How to efficiently market your startup on a budget?

Establishing a successful startup is not an easy task for an entrepreneur, data indicates that around 20% of startups do not succeed in their first year, while around 50% shut down within five years.

One of the main reasons behind this is that entrepreneurs usually have too many tasks. Normally, startups are manned by individuals or small teams that move between several roles. With so much going on, marketing and sales may take a back seat, which is really unfortunate.

When it comes to marketing, around half of startups had a dedicated marketing team according to industry data, and 49.7% spent less than two hours weekly on marketing.

This is a problem, as marketing is one of the most powerful and essential tools to get your startup up and running. Good marketing can give your imagination a workout, and give you the opportunity to truly share your vision, mission, and goals with the outside world.

In this article, Entrepreneurship-KSA will provide entrepreneurs with marketing and sales advice for the digital era. These tips will help startups focus on their marketing on a tight budget.

1. Understand your user thoroughly: Without this step, your strategies would not be efficient, running an AdWords campaign or social media campaign will be a waste of time and money if you don’t understand who will use your product. Despite the apparent simplicity of this task, it is not, as it is very common that startups to change their target audience while validating the business model. That’s why it is essential to evaluate your target audience and understand their interests, their day-to-day routines, their pains and gains, etc. Every piece of information would be beneficial, don’t ever think that everyone is your target, trying to market your company to everyone will hurt your chances of getting to your real potential customers.

2. Involve all of your team in the marketing strategy: Teamwork makes your product meaningful, avoids misunderstandings, saves time and money, and aligns expectations. That’s why it is important to get everyone on board, giving them a chance to share their ideas that can make a startup grow quicker. These angles and solutions are much more diverse and interesting than just sticking to the “basics”.

3. Social media is your friend: In this day and age social media has become a necessity for every business. It is become an essential potent marketing and selling channel. Data shows that 54% of people use social channels for product discovery and 42% for product research. A successful startups can’t ignore social media marketing any more. At first it almost seems impossible to grow a following, but as you grow momentum, you’ll notice it gets easier. Hiring a trustworthy social media manager should definitely be a part of the bigger picture, but until you have that money to spend, be authentic, consistent, speak to your target audience and make them aware that your product is solving one of the biggest pains they have. Make sure to steadily improve your Google rankings by using hyper-targeted keywords and help people discover your content and power your social media-based audience aquisition.

4. Attend events: Though we do live in a digital age, networking events serve a very important purpose in the business world. Make sure to identify events in your startup’s industry, in order to avoid not getting to know anyone who is of interest to you. Take time to introduce yourself, and your product. It is definitely the best way to grow a network of potential customers by speaking to them face-to-face. If you have the budget, you can consider co-sponsoring an event looking for speaking opportunities. By doing this, you can pitch your product and company in an impactful way. If you bag a few accolades, you can establish credibility in the marketplace. You can tell people about the big-ticket events that you attend through your newsletter, website, and social accounts.

5. Market Yourself: As a founder or an owner of a startup, you are the public face (or one of the faces) of your company. Make sure to always appear professional and to present yourself well. Say the right things, be transparent, open and honest, yet avoid certain topics (especially on social media) to avoid conflict. If you turn yourself into a trusted and professionally-looked at founder, it will have a great effect on the business.

6. Engage, Engage, Engage: Of course, you want to make as many sales as possible, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with really giving your customers a brand that they also feel a part of. Nothing is greater than returning users who also recommend your product to their environment. Ask for opinions, feedback, offer test versions, build trust by showing that you are interested in what they have to say. Next time somebody looks at your product, they will remember what good experiences they have gathered.

7. Develop a narrative that makes you unique: Answering a simple question such as “What do you do for a living?” with “I am an entrepreneur” is mostly frowned upon. Start out by showcasing your idea or product as something great that could pretty much change the world. Find causes that your startup could support, and make sure to mention them! Have a great story about how you founded your company during a tough time in your life? Inspire those around you.

8. Follow up and prioritize customer experience: Customers have never been more interested to provide feedback on a product. Make sure to go above and beyond to do anything in your power that the feedback is positive, but if not, hopefully you will learn some valuable lessons.

9. Analyze and measure your results: Always analyze results to understand if your strategies and actions are working. Use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) as a measuring tool. Some of the basic KPIs are: conversion rates, bounce rates, the duration of one visit on the website, CAC, the number of RT, number of likes, and so on. Google Analytics or Search Console are smart and efficient helpers to analyse your KPIs.

10. Study your competition and if they are doing better, copy them. This doesn’t mean you should let all your values and your identity go, but while investigating your competition’s marketing and communication, try to see if their successful points could help your startup as well. And by learning from their mistakes, you will save your own startup quite a few hardships. Sometimes you don’t need to innovate, because you found something that has worked for many. Again, don’t forget to measure your results.

In short, having a low marketing budget should not stop you from getting yourself out there and showcasing your startup. In order to grow, leveraging connections, special events, engaging your customers and showing your skills can give your startup a great starting point to get known.

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