Startups are often strapped for cash, crunched for time, and slammed with responsibilities. This kind of lean and agile operations need a particular kind of marketing power.
Startups can?t do every marketing activity in the book. They certainly can?t spend all the money they want. But they still need to do marketing. How?
Here are the five essentials that online startups need to possess.
1. ?Create a killer web design
In the eyes of your users, your website is the company. Your website is your product. Your website is your reputation.
Is design marketing? Absolutely.
Brian Collins said this: ?Advertising becomes the penalty paid by companies that cannot design well.? and it may also be the case for startup businesses that cannot afford advertising campaigns with big creative agencies.
However, budget limitations does not mean that one should settle for a crummy website. Allocate your funds well and invest prudently in a website that speaks for your brand, and do keep in mind that a website is a digital product unlike an architecture. You can plan and create targets to develop parts of your website according to your businesses needs and your sales growth
It?s a challenge to find great designers, but even more of a challenge is trying to be a player in your space with crappy website design. Don?t settle for anything less than absolute awesomeness.
2. ?Be social everywhere
Today?s startup culture has a dimension that is vastly different from the startup environment of years ago. Today, we have to grapple with the importance of social networks.
Keep in mind that not all startup social activity needs to happen on the big four (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+). Obviously, your startup needs to have a presence on those networks, but there are other places.
- AngelList?? a social platform for angel investors, top talent, and startups.
- MidsizeInsider?? a place where midsize companies can improve their efficiency
- Spiceworks?? a social IT portal for startups.
- YouNoodle?? a place for startup competitions.
When people start companies, they are creating people networks. The way these networks exist is on the social web.
3. ?Create tons of content
Content rules the web.
If you would have asked me a few years ago, ?Hey, Neil, how can my online startup be successful? I would have told you something about SEO. If you asked me that question today, I would talk about content marketing.
A company must be a producer of content, regardless of whatever other product or service they are involved in.
Take my company for example. Kissmetrics is an analytics reporting platform, but many people know it simply as a publisher of insanely useful articles generated by the Kissmetrics user community.
User generated content is a great way to power the content on your site. UGC brings in the flair of social with the provision of lots of content (and fast). Although?UGC has its risks, it might work for your startup.
Why do startups fail? There are a million reasons. But I would say that one of the reasons that startups fail is connected to the issue of content. A business that lacks content has nothing to talk about. They lose passion both internally and externally. They have no voice,?nothing to say. Failure soon arrives.
Creating content, by contrast, fuels the startup?s progress. There is something mind-clearing and refreshing about producing content and reading content produced by a startup.
4. Respond quickly to email and social inquiries
Some of the best entrepreneurs I know respond to my emails instantly.
Basically, they know how to get stuff done.
Responding quickly is a courtesy. For startups, it reflects their passionate nature and go-get-?em attitude. They?re on top of their game.
More importantly, though, they know about ?creating value for customers.? The startup should be all about the customers. If a startup neglects their users, they?ll let Twitter notifications languish and let emails pile up. Basically, they?ll start compromising their reputation.
Lithium conducted a study to see how fast a brand responded to Tweets, and how that response time affected the customer?s attitude toward the brand.?Their conclusion? ?Consumers Will Punish Brands that Fail to Respond on Twitter Quickly.?
And what do the customers think of these response times? As long as the brand responds in the sweet spot of 0-2 hours?
- 34% are likely to buy more from that company.
- 43% are likely to encourage friends and family to buy their products.
- 38% are more receptive to their advertisements.
- 42% are willing to praise or recommend the brand through social media.
?With 57 percent of consumers unlikely to spend with you again after a negative experience, those could be the most expensive 140 characters a brand ever ignores.?
A startup needs to be quick to respond. It?s part of good customer service, which is part of good marketing. Which makes a startup more successful.
5. Work on personal branding
If you know about Buffer, you probably know about a few of the people behind Buffer.
Joel Gascoigne?and?Leo Widrich?have become well known entrepreneurs due, in part, to their personal branding.?Joel writes about his experiences with the startup, and has built a tribe of loyal followers.?Leo is also an occasional blogger, writing about meditating, sleeping, and starting a company.
Both these guys started a company and grew their personal brand. Both the personal and business brand depended on one another to be successful.
We?re now at a point in the evolution of startups where personal branding is just as powerful and essential as the branding for the business. It?s hard to separate the two. A startup has a starter, and that starter is an individual with a brand, a reputation, and a personality.
This is why I wrote?The Complete Guide to Building Your Personal Brand.?Here?s my advice at the outset of the guide:
Personal brands fuel startups, and startups fuel personal brands. It?s a symbiosis.
Ramit Sethi of IWT has built an insanely successful company. Its success is fueled largely by the Sethi personal brand.
The better you become at building a personal brand, the better you will be at marketing your online business.