When you’re an entrepreneur just starting out, it can be compelling to throw a lot of money into a fancy startup marketing strategy. But dumping money into
Carpet Bombing Doesn’t Work
There are a lot of great ways to get the word out that your new product or service has arrived. Standing on the rooftop and shouting isn’t always the best way to do that. Think about who your product is aimed at. If you’re on the rooftop, shouting about it, sure, you’re hitting some of the people that are in your market, but you are also hitting a lot of people that aren’t. In fact, you’re probably hitting far more people that don’t care about your product than those who do.
Now let’s put this in terms of dollars and cents. It costs money to get your message out. Every type of marketing— print, radio, digital, social, television, etc…—has a cost associated with the medium. More marketing across more mediums isn’t always better, and it can get expensive very fast. In fact, aside from payroll programs, marketing is one of the biggest general business expenses of running a company.
Many entrepreneurs believe that they need to get the word out to everyone everywhere, but that’s just not smart or effective business. The more precise and targeted you can be in your advertising, the fewer dollars you’ll spend, and the more conversions you will have, or, the better CoC you’ll have (cost of conversion).
Awareness Building vs. Marketing
In my time as a CEO, I’ve been told that the number of “touches” required for a customer to even consider your product as part of their reality is somewhere between 7 and 20. Now whether that number was the product of a researcher studying consumers or a marketer selling touches is hard to say, but it’s easy to see that building awareness through many traditional advertising campaigns would get pricey fast.
The question you need to ask yourself is, is an awareness-building campaign worth it? Should you create a business budget that includes spending $10,000 on radio spots to advertise your product across the country just so people know you exist, or should you spend your $10,000 startup marketing budget blanketing a small online venue with ads that may convert?
If you only look at this from the short-term perspective, immediate conversions look very enticing. If you take the long view, then building awareness has some real advantages.
Don’t Rely on Referrals Only
Not marketing your startup at all is almost as bad as doing too much of it. Think of your business as a plant. It needs the right amount of nutrients—sun, water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen—to grow.
Ideally, you want both. Customers should be so thrilled with your product or service that they happily tell other people about your business. However, you can’t rely on satisfied customers to reach everyone, or reach them at a pace sufficient to support your business. Just like you need to steadily give your plants what they need to grow, you need to steadily market your startup. There are times you’ll want to increase your advertising spends, like during busy seasons, or prime events that correlate well with what your business offers. However, a standard budget for a business should earmark money to advertise all throughout the year.
This steady and consistent approach connects back to the earlier concept of awareness. Awareness of your product means that, when you decide to really push for customers during your peak times, those customers are familiar and comfortable with your brand, as opposed to skeptical since they’ve never heard of you before.
Don’t Forget About PR
Some of the best ways to get free advertising—which is both an effective form of awareness building and conversion—is doing public relations efforts. Sadly, however, many entrepreneurs do public relations building all wrong.
People in the media are charged with breaking fresh and interesting news to their readership. While you may think that your new startup is both fresh and interesting, you have to understand that you are biased. Not every reporter is going to find it as fascinating as you do, so spamming them to take notice of your arrival is a serious misstep. It not only relegates your requests to a trashcan, but could also move you to a block list.
My Accounting and Payroll Software PR Strategy
If you want to have success in PR, research the topics your desired media member covers, and tailor a pitch accordingly. It would be easy to spam everyone and anyone about my company, but the result would be my emails getting tossed into the trash can. My company, Patriot Software, does accounting and payroll software in the cloud— that’s not exactly a hot topic reporters are bursting with interest to hear about. And, there are not a lot of reporters that cover the payroll and accounting industry. I have to work hard to find unique angles that appeal to more people about what my company is doing, like management techniques, software tips, and other, more cutting edge results.
When you write to a reporter, tell them the unique and interesting things about your company that make you interesting and relevant to a reporter’s audience. Include numbers that support your claims, and angles that make your news engaging to the reporter’s readership. Remember, the more interesting you can make your company to a reporter’s readership, the more relevant your company is to that reporter.
Finally, understand that PR is about writing and rejection. Simply because your first pitch gets no response doesn’t mean that you should stop pitching. Many media members’ inboxes are stuffed with email pitches just like yours. Standing out is as much about persistence as it is about relevance. You should stay persistent as PR is advertising, awareness building, and an endorsement all rolled into one startup marketing strategy. And for the price—typically free—it’s worth it.
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