Entrepreneurs that are running startups understand the importance of every dollar.
After all, according to Forbes, only about 300 of the 600,000 businesses that are launched annually are funded by VCs (.05 percent). This means that most new businesses are bootstrapped with limited funding.
To make matters worse, startups need more marketing to increase their brand visibility, user acquisition and customer retention. Thus, learning how to get the most out of your digital marketing budget will help you see more results with less wasted resources.
One of the best ways to learn is by listening to others that have already been where you are. Here are some tips from three entrepreneurs that have experience in digital marketing for startups.
Know Your Industry and Leverage Influencers
Rohan Gilkes (Founder of GrooveLiving, image via Twitter)
Rohan is known on Reddit for his willingness to share insight and advice about his successes and struggles while running his many startups. His digital marketing tips for startups revolve around spending time understanding what your company offers and how customers are going to interact with your brand.
By taking the time to understand your brand and your clients, you’ll better be able to match their expectations and communicate with them. Additionally, he believes there is tremendous value in leveraging influencers in your space—particularly on social media.
Question One: What is the most important use of money, time and energy for entrepreneurs looking to market their startup online?
“I think this depends on the type of startup. Let’s look at these two main types of startups:
First, the startup that is selling innovative, cool and fun items that connect with people on an emotional level like fashion, social apps, etc. This type of startup is likely to see value from investing their efforts into social media and finding relevant influencers.
Second, this is the less-sexy startup that is focused on more practical services like shipping or home cleaning. This type of business is less able to leverage emotions, so would see more value in focusing on SEO or localized content.
It’s not only looking at where you’ll find the most motivated customers online, but in what ways those customers are more likely to interact and engage with your brand.”
Question Two: What can/should startups be doing on social media to get the most out of the different platforms?
“Social media is better than traditional default channels because you can leverage influencers. Take some time early on and figure out where the influencers in your space are most likely to hang out.
For instance, are you a makeup/beauty brand? Head to Youtube.
Are you into home furnishings? Pinterest is probably where you want to spend your time.
Did you launch a new gym wear brand? Instagram is your friend.
Regardless of your industry, find out where the most influential people in your industry spend their time and actively reach out and connect with those folks on an individual level. Built rapport with these influencers and when it comes time to ramp up your mass marketing efforts these influencers will help you make it happen!”
Related Article: Social Media Marketing for Startups: 5 Rules For Success
Find Your Story and Learn How to Tell It
Dave is one of the most reputable personalities in the content marketing space and is also the founder of CopyPress, a digital content agency. He’s a very interesting person to talk to about startups and marketing because in addition to his experience in the marketing space he also launched a startup.
His tip is to develop a strategic message or story that speaks to your audience. Once you have this outlined, then you have to execute it across as many relevant mediums as possible. The best part is, once you know your message, telling it will be easy.
Question One: With regards to content marketing, what is the most important advice that you’d tell a startup?
"Content marketing without a strategy is pointless. The most important thing any startup, or company in general, can do is to critically think about what they want to accomplish with their marketing, what they want to say as a brand and ultimately what their overarching brand identity is.
Without understanding these three things, a company will be aimlessly throwing things at the wall and hoping something sticks. As a startup, you don’t have the budget to be as reckless with your content marketing so it is crucial that you take time to create a strategy and document it!”
Question Two: Is there a type of content or platform that you think works better for startups?
“Creating content for platforms is a common mistake that I see tons of brands making. You hear marketers talk about stuffing keywords into content so that it ranks better for different terms or social media teams plugging several hashtags into tweets so that they show up on more feeds, but in reality these tactics are short-term gains that are likely to create less-enjoyable user experiences that will lead more users away from your brand than towards it.
I always encourage brands to create platformless content, meaning create content that is genuinely designed to be consumed and enjoyed by your target audience and not to manipulate a platform. After all, we’ve seen many platforms come and go, but great content should transcend platforms. As far as the type of content that works best, this is going to vary on the industry and the brand.
With that said, startups are usually stuck with the burden of educating customers—so something like an explainer video, infographic or rich-media piece of content is something worth considering if it fits within the marketers budget."
Related Article: How to Convey Branding Through Web Design and Development
Test Before You Scale and Leverage Transparency Marketing
Kevin Pereira (Founder of GrooveJar)
Kevin is an entrepreneur who is not afraid of risk. He has been a part of wildly successful startups and has also been along for the ride in not-so-successful ventures.
Along the way, he’s learned that marketing a startup requires being able to capitalize on the things that are working and abandon what isn’t. This is especially important for maintaining an efficient marketing budget.
Additionally, Kevin also believes that startups can use transparency to their advantage with marketing in order to gain trust with clients.
Question One: What piece of advice, tip, warning would you give a startup that wants to invest into digital marketing?
"When it comes to digital marketing, you cannot put all your eggs into one basket. Some strategies, platforms and initiatives work and others won’t, no matter how much time and money you put into them.
In order to hedge your bets, you should test different strategies, platforms and initiatives on a small and measurable scale. Then, ramp up what works best for your business and stop doing what isn’t working.”
Question Two: Is there any marketing strategy that you feel is underutilized for startups?
“Yes, there is a very simple strategy that almost seems too easy—but most companies are afraid to use it.
It’s the strategy of being transparent about your company and using that as a marketing tool.
Be honest about what your company is doing, talk about marketing successes or blunders. It brings a human element to your brand and customers can relate. Also, with so many brands trying to be secretive about how they are running their business, just taking the transparent approach will help you stand out.”
Startups have a very small margin for error and any misstep can be critical. Thus, learning how to efficiently market your brand without wasting resources can be the key to surviving.
The three entrepreneurs above have already built successful startups and they know what it took to get their respective companies to where they are. With that said, every company and industry is different so while you should take head of the information they shared, you will also have to learn what works best for your company.