Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an online time clock app that helps over 7,000 businesses all around the world track their employee time. He has over 20 years of experience designing and developing web-based business apps. Dean views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many peoples lives are touched and changed for the good.
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Here, we will talk about five actionable, real world ideas you can use to kickstart your startup’s marketing campaign. Implementing the following steps is rather easy; while the hard part is the follow through. However, if you are persistent, you will see results quickly.
Branding your business
Branding is the first and most important place to start when marketing your startup. Creating your brand is not as simple as putting your company name on business cards. It involves a well-articulated plan that focuses on getting customers to remember and use your name when talking about your product or service.
Start by defining why you do what you do, and then think about how you do it. Your brand should reflect one or preferably both of these elements. If the brand does not reflect both the why and how, you can always add the missing element to your mission or other marketing pieces.
For instance our brand, OnTheClock, implies that it has something to do with employees working and using a time clock. In this case, the brand reflects what we do, but not why we do it. Some brands may not reflect either element, such as Apple. In this case, the company had to do more marketing work to associate the why and what Apple does to establish the brand.
Next, you must create brand association with your company. When on sales calls, make sure you mention your brand several times during the call. Your email footer should contain your brand’s logo. Your website should clearly define your brand, why you do what you do, and how you do it. Any physical marketing materials such as business cards, flyers, mailing etc. should contain consistent branding.
Any time a customer or potential customer comes in contact with your company, they should be reminded of who you are.
You need a website
I see many brick and mortar startups that do not see the value in a website. The problem with that logic is that when a potential customer needs a product or service, the first place they go is online.
For instance, let’s say you run a swimming pool store. When a potential customer is looking for a pool, the first place he or she goes will likely be a search engine to type in something like “pool stores near me.” Without a website, they will never find you; but they will find your competition.
If you’re not technical, don’t worry. You can hire a freelancer to create a basic website. One great place to find freelancers is via UpWork, and when it comes to hosting your site, you can get inexpensive and reliable service via GoDaddy.
Customer reviews are key
One of the primary factors a customer uses when deciding whether or not to purchase a product or utilize a service is reviews. Think about it, when looking at visiting a new restaurant or buying a product, one of the first places our eyes go to is reviews. The same thing happens when a potential customer is looking at your product or service.
Some common places where you will want to get positive reviews are Google Reviews (Google My Business), Yelp, Capterra (if your business is online) and Better Business Bureau (BBB). Each of these will require you to register your business with the site first, and keep in mind that Capterra and BBB are not free, but can yield considerable exposure.
Social media is a great way to get your company front of mind with your customers and potential customers. If your customers are consumers (B2C), then Facebook is the best place to start. If your customers are other businesses (B2B), then LinkedIn is a great choice.
Once your business page(s) are created, you need to gain followers. Much like reviews, this is relatively simple but requires discipline and consistency. One of the best methods of gaining followers is to hold weekly giveaways. Post the giveaway to your startup’s social page and require a like or follow to enter the contest.
Once you have done the drawing and the winner is chosen, make sure you follow through with delivering the prize to the winner. Then, ask him or her to take a picture with the prize and share it socially. This helps you establish trust with your followers and potential followers.
It will take time to get a good following, but once you have followers, you can advertise your product or service to them.
What’s old is new
While embracing digital marketing, don’t make the mistake of disregarding older marketing techniques, such as mailings. Consider an old fashioned physical postcard, mailed directly to your target audience. When a person is holding something tangible in his or her hands, they are more likely to read and keep it, as opposed to a marketing email, many of which get deleted.
Using a tool like Vistaprint, you can design your own mailing, upload an address list and send your mailings all in one place.
If the topics above seem overwhelming to take on at once, start with two or three of them, working your way up to incorporating all of them into your startup’s marketing strategy.
Please share your ideas in the comments section below. Others will appreciate your input!