Founders often ask me: What should I do to market my business?
Their goal is to get more website traffic, drive more leads, and get more referrals.
In this blog post, I’m going to lay out all the steps to get your brand off the ground.
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Quick heads up, we do free marketing consultations.
If you’re selling a SaaS product or service, the magic happens when you market your brand.
Building a brand is a strategic way to grow a company. It requires a lot of interactions with a lot of people. Each interaction and touchpoint ramps up to affinity (aka attraction) and word-of-mouth of your products and services.
I don’t recommend startups weigh all their efforts into specific channels, as the platforms we use change over time. Instead, treat your website as your home base and create great content that drives traffic and repeat visitors. Extend your content, products, and services to the world via social media and let natural word-of-mouth carry your brand forward.
Effective ways startups can market their brand.
I have no money. What should I be doing?
For startups with very little capital, it’s tough to stand out in the advertising world. Before you start advertising and experimenting with what drives engagement, get your house in order.
1. Create a Website
Create a website for your brand. On the header, put what it is you do in big bold letters. Emphasize the value of your offering from the perspective of your customers.
Bad Example: We leverage cloud technologies in the Hubspot Inbound Suite.
Good Example: Get Hubspot experts to grow your traffic and leads.
Pages you should include are:
2. Create Content to Build Awareness in your Space
No matter what the demand is for your market, you should continue to drive awareness for the industry. This is called Market Development.
A great way to do Market Development is to create and share a lot of content.
For founders trying to sell more technical products, you’ll really need to pump up the interest and awareness for your industry. You can do this with news coverage, sharing articles, etc.
Once you build awareness, your network will know you for the industry you serve; not particularly the products or services you sell. This is okay.
Eventually, your network will have conversations with people who are experiencing the pain you solve. The network contact will make the referral and that’s where the inbound machine starts rolling.
As for content to create, you can experiment and test different forms of text, video, and images. Personally, I suggest starting with blog posts that answer questions your market has about your industry. Next, share these posts on social media using a long-form text.
Some items to hit on in your social media posts:
- A summary of the blog post and the value readers will get,
- An ask for your network and audience to like the post or comment on it,
- A thank-you note to your audience and fans for checking out the content.
3. Monitor Engagement, Find Your Fans, and Build Personas
Through the ongoing content marketing efforts, you’ll see what articles people click and read.
With on-page sign-up forms, you’ll eventually collect subscribers and see who opens and interacts with your emails. This is incredibly valuable insight.
If you learn who your early-stage fans are, you can build a persona that represents those people. Some attributes to include are their job titles, goals, and demographics.
Turn these regular subscribers into promoting fans by having conversations with them, liking their content, and commenting on their posts. You can even go as far as to create new content related to goals and interests to help turn them into loyal soldiers.
Keep this up as a regular part of your marketing operations. Traffic will steadily grow and you’ll get referrals from your network.
Quick Tip: Be organized with your content. Create categories for your content and include them in a drop-down menu under your blog.
How to increase website traffic as a young business.
There are 2 parts to marketing: Ongoing Marketing (Branding) and Marketing Campaigns.
Ongoing Marketing is your social media posts, customer highlights, memes, and more. This is essentially the branding piece I wrote above; make content for your audiences.
Marketing Campaigns are groups of activities that promote your business; serving a common goal. They run for a set period of time and can involve multiple channels (Instagram, LinkedIn, Adwords, etc).
The beauty of marketing campaigns is how well they fit with lean/agile operations; particularly in startups that rapidly measure and test things that work.
Planning a Marketing Campaign
Now we’re going to break down the process of planning a marketing campaign.
1. Determine Your Objective: Brand Awareness or Lead Generation
Determine if you want to increase brand awareness or generate leads; don’t pick both.
For New Startups. If you’re a young business with less than 1,000 followers, I’d hit into the brand awareness campaigns. It burns cash but will build positive affinity with your brand. If you don’t have the cashflow to run campaigns, emphasize your sales operation. You inbound operation will take time and money to develop.
