There are new brands popping up every day trying to compete for consumers’ valuable attention. As a startup, you will more than likely be fighting an uphill battle in terms of budget and resources. In turn, there will be a lot of pressure to break the mold and show how you are truly unique.
According to stats published by the SBA, 78% of startups survive their first year, but, 95% fail after five. Even though there is an uncanny amount of brand messaging and content on the web, there are many things you can do to prove that your startup is here to stay. Regardless of the industry in which you are looking to make a name for yourself, there will always be innovative approaches to bring new value and connection to audiences.
Build Hype in the Months Leading up to Launch Day
If the old saying “prior planning prevents poor performance” is true for anything, it’s startups. Chances are, you’ve been prepping for months – or even years. When the day comes that your brand hits the market, building hype beforehand is crucial to ensure your operations start off strong.
The success of Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee was in a large part due to its extended pre-launch campaign and involvement of people in tasting tests. The campaign wasn’t just digital; they also ran a print ad:
And they stuck steadfastly to their plan, inviting over 4 million people to taste their product over a period of two years, at the end of which Via became the 5th best-selling instant coffee in the U.S.
If you plan on producing a good deal of content once you’re up and running, your goal should be to get as many people to sign up for your newsletters and promotions as possible. A great way to do this is by offering a bit of incentive in return for email addresses.
Agreed, you might not have Starbucks’ budget, so a cheaper and leaner alternative to large scale advertising would be to hold giveaways on social media or other popular platforms.
This will do a lot to build rapport with potential customers early on, while keeping costs low. If you offer a prize, be sure it is something that holds true value. For example, depending on your business, you could offer things like a free trial or discount code for your product, access to your research, or free tickets to an industry event. Just be sure it appeals to your entire target demographic and has the potential to draw traffic to your site or app.
At the end of the day, you only want to release small tidbits leading up to the launch. The trick is giving out the perfect amount of hints and details, without killing anticipation.
Become a Thought Leader
One of the main hurdles to getting a startup off the ground is establishing a high level of credibility and showcasing expertise. Doing so can open a number of doors for further business growth. Even though many startups strive to achieve leadership in their fields, few know to do it successfully.
There are many ways to market your knowledge to a niche audience. The overarching theme lies in producing quality content. A great way to prove you’re a thought leader is by creating or hosting webinars; doing this can help you reach a highly-targeted audience that is already interested and receptive to your brand messaging. Putting together a successful webinar can be difficult – your content needs to be tailored to answer specific questions and address the most pertinent challenges consumers in your industry face.
If you want to go a step further than a webinar, try building and conducting an online course that teaches the ins and outs of your industry. Throughout your course, address common misconceptions and incorporate your own personal journey, telling the story of how you became an expert, while providing hands-on experience. If you package and promote your services right, it can lead to a virtuous cycle of visibility and sales.
For example, Michelle Parsley, founder of Elevate Your Art, used course marketing platform Kajabi to create and conduct a number of interactive art courses online, each with different creative approaches. In addition to receiving a great amount of recognition, Parsley’s story was featured on Kajabi’s “Hero Wall,” gaining a lot of personal authority (being a Kajabi hero means you made more than $1000 selling your knowledge on the platform) as well as industry insider connections in the process:
Writing and publishing an ebook is another highly-effective way to expand your educational content library and show the masses that you know a thing or two about your field. The ebook industry is blowing up, even though it’s far from the latest thing in marketing. In fact, ebooks are projected to generate a total of nearly $20 billion by 2018. This is an opportunity to grab a subject by its horns and go far more in-depth than you would with a typical blog post.
Once you have solidified the status as an industry thought leader, you gain a strong aura of credibility and the opportunity to better the lives of your audience.
Dive Deep into Social Conversations
As all marketers and businesses know, social media is a branding tool that can no longer be ignored. With almost one-third of the planet’s population active on social media, one of the best ways for startups to get a stake in the game is by keeping up on what the masses are talking about in relation to their industry.
When you get a feel for the hot button issues in your industry, you are a) in a much better position to write content that appeals to your niche and b) able to jump into ongoing conversations as a recognized source of knowledge or expertise.
Using the right social media monitoring and listening tools, you can pinpoint trending topics by targeting certain keywords, brand names, or industries on social networks. Consequently, you will learn how to frame your posts and content in ways it best speaks to the interests of the people you are trying to reach.
Gatorade and other companies have been known to set up and operate war-room like Social Media Command Centers in order to monitor and respond to mentions of their brand in real-time.
Using such systems, brands can keep a close eye on every single conversation that alludes to their brand, competitors, people (such as brand ambassadors) associated with them, as well as the industry in general.
From here, they can zero in on the conversation-heavy topics in their industry’s social sphere, based on which they can run detailed analysis on how to tweak their content to be as compelling as possible.
Further, identifying the right influencers who are a good match to the focus of the content can do wonders to market the brand to a diverse audience. Reaching out to these influencers is, however, a very difficult task. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to present a plan in which both parties have something valuable to gain.
Eventually, your aim should be to showcase your expertise to a point where you become an influencer with your own following.
The bottom line is that people are always talking on social media. Jumping into relevant conversations and offering solutions is one of the most reliable ways to get your name and keep it out there.
Marketing a startup will always be difficult. It takes a great deal of patience as well as trial and error. Be sure that in everything you do during this exciting time, you are constantly building on the characteristics that make your brand, product, and company unique. As you execute your strategy, keep tweaking your promotional tactics and practicing them day in and day out. Good luck!