If you have just started a new business the idea of bringing in new customers can seem most daunting, especially if you have no previous experience in doing so. It is often a less complicated process than you may expect.
Most businesses have desirable products and services but they fail to establish a presence in the market which is what ultimately leads to failure. If you have already developed your product then you already know the type of customers you need to attract. If you have already began delivering your service or product you will likely already know your target market.
Startups have a greater need for effective marketing because passive sales from your brand and word of mouth may not have ramped up yet. It is also a time where cost is a huge concern so return on investment is paramount on your route to success.
In the age of technology marketing has largely moved online, this brings a new level of convenience to both delivering and consuming marketing material.
The modern storefront is your online presence, your website is the absolute starting point of all of your activity since it can be used as your automated sales pitch that is available 24/7. In order to deliver an effective website you must consider a few requirements.
The platform you start with is almost irrelevant, it is more important to make a start and get online whether you are:
The earlier you start the quicker you can refine and get to a working solution which is essentially to market.
All good websites start with content, not design. It is magnitudes more important what your website says, how this content is structured and which interactions you will support than how it looks. Ultimately your website is a catalyst to deliver your message.
Content also naturally stimulates design. Once you have the message you want to deliver it is easy to visualise the best way to do that.
The first glance of your design will give customers an instant feeling about your brand, are you trying to establish trust? Are you trying to instill excitement? This feeling is completely engineered with good design and can help build that subtle re-assurance of what you are all about.
For years speed has become a bigger and bigger factor on websites, it was extremely important even 10 years ago and it is an absolute requirement now.
Fortunately a health check is completely free through PageSpeed Insights and GT Metrix, you can send the results to your developers and they can work through the list till you reach a satisfactory score.
Your website should be driving new enquires to you, sign ups or phone calls. Whatever the valuable action is that you would like your customers to take it needs to be easy to do so.
Link to contact pages often, includes emails and phone numbers where relevant. For any forms you have ensure you drop the data you collect to the bare minimum as you want to make it easy for someone to contact you.
Email marketing can be quite instant and help to fill low traffic periods for your business.
The most important factor for effective marketing is consent, you must ensure that anyone on your marketing list has signed up willingly and know what they are getting. Always avoiding buying list, the quality is low and you often will not find any reputable email system that will be willing to send campaigns out on your behalf.
Because building up a good list takes time and nurturing, it is very important to choose a mail provider early on; both MailChimp and Campaign Monitor are great choices offering affordable or free plans to get started.
Include a subscription form on your website to start building interest early. You should also consider adding a checkbox to all of your contact forms that requests permission via an opt-in to subscribe.
When creating campaigns you should always be using all historic data from your previous sends to influence your decisions.
It is unlikely that you will hit the mark with your first few email campaigns, so refinement must be a part of your approach. You should be testing:
The factors above will vary by industry, however the individual factors should be tested till you know what is right for your customers.
Creating articles is probably the most powerful strategy anyone can use. Content that demonstrates expertise in your field and gives value to your potential customers is the fuel for all other marketing efforts.
As general rule the articles you create should not be purely promotional, oftentimes you are looking to provide insights or answers that your audience may be looking for which builds up their trust and naturally leads them to choosing you.
There is a variety of content you can create, and you should favour them in the following order:
The variety above is not an exhaustive list, you may have more or less options available depending on what your business does.
Frequency is a big factor for driving results, one great article is not enough to bring in all of your future customers.
You should be aiming to create a content hub that dominates your specialism, luckily this is surprisingly easy to achieve as most businesses do not follow this advice once they are already established, however this will vary by industry.
Regular content has the added benefit of providing many different angles for all of your marketing to benefit from and creates a long term benefit through SEO traffic.
Social Media gives you a new way to connect with people and draw attention, depending on what your business is you may have many creative ways to interact with your audience.
Finding where your target audience spend their time is the first step, you need to know where to focus your attention. The use of hashtags related to your product or service can be a start, so can checking what your competitors are doing.
Generating a following can work very closely with your content strategy, in tandem you can create content that your potential audience will find useful then feed this content back to them. If possible you can attempt to have one-to-one conversations with people from your target audience.
Connecting your audience to the answers they need shows value, that can be any of the following:
You can advertise on Google, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, eBay and whole host of other platforms on a pay-per-click basis. This means it is free to advertise exactly where people are searching for your product or service and you only pay when they click on your advert.
Paid Search can be an incredible source of new business, but extreme caution is advised if this is your first time as there are various pitfalls:
If you are very meticulous, patient, observant and creative you can make this work, but it is often far more efficient to have a professional set up and monitor your campaigns.
Depending on your industry this may be extremely competitive multiplying how difficult it is to achieve a good return on investment or you may find low competition allowing you to dominate.
Networking is often the most powerful technique, there is no cost and it is extremely direct. Unless you are in a totally new venture you will likely have many contact that you have built over the years who would love to work with you.
The most important factor of making any sort of networking work is that you must be able to deliver value to your contacts. Straining family and friends is not a viable approach as it leads to 'supportive' sales, which may not be representative of your product or service value and certainly will not scale.
You must be willing to pick up the phone or start a conversation on LinkedIn, this is an extremely effective technique because it is entirely personal.
Referrals share a similar approach to networking however the goal is different, you are looking to ask to be a recommendation to 2nd level connections. There are a few ways to increase your chances of getting good referrals.
You should workout how much you can afford to offer your biggest advocates for bringing you new sales. For example 5% for your sale can go back to your referral contact.
Referrals are some of the highest quality customers you can hope to receive because they come with very high admiration of your business.
You should ensure that you are not asking everyone to refer you especially contacts that have not worked with you before as this likely will not happen. Instead look for people you have worked with in the past either through your business or at a previously shared job.
It is important to keep delivering a great product or service to keep your referrals ticking along.