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Marketing Tactics

7 Creative Strategies For Marketing Your Start-up On A Tight Budget

Leveraging connections, special events, skills and the Web can give your business a special twist.

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Bootstrapping builds character. There are endless ways to finance your ideas, but there’s nothing like marketing a start-up with a modest budget to encourage innovation.

Limited funds give you an excuse to flex your creative muscle and truly share your vision with the world.

Don’t rely on the same old banner ads and Google reviews. Instead, try these eight marketing strategies to place the spotlight on your business.

1. Share your central “why”

“What do you do for a living?” This simple question is one you’re asked during almost every introduction. If you answer with a quick, “I’m an entrepreneur” (vague and a little diluted) or, “I run a small business” (makes people think of brick-and-mortar spots), you’re cheating yourself out of an opportunity to generate word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

Instead, develop a narrative that differentiates your company from others and sparks conversation. Does your startup support a certain cause with every sale? Say so. Did you come up with your business idea during a troubling life event? Mentioning it may inspire those around you.

Sharing your central “why,” as well as the story on how your startup came to be, will make your business more memorable to others. Plus, it will interest people more at parties.

Related: 7 Social Media Marketing Secrets No Marketer Wants To Admit

2. Don’t just sell – engage

As an entrepreneur, your instinct may push you to sell to everyone you meet. Though there’s nothing wrong with flaunting your brand now and then, it’s important to give your company relevance and participate in discussions that don’t quite revolve around your business.

With social media, it’s easy to engage your target demographic without looking like you’re just trying to advertise. Some businesses may leave encouraging comments on photos of people’s food; sports equipment retailers may “re-post” articles on a local high school basketball team’s recent win.

Build brand trust by showing your support, whether of your community or your online following.

Next time someone’s looking for a product or service within your niche, they’ll remember your kindness and go to you. Sharing someone else’s content doesn’t necessarily mean losing your audience’s attention.

You can use Start a Fire to create share-ready URLs that add branded badges to any Web page, so that when someone clicks on the links you post, they’ll see you there, along with more content that you recommend.

niche-business-market

3. Carve a niche and build industry credibility

Your start-up’s shoestring budget can’t keep you from carving out its own niche. Assemble a culture around your business by offering an insider’s perspective to those on the outside.

A blog can offer laymen the chance to understand your trade with a new perspective. A webinar or a podcast can help viewers (or listeners) feel like experts in your field.

Speaking at an incubator, expo or niche event can put you in the role of the teacher and allow you to share your ground-breaking ideas with an immediate audience.

The small business convention you attend every year is probably in need of a few more keynoters; why don’t you try speaking instead of observing?

Networking and sharing your expertise with others can help you prove your abilities to your community. A variety of people, from journalists to aspiring entrepreneurs, can help to create buzz around your business.

Try offering your expertise to small business newbies through forum sites like Quora, where thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs ask questions for pros to answer. You can also share your story by connecting with journalists online via Help a Reporter Out (HARO).

Related: 4 Social Media Tips For B2Bs

4. Help people discover your content

If your start-up is fit for the twenty-first century, it maintains some sort of online presence. In fact, you may be satisfied with just a website, some social media pages, a blog, or even a pre-launch Web page. Just because your content is online, though, doesn’t mean it’s easily discoverable by your target audience.

With every post you publish, use keywords specific to your niche, like “vegan leather tote” instead of “handbag,” for example, to improve your Google rankings.

You can also use these hyper-targeted keywords to power your social media-based audience acquisition. With Socedo, a social media automation tool, you can find Twitter users who post content using your niche keywords and engage with them over time.

Next, help people find your content by practicing a few SEO techniques, starting with your website.

Title your pages with phrases unique to your business so they stand apart from other sites.

Improve your website’s load speed by removing unnecessary plug-ins and long strings of code (perhaps a job for your Web developer), and always be sure to post original content instead of copying from another site.

