What are you most concerned about with your startup? Is it becoming profitable as quickly as possible, or is it building your brand through marketing? Naturally, you don’t have to choose just one of these goals. In fact, there’s no right answer about what should come first because they’re interdependent goals and you can’t have one without the other.
Money for Marketing-A Chicken/Egg Dilemma
Your startup needs to generate income, which means you need to attract customers – which, often, means you need to have some money to spend on marketing. Without a marketing campaign of some kind, people won’t know about your startup and if they don’t know you,they can’t do business with you.
Unfortunately, you’re not going to have the kind of marketing budget you need without customers; unless you have more investors than the average startup.
This is why social media is so important to startup success. You already know how important social media is and how effective it can be and it’s not something that generally requires a lot of money either.
Social media is no longer an optional part of your marketing strategy; it’s something that you really need to leverage for your startup. The first step is to plan your strategy. If you don’t have one, make one and if your plan isn’t yielding the results you want, refine it.
Your plan could be a soup to nuts document which covers every aspect of your marketing strategy or it could be something far shorter and less detailed which simply covers the broad strokes of your marketing plan.
We all have different styles, so there’s no single right answer to what your plan should look like – but you definitely need one. These are a few of the common elements which all the best social media marketing plans share:
- The involvement of your entire team
- An editorial calendar to coordinate when and where your social media content is posted
- A decision about which social media channels you’ll concentrate your efforts on
- An understanding of your audience
- Short-term and long-term goals
- Clear ideas of how to measure your results
- A vision of your brand identity
- Last but not least: flexibility. Your marketing plan needs to be able to adapt quickly to changing conditions and real-world events.
It’s a cliché, but the old saying about “failing to plan being planning to fail” is absolutely true when it comes to social media marketing.
For example, the vast majority of business to business marketers use content marketing, only a third (30%) of marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, according to a study from the Content Marketing Institute. Care to guess why?
Bring Everyone on Board
Startups have some disadvantages compared to more established companies, but they have a few important advantages as well which you should use to your benefit. You’re small enough that you and your employeesall know each other fairly well (or at least you should), so you have a good idea of how each and every member of your team can contribute to your social media marketing efforts.
Even if they’re not actively writing tweets or blog posts, they can help build a positive perception of your brand by engaging with current or potential customers on social media. These kinds of personal contacts can make an enormous difference in building your reputation.
Talk to your sales and marketing teams. They’ve had the most direct customer contact of anyone in your startup and they’ll be able to tell you what kind of questions people have asked about your company and its products. These questions should tell you what your marketing needs to address through its social media presence.
Addressing these questions shows your customers that your company is listening to what they have to say and as a bonus, it can also save money.
If your startup needs a little more help with your social media marketing or customer service, you might also want to consider hiring remote workers. The cost can be considerably lower than paying an additional salary (or several salaries) to handle these important tasks. If you’re a sole proprietor, it especially makes a lot of sense to outsource some of the workload to virtual assistants.
Your Customers Are Your Brand Ambassadors
Word of mouth is still the most powerful and trusted form of advertising that there is. There are a number of ways that you can harness the power of person to person referrals, such as creating online events and activities (webinars, Twitter chats, Reddit AMAs, etc.), providing discounts or other incentives for referrals and suggesting that customers refer you to friends. It should go without saying, but going the extra mile in every customer interaction is another way to drive word of mouth referrals.
You’d be remiss to not explore influencer marketing as well. Contact people who are already popular with your target audience and ask them what they think of your product. One influential thought leader can magnify your marketing efforts far more than you might think. It costs little to nothing to build these relationships and the potential rewards are great.
Think Outside the Box
You’re a startup – you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. When you ask people to get involved, incredible things can happen. For instance, think about the popular navigation app Waze. They did one thing Google and their ilk didn’t: they asked for crowdsourced information on traffic and users loved it. Not only has this approach created a huge audience for the app, it’s also attracted some substantial investors as well as company buyers.
A creative approach can help you get noticed among audiences who are looking for something new and exciting. Give the people what they want and you’ll get their attention – and maybe even their business.
Social media represents perhaps the most powerful set of marketing tools available to startups. It’s something that you have to not only use, but use effectively if you want to get your fledgling company off the ground.
Building Strong Brand Awareness Without Breaking Bank
You can build a strong brand awareness while spending only a very small fraction of what you might spend on any traditional media channel and unlike print, television or radio. It gives you the opportunity to not only speak to your audience, but with them.
Plan your social media marketing, measure your results and fine tune your efforts as necessary but above all, don’t be afraid to take risks. If you were afraid of doing things differently than everyone else, chances are that you wouldn’t have started your own company to begin with – think big, think bold and reap the rewards.
About the author
Jen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words, business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie