Marketing – it’s a word that can often be enough to make any startup founder’s skin crawl; particularly when you’re wearing so many hats in your business already. And while it can become a task that ends up last on your to-do list, without it, it’s difficult to both reach new customers, and make sales in your business!
If you aren’t already thinking about how you can market your business, now’s the time to do it; so you can both build your brand and connect with your audience online.
Read on for our marketing tips!
1. Understanding your audience is essential to creating effective marketing campaigns
Building a beautiful brand and creating show-stopping products and services mean nothing if you don’t first get to know WHO your audience is, and how you’re solving their problems. The first step to understanding your audience is to do your research and gather information on your existing customers or clients. Your audience shouldn’t be EVERYONE, so it’s important to identify just a few different audience groups who would really care about your product or service and how it could help them.
Take the time to look for similarities among your customers – such as age, gender, location, career, and buying behaviours. Then, develop one or more audience personas based on the information that you gather, so that you can develop messaging that speaks directly to this type of buyer. If you haven’t yet made a sale, that’s Ok! Go back to your unique value proposition and the research you did in the early stages of developing your business, and use this to develop initial assumptions about who your customers may be. (This can be adjusted once you have collected more data from your sales.)
Your marketing messaging should then speak to this group (or groups) of people that you have identified first. Think about the language that your customers would typically use, how they may be feeling, and how you can alleviate their pain. This will go a long way in creating content which speaks to them on a personal and individual level, in a meaningful way. Your audience wants to know that you understand them, so consider the following to help you craft your message:
- How would you audience describe their problem if they were having coffee with a friend?
- What is most important to your audience when it comes to having their problem solved?
- How you could best support your customers to solve their problem?
2. Choose the marketing platforms that your audience use
Now that you better understand your audience, it’s time to take things a step further and consider where you can find them online! Building your brand across every social media platform or channel is both time consuming and unnecessary. At the end of the day, having a TikTok channel just because YOU like it means nothing if your audience doesn’t even use it to begin with.
Think about what channels your audience are most likely to use. Are they regularly scrolling Facebook? Uploading their latest reel to Instagram? Or do they prefer the professionalism of LinkedIn? If you are trying to attract Business to Business (B2B) clients, then you may wish to focus your efforts on LinkedIn. If your main customers are the consumer, then platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest may be where you’ll spend your time.
Trial and error will be your key to success in the early days of finding where your audience is online, so spend a month seeing what kind of responses you get from your efforts, and go from there.
3. Build trust and authority with your audience – don’t just “sell” to them
While the primary goal of marketing your business is to make sales, it shouldn’t be an obvious focal point. Your audience needs to build trust and authority in you before making a purchase, so it’s important to create content which does just this!
Content which focuses on providing your audience with information or value, helps them get to know you, or shows how you can solve their problems, will go a long way in building this feeling of trust. Offering social proof is another great way to do this – creating content which showcases other people utilising your products or services (through case studies and sharing reviews or testimonials) allows your audience to connect on a deeper level. When they can see someone who is just like them using your brand, they can imagine using it, too.
4. Focus on building your mailing list or customer database
Don’t forget – you do not own your audience on your social media platforms! When Instagram and Facebook went down last month, it only highlighted the need to build mailing lists. It can become so easy to get drawn in to watching your “follower count”, but what’s most important in your marketing efforts is to collect the information of your audience, so that you can continue to market to them, again and again.
Email marketing should be an essential part of any plan, so that you can continue to send your audience value adding content, special offers, and information about your business. Your mailing list or database is full of people who are already warm leads, ready to purchase from you. If you haven’t already, consider adding a newsletter sign up form to your website, or develop a “downloadable” product or offer for your audience, in exchange for collecting their email address.
5. Planning and preparation are the key to success!
We get it, you’re so busy managing your business that marketing can easily fall to the wayside. But prior planning can allow you to make time to focus on customer acquisition, and create content that you can set and forget.
By putting aside 1-2 hours each week or fortnight, you can come up with your pieces of content, your graphics or images, and your messaging, that can be pre-scheduled in advance. Taking the time to create your marketing materials in batches saves you more time overall, as you’re not having to worry about that last minute dash of putting something out on social media for the sake of it! Instead, you can become more strategic in your approach, considering WHAT you should be saying, and HOW you can continue to build trust with your audience.
So there you have it – our tips to help you market your startup so that you can increase your sales! We understand that marketing can be difficult. Focus on one thing at a time, and you’ll find that the more often you think with an “audience-first” mindset, the easier it will become. Who knows, maybe marketing will become an enjoyable part of your business to-do list!
At Startup Gippsland, we are passionate about supporting regional entrepreneurs to grow and scale their business ideas. You can learn more about our 2022 program here.