There are countless options for improving your general SEO ranking, but taking care of a few easy tasks will boost your content’s position in search results for now.

e-coupons

5. Send out irresistible e-coupons

You’ve probably experienced coupon temptation before. Research shows that very few can resist the appeal of a great coupon; four out of five consumers use coupons regularly both in-store and online. Moreover, about half do business with a particular company because they were provided a coupon.

While you could go the old-fashioned route and distribute coupons via snail mail, exclusive e-coupons hit two birds with one stone by convincing more people to join your email list. There are also some clever ways to integrate e-coupons into your email marketing strategy.

Those who are already invested in your mission will appreciate the ways in which you thank them for their business. People new to your company will be more likely to join your following. It’s a win-win.

Related: 5 Ways To Improve Your Millennial Marketing Strategy

6. Scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours

If you’re just starting out, you may have a hard time introducing your company to the public. A great way to build a niche and generate word-of-mouth is through samples and giveaways.

Try reaching out to eager members of your target audience and offering up your commodity (or a sample slice of it) in return for a review and shares on social media.

Those who participate get a cool new item or experience to share with their friends, while you get trust and visibility – another win-win. You don’t want to give up your entire stock all at once, but sharing it with a select few could give you a marketing edge.

7. Co-sponsor an event within your niche

Every industry hosts its special events: The annual Carnegie Conference for traditional and digital marketers, VeritageMiami for U.S. winemakers and the Interior Design Hall of Fame gala for – you guessed it – interior designers. Unless an event is owned and managed by a single company, most planners seek out sponsors to help fund the event.

This provides you with a fantastic niche marketing opportunity. Next time you’re thinking about attending an event within your industry, see if it has any sponsorship spots open.

Related: The Importance Of Brand

Better yet, ask whether you can present there (or otherwise spotlight your company) to further engage attendees. Aside from giving you a good name, co-sponsoring a niche event allows you to meet and greet with your target demographic, network and generate new leads.

Your modest marketing budget doesn’t have to stop you from showcasing your startup. Leveraging connections, special events, skills and the Web can give your business a special twist. What creative marketing strategies have you used to spotlight your start-up?

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Marketing Tactics

The Facebook Ads Strategy That Can’t Lose

It’s a numbers game.

Entrepreneur

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Running a profitable Facebook Ads campaign is simple. Not always easy, but simple.

There is a formula that can guarantee a profitable Facebook Ad campaign. Once you know the formula and the values to plug in, you’ll never sink money into a losing digital ad campaign again. I know it sounds too good to be true, but stick with me…

The Guaranteed Growth Formula

Here’s the entire formula: CPA < AP

Were you expecting coefficients, remainders and dividing by polynomials? Nope, there are only two values that matter when assessing your digital marketing funnel.

1. CPA – Cost Per Acquisition

2. AP – Average Profit Per Client

If your Cost Per Acquisition, the amount you pay to generate a paying customer using Facebook Ads, is less than the Average Profit you make from each new customer you’re guaranteed a profitable campaign.

Calculating Average Profit

To get average profit per client, sum your total revenue from new clients and subtract what you spent to serve them. Divide the result by the total new clients. For example, if you made $75,000 from 10 new clients over the past year and it cost you $40,000 to serve them, your average profit is:

 ($75,000 – $40,000) / 10 = $3500 Average Profit Per Client

If your average acquisition cost for similar future clients is less than $3500, your campaign will technically be profitable.

Of course most businesses won’t want to spend all of their profit on acquisition. An average business can expect to invest at least 7 percent but no more than 15 percent of revenue in sales and marketing. If Cost of Goods accounts for 60 percent or more of total revenue, your low profit margin may make it difficult to afford successful advertising. Decrease operating costs by increasing efficiency or adjust your margin by raising prices.

Don’t make the mistake of calculating Average Profit based on revenue only from the first sale. Use at least six months of revenue or your lifetime client value as the basis for your calculation, or you risk underfunding your marketing and sales budget.

