By Ashwin Honawar
The number of startups in the UK grew by some 14 percent during 2018, according to information from various reliable sources. This figure isn’t surprising since Britain has one of the most vibrant and investor-friendly startup ecosystems of the world.
On the other hand, between 45 and 51 percent startups in the UK also flounder and fail within a short span of two years or at best, five years since inception. Understandably, there’re several reasons for this. The main reason being shortage of funds and consequent inability to sustain further operations.
Paucity of funds can occur because a venture capitalist won’t usually pour in more funds after seeding and possibly, during the second year. Hence, a startup needs to generate income by effectively utilizing its own resources.
One such resource that all startups in the UK and elsewhere in the world have is effective marketing strategies. Generating highest possible number of leads and converting them as customers is key to survival of any startup venture, at least during its initial years.
What are these strategies, we’ll explore as we go along.
Understandably, startups don’t have large coffers to sustain expensive marketing strategies. Therefore, the trick here is using minimal resources for optimum impact. How does one do that? Read these low budget, effective marketing strategies for startups.
1. Use Free Business Marketing Resources
Google My Business is a free resource from Google that facilitates attracting customers for free. It allows startup owners to control and somewhat influence what prospective customers would love to see about the business. There’re several other distinct advantages from Google My Business.
LinkedIn, the world’s single largest professional networking portal is another indispensable resource for every startup. Any startup serious about showcasing its business to decision-makers and industry professionals, therefore, needs to be on LinkedIn. For a small fee, startup owners can also subscribe to LinkedIn Premium, which offers several exclusive features. LinkedIn Premium is built with businesses and their specific requirements in mind.
2. Include Blogging and Social Media
Blogging is yet another low-budget yet effective marketing strategy for startups. Nowadays, most customers — individual and corporate — read reviews about anything they wish to purchase before making a decision. That’s because blogs make it possible to offer honest product and service reviews. Hence, blogs influence decision making.
Indeed, blogs also help startup owners to engage customers through comments and feedback. Any startup owner can create a blog page on the business website or open one separately. Additionally, startups can get other bloggers to write honest and in-depth reviews about their offerings. Usually, customers read more than one review before deciding a purchase. Blogging is very cost-effective. In fact, startup owners can also start blogging.
3. Leverage Video Marketing
Video marketing is yet another low budget yet effective marketing strategy every startup should adopt. It’s free to open a YouTube channel under the brand or company name of a startup. Creating excellent videos that tell stories about the startup, its products and especially, how it’s helping people lead a better life definitely attract viewers that can convert into customers.
YouTube isn’t the only free video-sharing platform. Nowadays, Pinterest and Instagram among others also enable video sharing. Customers tend to identify with real-life people. And when videos of such people narrating their experiences go on YouTube or other platforms, they influence people. Furthermore, a YouTube channel helps get customer feedback that’s vital for innovating a product or extending the line.
4. Deploy Social Media
Posts on social media often go viral. However, that’s not what startups really look for. Instead, startups wish to popularize their brand among the target clientele. Social media can play a pivotal role in brand creation and popularity. Indubitably, Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform. Startups can begin by creating an excellent Facebook page that speaks about the business. Or they can opt for the paid, premium service, Facebook Business. Twitter is another very important social media platform. Next in line are Instagram and Pinterest.
Any excellent low cost yet effective marketing strategy for startups, therefore, cannot ignore the power of social media. Enlisting services on fulltime or part-time or freelance basis of a skilled social media manager can work wonders to attract business for a startup. The key to success in social media marketing is content.
Posting the right, engaging and relevant content attracts people to the startup and its business. And happy customers usually share social media posts of startups, when they’re satisfied. Comments on social media serve as feedback for a startup to review its operations and offerings.
5. Post Online Press Releases
Most business owners are unaware it’s possible to publish press releases online free or for a very low annual subscription fee at various specialized portals. Journalists worldwide often look for interesting press releases for use on Business pages of a newspaper or news website. The only flipside here is that thousands of businesses post press releases online daily. Hence, getting the right audience and attracting journalists can prove a bit difficult. There’re also specialized websites that allow startup owners to distribute websites to specific media companies around the world or even locally.
Bit difficult because if a press release is interesting enough and would meet the needs of a publication and its readership or viewership, it can get the necessary attention. Hence, the difficulty lies in creating a press release that journalists feel is relevant and will exert efforts to get information and publish on their newspapers, magazines or websites.
6. Hold Customer Forums/Open Houses
Listening to customers, analyzing their feedback and acting upon comments is extremely important for every startup that wishes to stay in business. After all, it’s customers that will drive the business. Unless a startup makes customers feel special, they don’t stand much of a chance of surviving in a highly competitive market.
Customer forums and open houses can be held at premises of the startup or any other venue. Nowadays, it’s also possible to host customer forums and open houses online, through video conferencing. This two-way communication between startup owners and key personnel with customers and prospective clients helps build brand image and develops loyalty.
7. Use Apps for Smartphones
By 2022, about 80 percent of global eCommerce will occur from mobile devices, especially smartphones. Hence, a low cost, effective marketing strategy for every startup to increase business is through apps. They aren’t expensive and yet enable startups to reach highest possible number of prospective customers. Usually, retail consumers take spot decisions and place orders through apps.
Therefore, startups too should leverage this popularity of apps and reach as many customers as possible. Additionally, startup owners can also consider using third-party apps to popularize their business and bag customers. Here too, it might become necessary to hire a digital marketing expert who would know nitty-gritty of the business.
There are other effective and low-cost marketing strategies that startups can adopt. This include affiliate marketing program for bloggers and website owners. Since startups don’t have colossal advertising and marketing budgets typical of large corporations, these seven low cost yet effective marketing strategies will prove helpful in expanding business.