7 Marketing Tips for Your Bootstrapped Startup

 

Every day we are inundated by brands fighting for our attention; how can you possibly make your startup top of mind? Marketing your startup in today’s competitive business economy is undoubtedly difficult, but there are steps you can take to make sure your startup gets a fighting chance at success.

Before you read the following tips, make sure you have a firm grasp on two key things. First, you want to make sure that all of your marketing strategies identify and build upon what makes your business unique in your space — so identify what those characteristics are and keep them in mind as you plot out your tactics. Secondly, identify what the goals of your marketing strategy are: Do you want to gain social followers, convert prospective customers into purchasing customers or merely increase brand awareness? Knowing exactly what you want to gain from your marketing efforts will help you choose the best tactics. So, read on below for seven different tips for marketing your startup.

1. Focus on Your Target Customer

When you first start marketing your business, it is easy to get overzealous and want to reach out to everyone at once all the time. However, it is important to stay focused on reaching your target customers who are mostly likely to help establish and grow your business.

Rather than trying to attract any potential customer, zero in on a target segment that will help you reach your short-term goals. Maybe this target segment is made up of early adopters, who you think will buy your product quickly — or quite simply, they may be a target audience you know how to reach. Whatever the case, staying focused will help you reach your target customer more efficiently, and it is a better use of your limited resources.

2. Build Strategic Partnerships

Aligning yourself with an established brand will help your startup gain credibility. Choose a business that you are enthusiastic about — ideally one that has complementary services so that you can refer business to each other. You can always consider implementing a referral fee on both sides, so that there is a monetary incentive on top of the new business partnerships that each of you will bring in.

3. Engage in Community Outreach

Getting featured in your local news outlets is a great way to gain some brand awareness. Reach out to your local newspaper or radio and tell them about your new business venture, convince them why covering your business is worth their time and energy. Another option is to go back to your university or college, and see if they would be willing to publish your story in their student newspaper or website. Universities love to report on alumni who are doing cool things after graduation, so it never hurts to ask.

Another way to market your startup through community outreach is by sponsoring local events or competitions. If you’re still looking for investors, sponsoring a tech startup competition would garner targeted publicity and investor awareness. Additionally, you could reach out to bloggers and send them a product to review, or hook them up with the service you provide. You should also provide them with a referral link for their review post so you can track your ROI. Lastly, you could offer to write a guest post for their blog — which would establish yourself and your company as thought leaders in your industry.

Image via iStockphoto, pixelfit

4. Incentivize People to Share

If you want people to talk about your product or service, there’s nothing quite like giving them an incentive to do so. Offer an immediate discount for tweeting about your product or service, or ask them to post about it on Facebook. Or, in exchange for “liking” your company — maybe they could receive some additional perk.

Another way to incentivize your customers is through a contest. Rafflecopter is a great resource to manage giveaways — you can embed the giveaway code anywhere, including your own site, then you can pick a winner at the end. Get creative with how you incentivize your customers, just make sure there is actual value in it for them.

5. Develop Branded Content

This might be more of a long-term strategy, but developing branded content is a phenomenal way to market your startup. If you’re working with a small team and you just don’t have the manpower to write custom content, then wait a few months until you are a bit more established. Branded content is a great way to align your company with themes that are pertinent to your industry, and if you have something intelligent to add to the dialogue you immediately establish yourself as an expert.

The important thing to remember with branded content is that it should be non-promotional — don’t tout your company’s services or business offerings; instead, release an article about once every quarter or so that reflects on issues that your industry is facing with some thoughtful commentary and analysis. Another way to produce branded content is to conduct surveys in your industry and publish the findings that are relevant — the more unique the information is, the more likely it will earn attention.

iStockphoto, pixelfit

6. Leverage Social Media

One of the obvious tactics for marketing your startup is using social media. However, there are right and wrong ways of using social media marketing. You want to make sure that you are posting consistently, and that you are engaging with your customers. You don’t want your Twitter and Facebook platforms to just spout off promotional information about your company. Instead, post interesting and shareable information. You want the content you offer to have value — it’s crucial to know your audience so you can give them information that is either helpful, interesting — or both.

You should always consider which platforms make the most sense for your startup. If you can market your product best visually, focus your energies on Instagram or Pinterest. If you offer a service that is best expressed by sharing information, develop a strong Twitter or Facebook presence. With Twitter in mind, be sure to use it to engage B2B as well as B2C. Thank anyone who mentions your business in their articles, and even engage with your competitors from time to time — this puts your brand on the map, and can bolster relationships with people in your industry.

7. Apply for Business Awards

Whether you’ve developed a new service to ease the lives of your customers, or you are touting a product unlike anything else in the market — getting the recognition from a local business award will surely increase your brand awareness. No award is too small, because it only means increased press for your company. Winning a local business award will also give your startup more legitimacy.

What marketing strategies have you implemented for your startup? Let us know in the comments.

Image via iStockphoto, lumpynoodles

Written by Elisha Hartwig from Mashable.com

How to Not Get Penalized by Google for Duplicate Content

The value of content marketing has caught fire these past couple years and with that has come everybody’s desire to create, post and distribute as much content as possible as quickly as possible so they could rank #1 on the SERPs. With every great new movement comes great temptation to use the infamous ‘copy-paste’ command. However, and this is a BIG HOWEVER, the Google duplication detector is just a little bit ahead of you–algorithmically speaking.

