As a startup, your time and money may be limited — especially for marketing. But you don’t always need an elaborate marketing strategy to make some noise on the internet, attract an audience, and build lasting customer relationships.
As I explained in my last article, you can focus on perfecting a few key tactics instead.
But which tactics, you ask? You’ve come to the right place. I’ll be sharing some of the best marketing tactics for startups based on my personal experience.
1. Define your story
Storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool. It’s also the natural beginning of every startup: Who are you, why are you here, and what will you change?
The first step is to tell your story to everyone and anyone. This is the best way to gather feedback and see what resonates.
The best narratives I’ve read are stuck with me forever, like the co-founders of Airbnb needing to sell sleeping spots on mattresses to afford rent or Dropbox’s CEO forgetting his USB stick. They also tend to answer the following questions:
- What’s current situation in your industry and why does it suck?
- Why is the problem you’re addressing so significant?
- How on earth will you solve it?
- Why are you the ones specifically that will be able to solve it?
- What can your audience do right now to contribute?
Once you’ve found the right story, your communication will become more valuable.
2. Build meaningful relationships
You need to build relationships to grow in marketing. And although this doesn’t seem like a tactic, it’s a sure fire way to improve your future announcements.
All you need to do is have regular and real conversations with reporters, bloggers, and others in your field. Many startups start shouting when they have news, but the fact is, you need to lay some groundwork (annoying, I know, but so worth it).
This tactic includes going to meetups, meeting competitors, being social at conferences. All these things (that are quite fun) are a legitimate and effective tactics for building relationships.
3. Yes, research
I’m not talking about marketing research here. I’m talking about user research. If you don’t know who your website, blog, or social media content is for then you’ll just be shouting to no one in particular on the internet.
Start by creating a hypothesis about who your ideal audience would be. No need for some fancy powerpoint slides but write down a few characteristics about them such as:
- What’s a typical demographic profile?
- Where do they work?
- How much do they know about your subject?
- What kind of content do they consume on the regular?
- What kind of problems do they face?
- Which channels do they use most?
Here’s a fun little template you can use from AVO Agency:
The next step is to make sure this hypothetical audience exists. Go out and talk to your potential and current customers. Find out what they want or need.
It’s is also an excellent opportunity to build some awesome showcases. Harness that social conformity power!
4. Build a community
You don’t need fancy marketing budgets to get somewhere on socials. You just need to find the right people that are interested in your product.
Instead of spending too much time looking at your metrics and calculating your ad budget, you should find relevant hashtags, groups, followers, and begin interacting online.
Community building could include:
- Leaving a comment under relevant photos or posts.
- Respond to comments directed at your company.
- Share interesting content from relevant accounts.
And if we want to go really old school, the best way to build a community is by hosting events. There’s research supporting that over 75 percent of Gen Z and Millennials actually prefer experiences over possessions (see graph below).
Don’t be ashamed to host regular drinks for customers and partners, organize a product launch, or be wherever your customers are and speak out. It’s also a great opportunity to share your refined brand story 😉
5. Referral is seriously king
Ok so content is important like we’ll discuss below, but stories like Dropbox and Paypal clearly indicate how powerful referrals can be.
The power behind referrals makes sense. Humans are inherently social. The importance of the ‘tribe’ is as vital today as it was thousands of years ago. In his book Psychology of Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini states that “ …we view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.”
The secret behind referrals is to make it incredibly easy for your customers to share your product or invite their friends, and you need instant gratifications for sharing. This gratification could be anything such as new features, a complete profile, tailored information, premium access, etc.
If you do this right, then your customers will essentially do your marketing for you.
6. Start a blog
And content is the queen of the marketing world. Starting a blog is perhaps the best way to generate exposure. A Hubspot report found that companies with blogs generate 126 percent more leads than companies with no blogs. That’s 126 percent, folks.
The most important thing to do is write about topics that are useful for your readers. After a few months of blogging, you should ask your readers what they want to hear. The more valuable your content is, the more points you earn with potential customers and search engines.
If you practice these tactics and keep measuring and improving them, you’ll find you’ve set up your company with a steady stream of traffic, leads, and customers for a very long time. So, ditch the myth that you need an elaborate marketing strategy and focus on a few manageable tactics instead.