Working on a startup of your own can attract a rush of emotions. While some days you work on a high, certain that you have the next big thing within the palm of your hand, some days you are left with a load of uncertainty and doubt. Whether your startup is a new mobile app, software or tangible product, the journey is nothing short of exciting.
Pinpointing the problem you wish to solve and laying out the concept for your app is just the first step. Once development is under way, the next daunting task would be to focus on how you can roll out the app to a relevant audience. As I am currently working on an app startup of my own, I thought I’d share a few marketing tips learned along the way. As like most startups, our budget was limited and almost nonexistent so here are a few tips which would require a large sum of, well, $0.
Disclaimer: I have only shared a few tips that helped us market our app. As we are yet to launch, I cannot comment on how successful this may be for you.
Create a Landing Page
Once you have finalized on a name, logo and tagline for your app, the next step would be to create a basic landing page in order to get some traffic to your site. The website should allow visitors to subscribe to your app in order to get updates on features and the launch date. You may also need to do some basic SEO for the site.
Tip: There are a number of free WordPress themes available for you to modify and use. Also ensure that your site is always up and running to avoid losing potential users.
If you aren’t active on social media now, it would be a good time to start. Through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and many other platforms you can reach out to a mass audience relevant to your app. A good place to start would be to create a list of Facebook and Google+ groups and pages where your app can be promoted during the launch. Also create promotional material like infographics, tag clouds, videos, etc., which can be shared to create awareness.
Tip: Be careful not to spam in order to avoid being removed or criticized on the group. Also search for app review exchange groups which will help you get quick reviews for your app on the launch day.
Another great way to promote your startup is by following social influencers on Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora. If you reach out to relevant people, they may be willing to try out your app and talk about why they like it. Getting endorsed by an influential person within the mobile or app space will definitely earn you some good credit.
Tip: Actively participate in discussions on all platforms and then reach out to influencers whom you like to follow. You can also write answers to questions asked on Quora that seem related to your app. As long as you do not spam and hard sell your own app everywhere, Quora is a great place to market it to an intelligent and active online community.
These are good outlets to reach out to in order to get coverage about your app or startup. Make a list of such sites and ask for a feature or review about your app.
Tip: Make a list of tech sites first and prioritize them based on their reach and popularity. Getting featured or reviewed by a few well-known sites can make a big difference. While reaching out, remember to keep your e-mail very precise.
There are plenty of active forums which allow you to promote your app. These forums are filled with entrepreneurs like you and early adopters. No matter who reads your post, you are guaranteed to get some good feedback or downloads.
Tip: Before promoting your app on forums, it is recommended that you participate in a few discussions and build some sort of credibility. Higher credibility will most certainly lead to a better reception and response from other users.
The blogger community can be extremely helpful in reviewing or featuring your app / startup. Reaching out to as many relevant bloggers as possible can guarantee you some coverage on at least 2-3 blogs.
Tip: You can invite bloggers to test your app in beta and give you feedback. If they like it, they may agree to write an honest review on it. Also, don’t restrict your reach to the top bloggers. Bloggers who have medium reach are more likely to respond and take you up on a feature / review request.
Create a well-written press release and prepare a PR kit which can be sent to all print magazines, newspapers and established tech sites. You can also target local newspapers as they may be more open to featuring your app.
Tip: As a general rule, new startups seldom get featured in newspaper articles. But, if you reach out to specific journalists from these papers who have covered other startups, the chances of them featuring you are higher. For contacting journalists, check their articles for an email address or send them a message on LinkedIn or any other social media.
Attending Startup Events and Networking
This may seem trivial but there can be plenty of takeaways. There are various startup events organized around the city where startups at various stages – be it the idea or traction stage – come together to get advice and feedback from each other as well as mentors within the startup space. If your startup requires VC funding, these events are a great start to understanding what investors are looking for and you even get to pitch to a few of them and watch other startups pitching.
Tip: Networking is the key to good marketing at these events. Getting your brand known by other startups and mentors within the startup space will go a long way.
Stay Updated with the Latest News from the Startup Cloud
If you are planning to venture into the startup space, it is important to keep up with the latest news. Whether you are reading about successful funding a startup has secured or an ongoing warfare between two startups, it won’t hurt to stay tuned with what’s happening around you. If not, the comfort and motivation drawn from knowing that others out there are on a similar journey is good enough.
Tip: It definitely helps to know what promotional activities deemed successful as it could give you a few tips when marketing your own app.
Sites like F6S have a plethora of freebies listed on them. They are all focused on startups and can definitely come in handy. You will probably find a coupon for everything from hosting to marketing on it.
Tip: Not all freebies are free, but discounts will definitely be a lot better than what you would get otherwise. It’s best to sign up for an account in advance and keep checking for new freebies once a week.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not sure which of these tips will give you the best results. Every startup is different and what works for one might not work for another. I just hope that this serves as a good starting point for those who haven’t made a concrete marketing plan.
