With the investment scene drying in the country, startups are looking to cut cost and find optimal ways to promote their business.
All the startup divisions are bearing the brunt of cost cutting. Marketing teams are downsized. Brand Promotion team (if there was one) is asked to cut budget and find cost effective methods of promotion. And the list goes on and on.
What was earlier taken for granted by well-funded startup owners is now a luxury for them. In a nut shell, they are asked to work line a lean startup.
Few weeks back I was on a call with a startup owner, whose company was finding it difficult to market their product.
I asked him if their company was leveraging the power of internet to promote their brand? All I got in return was a blank look.
I was surprised because for me Internet today is omnipresent in our lives.
We stay in a world where google is our answer to all world problems. Social Media is our loudspeaker to express our views and blogs are a medium to express our thoughts in a meaningful manner. How about we use these familiar mediums to promote to promote our Startup?
I am not saying; the conventional methods of market are dead. In fact, they are as strong as ever.
We still read our newspapers. We still love our idiot box and the beautiful girl on the hoarding still smiles at us during the distressful traffic hours.
And they charge a premium for the viewership. The premium is obviously out of reach of startups.
Let me give you an example. A small ad in an English daily covering the area of Delhi/NCR costs you as high as INR 20,000/advertisement and when I write small, I mean real small.
Also, there are very high chances, your ad will be asked to accommodate with one of those black and white newspaper ads on inner pages.
I am not going into how much it costs to advertise on TV. I have never done it but from what I know, TV ads are more expensive than newspapers.
Can a startup (asked to cut cost or bootstrapping) afford a newspaper or TV Ad?
Any sane startup owner who has bootstrapped the company will tell you “Buddy! Conventional mediums of promotions are not for us”.
I think I have laid out my case perfectly for you to understand the demerits of adopting conventional methods of advertisement and promotion. I will cut to the chase and explain you 3 simple steps to use Digital marketing to promote your business:
a. Select the right Social Media Platform for Promotion:
I know it sounds too easy to select a social medium channel to promote your startup. You have Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc, etc.
I must say all of us are spoiled for choices when it comes to selecting a social media platform to promote our startup.
All we should do is go and click on signup and ta-da! The account is setup.
Most of the startup owners I meet want to start with all mediums and promote everywhere.
As they say, “The more the merrier”.
Here is a small advice for you (free). Do not pick all the platforms at a single go.
Every social media platform you see today has its own user base. And not every platform has the right user base for you.
If I was to segregate the aim/goal/purpose of users on different platforms. Here is how I would divide them:
- When you think of facebook, what is the first thought to come to your mind “Selfies, Vacation photos, airport check-ins (why do they do that?), jokes, etc, etc, The users on facebook are there to have fun.
- Linkedin is more of a professional network (serious stuff)
- Twitter majorly caters to precise and to the point discussions in 140 words
- Instagram is image sharing
- Youtube is all about videos
Now, do you have the capacity, bandwidth to target all platforms and engage user base everywhere?
Also, Is your user base available on all platforms?
Are you comfortable using all the platforms?
You must make an informed decision because you cannot win them all.
I will give you an example of what we use. For our digital agency, I use LinkedIn and twitter for promotion along with Quora.
We have accounts on Facebook and YouTube but they are not part of their strategy as we know our user base is more active on other platforms.
You should select the right platform for your business after asking yourself the above questions.
b. Start Writing:
Can you write? I know you can. You, Mr./Ms. Entrepreneur can write strong lengthy emails to vendors, employees, etc.
You scare them to death with your warnings. How about you put your writing skills to good use?
Time to start writing for promoting your brand and by writing, I do not mean 2000-word articles.
By writing, I refer to all sizes of writing from small status ,messages to blog posts and participation in discussions.
Select your favorite platform and start updating your status messages with your view points on latest happenings in your industry.
Participate in discussions on your social media platform of choice and once you are confident, you can write small articles. Time to shift gears and move to writing blogs.
Write tutorials, opinions, etc, etc. establish a name for yourself in your industry by sharing relevant posts.
There are two advantages of writing good content:
- On social Media : you start building a follower base of users who in future will transform into your volunteer army of promotion.
- On your own blog : Google loves good content. Get your content optimized by some SEO guy and see the magic happen. With the right set of keywords, content, backlinks…I see no reason why your website cannot reach top of rankings.
c. Maintain discipline and follow a schedule:
This point sounds like more of a gyaan coming from a motivation guru than a simple step coning from a digital marketer 😊.
Why I mention this point is because most of the startup owners I meet want quick results.
I don’t blame them. We live in times when startup companies want to spend quick money and get quicker results.
They forget like how “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, Digital Presence does not happen overnight.
You are on a path to promote your startup digitally and like all marketing efforts, it takes time.
You are trying to convince the users on internet and social media that you are someone who can be trusted without TV and newspaper ads.
This trust will only develop once you follow a discipline.
Until and unless you learn to give back to the internet community without expecting anything in return they will not respond to your messages. (for ex : answer like “I am telling you 3 points. For the next 2 you should try our product are a strong turn off).
It took me close to 1 year to establish a good profile on LinkedIn and a lot of discipline to establish a profile on Quora.
When you decide to promote on internet, the content you post must follow a well-defined, timely approach.
For ex: 10 posts in a week. 2 daily on social media platforms can easily be achieved by using any of the content scheduling platform like Hootsuite.
You can prepare content on week end and schedule it for whole week.
For discussions, spare an hour after lunch or before you go to bed.
And when it comes to writing articles. How about 2 articles in a month?
Are you overwhelmed with what I asked you to follow?
How about you ask one of your staff members to help you promote using digital marketing.
I am sure, they can easily spare few hours every week to help your business succeed using digital marketing. If I was to quantify what I wrote above. Here is a simple table to help you plan better :
I see no reason why you or your team can easily spare 34 to 40 hours per month and contribute a small amount contribution of USD 10 per month to promote your business. (note : I am not adding the cost of a SEO guy to help you do SEO on your blogs but even if we were to hire one it should not cost you a fortune).
Before I end, remember the golden words when you adopt digital marketing, thereby making it an indispensable part of your strategy.
“Refrain from self-promotion. Internet promotion (initially) is a selfless act 😊”
Follow a plan and results will follow.