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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?
How do you market your company to this generation?
According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.
They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.
So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?
1. By being transparent
Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.
Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs
Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.
Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.
2. By offering options
A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.
That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.
3. By being forward thinking
We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.
On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.
1. By being transparent
As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.
2. By offering options
Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.
Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.
Related: The Z Generation
3. By being forward thinking
They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.
The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.
Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
You don’t need an MBA to write a marketing plan for your business. While no two businesses are alike, all solid marketing plans need to provide specific information. Use this sample marketing plan template to get you started on the right foot and cover all the essential information.
Your marketing plan should provide a comprehensive blueprint of the business, its market and associated market activity, its position in the market, target and expected customers, offerings, competition, solutions and contingency plans.
Using a sample Marketing Plan Template can save you a lot of time in creating your own marketing plan.
Download a Sample Marketing Plan Template
Use the free templates below to help make sure you’ve covered all the important bits:
Recommended Marketing Reads:
- Smart Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
- Mega Guide to Online Marketing
- Marketing Toolbox for the Entrepreneur
- The Ultimate Marketing Tool Library for Entrepreneurs
4 Steps To Writing Content That Converts
Hook them, engage them and tell them what you want them to do.
Is your content persuasive enough to convert your visitors into leads?
Some pieces of content you create will drive conversions, while others will be lost in the archives. As a marketer, you always want to write content that is persuasive enough to turn your visitors into leads and thereafter, into paying customers.
Writing persuasive content is not magic. Let’s take a look at some ways to write content that converts.
1. Craft an enticing title
The title of your content is the most important factor that influences engagement. A whopping 8 out of 10 people may not even read your content if the title isn’t captivating enough.
Using Headline Analyzer by Coschedule is the best way to create a magnetic headline that attracts your audience. Just enter your headline and the tool will report back with a score and a grade along with some suggestions to improve.
For analysis, the tool looks at the following factors:
- The headline type: It capitalises on the type of headline that converts, including lists, how to’s and questions.
- Word balance: It helps you to curate an enticing title by checking to see if it has the right word balance.
- Character length: It also looks whether your title is scannable and easy to digest.
2. Fulfill your title’s promise
Getting clicks on your title is just half of the equation. Ensuring that your content fulfills the promise of your title is another equally, maybe even more, important part of driving conversion. If your content can’t keep the promise your headline makes, your visitors will likely abandon your site without further engagement.
When crafting each line of your content, keep in mind that the purpose is to get your visitors to read the next sentence, then the sentence after that and all the way down to the end of your article.
Aside from providing value, you’ll also want to evoke a desire for what you’re offering.
3. Make it scannable
Most of your website visitors spend less than 15 seconds on your website, meaning people quickly skim through the content instead of reading word for word.
If your content is hard to scan, meaning it contains long sentences and paragraphs, it’s likely that your visitors won’t stick around. Chances are, they’ll go to your competitors to find content that’s easier to consume.
To create content that is easily scannable, you can follow the actionable tips below:
- Short paragraphs: Write short paragraphs, preferably 3-4 sentences at most. Breaking down your content into short paragraphs makes it more digestible for your readers.
- Use attractive subheaders: Readers should be able to bounce around to seek out the pieces of your content that interest them. By using attractive subheaders, you can pique the curiosity of your readers and keep them engaged.
- Use bullet points: Using a bulleted list is the easiest way to ensure that your content doesn’t strain your visitors’ eye to read through it. Since bulleted lists stand out from the rest of your page, they make the entire piece easier to skim through.
4. Add a call to action at the end
The best way to convert your visitors into leads is to add a call to action, such as an email subscription form, at the end of every article you publish.
Some tips to speed up the growth of your email list are:
- Offer a post-specific resource: Create a post-specific resource, and offer it for download in exchange for the email address of your visitors. When the resource is post-specific, readers are more likely to engage with the campaign, in turn boosting conversions.
- Creating a premium library: To increase both perceived and actual value, you can create a premium library consisting of ebooks and other valuable course materials. You can then persuade your visitors to subscribe to your list by adding a signup box at the end of each article.
- Content gating: Content gating is a popular strategy to boost conversions on your site. For instance, you can grow your list by blocking a small section of your content for subscribers only, which encourage your readers to sign up for your list.
The best way to create content that converts is to use emotion in your copy and evoke a desire for what you’re offering. By following the above tips, you can write content that converts your visitors into leads, and soon thereafter, into paying customers.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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