1. Get a mentor
Getting to know someone who is well connected in your space will be crucial. Search for relevant influencers, look at their profiles and ask them to have a chat with you about your product. It is useful because you will get constructive feedback on how you can improve your product, and you can potentially build the relationship going forward and land yourself a mentor. Your mentor will be able to connect you to the right people, and talk to other people about you as well. Having a few good mentors will also help to make your product more credible when you are fundraising.
2. Use analytics to track your goals
Set up goals you would like to achieve for your marketing, e.g. if you are writing a blogpost, how many views and shares do you want to achieve? How many people who read your post will click into your product’s website? Once you have set your goals, you can track the progress and effects of different marketing channels easily, you can then decide what works, and what doesn’t.
Google Analytics will be a good place to start, it allows you to look at your progress through different metrics such as screenviews, average session duration (how long a user spent on your site), bounce rate (percentage of single-page visits), pages per session (average number of pages viewed during a session) etc. Google Analytics also has a dashboard function which you can customise what you would like to see most using the widgets. There are many other free functionalities on Google Analytics, learning how to use these isn’t always simple, but well worth the time investment.
3. Write blogs
Writing blogs is a great way to spark interests. Write about the industry your product is in, make suitable references to recent news, and put the relevant tags against the blogs in order to drive traffic. The length, writing style and format of your blogs can be refined using analytics tools, helping you to understand what your readers like and help drive increased readership in the future. Writing guest blogs will help you to leverage other people’s audience- make sure the website that hosts your blog will have the right audience, enough readership and is active on social media.
4. Speak at events
Be the face of your product- tell everyone about how great your product is. You should be bold enough to ask for these opportunities at different meet-up groups, demo days, pitching events etc. Practice only makes perfect, so don’t worry if it didn’t go as well as you think the first few times. Be ready for the questions that you will be asked at the events, the more ready you are, the greater the impact you will have at the events.
5. Cold contact
If your product is primarily B2B, then you can consider targeting customers using LinkedIn. Work out the one-line sentence that describes your product first before you reach out to the potential customers. You should also make sure your profile has sufficient blogposts and references to your product and website.
6. Build your contact list
Collect and keep a database of your contacts, users or targets from the very beginning. Ensure you have a field on the landing page where it’s easy to sign up. This list will allow you to gauge customer interests from very early on and start your customer engagement.
7. Social Media
Identify which social media channels will be most suitable for your product. For example, if it is a physical product you are selling, Instagram could be a good option. If your product is B2B primarily, LinkedIn will be more relevant. For B2C products, Facebook will usually be quite effective. In general, most products should have a presence on twitter as this is one of a best channels to facilitate conversations and engagement. There are also many tools out there which could help you define the best time to post a tweet or a photo, based on the history of your engagement with different users. Other social media platforms to consider include: Quora, Vine, Pinterest, Youtube, Google+, Reddit.
If appropriate, you could consider a social media account takeover to attract your target audience. This could achieve cross promotion for you and your counterparty if executed well.
Lastly, get your users to share something about you, it could be a feedback, an opinion, or a photo of them using your product for example. Make it a competition, or a viral campaign, make more noise!
8. Build personal relationships
The most important benefit one gets out of networking events is the opportunity to build relationships. Make it personal, be genuinely interested in conversations and remember them. Spend time following up/catching up with the people you meet, and build long term relationships. It is easier to get people to talk about you when they feel that they know you personally, and it can easily become free advertising for you.
9. Crowdfunding campaign
B2C products usually find it easier to raise funding through crowdfunding platforms, this is because crowdfunding itself allows companies to collect feedback, gauge interests, and raise awareness. Crowdfunding could be costly though if you are trying to raise large sums. We usually find hardware crowdfunding campaigns relatively more popular on reward-based crowdfunding platforms.
10. Join competitions
Be aware of the latest startup competitions you can join, you can usually find out about them through signing up to different newsletters within the startup world, for example, Tech City News. Tech City news organises an annual Elevator Pitch competition which is a great opportunity to increase your press presence. You could also sign up for the newsletters with different publishers in the UK stating ‘Business’/’Technology’ as one of your preferences. For this purpose, you should have a short 250-word description of your business ready all the time for the competition entries. All the other related information should be extractable relatively easily from your business plans.
11. Register on online directories
Some online startup directories drive more traffic than others, David Arnoux, the co-founder of Twoodo has compiled a list of directories that he thinks are worth spending time on from his own experience with growing the business, you can view them here.
12. Start a club
If you are selling sports clothing for example, start a running club. Start a club for people who support the cause that your business is supporting/related to. This way you are effectively attracting the right audience to join in the conversation about your brand.
13. Promo Swap
Work with startups who are not directly competitive with you on a promo swap. Promote each other’s products through twitter accounts, Facebook posts, email newsletters, sponsored email swap, or giveaway swaps. Learn more here.
14. Analyse what works best for you
This is closely related to the set-up of any analytics tools you will be using. Test drive the marketing methods and compare the outcomes, analyse how many man-hours you are devoting to each method and conclude which one will be the most efficient way for your business. Try avoid spending too much time doing everything, as this will divert your attention from the actual product development.
15. Be passionate about your business
Last but not least, your passion for your business will be infectious. It makes an impression on people when you believe in your product and are passionate about it. Don’t underestimate its power!