2. Determine Your Call-to-Action
Your call-to-action will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. As a foundation, here are a few personal recommendations:
- Get likes and followers for your social media accounts.
- Get people to like and comment on your posts.
- Get people to share your social media accounts.
- Get people to visit your website and browse.
- Get people to interact with a recent collaboration project (Guest Post).
- Get people to refer friends to your business.
- Get people to sign up for your blog/newsletter.
- Get people to download gated pieces of content (ebooks, whitepapers).
- Get people to call your business.
- Get people to signup for trials/demos.
3. Outline the Activities of Your Campaign
When planning marketing campaigns, I recommend going for an ‘Announce, Remind, Ask’ approach.
Announce. Start by listing all the things that make sense for getting the word out about your campaigns.
- Long-form text post on LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Snapping your network on Snapchat.
- Updating your Instagram Story and profile link.
- Writing a blog post with additional context to your announcement.
Remind. Your goal here is to simply to remind people about your campaign. Maybe your fans were on the go, at the gym, or asleep when you made the announcement. Experiment with different times and brief them on your campaign.
Ask. This is the last call for your audience. At this point, you want to hammer home the end-date of your campaign and ask them to do your call-to-action. People sometimes linger through social media thinking everything is available to them at any given time. As a startup, you don’t have the luxury of being able to provide this. Give your audience a little push and ask they interact with your campaign.
Create the images, videos, and text you need to execute on your campaign. Leverage any strategic partners you have to spread the love.
4. Use Personalized Ads to Complement and Support Your Campaign
Ads are a great way to improve your campaign’s performance. You can reach out and engage more people with your brand, or use remarketing ads to drive home the call-to-action of your campaign.
Outbound Advertising. Targeting is extremely important. There’s a consultation video by Gary Vaynerchuk where he compares communication of a 29-year old versus a 48-year old. It’s night and day. Split and segment your audiences into different buckets. Customize each message to reflect your audiences and use images and graphics that make sense for that demographic.
Remarketing Ads. You will watch impressions soar with remarketing ads. Serving ads to your audiences who’ve already viewed your website, blog post, or offer is incredible. Again, you’ll need to tweak your message for each audience, but through trial and error, you’ll find remarketing ads work wonders for your brand.
Tip for Startups: Don’t act like a big company and create a general commercial for your startup. Personalize your ads and experiment with messaging.
5. Choose Dates & Launch
This is pretty straight-forward. Setup your marketing activities to cascade over a number of days, weeks, or months.
If you’re experimenting with different channels and ideas, a good length for a campaign is 2 weeks.
Indicators of a Successful Campaign
There are a number of things to look at when analyzing your campaign.
If you chose to run a brand awareness campaign, your success indicators are impressions, likes, comments, and shares.
If you ran a lead generation campaign, your metrics are page visits, time-on-page, and form submissions.
Bumps in the road. If you ran a lead generation campaign and no one signed up, do more brand awareness activities, work on your messaging, etc. It’s important that your network and audience understand what it is you do, so when the time comes for referrals, you’re top of mind.
FAQs by Startup Marketers
“My ad got a lot of clicks, but no one signed up”.
The good news is you found out what your ad-audience clicks. The bad news is no one signed up. Here are a few suggestions for things to check out:
- Does your ad’s message match what’s being reflected on the webpage they go to?
- Are you clearly articulating what you want people to sign up for?
- Is there a clear place where the visitor takes action on the webpage?
- Is your webpage mobile friendly? Friendly for devices outside the iPhone and Android suite?
“We ran a brand awareness ads, but the results were mediocre”.
Test your audiences and your messaging. It’s worthwhile to build out personas of who you’re trying to target before you setup your ads. Do research about their interests, job titles, roles, etc.
For example, one of my marketing mentors is a part-time ski instructor. If I ran an image-ad of me skiing holding a laptop, I’d earn his impression. If the text for the ad included “hey dude”, he’d join my fanbase.
Targeting. Messaging. Audiences. This is the game.