Marketing advice is worth a million dollars, especially when it comes from the top gurus and leaders. Startups are no exception and even a grain of advice can lift them from ground to space.
Here are some best pieces of marketing advice given by top entrepreneurs to startups.
#1 People Love Benefit, Not the Feature
Dharmesh Shah needs no introduction. HubSpot’s co-founder explains that marketers cannot ignore the human component of a value proposition.
It doesn’t matter how better, unique or expensive you are, it is all about how you portray those dissimilarities in regard to the benefits, risks, and value that completely adheres your customers.
#2 Creativity is the Key to Success
Nowadays, consumers are overloaded with the bulk of emails, promos, and messages around the clock. According to Scott Gerber, packaging your promotions and strategies in a unique way with a quality message that suits your potential customers is the key to success.
On the other hand, CEO of Hootsuite, Ryan Holmes is of the view that you should be working with your users as much as possible.
Some elegant quotes on why creativity is important:
“In an economy increasingly based on information and technology, ideas and creativity embody most of the company’s wealth.”
“All achievements, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea.”
(NAPOLEON HILL, THINK & GROW RICH)
“All business are built around ideas. Entrepreneurs build their organisations on a central idea. The central idea forms the organising principle within the organisation.”
(NOEL TICHY, THE LEADERSHIP ENGINE)
“Business begins with an idea. Its growth, stability and ultimate success depend upon innovation and a constant flow of imaginative ideas. The most urgent business of business is ideas.”
(JERRY HIRSHBERG, THE CREATIVE PRIORITY)
“Money never starts an idea. It is the idea that starts the money.”
(W J CAMERON)
“Think about it. Business at its essence, is two things. Ideas and action. Thinking and doing. Having a dream and making it happen.”
(JAMES BANDROWSKI, CORPORATE IMAGINATION PLUS)
“You are here where your ideas have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your ideas take you.”
“A company is only as good as its last good idea. The rest that goes on in the company is only housekeeping.”
“Opportunity has gone up! And the only limits will be the size of your ideas and the degree of your dedication.”
(DONALD BLOHOWIAK, MAVERICKS)
“Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business has two, and only two, basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results. All the rest are costs.”
“It’s what in your head that determine what’s in your hands. Money is only an idea. If you want more money, simply change your thinking.”
(ROBERT KIYOSAKI, CASH FLOW GAME)
I like to sum up:
For business or companies to succeed today, creativity i.e. the ability to produce new and unique ideas, and innovation i.e. the implementation of that creativity, have always been recognized as a sure path to organisational prosperity.
Stimulating creativity and exploring novel and unknown territories before lead as result to increasing the workplace productivity of the organisation.
#3 Test Your Marketing Ideas
Ross Kimbarovsky supports two weeks online marketing test instead of six-month marketing campaigns. With the help of two-week experiments, you will get a better idea of what is working and what does not.
#4 Talk to Your Customers
Laura Tenison backs a more hands-on approach to marketing. She keeps herself in customer’s place as a shopper before opening a new store by visiting store’s location from public transport to parking lots.
Moreover, she stops customers on the road and asks them their opinion about location, store, and brand.
This approach, as Tenison says helps customers feel empowered and allows them to have their own voice in company’s making.
Identifying social signals of a prospect’s pain point
Imagine if you could message people with a discount for your skateboards every time they said on social media, “My skateboard broke.”
You must find the social platform where they’re expressing this message, then automate personalized messages to them at scale right after they express this pain.
Building a loyal fanbase through consistent quality content
Most startup founders struggle to build a loyal fanbase. They don’t have time to produce content (i.e. pictures, video) to nurture their fans. They’ll go all-in for one week, then fall off the next.
Either show up every day to give value to prospects and customers or don’t bother marketing your startup.
Loyalty from fans starts with your loyalty to giving them value.
#5 Focus on Existing Customers
Tony Hsieh, when started his first company, came to the point that the more his team focused on offering customer experience and support, the more it showed loyalty. It helped the company to upscale through positive word of mouth marketing.
Identifying what customers purchase before and after your product.
If you know what customers purchase after your product, then you can give them a discount code for that product. For example, if you know skaters purchase their helmets after your boards, then you can provide a discount for helmets to anyone who has your board.
If you know what people purchase before your product, then time your marketing message to hit this person after they buy. For example, if skaters buy skate shoes before a board, then you can send personalized email follow-ups and ads to this segment of prospects showcasing new boards.
#6 Give Your Stuff Away
If you are selling products, one potentially successful way to gain customers is by giving away samples! Once customers try your products for free, if they like it, they will become frequent customers of yours!
#7 Attend Networking Events
Probably one of the most essential things for any business and especially crucial for start ups is networking.
Having a good network of possible employees, customers, advisors and people with connections would be of great help through every stage of your startup development.
If you want to stay in relationship with your customers, there is nothing simpler than creating a weekly e-mail that provides something of value.
