Startup business - JAN 11, 2021

How to market a startup business: 8 practical and low cost ideas

Startup business marketing. Here are some great low cost ideas that startup businesses can adopt to effectively market themselves and acquire new customers

Building a successful startup takes more than having a great product. On top of a great product, it requires great marketing. But successful startup marketing doesn’t magically happen. It requires time, planning, effort and creativity.

In this guide we are going to discuss the best simple and inexpensive ideas for marketing your startup business to success. From strategy, to executing the strategy and then measuring your performance.

Developing a startup marketing strategy

Although all businesses and their marketing strategies differ from one another, all successful marketing strategies include these 5 fundamental components.

Setting goals

Success means different things to different startups, therefore different startups have different goals. Before getting started with assembling a team and launching your startup marketing campaign you need to define your goals.

Startup marketing goals often fall under two categories. Acquiring new customers and building brand awareness.

Whatever category you choose to base your goals on is going to be the major factor going forward. It will guide your entire marketing strategy and execution.

So, start by answering this question: What do you want to achieve in the first year of operating your business? Do you want to acquire a specific number of customers, or do you want to get as many people as possible to know about your business?

Before you answer the above question, let’s start by exploring what the two categories are about.

  • Building brand awareness: This is you introducing yourself to potential customers. This involves letting them know who you are as a business, what you do, and how you are better than the competition. Choosing to focus on building brand awareness means your startup marketing strategy will be aiming to get people to recognize your brand, talk about it and share your content.
  • Getting new customers: This is you encouraging potential customers to try out or buy your new product or service. Prioritizing that means having a more advanced marketing strategy. You want people to take action, so that means you need to get very creative, use design and call to actions in your marketing.

Ideally you want to achieve both getting customers and building brand awareness. But unless you have enough resources at your disposal, it’s best to prioritize what makes the most sense for your startup.

Define your audience

By audience we mean customers and potential customers. Your audience is the key to the success of your startup business. Without them you don’t have a business. That is why it’s so critical that you’re able to identify who they are, and what their needs are.

Knowing who your audience is will enable you to craft marketing messages that address their needs and resonate with them.

To help you get started on identifying your target audience, here are a few ideas:

  • Identify your audience demographics. What age range are they? Where do they live? Are they male or female?
  • Analyze their personalities and make sure your brand’s personality matches theirs.
  • Study their psychographics. What are their most common values, desires, goals, interests, and lifestyle choices?
  • Are they a business? If yes, what size are they and what industry are they in?

Use these suggestions to hone in to your target audience, determine their needs and structure your marketing strategy to meet those needs.

Find your place in the market

Startup founders are used to thinking that everyone will like their product or service, and as a results they often do very little market research. The reality is that the number 1 reason startups fail is because there is no market need for them.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that your startup can’t be successful just because there’s too much competition. It just means that positioning your startup is not going to be easy.

Do a proper market research, know the size of your new industry or market. Know the market leaders. Know the size of your potential customers and back your marketing with a lot of data.

Determine your budget

How much money will your initial startup marketing campaigns cost? You need to know how much money to set aside for marketing. When you’re determining your budget, think beyond media buying and content creation costs.

Many factors contribute to the startup marketing budget. Hiring an agency or getting a marketing team has to be included in your budget. Software and tools need to be paid for also.

Remember the goals you set before, focus your marketing budget on channels and practices that will help you achieve them.

Assemble the right team

“Team work makes the dream work” – John C. Maxwell.

Maxwell was on the money with this one. To create an effective marketing plan you don’t need just a team, you need a great and reliable team by your side. You need people who know their roles. People who will be responsible and accountable.

If you can, make sure you do interviews yourself, or be present during interviews if/when you decide to hire people that will be part of your marketing team. The qualities you’re looking for in your team members include:

  • Being results oriented
  • Responsible and accountable
  • Experts in their roles
  • And, have great communication skills

Startup marketing ideas

Now that most of the research work is done, it’s time to start marketing your startup business.

