It seems today that more and more start-ups are entrenched in the Internet and technology industry. Recent success stories such as Summly, which was sold to Yahoo in a deal worth $30 million by its 17-year old founder Nick D’Aloisio, are spurring on tech start-ups and entrepreneurs.
In this article, I’m going to list my top five online marketing tips for start-ups in 2013.
Stand Out from the Crowd and Build on Value
With the advent of social media and technology, business isn’t just about profit and costs anymore. Nowadays, it’s all about creating a strong, unique identity and brand experience. What do you offer that someone else doesn’t? What gives people a reason to use your services or products? Where does the true value in your business lie?
I think with the advent of social media, creating something new and edgy (particular getting the first mover advantage) means that your brand will get shared and spread around the various social media channels very easily. I genuinely think social media sharing puts a higher premium on first mover advantage. It’s subsequently much harder for a “me too” competitor to get these rewards because by then it’s old news and no ones writing about it.
Engage with your Existing Customers
It costs around five to six times as much to bring in new customers as it does to keep your existing ones. This puts a huge premium on engaging with your existing customers and keeping them happy. Big brands such as Amazon achieve customer brand loyalty by offering lower costs, superior shipping and good functionality such as recommend purchases and one-click pay on your mobile.
Although you probably can’t invest as much from a functionality point of view as Amazon, you can engage with your customers through social media channels, blogging, and running special rewards and competitions. Anything that makes your brand more personal. Personalise the emails you send out with your first name, sign them off from a real person let them put a name to your face. It’s all about having an “About Us” and “Meet the Team” page on your website nowadays.
It’s Not All About B2C, Invest in B2B Relations Too!
The problem with most start-ups today is that they focus 100% of their time engaging with their own customers on Facebook and Twitter. Obviously, this is great for customer relations and building brand loyalty, but if you’re not doing enough B2B than you’re also going to miss out on lots of opportunities, specifically in PR.
A lot of the time, PR and marketing are about whom you know and getting them to spread the word. It’s also about working with other businesses or organisations in your area. Engage with other businesses and media contacts on Twitter, participate in start-up events and sponsor competitions, meet other businesses through networks such as Meetup.com, go to exhibitions and keep up to date with the latest trends in your industry. If a reporter or blogger mentions your brand, why not get in touch with them and thank them for their support. Next time you release a new product or event, they might even want to write about it. Companies such as neptunus, have made a success of themselves by serving both a B2C company, and B2B company.
Keep the Bulk of your Online Marketing In-house If Possible
I know of lots of small businesses that outsource their marketing and SEO campaign to a nice agency. The problem with this in my opinion is that it gives your brand a sort of hollow image. Rather than channelling communications with the founders of the company (and helping them get to know one another), the majority of dialogue ends up being done through your third party agency. This leads to a lack of brand identity and real engagement.
I know not everyone is in a position to do their own online marketing, or might not have the time, but I genuinely think most individuals should be able to get to grips with Twitter, Facebook, paid marketing and PPC quite easily. Facebook marketing in particular is extremely easy to use, plus you’ll be saving so many costs by keeping this stuff in house!
Press Releases and Viral Marketing are the Best and Cheapest Form of Marketing
I’ve only recently been scratching the lines of PR and viral marketing so far, but I definitely see my future in it. I’ve seen so many cases of an individual or business doing something creative and out of the box or publishing a controversial survey on their site that gets picked up by a flurry a tabloid newspapers.
Examples in the last few months include a man who started a cake shop and handed in his letter of resignation using icing on a cake, a survey that showed most 20-35 year old are one missed payment away from disaster, and a desperate graduate who got a job by spending his last £500 on a billboard in London.
In conclusion, planning an online marketing campaign for a new start-up is never easy. But if you stick to the philosophy of being as creative as possible and keeping everything personalised and as close to your brand identity as possible, your ROI should go much further.
- Interview with Rahul Powar, Founder & CEO of Apsmart and the creator Shazam (thestartupmag.com)
- Early stage traction for peanuts! (thestartupmag.com)
- Mistakes to Avoid with your First Business (thestartupmag.com)