Entrepreneurs who are launching a business always underestimate how hard sales and marketing are. If you want to avoid bankruptcy, you better figure out marketing, and you better figure out sales. Here are 10 marketing tips for your startup.
Sales and marketing are easy when you have the budget, but when you’re in a startup, when cash is tight, or when sales are struggling, you literally need money to make money. How do you make this work? So I put together 10 marketing tips for startups that will help you hit the next level and ultimately save your business.
Tip #1: Create instructional videos.
Put yourself in a position of credibility and help the very people that you can help if you have personality, if you know what you’re talking about, and if you’re willing to go out there. You can shoot it on your phone. You literally can create instructional videos by doing screen desktops or by going out there on your phone and filming what it is you do. If you’re into trade, if you’re into a service-based business, if you’re into SAS software, no matter the industry you’re in, people are hungry for answers, and you are in a position to enlighten them. So create instructional videos.
Tip #2: Apply content marketing.
This is the next step. Content marketing is about creating podcasts, writing blog posts, and answering questions. You can be one of the voices (that is, you are one of the leaders, and you go ahead and put out content), or you can just let everyone else do it while you slowly fade into the background and out of existence. If you’re visual, go onto Instagram and take those photos. If you love to interview people, create a podcast. If you’re really good with videos, go ahead and make some videos. Content marketing not only helps with search, ranking, links, and all those kinds of technical stuff. It puts you in a position of power. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money if you stay with the things that you are naturally good at.
Tip #3: Go deep into a community.
You have expertise. You know what you’re talking about. Look at other online communities because people are coming together around topics. You’re not going to go in there and start selling and talking about how great your product or service is. You’re going to go in there to talk. You’re going to chat. You’re going to share your points of view and your thoughts. You’re going to answer questions. This is literally an online cocktail party. So go find the community that you can be a part of. Jump online and see what’s going on. Start connecting and having conversations. Go deep into the community. Be present, and be active.
Tip #4: Share what’s trending.
Perhaps you’re sitting in your office, or you’re at home, or you’re slaving away and working, and meanwhile, the world out there is happening and everybody’s having conversations and talking. Why aren’t you a part of it? If a new study comes out within your industry, read it, study, and take your point of view out to the market. If you find out a new data point from within your business, why aren’t you sharing it?
I have a client whose main job is to collect data for other clients and push things through AI. Do you know how much learning and how much information and insight and data they actually are sitting on if they just took the time to share it? Share your point of view on what’s trending and on what’s happening. Share what people are talking about on the data, the insight, and the things that you are sitting on.
Tip #5: Focus on emails.
Email marketing is still a highly profitable activity. Sure, when you’re starting, you’re going to say, “I have no list.” Well, focus on list building. Have everyone that you have a conversation with enter into your email list. Focus on email marketing because it’s a really cost-effective way to build a community and to give a ton of valuable content marketing. If you are podcasting and interviewing people, transcribe it and put it into an email. If you’re doing blog posts, it can go in there. But even if you’re spinning out other things that are trending, you don’t have to create all the content. Email is still a great way to build a community and connect with people.
Tip #6: Look for advertising partners.
This is something that big companies do all the time. If there’s anyone within your industry where you can work together, then reach out to them and ask them if they can do a co-op campaign. Maybe you can go 50/50 into the budget. But chances are, if you do all of the thinking, all of the strategy, all of the work, and all of the implementations, there are a lot of huge organizations or partner organizations who will actually just pay for it. You were using someone else’s budget because you’re willing to do all of the work. I’ve seen this with service-based businesses. I’ve seen this with technology. I’ve seen this with SAS solutions. So look for the opportunity in your network to create co-op relationships where you do all of the work and may pay for your advertising.
Tip #7: Encourage word of mouth.
Delight the hell out of your current customers. If you have three clients, then do everything you can to delight the hell out of them because those three clients will turn to more clients. But more than that, take active steps to build stronger connections. So give gifts to your clients. If you’re in e-commerce, write handwritten notes and drop them into the shipping package. Send thank-you cards or gifts to people if they give you a referral. Ask people out for coffee and for lunches. There are many ways to make connections with people.
If someone is having a great time with you, ask for a referral. Be specific with whom you’re looking for. You can say, “I am looking for people like this. Do you know anyone?” or “I’m looking for people in this role or people who have this problem.” Be specific with what you’re asking for.
Tip #8: Host an event.
Whether you have an office or not, open up your doors. Find a space and host that event. It can be meetups, grabbing drinks, or bringing in a speaker who’s going to be able to educate people. There are so many opportunities to invite people out for a really great time. Build connections. Be the area where others come in for networking opportunities. Be the glue that is keeping everyone together.
This does a bunch of things for you: It elevates you. It gives you a chance to have stronger conversations. It opens up your door so that people see how you work. It builds a sense of community among your clients or your shoppers. For God’s sake, don’t make it about your specific product! Make it about all the things along the edges. If you sell cameras, maybe it has to do with how to plan a trip for photographers. Think of a lens swap. Bring everyone in. They all have these different lenses, and people are willing to swap up old stuff for new stuff that they actually need. There are so many things you can do. Open up your doors. Have an event. Bring everyone in.
Tip #9: Go to events.
Don’t focus only on networking. You can sponsor these events for next to no money. If you’re willing to barter something, you can be the guest speaker at other events because you’re the thought leader and you’re the expert. You can be on the panel. You can sponsor the event. It will give you exposure. It’ll help you meet more people. It’ll give you credibility.
Tip #10: While you’re at that event, give stuff away.
You can be the person who runs a little contest. You can do this even with three products to give away. Yes, there are some costs tied to it, but it gives you a chance to connect your product with people. When you’re in a start-up, you need sales. You need revenue. You have to do marketing. I know you don’t have a lot of money to spend, so if you implement any one of these 10 tips, you will not only find out what works for you, but you will get feedback. You will get insights. You will get data, and your sales will grow.