Basic Marketing for your Start-Up

You’ve founded your company, you’ve brought your concept to fruition, and perhaps you’ve already enlisted the help of other people to help build your vision. Unless your company is product focussed, however, Marketing is rarely a priority in the early days.

Even if you don’t think it’s important right now, and whatever the focus of your business, there are some key Marketing activities you should look to build into your company’s processes from the get-go. If you’re at the point where you’re asking what sorts of things you should be considering, and how to get started, then read on!


What does Marketing involve, and why is it important for your start-up?

‘Marketing’ is a broad term that could cover any of the following areas:
  • Your company logo/name and your mission statement
  • How you present the company internally to employees
  • Your company website
  • Your presence at related events/conferences in your chosen sector
  • Your presence on social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, G+, Vimeo, Vine, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram etc.)
  • Thought-leadership blogging (and other inbound marketing activities)
  • Materials you produce for customers (whitepapers, how-tos, videos etc.)

Behind all these considerations is your Brand – a nebulous term which essentially encapsulates and represents the essence of your company. When thinking at a very high level about your Brand, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What is your purpose/mission as a company?
  • What do you want your customers to feel when they engage with your company?
  • What adjectives do you want people to associate with your company?
  • What types of colours and images create the impression you want to give?

Often, Brand evolves with your business, but it’s worth covering off some of these questions early, and trying to build these considerations into your colour scheme, the design of your site, your logo any collateral you produce. Having a cohesive offering early on will make your company look more professional and established.


What Should You be Thinking About?

Inbound Marketing Activities

These are activities for which it’s difficult to measure immediate ROI, but which are generally fairly cheap and time efficient. The aim of inbound marketing is to draw customers to your company by producing content of some kind.

The cornerstone of inbound marketing is that content should be “customer centric”.

You’re not self-promoting, you’re not advertising. What you should be doing is seeking to answer the questions that your target customers are asking, and thus build your reputation in the marketplace and naturally attract these future customers to your brand.

Building buyer/customer profiles

Working out your target audience will define everything you do: from the service or product you provide through to your branding, messaging and marketing distribution channels (channels where your customers spend their time, and where you’ll therefore want to have a presence).

There’s some great advice offered by Hubspot (they also have a great blog archive which will give you hints and tips on basically every area of inbound marketing, ever) and a free template which helps you build customer personas.

Knowing who your audience is also allows you to create truly effective inbound marketing content. If you don’t know what questions your target audience are asking, how can you answer them?

Social listening and social media
Social Listening is tracking what people are saying about your brand. As with all inbound marketing – the aim with social media is not to create more noise, but instead useful content that your followers want to see. It’s also about adding to conversations happening in the marketplace, rather than always beginning them.

 

On the listening side, there are many paid for services to help with this, but you can get started with some free ones. Of these, I’ve personally used Hootsuite and it is a good base to get you used to the principles.

 

When it comes to posting useful content, you can also automate posting with Hootsuite which means you can spend an hour or so collecting interesting articles or videos, and then schedule them to drip out across your social media feeds over a future period of time. You don’t always have to create your own content, just make sure that what you’re sharing is relevant to your target audience.

 

I used to use Pocket (free) as a good place to store articles if I came across something but didn’t have time at that point to read it, and then I’d go through them all for scheduling at a later date. Another useful free tool for 3rd party content collation is Cronycle, which allows you to input custom search criteria into a number of boards, which constantly pull in articles relating to those criteria.
Organic content creation

You’ll still probably want to add in your own unique content to the mix. This is possibly the most time consuming part of inbound marketing, but you should realise that once you’ve created a good piece of content, the possibilities are limitless!

For inspiration, check out this post on the “skyscraper technique“. Very comprehensive and shows the value of really researching a piece of content and then fully capitalising on it to aggressively drive web traffic.  The key advice is to research gaps in the market, content that people want but that hasn’t been written comprehensively yet, and write that. By seeking backlinks, you can hugely swell your web traffic.

Distribution, distribution, distribution

There is absolutely no point creating something phenomenal and then doing nothing with it. To save you time, think about how you can use the same piece of content multiple times. I would write a blog post for example which I might turn into a webinar, a SlideDeck and a whitepaper.

Perhaps a blog post may turn into a online survey where people can see how they match general trends, conversation in a forum, Facebook post, an infographic etc. (If you want a great tool that helps you make great looking artwork and infographics with very little design skill you must definitely look at Canva).

It’s about quality of content, but also quality of distribution. You should be spending more time distributing and communicating with people about your content than creating it.

Basic SEO and keywords tips

If you know nothing about SEO, you can still do some good basic steps to optimise your content. You can use Google Adwords to search for popular keywords, and then try to get these into your online content as naturally as possible. Google now searches for the sense behind words as well, so it won’t have to be hugely stilted to have impact.

If your target customers are searching for “tech consultancy services in AWS” then you post should contain lots of words related this this, but putting “AWS tech consultancy” or “services in AWS tech consulting” would be equally effective as putting the exact keyword search terms.

Linking and back-linking helps a lot with SEO (as explained in the Skyscraper technique post above). If you can’t get the backlinks, at least link out to lots of relevant content in your posts.

To optimise your content for SEO you want to include longtail keywords for your links. It’s better to attach the link to “tech consultancy services in AWS” than just “tech consultancy services in AWS” for example. You can also check out Google’s 200 Ranking Factors, though this is rather intimidating!

Good follow up sources:

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