Understanding which avenues to market your business can be somewhat challenging in this day and age, the diverse nature of the digital media means the possibilities are endless!
Start-up teams often find their days awash with tasks which need completing regardless of time pressures, knowledge on the activity or relevant skills needed to complete it. All business founders have felt the start-up ‘grind’ difficult at some point, whether that’s trying to expand their business with a limited or zero budget, or deciding if their product/service actually has demand in their chosen marketplace. This article aims to provide start-ups with Digital Marketing tips for success and activities to generate results, that don’t cost the earth.
Back to basics – Know your market
Firstly, understand your market – is there actually demand out there? The product and/or services you deliver need to be good enough that customers will ‘jump through hoops’ to buy it. My advice is going ‘back to basics’ and look at your business plan and model. Define what opportunity you have within your selected marketplace and decide how you plan to segment it. You must have something which separates you from the rest of the market, i.e. a Unique selling point (USP), your value proposition sits at the heart of your brand and must make a customer want to buy from you over another company – competitive edge is key! With my clients I often refer to the analogy of building a house, if the foundations are not secure, how do you expect the house to remain standing? That is a good business principle full stop. Knowing the basics will stand you in good stead on your journey.
Digital routes to market
With the rise of Digital and Social Media, the opportunity to market your business is vast. Knowing which online networks contain your preferred ‘target market’ is vital to success – in my experience, those companies who know their ‘ideal customer’ generate the best financial returns. Each social platform will contain different target audiences, and each company may use a different one which works best for them. The more online exposure you can generate from free marketing the better – brand awareness is a very good thing, use it to your advantage!
While your business is generating new ‘followers’ on mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, you need to ensure you are doing everything you can to engage that particular audience. Brand Engagement is arguably as important as revenue, that’s quite a statement, but I can explain why. Engagement and sales go hand in hand – failure to do one without the other means no custom, period. Facebook is a great example of a social platform that can generate sales through engagement, lots of companies believe it’s a good idea to use Facebook solely for selling; they are mistaken. People don’t like constant product pushing, they prefer the subtle and sophisticated approach to a variety of methods including a provision of free material. One of my top tips for Digital Marketing is to provide something for nothing. Draw your customers in with an opportunity and build up your network to engage with your audience. I believe that all of the efforts you spend adding credibility to your business will over time, be a worthwhile process.
Not everything has to cost a fortune! I use free marketing tools every day and I work in the marketing industry, for example, take HootSuite. This free platform allows you to add three social media networks into one integrated dashboard. Having the ability to see three social media channels in one solution is a great idea, and I’d recommend you take a look at it. Email Marketing can also be a great way to drive awareness to customers/clients, therefore Mail Chimp may also benefit your business, under the ‘Forever Free’ plan you can contact 2,000 subscribers and email 12,000 e-shots per month – another way to drive sales and leads.
Some digital tools can be costly, and the market often has an alternative option at a lower price point. Every day, I use a range of digital platforms and programs to make my job easier, I’ve highlighted my favorites. My first recommendation is Pixelmator. An application which Mac users will love, as it is extremely easy to use! This program is the ‘slimmed down’ version of Adobe Photoshop, yet at around £22.99, it’s one of the best programs I’ve used. I would recommend you take a look, it helped my business get off the ground as it gave me the opportunity to produce attractive and eye-catching marketing material, for not just my business, but my customers. Pixelmator also has phenomenal beginner’s tutorials on their official YouTube channel for you to get started without any prior knowledge. Other great applications (not necessarily related to Digital Marketing, but are really helpful) is GeoBiz App – a professional networking app to build up your connections, and grow both your business and personal network. Along with IntelliDrive, an automatic mileage logging and management solution that makes tracking journeys and processing expense claim simple.
Advertising in the right places
In start-ups knowing where to invest your marketing budget is important, with a whole host of options open to you, testing which activity provides the biggest return for your business is vital. Options include Google Adwords, Social Media advertising and advertising on high traffic websites (such as newspaper sites). My advice here would target the right people, keywords, and customers. Failure to plan this stage will result in wasted budgets and the opportunity cost of advertising somewhere else that generates a better Return on Investment (ROI).
eCommerce – Where else can I sell online?
One common question I get asked from B2C clients is ‘Where else can I sell my product and how can I improve sales?’. The simple answer is (depending on your product), you have a number of online sales platforms available to you which can be extremely lucrative to extend your revenue opportunities. The most notable websites include eBay and Amazon – both allow your products (and brand) to gain fantastic awareness from the sheer number of visitors each site generates. Granted, you have to pay small trade subscription fees, but in the greater scheme of things, they provide alternative sales opportunities for any business. Other platforms include Etsy and Not on The High Street, both are great ways to fast-track selling online, and increase your brand exposure until customers are arriving to your own website, and buying from you directly!