1. Branding

Branding plays a big role in startup marketing. You want to make sure that people know and can easily identify your business in a crowd. Done right, your brand identity can stir emotions of many potential customers and convert them into paying customers.

Brand is not your logo

When it comes to branding, most startup entrepreneurs tend to focus on a brand’s visual assets like a logo, color, and typography because they’re easy to understand. But brand is more than just these visual assets.

To complete your branding, on top of having clearly defined guidelines for your colors and typography, you also need to have emotional guidelines for writing copy, campaigns, and social media assets.

Brand needs a purpose

There’s a common trait between great brands. They make promises and keep them. They have a purpose and so they’re able to influence whoever they get into business with.

As a startup it important that you find or define your purpose early on. Having a brand purpose will help build enduring and emotional relationships between you and your consumers. Which in turn, helps you get more referrals and sales.

Brand personality

Your marketing needs to connect with your potential customer at an emotional level. That is why on top of your brands visual identity, you need to define your brands personality.

Develop a brand personality that your target customers can relate to. You know your audience, what tone or messaging will they have a positive response to? Communicate to them like a person. And be consistent with the personality you choose.

2. Get a professional website for your business

In the day and age where 81% of consumers conduct online research before making purchase decisions online, having a professional website for your business is no longer optional- it’s a necessity.

A website acts as both a marketing tool and an online storefront for your startup. This is the first place people head to, to learn more about your business. On top of all that, a website is there to work around the clock to help you communicate with your audience and grow your business.

First impressions count and they count a lot in business.

According to a study conducted by Taylor & Francis online, it takes 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion about your website and decide whether to stay on the site or leave. And 75% of users admit to judging a company’s credibility based on the website.

Needless to say, you need a really good website design for your startup business. One that will reflect your brand, engage visitors and convince them that you’re trust worthy, that you can and will deliver on your promise.

Check out our 2021 website design trends to get started on building an attractive website for your startup business.

If you’re considering hiring a web developer, check out this guide [How to Hire a Great Web Developer]

3. Leverage social media

Social media’s global usage continues to grow year after year. This year we passed the 4 billion users mark. That’s more than half the global population on social media!

Planned for and executed right, social media can be a very effective marketing tool for marketing your startup business.

To incorporate social media into your startup marketing plan you need to start by identifying which social media platforms will work best for your startup. Keep in mind that each social media platform serves different personalities and audiences.

Once you have decided the best social media channel(s) for your startup, create and post relevant content. Content that people will like and want to share.

Think of social media marketing as the new word of mouth. If you create great content, people will engage with it and want to share it with their friends, expanding your reach and increasing brand awareness.

However, growing a solid following on social media takes a long of time. To speed up the process, run targeted Ads. They will help you quickly expand your reach and encourage people to follow you or check out your website, store or products.

4. Influencer marketing

Having a strong online presence will help you reach wider audiences and achieve your goals faster. One of the techniques available you can use to build robust online presence is influencer marketing.

“Social media influencers are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views” –

Influencers can have a huge impact on your startup marketing. Hundreds of thousands of people, including your target audience, follow and listen to them on a daily basis. Being a startup, people know very little to nothing about your brand.  Having someone whose views they admire, tell them about your brand will yield great returns for your business.   

Here are 5 things to look for when choosing the best influencer for your startup:

  • Relevance – look at how aligned a person’s content is with your brand’s messaging and personality. E.g. for a startup that’s manufactures and sells sportswear, an athlete makes more sense over a fitness coach. Although they could be both used, but an athlete is more relevant.
  • Engagement – engagement is an indicator of how interactive an influencer’s audience is with the content. Does the audience like, respond, comment, and share the content?
  • Reach – how much reach does the influencer has? How many followers do they have? And are those followers your target audience?
  • Frequency – how many times do they post to promote a product? And, for how long? You need to know this because as with any marketing, it often takes multiple exposures for people to take action.
  • Authenticity – how authentic is the influencer? The more authentic, the more trusted their views are. People respond better to personal stories that include genuine use or mention of a brand compared to a straight product review.