Related: Here Is Why Your Facebook Ad Campaigns Aren’t Producing Results

Calculating Cost Per Acquisition

Let’s assume you’ve considered all of your marketing and sales costs and determined you can spend $350 per new client on Facebook Ads. Let’s reverse engineer your ad campaign to see if a $350 cost of acquisition is reasonable.

The simplest Facebook ads funnel includes four metrics that build upon each other to determine your acquisition cost. I’ve included standard benchmarks for use as a starting point, but your results may differ:

1. Click-Through Rate (CTR) – Percentage of people clicking on your ad. Your CTR should be near or above 1 percent.

2. Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost of one website visit. CPC should generally be below $3.

3. Lead Conversion Rate – The percentage of site traffic that becomes qualified leads. This value should be 20 percent or above.

4. Sales Conversion Rate – The percentage of leads that convert to a sale. Aim for sales conversion at or above 5 percent. (E-commerce companies often skip the Lead Conversion stage and have a Sales Conversion Rate of 1 percent or greater.)

If 10,000 people view your ad at a 1 percent CTR, you’ll get about 100 website visits. At a $3 CPC, you’ve spent $300. Since 20 percent of your traffic will become leads and 5 percent of those leads become closed sales, we can calculate that you’ll generate approximately 60 leads and three new customers.

Your estimated acquisition cost using Facebook Ads is $100 per client, which is well within your budget of $350. This cost may rise as you scale and target less optimal prospects, but as long as your acquisition cost is less than $350 you’ll make an acceptable profit.

Complex funnels can include several ads and conversion points, but the Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP still applies. There’s no immediate reason for concern if your metrics differ from the benchmarks. You can and should split test ideas for improvement if your numbers are far from what you expect, but don’t mess up a good thing until you’ve got a better one.

Optimising Your Guaranteed Growth Funnel

If unhealthy metrics cause your acquisition to cost more than what you’ve budgeted, start with these adjustments:

Click-Through Rate Too Low or Cost Per Click Too High

If your CTR falls far under 1 percent Facebook may stop showing your ads or show them to second-rate audiences causing your traffic to tank and CPC to increase. To improve your click metrics, adjust your ad copy (headline and body text), ad creative (image or video) and highlight the benefits in your offer.

Refine your audience. Tailor your copy, images and call-to-action to the audience you’ve selected and ensure that your audience has the desire and means to act.

Lead Conversion Too Low

If leads aren’t converting at 20 percent or more, either the promise made by your ad isn’t congruent with your landing page, or the process of moving forward is too difficult. Try using the same image and headline in your ad and reduce the form fields in sign-up forms to the bare minimum. Also try retargeting visitors who don’t sign up with ads stating the benefits of acting now, or with a different offer.

Related: Staying Relevant In The Facebook Age Of Meaningful Social Interactions

Sales Conversion Too Low

If you’re an Ecommerce brand with sales conversion below 1 percent your shopping cart or sales process may have too much friction. Simplify the sales process to decrease clutter, or increase trust by adding testimonials and trust signals near important calls to action.

Your sales process may need improvement, but that is beyond this article. In the meantime, you can still increase revenue by cross-selling and upselling those who convert. You may also improve client retention with recurring contracts. Yes, that’s why many software companies are switching to cloud-based subscription models.

When used properly, The Guaranteed Growth Formula of CPA < AP makes Facebook Ad marketing an investment, not an expense. Using the formula, the most you should ever risk is a small initial budget to test whether your estimated calculations hold true in practice.

If your net profit is 3X your acquisition cost, your funnel returns $3 for every $1 you invest. Instead of asking “How much should I spend on marketing?” The question becomes, “How much do I want to make?” I’ve built a Facebook Ad Growth Calculator that incorporates the Guaranteed Growth Formula to help execute your growth strategy. Input your revenue goal and it will estimate the Facebook Ad impressions and traffic required to reach it.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Marketing Tactics

How Is Influencer Marketing Going To Change In The Future?

How is influencer marketing going to be in the upcoming time? Read on.

