Hot new tech startups don’t sell themselves. Sure, we like to think that sites like Facebook and Google were set up in college dorm rooms and somehow magically spread through word of mouth, but the truth is that word of mouth was only part of it.
A great product will only get you so far, and if you want to grab people’s attention and make a reputation for yourself, you’ll need to turn to marketing to get the word out. On top of that, the chances are that you’re up against the competition, either from established competitors in an industry that you’re trying to disrupt or from other startups. That means it’s going to be difficult to cut through the noise.
The good news is that marketing done right can help to cater to your target audience whether you’re B2B or B2C and whether you offer a product or a service. It can catch people’s attention, introduce them to your brand and convert a social media follower into a customer. Here are nine ways to do just that.
#1 Display Advertising
Display advertising might seem like an old technology, but it’s still going strong and is arguably going through a renaissance thanks to the rise of programmatic advertising. It’s now easier than ever to reach the right people with a message that resonates, and if you’re not using display advertisements to serve up remarketing messages than you’re missing out on potential revenue.
When you’re getting started with display advertising, it’s a good idea to test your ads across multiple different platforms including Google, Facebook, Bing and LinkedIn. Tailor your messaging and your imagery to each platform and run variants of the same ad to figure out what works best.
You’re likely to find more success on one ad network than on another, and it also depends on what your goals are. Just make sure that you’re running advertisements that can lead to a tangible result so that you can measure their performance and their overall return on investment.
#2 Paid Search
Paid search is a little different because it allows you to anticipate the intent behind a search and to cater to it accordingly. Informational queries tend to be cheaper to bid on and are a good choice if you’re looking to generate leads by offering whitepapers and webinars. Transactional queries tend to be more expensive, but they’re also more likely to lead to a direct conversion.
For best results, test messaging that caters to both of these intent types and run your ads on both Google and Bing. And remember that while display ads are better suited to raising brand awareness, paid search tends to be more expensive and so you’ll want to make sure that it’s leading to some sort of tangible value somewhere down the line.
#3 Organic Social
With all of the discussion about paid social and the fact that the majority of your Facebook followers don’t even see your updates unless you pay to boost them, we tend to forget that there’s a lot to be said for organic social media and the simple act of taking part in a community.
Organic social media takes many forms, from joining the discussion on a trending hashtag to publishing articles on LinkedIn and empowering employees to act on your company’s behalf. Participate in Facebook groups and answer questions on Quora. At the same time, seek out discussions that are relevant to the solution you offer and find a way to help out. Don’t just jump in and sell your product, though – try to offer people some tangible value.
#4 On-Site Activity
Your website is an owned asset that you can assert some control over, which means you can control everything from the order in which it loads to the signals it sends to both users and search engines. The most effective marketers are those who know that they’re never done and that there’s always something else to optimise.
Search engine optimization, split testing, conversion rate optimization and other techniques will all help you to make the most out of your website. Better still, when you improve your site’s overall conversion rate, it’s a gift that keeps on giving and you’ll continue to benefit from the changes in the months and years to come.
#5 Content Marketing
Content marketing is a key element of an inbound marketing strategy, a style of online marketing which relies on bringing customers to you through the creation of high-quality content that people actually want to consume. The idea is that interrupting people with billboards and magazine ads no longer works and that it’s a better plan to create the kind of content that they’ll actively search for.
The field of content marketing is so vast that it takes a whole course to cover it, partly because there’s such a diverse range of content out there. Content marketing covers videos, imagery, audio and written content and it can be educational, entertaining or inspirational depending on the context. But the good news is that you’re probably already doing some form of content marketing whether you realize it or not.
#6 Direct Email
Email marketing might seem like old news, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. In fact, building and nurturing an email list is vital for any marketer because it’s another of those owned assets that they can maintain full control over. You can take it between providers without a problem and even use your email marketing list as the basis for the records on your CRM system.
Email is powerful because of its low barrier to entry (you can get started for free with a provider like MailChimp) and because of its automation and personalization options. Test out all sorts of different emails, from happy birthday emails to reminders when it’s time for a customer to renew their license.
Events are great because they allow you to bring people together to a common cause. The kind of events that you put on will depend upon the specifics of your tech startup and the areas that you deal with, but one thing to bear in mind is that if you’re struggling to host events of your own then you may be better off offering to sponsor someone else’s event.
Remember also that events come in many different shapes and sizes, from pop up demos at industry conferences to huge parties and product reveals or even just private networking events. Some companies even hold experiential events in high-profile locations and then use any ensuing footage to make campaign videos and further marketing material.
Public relations can help all sorts of different companies, but tech companies, in particular, are well-placed to use PR techniques because new technologies are a hot topic that people want to read about. Some startups are able to work with a professional PR company, which is usually the best option if you lack the expertise internally, but there’s still plenty you can do on your own if you just want to get the ball rolling.
Get started by drafting a press release about your company, making sure that it includes some sort of angle that other people will be interested in. You’ll also want to get to know the journalists who work for publications that cover your industry so you can befriend them and start to develop a relationship.
Eventually, you’ll be the expert that they approach for comments, and remember that the links you pick up from PR are also going to give you a huge boost when it comes to your website’s search engine rankings.
#9 Guerrilla Marketing
Guerrilla marketing and social hacking are all about thinking outside the box and finding new ways to get the word out about your company. The idea is to use non-traditional methods of advertising, so if you’re a trendy clothing brand then perhaps you can use graffiti art as a low-cost, high-impact marketing hack that other companies might not be brave enough to risk.
There are no rules when it comes to guerrilla marketing, which makes it perfect for ambitious tech startups. It also makes it difficult to define or to tell you how to get started, and the best advice we can give is to try everything you can think of and then to see what sticks, even if that means doing things that most other companies would never even consider.
When it comes to marketing your tech startup, you only really need to worry about the basics. As long as you understand your target audience and you know how prospects are ushered along the buyer’s journey, you can throw out the rulebook and do anything you can think of that might make your voice heard. Guerrilla marketing is basically an umbrella term for doing exactly that.
Remember, though, that marketing is about building long-term relationships and not just securing a quick sale. The good news is that if you manage to create those relationships and to build a community around your brand then it’s going to continue to pay back over the years to come. Just look at how quick people are to buy the latest Apple product.
Marketing isn’t easy, but when you get it right, it can take your startup to the next level and turn you into a household name. When you get it right, you’ll know about it. Good luck.