#8 …Or, Create Your Own Event
If you don’t like the events you are attending, invent your own!
#9 Sponsor an Organization
Many local organizations are not that expensive to sponsor for a year if you consider the so-called per meeting cost.
If your product or service is a good fit with their audience, you will get exposure every time the organization sends out an e-mail and a mention every time they meet. Attendees always remember and appreciate companies who sponsor their favorite organizations.
Here are some tips to determine a good fit between your company and the sponsored organisation:
Are you offering just a bunch of banners/flex to the potential sponsors for their hard earned money?
If so, then get yourself prepared to listen to the rejection.
Visitors don’t pay attention to the sponsor’s banners/flex.
So Provide value to the potential sponsors; find some creative ways to give visibility to them.
Now keeping your event demographic in your mind, brainstorm about the potential sectors or industries that might be interested in your event demographic.
Browse through the websites of the other events with the similar demographic & get the names of companies that had previously sponsored the similar event.
Through LinkedIn, find out the people in the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) department or marketing department of those companies & try to reach out to them.
Craft the sponsorship proposal based on their needs. Try to address their problem & provide the solution to them with your creative ideas to give them desired exposure.
Many times you will not get any reply from the potential sponsors but, don’t assume it as a rejection. Send emails, get into the call. Don’t stop following up until you listen NO.
Don’t be annoying, but just keep your conversation going. Try to get the reason behind their rejection.
#10. Create a Cool Giveaway
When thinking through what your company will give away make sure it’s something they won’t want to throw away or easily lose in their desk or bag (think pen).
Create a E-Book for subscribers only – Make sure this E-Book solves a specific problem. Make it exclusively only for Subscribers ( those on your mailing list). While this is an old tactic, it still works.
Create a Course – Courses appear to provide more value, and you feel like you getting more out of it. These can range from 3 Day courses or more. Video courses seem to do quite well.
Exclusive posts – Posts exclusive posts, strategies and content for your subscribers only. These posts should not be available on the blog (at least initially)
Exclusive Offers – Whether it’s exclusive discount affiliate offers or discounts to a product/service of your own.
An example of giveaways that we have on our Startup Storey is 150 Free Resources for any Startup to use.
#11. Invest time and effort in SEO & Keyword Research
No site has more users than Google, which means there’s unlimited potential to tap into. Being the 1st result in searches for your solution gives you the most targeted traffic out of any marketing tactic.
Plus you can pretty easily position yourself on long-tail keywords – specific phrases people google when looking for solutions similar to yours. This generates smaller, but very highly converting traffic.
Strategic tip for SEO
Basic SEO is a must and the guidelines are pretty simple. Delegate someone from your team for basic SEO or try handling it yourself. There are plenty of resources to go through over a weekend and come back knowing what you need to do basic SEO.
Make note of search phrases you think people would be searching for when looking for the solution your product provides.
Make note of search phrases you want your product to show up for (in search results)
Is there industry jargon related to your product? Make note of that as well, though it may not make sense to include industry jargon in some of your marketing materials (but included it because this is specific to keyword research.
Some of my favorite tools for keyword research:
- Adwords keyword planner tool
- AnswerThePublic.com (if you’re in the U.S. be sure and change the country to US; it is set to UK by default)
Start typing your keyword phrase into Google, and often Google will “help” by suggesting the topic you’re typing out. Make note of those additional suggestions because it indicates there is enough search volume that Google is making note of it and suggesting it to others.
Type a basic keyword (i.e. not a long tail keyword; for instance if your product is a CRM, just search for CRM) then scroll to the bottom of the first page of Google search results. Make note of the “suggested related searches”…then plug those suggested related search terms back into the tools at the top of this list.
#12 Take Note of Marketing Efforts by Competition: What gap can your product fill?
Each industry is being influenced by well-established players which make sure the penetration of new ventures would be difficult and painful. Nowadays, corporations take startups—in their baby phase—far more seriously than, say, 20 years ago.
Some of them employ monopolistic strategies that discourage startups, some are just buying them just to play it safe.
You may consider these recent Fortune 500 acquisitions of startups as a solid proof.
For instance, General Motors spent around $1 billion on Cruise Automotive, a 30-person autonomous vehicle startup that hasn’t even launched a product. Unilever spent $1 billion on Dollar Shave Club, a razor startup that adds just $200 million in revenue to Unilever’s €53.3 billion bottom line.
According to MassChallenge and Imaginatik’s recent research, corporates are getting more and more eager to work with startups. 23% of them see it as “mission critical”, and 82% said it’s at least “somewhat important.”
So quite an important question arises. For Christ’s sake, is there any gap in the industry I can fill with my product?
And the answer would be – yes, you can, just keep on looking.
Firstly, conduct researches and find out what consumers think about the industry, products, and services. It will give the initial insights you can use when creating your marketing strategy.
Secondly, you have to discover what gap has been left for your product to fill in. Once the need and the competitive advantage of your product are identified, this advantage has to be developed.