It doesn’t matter where you learned your marketing tip from or how many you have on the list if you do not know the two of the most important rules in startup marketing:
1) A great product alone does not spell success; 2) No amount of marketing will make a lousy product gain a following.
That said, there’s an abundance of marketing tips for startups like you from others who have been there, done that, and bought a shirt to prove it.
Keep and Strengthen Connection with Customers
When companies grow from startup to big to huge, they sometimes forget about the boss: the people who buy from them, their customers or clients. Startups can and should capitalize on this. As a startup, you have absolutely no excuse to take your customers for granted. Because your manpower is relatively small, you can extend a more personalized brand of service to your customers. Do anything you can to make them happy, because as the cliché goes, a happy customer is the best marketing strategy. It won’t hurt to go the extra mile. Soon, they will notice the extra effort.
“For example, people like to compare big box retailers to specialty shops because specialty shops can’t compete on price, so they try to improve the customer experience by offering a more unique ambiance, or more personalized expertise. That logic can carry to just about any small business.” – Mike LaLonde, Founder, Londes Digital Marketing
Capitalize on online tools
These days, anybody can make use of the internet to build a rich network of people and resources. Collaboration is key. Maybe some of your most important business partners, sub-contractors, and colleagues are living on the other side of the world and you might never meet in person. But all of these online tools and resources help make it easier for small companies to be more productive, more cost-effective, and compete with big companies. Online, the playing field is almost the same level – your Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn profiles may just be as goof, if not better than that of your multi-million dollar competitor. Believe it or not, these social influencers are earning from tweets!
Marketing first, Product Second
Conventional wisdom says, create the product first, then do marketing. The problem is that, building an active customer base takes time, so the sooner you start marketing, the better. Yes, there are times when it makes more sense to defy conventional wisdom.
Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz, says “marketing after creating your product is a waste of energy, time, and money. Marketing first ensures a loyal and active audience so that when you do debut your product you will be able to get feedback right away.”
Don’t Make Generating Sales Your Main Focus
Half of the battle in marketing is won through planning and preparation. Before you set out to conquer the business world, you have to have a really deep understanding of your goals and your customer. Again, remember that you are not the boss. He who has the money is the boss, and that’s the customer. Once you totally know where your product or service is going, half the battle is won.
Martin Zwilling, business executive, entrepreneur, and author, says that entrepreneurs need to be more concerned with who they are marketing to and why. When you figure that out, then you will know how to get your audience to buy from you.
Implement a Unique Marketing Strategy
I don’t know what is unique for you, but for sure, it has to be way different than the one your competitor is using. Are they using physical marketing, like billboards, neon lights, mascots, and so on? Then go to social media. It pays off to be creative and innovative. Nowadays consumers are bombarded with messages all hours of the day, so it’s good to packaging your promotions and tactics in an innovative way with a quality message that suits your target audience.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth saying over and over again. As a start-up, the odds are stacked against you, so you have to take advantage of every little opportunity to build credibility and trust and ultimately make a name for yourself. One way is to exert extra effort in terms of positioning your product or service as the best (or best alternative if you’re competing with a household name). Become one of the thought leaders in your industry and counter the messaging of big brands.
“We knew we only had one shot at this, so there was nothing throughout our start-up that we didn’t purposely over-deliver on – from the way we pitched our distributors and investors to the way we rolled out in the market. If you always over-deliver, it’s going to draw attention and you will likely be successful.” – Jeff Avallon, IdeaPaint
Divide and Conquer
This is an old and proven method used by leaders in battles, but it also applies to business. When you’re a startup and you are directly competing with a huge, already-popular entity, it would be foolish to take the fight to it head-on. It is better to find a segment in the business that you can focus all your energy and marketing efforts on. Once you’ve figured that out or established a substantial stake, move on to another segment. Pretty soon, you’ll be chipping away at the big company’s market share.
“On a macro level, one of the most daunting challenges was the prospect of entering a market with a fairly large entrenched player. Our strategy was to not even attempt to take them on head-to-head by trying to offer everything they did, instead, we sliced off a piece of the solution that we believed we could do better and that addressed a critical pain point for small businesses – invoicing.” – Levi Cooperman, Co-founder and VP of Operations of Freshbooks
Sources: entrepreneur.com, thenextweb.com, onboardly.com, ventureharbour.com, inc.com
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