One of the first questions asked by a startup business is usually “how should we promote ourselves?” followed sometimes with a degree of overwhelm when they consider the multitude of marketing options out there.
Simply considering social media platforms can lead to confusion: should you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest – or one of the many others?
The good news is modern marketing needn’t be confusing: the key is to choose methods that suit your startup and the type of customers you’re targeting. In the same way certain resources can be chosen to suit specific business types such as POS (Point of Sale) solutions designed for apparel, shoes, accessory and jewelry retailers, so specific marketing methods suit certain business types.
For example, highly visual trades such as fashion would benefit from a social media platform like Instagram as its strength is in sharing photos and images. A business-to-business service may work well on platform designed for networking such as LinkedIn. There’s no need to become overwhelmed with the various social media options – pick the one that’s right for you and look to perfect that.
One or two platforms are usually enough for most startups at least to start with.
Narrow it down and go niche: where is your market?
Knowing where your customers are will help you consider how to reach them and what marketing options to use.
If your market isn’t local to you, then an online marketing strategy will be needed to reach them as opposed to a local press and ad campaign that might suit a business trying to reach a particular geographical market.
Narrowing the focus – who are your customers? The more you can be specific, the better your marketing can be as you’ll be targeting specific people as opposed to a broad range.
‘Niching’ – makes focused marketing easier: appealing to one segment of a market and fulfilling a specific need it has as opposed to trying to appeal to everyone makes it clearer who your customers are and enables you to position yourself as a specialist and expert in your niche.
Where is your market? – knowing who your customer is will help you decide how to find them. For example, if you’re hoping to attract a certain age range of teenager then social media such as Facebook and Instagram may bear fruit – and with highly targeted Facebook ads they can be reached without your message going to those who wouldn’t be interested.
Similarly, if your focus is on, say, mothers to be or mothers of young children, then appropriate ‘mother and children’ centric networks and forums and perhaps building relationships with parenting bloggers could be an option.
What is your target market searching for online? Knowing what search terms and keywords they use will help you understand their requirements, attract them to your website – or directly to your offer if you’ve got one set up via a landing page.
This is in effect developing an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. If you can’t afford professional SEO help initially it’s possible to learn the basics – and well worthwhile.
One way or the other marketing will cost a certain amount; some you can do yourself but others – such as designing a top notch website – should be left to a pro unless you have industry standard skills in this area.
Decide on a marketing budget and stick to it; bear in mind there are a number of very low cost and even free marketing options – the trade off is your time in doing them but some may work well for you and free up resources for elsewhere.
The power of specializing
As covered earlier, niching is a powerful way to set yourself up in that it helps you stand out in what could be a crowded business sector.
Once you identify your niche, it will help point you in the right direction in terms of your brand positioning and marketing strategy since you’ll know exactly who you’re targeting and where they are.