Maulik Patel

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Influencer marketing is definitely not a new story. It’s been more than a decade now that it is immensely dominating the world of digital marketing. While being extremely cost-effective, influencer marketing strategies have very soon ended up with a great exposure. The businesses are building an immense level of reputation and earning various links with the help of this innovative marketing concept. In fact, the influencer marketing agencies are coming up with new approaches of implementation with each passing day.

Moreover, like any other type of marketing, the trends of influencer marketing are ever changing. Like how the story was five years back is not the same now and it is going to further evolve in the future.

The anticipated influencer marketing challenges

With the continuous growth of social media, influencer marketing is definitely going to face a myriad of obstacles. A few of the most expected ones are as follows:

Expenses

The demand for influencer marketing is continuously on the rise and eventually, the cost is going up. If you want to enter into the market of influencer marketing and establish yourself as an influencer then you need to give a lot of efforts while building a personal brand and earning the reputation for yourself.

You want to become one among such influencers who’ve already amassed a great following means that you’ll need to make it worth it- sometimes paid promotion could be the right tactic. In the future, this scenario is going to be even more prominent as people will have to spend huge bucks to be a worthy influencer.

Customers faith

In recent times, consumers have gradually started distrusting the huge brands when they realised that the corporations are working for only profit without having the user’s interests in the mind. So, for them, influencers are now no more than some mere conduits for big commercial names. So, it is going to be really tough for the influencers to get the trust of consumers back.

High level of competition

Social media is no doubt such a place now which is teeming with massive competition and threats. Many influencers who are already thriving and the people who have an urge to become influencers turn it into a complicated scenario for you to enter in this space as an influencer in your own right.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Really Works

How can influencer marketing unfold in the future?

Of course, there are multiple ways in which the entire story of influencer marketing can change in the coming years. Let’s check out some of the most expected developments:

Exchanges will be ahead of favours

The chapter of influencer marketing is probably going to be a pretty much an impartial marketplace in the coming time. The brands are more likely to enter into a mutual collaboration with the influencer marketing agencies in terms of interchanging shares, posts, audience visibility while being more organic rather than asking for the favour of mentioning the brand’s name to the influencers

Networking will be preferred over individuals

Gone are the days when influencer marketing used to be the story of respective individuals. Now, markets are assumed to start focussing on the entire networks or industries. The future influencer marketers can get rid of the problem of being based on individual interactions by getting the insights of blog comments, forums etc.

Change in the concept of disclosure

Why has not native advertising sustained over the long term?

It’s because the publishers always negate to disclose which posts are the paid promotions. In such a scenario, influencer marketing strategies can move a bit ahead of this transparent problem in the future. All that they are expected to do is formally announce the sort of partnership or arrangement that is existing behind each and every content. The experts believe that this process might end up being quite a tedious one. Howbeit, the consumer trust will not be hampered at all.

Limited and sensible partnerships

Influencers might lean more towards self-preservation in the coming days. Rather than establishing a relationship with hundreds of marketers or products, influencers are expected to focus more on developing authentic professional relationships which really make some sense. For examples, the influencers are intended to concentrate more on such relationships which can be profitable for themselves as individuals and also seem to be appealing to their followers. Say, a move towards quality over quantity!

Winding Up

No doubt, the evolution of influencer marketing is not only dependent on the aforementioned factors. There’s much more that can happen. The time can only reveal that. Influencer marketing is certainly going to change on its own in either of the two ways, a more sophisticated one or become a mere peripheral strategy which won’t be completely accessible.

Let’s just wait and watch how it comes up to us in the future!

Aren’t you taking an advantage of the current extraordinary status of influencer marketing in the meantime?

Related: 4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From

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Marketing Tactics

Top Marketing Trends For 2019

When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?

Emma Donovan

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Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or  influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.

The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:

1. Say hello to the social CEO

Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.

Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.

Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.

2. Initiate conversations

While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.

For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.

Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.

Related: Pay Per Click Advertising. When, How And For What?

3. Keep it local

Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.

Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit. 

4. Try Instagram ads

As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.

Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.

5. Personalise email communication

Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.

Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.

Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.

Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

6. Post in real time

In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.

In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.

This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.

Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.

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