing door.
Owning a business can be complicated, but your marketing strategy doesn’t have to be. Take a step back and streamline your startup’s marketing strategy with these amazing tools.
4. Take advantage of marketing tools that simplify the process.
Running a startup is a lot like riding a bike– there are a lot of moving parts you need to master before it starts to go smoothly, but once you do, it’s pretty easy. Luckily, when it comes to marketing your startup there are plenty of awesome tools out there to streamline your marketing strategy. Here are a few of our favorites.
Gmass for Gmail
Today, email is the bread and butter of most successful marketing strategies because it allows you to reach the broadest possible audience. Social media tends to hit a younger demographic, and print ads tend to hit an older one, but email marketing can reach pretty much everyone. So how do you streamline your email marketing to make it as efficient and effective as possible?
Gmass is an awesome tool for startups because provides a powerful mail merge tool using an email platform you probably already use for personal accounts. It allows you to create mailing lists using Excel or Google sheets in seconds, and taking advantage of Gmass gives you some other great perks as well:
- Message personalization
- Email scheduling
- Click tracking
- Test mode
- Analytic reports
- Reply management
- Breaking gmail’s send limits
Content marketing is important. We already covered that much. But if you decide to take the leap and invest in producing high-quality articles, how can you make sure your audience actually clicks on them? The key to getting people to read your content is as simple as writing an interesting title.
Luckily, Portent provides a free tool that will help you generate exciting content ideas. All you have to do is type in what you’re planning to write about, and boom! Portent gives you a title that is sure to grab your audience’s attention.
Social media is becoming a bigger and bigger part of many marketing campaigns, but getting started with social media marketing can be tough. How can you manage posts across platforms? How do you even know which social media platforms reach your audience?
Buffer is a powerful social media marketing tool that lets you organize your social media posts and analyze how they’re doing. This helps you focus your energy on the social media marketing that gives your business the greatest return on investment, which is always a good thing.
Help a Reporter
There’s no better way to drum up some publicity for your business than being quoted by a reputable news source. So how do you get your name out in the media?
Media outlets from major news publications like The New York Times to popular content produces like Refinery 29 take advantage of the tool Help a Reporter. By registering as a source, you can get quoted in major magazines, newspapers, and online articles, giving your business a serious publicity boost.
Successful marketing campaigns are able to carry their company’s brand through a variety of beautifully designed visuals. Canva is an intuitive and easy to use graphic design tool that gives you a huge library of fonts, illustrations, and project templates to play with.
The best part? Unlike expensive vector design software, Canva is totally free, making it easy to fit into a startup’s tight budget.
Taking advantage of these tips and tools will help your startup develop a brilliant marketing strategy that gives you a competitive edge.
And that’s it! Giving your startup a boost with brilliant marketing doesn’t have to be difficult. Just try out some of these tricks and tools, and your business is sure to stand out from the pack. Good luck, and happy marketing!