After reaching out to a collaboration network of entrepreneurs from the US and Latin America to understand some of the elements in common among the most successful startups in South Florida, I found that almost all of them highlighted the importance of constantly marketing their businesses. As a marketer myself who has advised more than thirty startups, I know that how you market your business determines if your company is successful or not. I reached out to entrepreneurs, just to confirm my assumption. Marketing correctly allows you to attract consumers, develop a relationship with them and produce relevance for your brand in the marketplace. Several entrepreneurs mentioned that they were constantly researching and exploring new ideas on how to market their businesses. Promoting the business is just the first step of the strategy. A proper marketing strategy in place should aim to promote, inform, engage, build a reputation for your brand and increase sales. For some of the startups that are beginning their marketing strategy, here are the common elements that have worked well when building an efficient, self-driven, and growth-oriented marketing strategy: 1) Determine your target audience: Leveraging on market research tools available online to identify the correct communication channel to reach your audience. There are many affordable or even free tools online to conduct a proper market research study and select the correct platform to reach your audience, not having a budget for this is not a valid excuse. You need to understand that your target audience is not “everyone”, it’s very important that you work hard to define your target group, identify and understand their interests, behavior, and particular needs so you can satisfy them. Don't be afraid of being too specific, this doesn't mean that you are not selling to some people, it means that you are defining the core target audience for your brand. People outside this group can still buy from you, but they will not be your focus at this moment. During this stage, you should also need to identify who your competitors are. What are they offering different from what you offer and what is their target audience? Which other brands are also focusing on this target audience? For this, you need to gather as much information as you can. 2) Create an engaging narrative for your brand: Think about how your brand contributes to building a better world. You can think about how your brand brings something positive to the world or how it simplifies the life of your consumer. Use this argument to construct your brand narrative. It helps a lot to have an emotional and positive story in place for your brand. Something interesting about the beginning years of the company, or maybe about the founding fathers and how they were seeking to make the world a better place when they introduced this product or service. Make sure to use this story to communicate your brand values. 3) Constantly produce relevant content: Most of the entrepreneurs I talked to were very clear about the importance of being permanently creating relevant content. To feed the content you should leverage all the marketing research done before to determine your audience. All content developed needs to be relevant for your audience. With your content, you should aim to help them solve a particular issue or conflict through the use of your product or service. In order to help your audience find your content fast and effortlessly, you should complement the content creation with an SEO strategy (Search Engine Optimization) to gain a relevant position in the search results by using the correct keywords related to your content. Be sure to use the same language your audience uses and to address their particular interests and concerns. 4) Build a Community: Be present in all digital platforms and social media where your audience is. Listen very carefully to how they talk and what are the most relevant topics that they discuss or post about. Start providing helpful information for them developing pieces of content specifically tailored to them and addressing their needs. Make sure to use the same particular language and references to build a shared identity. This constant practice will allow you to build a collaborative relationship and in time develop a user community with shared values and principles. You can get immediate feedback from them and in time slowly turn your satisfied customers into brand promoters. 5) Leverage on user-generated content to promote your brand: According to recent studies in Consumer Trust Index*, 92% of consumers trust organic user-generated content more than traditional advertising. User-generated content refers to reviews, comments, social media posts, or any kind of content on your brand created by users. Leverage this content to promote your brand, boost levels of engagement and increase awareness by developing hashtags, introducing challenges, and engaging users to participate. 6) Launch a referral program Set in place a referral program in which your customers receive a significant discount whenever they convert a new customer. This tactic is extremely successful in turning your customers into brand promoters. Using this strategy will not only attract new customers but will also feed your email subscribers list and constitute a solid base for a future email marketing campaign. 7) Co-sponsor an event Do your research to find out which events your target usually attends. Get involved in the organization as a co-sponsor if you are able to. This will allow your brand to be present among the audience and increase brand awareness and brand recognition. It will also be effective in attracting any new potential customers that are not aware of your brand yet. Make your event relevant to your brand. Are you fun? Are your colors bright? Reflect that in your event. Keep the brand in uniformity with your event. 8) Give away e-coupons by email: Once you have a robust email list set in place an email marketing campaign giving away coupons with discounts for each contact. For prospects clients that are not ready to convert this is an excellent tactic, it will push them a little bit forward down the funnel. 9) Cultivate relationships with influencers: Don't underestimate the power of social media influencers. They have thousands of followers and are able to influence people's behavior, purchase intent, and brand loyalty. Do your research to find out who are the influencers your audience follows and reach out to them for collaboration, there are several ways to involve them in your campaigns. Also, if you are interested in reaching a new audience, you could involve a social media influencer that already has those potential customers among their followers. 10) Expand your target by using lookalikes: Once you have a marketing campaign in place, try to gather as much information as you can about the audience interacting with your placements so you can later build lookalikes based on shared interests and demographic characteristics. Facebook Ads has a really good and simple tool to build lookalikes audiences that are more likely to interact with your brand because they share similar characteristics, interests, and behaviors with your current best-performing audiences. These are some marketing initiatives that have worked for a network of entrepreneurs leading successful startups. The key is to start correctly, to discover your market thoroughly before wasting money on the wrong market or customer. Marketing is a tool that can fastrack your business and if used well, it will help you succeed quicker. Try some of them and share your results and findings with all of us! *Source: Nielsen Consumer Trust Index Study.
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