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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

Useful Marketing Tactics For Growing Businesses

Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.

Jandre de Beer

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Digital marketing offers the business world so many advantages, including the ability to communicate with their target markets quickly and easily. Unfortunately, digital marketing has also opened doors for companies to flood mail boxes, news feeds and ad spaces with junk mail and spam resulting in customers tuning out to anything irrelevant and suspicious.

Customers have become less likely to trust companies and less receptive to messages. The only way for valuable messaging to stand out from the noise is if a business knows how to market itself properly.

Over and above advertising, there are a lot of other aspects that contribute towards an effective marketing strategy, these include research, email, content creation, list curation, social media and even customer service. To be a successful marketer it isn’t necessary to become an expert in every single marketing tactic, but it is important to master the most important areas. Customer acquisition, customer experience and content marketing can be identified as the three most important marketing strategy areas to focus on.

1. Customer acquisition

Of course, not all customers are the same. Some customers are only interested in buying products on sale from a particular brand and then never interact with that brand again. Acquiring, and of course retaining customers with a high lifetime value should be the overall objective for businesses, but this requires more time and money being invested in better, more qualified leads. While the upfront costs might be higher, in the long-term this investment will pay off with continued business from these lifetime customers.

2. Customer experience

Competitive pricing can’t be the only aspect that businesses focus on in order to stand out against competitors. In the current digital era customers expect a good customer experience when they deal with brands so this should be an important focus area for all businesses. Customers expect fast and seamless experiences such as intuitive user interfaces and processes, fast websites and service response times, as well as accurate information about the problems they face.

Customers don’t want to waste their time on websites that require them to jump through hoops, and they definitely don’t want to feel misled by anything a business is communicating. Customers will quickly move on to other sites that offer better experiences as well as other businesses that are more trustworthy. Good customer experiences can go a long way.

Offering more personalised, interactive engagement tactics and improving the customer technology interface should be high priorities for businesses.

3. Content marketing

Marketing is no longer about telling customers that your brand is the best. With the movement towards content marketing, marketing has become about showing customers why you are the best. Content marketing is a legitimate, effective strategy that every business and brand should make use of. While content marketing is a lot more cost effective than outbound marketing, it also generates three times as many leads and offers many other benefits.

Content is a key feature for growing businesses who want to survive in an information rich environment. Customers are looking for brands that provide value beyond their products so creating high-quality content can help you grab your audience’s attention.

In conclusion

Although there are many other factors that are involved in an effective marketing strategy, seeking out customers with a high lifetime value, providing them with a great customer experience while also providing them with valuable content is a recipe for success.

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Marketing Tactics

An ‘Outside-the-Box’ Approach to the e-Commerce Unboxing Experience

Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.

Daniella Shapiro

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With a predicted 24,79 million e-commerce users in South Africa by 2021, online shopping is here to stay, making it impossible to escape the predicament of perfecting the art of product packaging. It’s time to think outside the box when it comes to creating a meaningful unboxing experience. Get started by keeping three elements in mind – recyclable/re-usable packaging, personalised thank-you notes and free samples.

Recyclable/Re-Usable Packaging

Certain types of product packaging are having a tremendous negative impact on our environment, with 5.35 trillion pieces of plastic debris littering the world’s oceans, and with 269,000 tonnes of this amount floating on the surface – and plastic isn’t the only culprit. Did you know that it’s impossible for Styrofoam to ever be broken down completely? And that 1 million single-use coffee cups wind up in landfill every single minute of every day? These statistics make it obvious as to why it’s becoming so important for business owners to be more conscious about the type of packaging that they use.

Many business owners wonder if their customers really care whether their business is doing its part to protect the environment. According to Forbes and a 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study, the answer is a resounding ‘YES, they most certainly do!’.

87% of the consumers surveyed stated that they always have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues, and 88% claimed that they usually feel more loyal toward a company that they know supports social or environmental issues.

Thoughtful Thank-You Notes

The unboxing experience should be a unique and personal one, and it should be just as memorable as the experience of utilising the product itself! So, make it all the more special and build customer loyalty by including a personalised thank you note. Address the customer by their first name, thank them sincerely for their patronage and end off by giving them some helpful advice regarding the product, or share an interesting benefit of using it. Go the extra, extra mile by hand-writing the letter too.

Free Samples

Everyone loves getting free stuff. Why not bolster the unboxing experience by sending over a little bit more than expected? Not only will a free sample put a big smile on the face of the receiver, if they actually enjoy using it, there’s also a good chance that they’ll be coming back to order more. According to Shopify, free samples have the potential to boost sales by as much as 2,000%.

When it comes to packaging, make the right choice. Sustainable, thoughtful, memorable. Your customers, and the environment, will thank you for it.

 

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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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