A startup may have an excellent product or service that will bring infinite value to a market in need. Still, we live in an era of noise, and any nascent business leader will need a clear marketing strategy to cut through the static and grow their business.
A business is more than its product or service. It is about the value it delivers to its customers. But that value must be communicated clearly, trust must be built from the ground up, and requisite talent must be sought.
Here are 4 actionable tips that will help get your startup to take off.
Invest in Content Marketing
Content marketing is a long-term investment. The ROI for each piece of content is related to the value that content brings to your audience and the new audience members it attracts.
While hopping on the latest trends can help capture attention, it’s important to make your content perennial, if possible. Great content can last for decades and become a reliable revenue engine and act as a pillar for other content.
The best part about content marketing is that it attracts potential customers to you in a wholesome way. You give something of value to them in the form of information or entertainment, and they come to rely on and respect your business as an authority in your industry or niche.
Content marketing builds brand, engages new audiences, inspires trust, and respect… but does it increase sales?
Let’s look at the stats.
According to a report from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers say content marketing is vital to their marketing strategy.
CMI reports that 77% of B2B marketers and 78% of B2C marketers rate content marketing as moderately, very, or extremely successful for their business.
Here are a few more stats to give you an idea of content marketing ROI:
- Increases engagement according to 72% of marketers (CMI report)
- Increases leads according to 72% of marketers (CMI)
- According to this case study, quality video content is responsible for a 60% returning customer rate of an online nutritional retailer.
- Custom content positively affects attitude toward a company, say 82% of consumers.
- Marketers that emphasize blogging are 13(x) more likely to have a positive ROI.
While it is difficult to quantify a general ROI for content marketing, it is safe to say that it is a relatively inexpensive way to increase traffic, build brand loyalty, introduce potential customers to your sales funnel and pipeline, and create a long-term marketing strategy.
Create a Robust Sales Pipeline
First, we must distinguish between a sales pipeline and a sales funnel if you truly want to grow your business. A sales funnel concerns the process of lead conversion, while a sales pipeline is about the steps taken to nurture and close a deal.
Here are the steps of a sales pipeline:
- Lead generation is about exposure. You want to identify your ideal customer and develop a strategy that targets them.
- Lead qualification happens when a lead is recognized as a potential customer, and the sales process is initiated.
- Initiate contact is the point in the process when a sales rep sets out to discover how your business can meet the needs of the lead.
- Schedule meetings to demonstrate or further articulate your products or services.
- Negotiation happens when the lead is already convinced, but there is still room to discover an optimal set of conditions for your deal.
- Close the deal and record the final outcome. If the lead is not ready to buy, you should not consider them a loss, instead, try to nurture them into a customer.
The length of the cycle of your sales pipeline will be determined by the complexity of your business, the source of your leads, and the customization of your product or service.
Creating a robust sales pipeline does not have to be complex, but there are definitely ways to increase the likelihood of success and efficiency.
Before you begin to develop your sales pipeline, you absolutely must identify your target market. If you do not have a target in mind, your attention won’t be focused, and your conversion rate will suffer. This pipeline is not meant as a channel for profits, not a drain.
Identify your Target Market
Put simply, your target market is made up of the people you believe will be the most likely to purchase your product or service, allowing you to grow your business.
Your target market is not necessarily distinguished by demographics, rather, what defines your target market is their relationship to your product, regardless of demographic differences.
Nevertheless, your target market is likely to share some common characteristics, and understanding what those commonalities are will help you shape the way your market to them.
Say you are selling email marketing services. Nearly every business uses email marketing services, but selling to ‘every’ business will dilute your message. As the saying goes, “a dog that chooses two rabbits catches neither.”
Rather than selling to everyone, pay attention to who has been buying from you consistently, and what characteristics those customers have in common. If you don’t have customers yet, then determine who your product or services will benefit the most and create a customer profile around your ideal customer.
As your business grows, you can target a wider market, but in the beginning, it’s easier to add unique value to a more niche target market.
So maybe your particular email marketing services pay unique attention to aesthetics and design. You could target industries that are more focused on aesthetics like architecture, artists, video games, etc. This will make it easier to target your value proposition to that particular market.
Once you’ve become established among your target market, you can reach out to different markets with the testimonials and confidence you’ve gained from your successes.
Tap into the Freelance Marketplace
With more than 57+ Million Americans freelancing this year, it is easier than ever to find talent. A physical workplace is great for company culture and ease of communication, but hiring freelancers makes for a nimble and easily adaptable business. You can test out various talent and find niche freelancers for niche projects.
One way to find freelancers is to post on job boards. The proof of job boards is variety. The con of job boards is variety. You may have to sift through a mudslide of applications. Aside from that, it’s a pretty simple process if you have the time. Here are some job boards:
You can post on freelance platforms where they have profiles with testimonials. Here are some of those platforms:
You can also find freelancers through social media as well. LinkedIn is an obvious choice here, but Facebook and Twitter can also yield new business relationships.
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you like someone’s work.
Be as clear as possible about what you’re looking for in a freelancer: experience, skills, examples of previous work, project expectations, etc.
While past success is a great way to test for future success, an experienced freelancer will come at a premium. You may be able to find a talented freelancer who is just starting their career. Do not be afraid to test someone out on a less critical project if they seem promising.
Wrapping Up: Tips to Get Your Startup Off the Ground
Any startup will make plenty of mistakes. But it’s important to make the right mistakes. Always put yourself in the shoes of your customers.
Ask yourself what do they need, not what you want them to need? If something isn’t working, re-calibrate, and try something new. Being an entrepreneur is all about creativity and experimentation when trying to grow your business.
Enjoy the ride, iterate, and learn.
Image Credit: edmond dantés; pexels