Cultivate relationships with influencers. Reach out to them and offer free products or services. Some will want you to pay them depending on how big a following they have and how they’re feeling about your brand.

5. Content marketing

All marketing is based on content, but content marketing specifically focuses on creating, publishing and sharing relevant and valuable content for your target audience.

Content marketing is inexpensive and yet so effective. Types of content marketing include blog posts, social media posts, infographics, whitepaper, case studies, videos and many more.

Content marketing will help you establish yourself as a trusted source of information in your industry. That in turn will help you attract and convert your audience into customers.

Suggested reading: The ultimate guide to creating an effective content marketing strategy

Start producing high quality content and attract qualified leads. Answer your target audience’s questions, help them solve their problems and gain their trust. In return they will be loyal to your brand, they’ll become your brand’s advocates and spread word about your business startup.  

6. Google AdWords

Ranking number one on google is not easy, it takes time and a lot of efforts. Google looks at several factors to decide who ranks first for search terms. Being startup, you most likely won’t start ranking right away.

An alternative option for driving targeted and qualified traffic to your business startup website is Google AdWords. Google AdWords has 3 basic types of Ads to choose from.

Search Network campaigns

These Ads are the most popular, they show up at the top of Google’s Search Engine Results Page. These Ads target specific keywords and only show up when that keyword is entered on google search.

For example, suppose your startup manufactures and sells workout clothes, you might want to target keywords such as “gym clothes” or “cheap gym clothes South Africa”. Your advert will only appear when these phrases are entered on google search and google only charges you when someone clicks on your Advert.

Display Network campaigns

These Ads are usually in image form. You can specify which websites you want your ads to appear on, or bid to appear on websites related to your keywords.

Video campaigns

Google video Ads are often referred to as YouTube Ads since they display on YouTube before or during a YouTube video.

Drive instant and qualified traffic to your website with Google AdWords. The best thing about AdWords is that you’re in control of how much you spend and you get to choose who you want to spend it on through keywords and display Ads targeting

7. Build a referral network

Word of mouth remains one of the most powerful forms of marketing there is. Since people make purchases based on trust and credibility, they are 4 times more likely to purchase a product when it’s referred to them by someone they trust i.e. a friend or family member.  

Referral-based marketing involves leveraging those who have bought or used your product/service and ask them to advocate on your brand’s behalf.

Getting a referral is a two-step process:

  • First, get a customer and delight them by delivering an excellent service or product.
  • Second, if the customer is pleased with your results ask them for a referral. A referral can be anything from someone on their network who could benefit from your product, to a testimonial, review or case study.

This is one of the least expensive startup marketing ideas. It only requires you to deliver a great service/product to a customer, and that you make sure they had a pleasant experience while working with you and your brand.

8. Utilize email marketing

Email marketing has been around for a very long time and there’s a reason so many companies and individuals still use it, it works. All it takes is the right email sent to the right person.

To incorporate email marketing into your startup marketing plan start by collecting prospective clients’ email addresses. There are multiple ways you can collect prospects’ email addresses.

  • You can place a newsletter signup form on your startup website.
  • Ask them directly for their email addresses
  • Create and offer a piece of downloadable content they just need to get their hands and ask for their emails in exchange for giving them free content.
  • Or, use to find specific prospects’ emails

Then, start sharing updates about your services, content, products, and anything else that might be of interest to them. Avoid always sending advertorial emails or they’ll just opt out of receiving emails from you.

Mix up your emails, give them a reason to stay subscribed to your newsletter by sending content that brings them value. Content that has nothing to do with getting a sale from them.

To be even more successful with email marketing, you can ask for extra information from your prospects. Requesting details like their date of birth, interests, or location and use it to personalize the content you create and improve your results.

Did we miss any ideas? Let us know in the comments below. If you’d like to keep things private, or are interested on working with us, contact us here, we’d love to hear from you.

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