Ever wondered what your marketing strategy and budget be for your start-up? I am sure you would have lost sleep over this one thing which hounds most of the entrepreneurs with start-ups that are either bootstrapped or are not yet funded. In my previous article The Bootstrapping Mantra I have indicated that keeping marketing budgets low can be one of the levers of bootstrapping your start-up. As much as Marketing is important as a function, the start-ups cannot afford to have big ticket marketing budgets to promote their ventures. Yet they need to be noticed. So what are the tips for keeping the marketing budgets at bay and at the same time spread the word about your business and build that brand?
I have tried to list down some of the simple marketing methods to make your venture noticed.
WORD OF MOUTH:
Word of Mouth (WoM) does not have much appeal by itself. It lacks the punch and style. But it is a very powerful marketing tool that has ever existed. Word of Mouth does not have to be the buzz that is spread verbally, per se. It could also be sending an email. A simple way to use WoM would be to get in touch with your college friends. Send out information among the alumni networks of the colleges that you have attended. Usually the alumni networks will spread the word around in order to promote the brethren formed as a result of studying in the same college. The pride associated with the community within will drive the word of mouth itself.
You can also choose the discussion boards/bulletin boards of companies. Some companies allow information sharing between the employees. Information sharing on such bulletin boards is like an endorsed Word of Mouth.
Viral marketing is a technique where you use existing social networking platforms to increase the awareness of your brand, and achieve marketing objectives like increasing revenue generation or sales turnover. As the name suggests, you have to go the online marketing way and spread your presence like a virus! Since this type of marketing uses the network effect of the social media platforms, which is analogous to the self-replicating behaviour of a virus, it is called Viral Marketing. Today India is considered the 7th largest social media market globally, simply because we have as many users connected to at least one social media networking site. Adopting the online marketing strategy proves to be very cost effective for the start-ups. Some of the steps that can be taken for online viral marketing are:
Twitter Account: Have a Twitter account which you can use to tweet news snippets relevant to your industry, product or service. You could use Twitter to announce your business updates. Every retweet increases your reach exponentially. Do not forget to put a ‘Follow-us’ Twitter widget on your website. This will help the visitors of your site follow you on Twitter with just a click of a button. I think it is needless to say that your site will be visible to all the people in the network of every person who follows your website.
Facebook Page: Open up a Facebook account and set up a Facebook Page for your business. Link the ‘Like It’ button to your web page which directly takes the visitors to your Facebook business page. On Facebook the trick is to try and engage the followers. The tips are to keep the discussions alive by starting debates or running polls. You could also engage your followers by running small contests. You can strategize the events based on the nature of your business. If you have captured the attention and the curiosity of the visitors, then half the battle is won. The visitors will keep coming back to your business page and you will have made a position and recall-trigger in the minds of these visitors. Repeat visits and responses on your page will generate more followers. You will actually see the magic of the network marketing platforms unfold itself.
LinkedIn Profile and Group: You can start a group in LinkedIn about your business. Go and send personalised invitations to your network connections. Start discussions in your LinkedIn group relevant to your business industry.
Blog: Write a blog about your business. You could write articles relevant to your business or just share some opinions with the readers. Remember to have a blog with ‘share- links’ to other networking sites like StumbleUpon, DiggIt etc. Try to keep your blog updated with at least two articles in a week or if feasible get down to writing one article a day. A frequently updated blog is more likely to be picked up by Googlebot or other search bots. You should also try to write articles for SEO [search engine optimization].
Video Streaming: Use platforms like YouTube to provide streaming videos about your business or start-up venture. You could upload a video in a presentation format, where you can do the talking. This can be done as easily as shooting a short movie with your own personal handy camera and uploading it on YouTube. This is entirely free of cost and promises an outreach of thousands [if not millions]! Another platform which you can use to share your presentations, documents and videos is SlideShare.
Mridula is a freelance writer. She writes on Entrepreneurship and has worked for a start-up in the past. To know more check out her profile at LinkedIn/Mridula Velagapudi