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In a recent article by Search Engine Journal they share 25 ways you can get penalized. So instead of telling you what to do to cheat the system-we’re going to inspire you to invest your time in doing the right things by sharing what you shouldn’t be doing. Below find a list of Top 10 things you should stay away from:

  1. Don’t Purchase Spam Links for $10
  2. Don’t Hide links in the Code (CSS, Java, etc)
  3. Don’t always use the same anchor text
  4. Don’t use Tag clouds and Footer Links (In-Content is Key)
  5. Don’t create Broken Links
  6. Over SEOing every page
  7. Don’t Duplicate or Scrape Content
  8. Don’t Display too much Advertising
  9. Don’t overstuff Keywords in your Meta Sections
  10. Don’t get Hacked

Now for those of you still with us we’d like to give you the gift of a video tutorial on unique content by one of our go to SEO Guru’s (although he will never accept that title) Rand Fishkin from SEOMOZ.

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How I Organized My Startup’s Social Media Campaigns

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Minimum viable products, market research, burn rate, milestones, lifecycle marketing, venture capitalists and Weissmamn scores. Who has time to figure out how to get an awesome user acquisition strategy improved on social media with everything going on? Do I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, PPC, content marketing, automation, PR, Direct or just continue developing my platform and users? As the #1 strategic partner for startups in Miami I have always focused on practicing what I preach and so I want to give you a sneak peak ‘under the hood’ and what has helped me be on site with clients and partners at Venture hive and The Lab Miami as well as consistently in your newsfeed! The key isn’t how much you do but using tools that that guide you through it doing it quickly and well!

Organizing Your Goals

We’re here to give you a cheat sheet and a helping hand. The goal is to focus on creating social media campaigns that drive ‘specific’ results. Here are some of our favorite goal driven social media campaigns:

  • Promote an Event
  • Promote Your Blog
  • Promote Your Content
  • Boost Engagement
  • Grow Your Social Following
  • Increase Sales / User Acquisition

So about now I hear you saying, “Ok Richard, but it will take me forever to schedule messages and links for all those campaigns across all my networks.” To which I will respond one simple phrase…

“Rignite It.”

One of the reasons we have been so successful these past few months is because of our technology partners. We found a great tool that helped us create campaigns, monitor social, keep track of social interactions with cases and have an analytics dashboard that let us know the results of our campaigns instantly! Here’s what the Dashboard of Rignite looks like:

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As you will see the main focus is on our campaigns, and in this case (during May) we are running campaigns around the following themes:

  1. Creating Free Offers in Exchange for Followings
  2. Newsletter Subscriptions through Links to Blogs
  3. Customer Increase through Promotional Offers

On average we have about 20-30 messages (one per day) for each campaign (total of 8) which automatically distributes the message to all of our social networks including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. While Instagram’s API is still not open yet to post messages through 3rd party applications you can easily create feeds within Rignite to monitor Instagram through customizable ‘keywords’ in the MONITOR module:

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From the search stream you can even tag your favorite social users with their “Watch List” and “VIP” features which helps you keep an eye on your Leads, customers or partners.

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There are about 15 other amazing features that we love using on Rignite but I don’t want to overwhelm you so early on in the game. They offer a free Trial and then monthly subscriptions starting at $11/month which let you manage UNLIMITED social accounts. Service wise I have been dealing with Katie and Glen and they have been awesome to not only assist me with my product needs but also offering growth opportunities. We can truly say that Rignite is a great technology partner! Write us some comments if you have any questions….

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Startup Landing Pages that FAIL!

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So we’ve all been bit by the landing page bug and some of us have even gone a/b/c/d crazy testing out colors, buttons, images and I’ve even heard about people testing FONTS! Ok people you are spectacularly detail oriented so this is for you. There are a lot of boo-boos that people make with the copy on their landing pages and our friends at @unbounce pitched in and gave us a list of 17 words you should NEVER EVER use!

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These are a list of words that make you sound way fancier but at the end of the makes the reader lose the intent of your page and guess what… BOUNCE!

  • Market-Leading
  • Best-in-Class
  • World Class
  • State of the Art
  • Cutting Edge
  • Industry Standard
  • First Rate

THE OLD “BRAND NEW”

  • Breakthrough
  • Next-generation
  • Innovative
  • Revolutionary
  • Pioneering

SUPERLATIVE

  • Most ‘whatever’ – i.e. Most Business owners prefer inbound versus paid marketing
  • Amazing
  • Stunning
  • Fantastic
  • Ultimate

POINTLESS WORDS

  • Fast Delivery
  • Superior Quality
  • Top Quality Product
  • Excellent Customer Service

JARGON ATTACK

  • Utilize
  • Leverage
  • Alleviate
  • Very, Actually, Really, Just

You need to understand the wishes, desires and dreams of your customers. You need to know how you can overcome any hesitation to buying from you. Sneak into your customer’s mind to find out which hassle you can take away, which trouble you can help avoid. Use the words your customers use. Speak their language and your copy will convert. Your business will grow.

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How to Gamify Your User Acquisition Strategy

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You have your minimum viable product up and running and now its time to get more users…well….using it! But you’re just not getting enough people into the funnel so you can iterate, send surveys or even get good usage analytics so what do you do? Well, most of the time prospect users see right through that tweet or facebook post that says ‘Try  our new app!” There’s no incentive there.

Lead generation has a bad connotation. This is problematic because businesses cannot exist without lead generation. To grow, or even stay afloat, you must have a steady stream of new prospects flowing in. Herein lies the conundrum: the general perception of lead generation is negative, but every business must do it.

But if you make it a little fun then you’ll start seeing your new user pipeline stack up so that you’ll have to upgrade your server bandwidth. Here’s a few ways you can crank up your user acquisition strategy!

  • Revitalize Boring Content with a Quiz
  • Use Videos to Collect Information
  • Use the ‘shoekeeper’ method (oooh secretive)

For more detailed information about how to execute these awesome strategies, drop us a comment below or reach out to us by clicking on the banner, we love to “Help Startups Start-Up!”

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