Possibly one of the most critical aspects of launching a successful start-up is marketing. Someone can only find your product or service if they’ve heard of you.
But it can be difficult to know where to begin and where to focus your efforts, particularly when you’re just starting out. Here is a list of marketing musts recently shared by CreditDonkey.com:
1. Build the brand. Arguably the most critical of marketing components, establishing your brand will aid in creating a cohesive voice for your new business. Building your brand includes creating a logo, choosing corporate colors and fonts, and fine-tuning your core values, vision and primary customer profile.
2. Launch a website. Once you have developed your brand, communicate that information through a website. Your initial site doesn’t have to be extensive but should answer the “who, what, where, when and why?” of your start-up. To help increase your reach, look for ways to start building the number of backlinks (links from other websites) coming into your site; writing articles or keeping a blog are common tactics, and they can help your search engine rankings and even boost web traffic.
3. Establish a social media presence. Even if you don’t plan on kicking off with an extensive social media campaign, you should consider creating accounts with popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Set aside a day to create simple profiles and link them to your website; be sure to promote those profiles on your website and on any marketing materials. You’ll also want to start following pertinent blogs and thought leaders. Take the time to read and participate in the blogs; this will help you gain exposure and establish your credibility. Just be sure that your comments are relevant and not self-promotional.
4. Get in with the press. Many marketing efforts are expensive, but public relations is free. Compile a list of local media outlets (newspapers, radio, television, and websites), industry-related magazines and newsletters, and online blogs and websites, and send them an email or a press release introducing yourself and announcing your start-up. Don’t overlook local publications that may want to profile a new area company.
5. Network, network, network. Often, in business, it’s all about who you know; so, it’s important to start building your professional network right from the start. Through a combination of “traditional” avenues (think Chamber of Commerce, industry associations etc.) and online networking on sites like LinkedIn, you can get a lot of traction in spreading the word about your new company.
6. Start a marketing customer database. Be sure to capture your customers’ information right from the start so that you can begin building a strong retention marketing effort. Remember, it’s more expensive to gain new customers than retain existing ones. As time goes on, you can use the information to review your customer and sales data for trends. Digging into the numbers will help you identify ways to grow your early successes.
7. Spend wisely. The downside of marketing is that some tactics take a while to get the word out and – for some of these marketing musts – cost money. Track your costs and figure the ROI early on. If you’re like most start-ups, cash and resources are likely tight. In that case, bump up your efforts in low-cost efforts like social media or blogging. And look for other areas of your business where you can save money and, perhaps, re-allocate those funds to marketing. For instance, take the time to research a small-business credit card that will fit your needs and might even give you something in return, in the form of rewards points or cash back. Or, consider ways to save money on your business insurance.
Of course, marketing alone can’t guarantee business success. But it can play a big role in finding the customers who will buy your product or service, and setting you on the road to fulfilling your dreams.
Guest blogger Charles Tran is founder of CreditDonkey.com, a credit card comparison website.
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