Seven effective ways to market yourself as a startup business
Starting up a new business from scratch can be exciting and rewarding in equal measures. In addition to the limitless possibilities it presents, a new venture is an opportunity to create something just for you.
Even if you have a brilliant idea for your company and you are great at what you do, think carefully about what you are going to do to market your startup in an effective way to ensure you stand out in a competitive industry.
Getting your marketing right early on can be the difference between success and failure, so it really is worth understanding the areas you should focus on.
Here we take a look at seven key ways that startup businesses can market themselves.
1) Attract custom by advertising your business to the right audience
There can be no doubt that advertising plays a crucial role in your marketing efforts. Having a clear plan at the beginning is a fundamental step to starting your new business. One of the first things that all small businesses need to do is pick up custom to get the cash flow moving.
For startups, advertising does more than just help you attract customers and sell products though – it is a vital tool to get your company noticed in your target marketplace. And, the prime issue here revolves around developing customer trust.
One of the key issues holding back a startup is the fact that customers do not yet recognise their brand or market niche. A lack of visibility can have a negative impact on sales early on because 71% of customers are more likely to buy from a brand that they recognise.
Some interesting research conducted by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science revealed that when a brand stops advertising, it is smaller brands that will suffer greater declines in sales than larger brands.
2) Broaden your marketing reach from the outset
You should implement an effective marketing strategy as soon as you launch a new business. Your marketing strategy and PR campaign will be devised and designed to suit a range of both digital platforms and traditional print formats.
Otherwise known as a ‘multi-channel strategy, your adverts and promotional material ought to be created to appear online, on mobile or TV channels, via radio ads or Youtube videos, social media and as posted mail-order brochures.
The list is endless, but in essence, a multi-layered marketing campaign remains the same, to broaden your brand’s reach and give you the best opportunity to target as many customers as possible via a number of different avenues. In turn, the new custom will lead to meaningful conversions and profits, and your startup is set to all systems go.
3) Build trust with authentic and secure platforms
One main way to build trust in your brand and therefore in the products or services your startup is offering is to develop some authenticity. This trust needs to be transparent and be visible across all your channels of communication and customer engagement.
Potential customers are far more likely to trust and connect with a brand that they feel is genuine and real. If you are asking a customer to part with money online (and provide their personal details on your eCommerce platform), trusting in you becomes even more paramount.
Add to this the growing threat of more sophisticated cyber attacks and new threats proving increasingly difficult to detect and contain, building trust in your startup is even more vital. Meanwhile, the potential financial and reputational damage a cyber attack could cause a startup, could spell doom before you’ve even got your business off the ground.
4) Focus on acquiring new customers, not keeping existing ones
It is often wondered whether businesses should focus their marketing efforts on acquiring new customers or retaining existing ones. One factor that has been considered important in recent years is the apparently high cost of getting new customers. An often-quoted statistic is that acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
However, it has also been well-known for many years that startups naturally lose more of their customer base than bigger brands. This is a consequence of the market place and is seen across all industries and sectors. That’s why if your new business loses previously loyal customers, it is important to remember that this can simply be a natural consequence of the size of your company and position in the marketplace.
What it also means is that it is more important for fledgling firms to focus on acquiring new customers rather than on customer retention. Rates of retention are likely to be low, so ensure a stream of new customers is the only way the business is going to grow, at least in the early stages of the company.
5) Promote brand recognition and boost sales
We have already talked a little bit on how boosting brand recognition is a hugely important part of marketing campaigns for startups and small business growth. It is vital to think about how your start-up can create brand awareness.
One of the best ways to do this is through providing eye-catching visuals, creative videos and winning tag-lines that identifies your brand and makes a memorable mark on a customer. Memorable visuals, logos, blogs and repeated straplines are vital for getting your brand (products, message, voice and values) in front of new customers and advertising within new markets with minimal investment.
This is because targeted impactful brand messages actively encourage customers to grow an affiliation with your brand, develop trust (and recognition), and – ultimately – help boost sales and awareness.
This is effective because it gets a business’ branded products in front of consumers. The human mind responds positively to repetition and recognition of something that we have seen before. So, simply becoming used to the branding of a company, even if we don’t hold a particular understanding of whether it provides quality services or products, can make us trust the brand more.
6) Focus on branding, not product
When many businesses start out it feels natural for them to focus on the specifics of their product or service. This is because of an underlying assumption that customers make decisions about whether to buy a product or service based on their quality and selling points. However, this is not necessarily true for most consumers.
There are multiple famous examples of big product battles that were won not by quality but by the perception of the brand. For example, in the 1980s VHS became dominant over Betamax, despite Betamax having superior technical specifications. Similarly, the ubiquitous market leader in ketchup, Heinz, consistently finishes last in blind taste tests, even against products vastly cheaper.
This shows that how a brand is perceived has a much larger effect than the actual quality of the product itself.
7) Content experience is more important than content marketing
There has been a great deal of focus put on the importance of content marketing in recent years. The adage ‘content is king’ has never been more relevant, it would appear. But sometimes content marketing is focused on, when what is most important for a growing business is content experience.
Content experience refers to the environment that your customers experience your content in. Content has to do more than keep a customer’s attention and interest them – it needs to focus on pushing them towards a goal.
This goal might be something final like making a sale – or it might simply be moving them to another piece of useful content that you have created. In this way, your content is providing a next step and giving the potential customer something to do, rather than simply providing them with the information they were looking for.
A good example would be music streaming giant Spotify which has been able to gain competitive advantage over its rivals via its use of personalised content and user-unique playlists. The content that Spotify provides stayed the same, but the user’s experience of its content
Marketing is both an art and a science. Not everything that works for one start-up will work for another. But the only way to truly understand the success of your marketing work is to carefully measure the effectiveness of campaigns. These can then be tweaked in terms of what is genuinely effective for your company.