Do you have a ground-breaking idea that could make all our lives better? Great!! You’re ready to build a start-up and realise your dream! Or are you? Unfortunately, this post is about bringing you back down to earth. Of course, a start-up is a great opportunity to do what you always wanted to do, but it’s not as easy as some may think... It’s a long and hard way to establish your business, reach success and make money. The biggest challenges for all start-ups is to break through the noise and show the target customers that their idea is the solution for a critical problem. Without having a huge community and paying supporters behind your project, you’ll most likely suffer under extreme resources constraint that often drives business to failure. Breakthrough and your business will fly! And don’t be fooled, failure happens even when the idea is genius! So the big question is: how to build this indispensable community which supports and finances your project? One of the easiest and most productive ways to reach a lot of people is the internet, so your start-up needs a good and cost-effective online marketing strategy at the centre of your business plan!
And here’s how you can go about it…
#1 Leverage your current resources
A huge marketing potential can be created from your existing assets and in particular from your current customers and supporters.
Install a Share-Button. You’ll get more traffic on your website as soon as you provide your costumers the possibility to share your content to other networks.
Use gamification to engage your audience. Levels, badges or status progress could be good methods to let customers compete with each other. People always like to be on top, even if it’s just in the ranking on your website.
Offer premium content to users who are particularly active. They will do a lot to get access to this premium content (of course, the premium content needs to be remarkable…)
Give your customers the possibility to publish their own content on your website. This can be done with comments on articles or in forums as well as reviews.
Use testimonials. Ask a handful of your customers to write a recommendation. It’s a great way to inspire prospective clients.
#2 Make your business attractive
As a start-up you can attract new customers even when your project hasn’t launched yet. Try to create a kind of suspense before you launch. The invitation-only-method where only people who are invited by already registered members get the hottest news about your project and can access a beta version of your homepage is a great way to get people excited about what’s coming. Using this technique you can build a large community in a short period of time and before your business has even launched!
#3 Step into the spotlight without spending much
These 3 methods will help improve your popularity:
Participate in some start-up contests! Even if you don’t win, the juries will have a look at your project and will give you valuable tips. And if you reach the final stage of the competition, you’ll definitely be on the radar!
Start a crowd founding campaign! There are so many reasons why you should do that: first, it’s a way to finance your project; seconds, your supporters will spread your idea and recruit other supporters; and last but not least, journalists often get their inspirations from crowd founding websites to write new articles. In short: crowd founding offers a huge growth potential to your business!
Establish strategic partnerships with larger organisations. As soon as you have a proof of concept for your product, these companies can bring great value to your business (and vice versa). And they are often more open minded than you think so don’t me afraid of approaching them!
#4 Take advantage of your competitor’s weaknesses
Business is a competition... Especially for start-ups it’s very important to outdo their competitors because they possibly take away supporters and consequently the foundation of the business. So keep an eye on your competitors’ business. Any of their weaknesses and faux pas is an opportunity for you to step in, make it better than them and take market share!
#5 Improve your reputation as a founder
Connections, connections, connections… Never underestimate the power of your network and people perception of you as the business founder. Consider the following to improve your reputation as a start-up founder and get closer to prospective supporters:
Content-marketing. Publications, blogs and newsletters are incredible opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and build your credibility. You want to be seen as a specialist in your field.
Volunteering. Prove your knowledge in your field while working together with others in a mutual project. Don’t be shy and share your results with them and offer your help for free. Your services will pay off for you and boost your reputation immediately.
Events and fairs. Be present! A quick chat, a handshake or just the exchange of business cards is extremely powerful. Face-to-face sells!
#6 SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
How do you search on Google? Right, you’re using questions and keywords. What you are supposed to do on your website is to answer these questions and use these keywords. SEO is a specialist topic that can seem pretty complicated to most of us. It is essential for your business to be found though so it is important that you take it into account and surround yourself with the people and organisations that can help you get it right. Once you do, customers will naturally come to you! Further you should register your start-up in national databases (international platforms are welcome too) to create more traffic on your website and to connect with supporters and other start-ups. Register on the governmental webpage for businesses and enter the Australian start-up community to cover the national level.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it and learnt something about start-up marketing.
Moritz is a Junior Marketing Assistant at Sierra Marketing. Moritz has a passion for marketing to help start-up and small businesses grow beyond what they ever thought was possible. Moritz’ work at Sierra Marketing with clients including Study Network Australia, Careers Australia and Empower Institute. Moritz’ work mostly focuses on online marketing, social media and community management as well as market research.