Starting your own business takes a lot of courage and determination. You know that the path from idea to successful sales is a long one. More often than not, it’s filled with stress and long working hours. Finding investors, hiring people, starting production – these are all necessary steps you have to take, but if you want your idea to become successful, you also have to promote it. A lot! After all, no one is going to buy a product they never even heard of.
In this short guide, you will find some tips on how to promote your business properly in order to reach the right customers and make it to the sales step of your startup path.
Profile your ideal customer
No promotions should ever start without a precisely defined target audience. You need to know who you are speaking to in order to find the best channels to get to them.
- If you don’t know where to start, check out your competition. What is their audience? Who buys their products? When you do find the answers to these questions, don’t just copy what they are doing. Try to find a niche market they might be overlooking and start from there.
- Analyze your own product in depth: What are the main features? What are the benefits of using your product? When you list these, determine the group of people that has the needs your product’s benefits can fulfill.
- After determining who has the need for your products, you have to make a list of personas that are most likely to buy it. This is what we call demographic targeting. Here is what you have to determine about your ideal customer:
· Income level
· Education level
· Marital or family status
· Ethnic background
This will get you a starting point, a target audience to adapt your promotional activities to. Along the way, you will most probably fine tune this based on campaign results and new findings. Maybe you misjudged certain groups in the beginning, or maybe you will find new niches – it’s not a big deal, unless you completely miss the right target market.
Build your online profile
Needless to say, in this day and age, if you’re not online – it’s like you don’t even exist. Everyone and their dog is online now! You have to build your online presence in order for your potential customers to easily find you.
- Start with a website. The website is the mirror of your business, so make it informative, user-friendly and easy on the eye. You want your potential customers to stay on your website after discovering you, not leave immediately because they didn’t find what they were looking for. Also, make sure you’ve done SEO for all the pages; otherwise you will most likely never be found in search queries conducted by your target audience.
- Add your business to social media. There are so many different social media platforms these days. Based on the type of your product and your identified target audience, you will have to choose which platforms to add your business to. Also, be aware that social media marketing is a continuous process, not a one-time task. If you know you won’t have the time to make and post regular updates, consider hiring someone for the job (a new employee, freelancer or even a specialized agency).
- List your business on Google Maps. If you have a brick and mortar store or an office where people can visit you, be sure to add it to Google Maps. You do this through Google My Business, by submitting the company name and address and verifying it with Google as instructed. This way your business will show up on Maps even when people aren’t specifically looking for you. Make sure to regularly add photos and updates to your company’s Google+ page, because those will be visible as well.
- Paid online advertising is a great way to build your audience. If you are willing to spend money on this type of advertising (and you should be) the first thing you have to do is set an objective for the campaigns. Decide if you want to promote your brand, enhance client engagement, increase sales, generate leads, etc. and choose a channel based on that. The most common online advertising types are:
· Google AdWords
· Banner Advertising
· Newsletter Advertising
· Affiliate Marketing
· Social Media Ads (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
Create your content marketing strategy
Building your online profile is necessary, but another must-have in the digital age is content marketing. Content is very important in the today’s saturated market – it is a great way to reach your target audience, drive traffic to your website, encourage engagement, build brand awareness and even increase your sales. It is also a great way to show the world your expertise in the industry and present yourself as a professional.
You create content relevant to your business (text, images, videos, infographics), share it and get attention from your potential audience. What you have to do next is lead them to take certain steps in order to get to sales. Here are some tips on content marketing:
- Start a company blog as a part of your website and post regular and relevant articles there.
- Do a keyword research and plan your content based on the results. The goal of content is to attract more customers to your website, so proper use of keywords is a must.
- A content calendar is a great way to plan out the topics and dates you will cover with content marketing.
- Promote the published content on your social media pages.
- Reach out to niche relevant websites and write guest posts. This is a great way to promote your business, as well as yourself.
- Involve influencers in your content. One of the ways is to reach out to them and ask them for an opinion on the subject you want to write about and use what they said in your blog. This way your content has credibility and a well-known name that will attract attention.
Building content will most probably be time and energy consuming. Again, if you think you won’t have the time to deal with this properly, there are professionals you could hire to do it for you.
Increase your company’s reputation with PR
Never doubt the efficiency of good PR in promoting your business. Even though you might think this measure is not necessary when starting a business, public relations will only help you make a good public image for your product and business and if you don’t do it in the beginning, getting your customers to the sales step will take much, much longer. PR isn’t something you invest in after you successfully go to market; it is something you invest in so that you can successfully go to market.
Startups should never underestimate the importance of public relations and should have at least some sort of PR campaign in place so that it can help the company grow in the long run. Never think short-term because that’s how you condemn you startup from the beginning!
Good PR should get you press coverage, and by obtaining press coverage you get:
· Initial brand awareness
· Early users and valuable feedback
· Link building that will help your SEO
· Trustworthiness and credibility
If hiring a PR agency is not an expense you’re willing to make, there are ways to do proper PR yourself. Everything you need to know about this, you can find in The Complete Guide to PR for Startups. With this guide you will get advice on:
·Setting clear and effective PR goals;
· Developing and telling your story;
· Crafting the perfect pitch;
· Reaching your target audience;
· Creating and nurturing media relationships and more.
No matter how certain you are that your product idea is a game changer, if you don’t promote it properly it will never be more than just an idea. Promoting your business is just as important as finding investors and hiring people, so don’t skip this crucial step or you’ll never reach satisfactory sales rates.
After all, the ultimate goal of any business is profit, but there’s no profit without sales and no sales without proper promotion.