This is an edited version of an article originally published at http://www.iamwire.com/2015/06/marketing-startup-0-budget/117560 by Andrea Noronha, a Management graduate with a specialisation in Marketing. All rights reserved by iamWire. Photo credit: Jason Howie. The photo was originally published on Flickr. It has been used to illustrate this text under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License terms. No changes have been made.
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The author of the text is Birute Birgelyte, PR and Communications Trainee at Startup Commons. You are free to re-edit and repost this in your own blog or other use under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License terms by giving credit with a link to www.startupcommons.org and the original post. Photo credit: Stefanie Maria. The photo was originally published on Flickr. It has been used to illustrate this text under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License terms. No changes have been made.
The success of your startup depends a lot on your brand. According to Marketing-Schools.org, a brand represents a company’s market identity: who its members are, “what they do, what kind of quality they provide, their reputation for trustworthiness, and more.” Building a strong brand is an investment which pays off a lot in the end: your brand starts working for your financial benefit. Fierce competition and abundance of marketing information can confuse customers: they can be easily attracted, distracted and taken away by competitors. One of the most effective ways to secure the position of your business in the market is creating a good brand marketing strategy: a strong brand helps customers to filter out marketing information, directs them to your products or services and eventually establishes their loyalty. Brand marketing is not an easy task, however. Here are 5 tips which you might find useful for developing your startup’s brand.
1. Communicate clearly. Company X is a leading mobile app developer in country Y. This sentence is a marketing cliché: there are many companies which can easily fit in. The mobile app industry is developing so fast that every day can bring new ‘leaders’, who can become your direct competitors. So if you want to stand out in the market and have a reputation of a reliable company, you should choose words to promote your brand more carefully. If you, however, still consider yourself as a market leader, you should simply explain your achievements. Without a clear explanation, it is just an empty phrase. The same applies to other cases.
2. Analyse your customers’ needs. Despite so much emphasis on the customers-go-first idea, top-down brand marketing is still very popular. What is wrong with it? Customers have changed a lot: they are more aware of different opportunities and their own needs, more critical, demanding and independent decision-makers. Top-down marketers, however, seem to be ignorant of these changes. They still believe that they have some sort of authority to tell customers what to buy and do not see any business potential in treating them more like partners whose suggestions matter. Laura Schwab, Marketing Director at Land Rover, has predicted that in 2015 brand marketing will concentrate on customer experience: companies will be competing for providing the best experience for their customers. There is still a lot of time left to test the accuracy of her prediction but what is already clear is that customer choices are becoming more personalised and sophisticated. As a result, brand marketing campaigners will face more challenges.
3. Don’t be hyperactive online. Website / blog / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / YouTube / e-mail newsletters – these are only a few options of how you can increase your brand's visibility. It is not as easy as it seems at first sight. Being active online does not mean you need to start using everything at random. You should not share tweets with links to articles that are not directly connected to your startup’s activities nor post them on Facebook only to collect more likes – no random actions if you really want your brand to be associated with quality, reliability and professionalism. Each action you take online has to be meaningful: you need to know what you want to do, why and how it will affect your company’s reputation. You should also pay attention to the form: pick up as many communication formats and channels as you can manage well. In other words: you need a clear online communication strategy.
4. Tell stories. Storytelling is an integral part of brand marketing: a brand is promoted in the form of engaging stories about a company, its products, services or other activities. Brian Honigman, Content Marketing Consultant and CEO of Honigman Media, has also observed a new trend in brand storytelling: brand marketers have started “branding themselves as storytellers”. What does it mean in practice? For illustration, he refers to the case of OkCupid’s blog. Each post is a story on user dating experience: there are many insightful comments on dating trends illustrated with specific user data. This helps to retain interest in OkCupid’s service and build loyalty to its brand.
Why not to follow OkCupid’s example or try to develop your own storytelling technique? For example, you can encourage your customers to share their experience of using your product or service on social media or a blog. You can also regularly post some user data which might attract your customers’ interest and encourage them to comment. To get the attention of more demanding customers, once in a while you can also publish reports with more detailed user data and some comments. In short: continuous interaction with your audience can be essential for marketing your brand.
5. Use videos. Mark Evans, Marketing Director at Direct Line, claims that hyper-individualistic culture we live in has also affected brand marketing. He has observed that “people want to do business with people” not with impersonal distant companies. They need to see human faces behind a brand to connect with it better. In Evans’ opinion, one of the easiest ways to do so is short video production. If you deliver engaging and useful content, you increase chances of customer loyalty and interest in your brand.
There are a lot of high-quality startup promo videos. However, some of them can both quickly attract and lose attention. Why so? Let me try to explain it with this example: a startup has uploaded a short video in which all of the co-founders heavily promote their product. They present themselves as cool guys who try to convince that you need to get their product if you also want to be cool. This promo video has quite an attractive form but lacks effective content: Is being cool enough to engage customers for a long time? How can the startup compete with other startups which use exactly the same brand marketing idea? Finally: What unique value does it bring to customers? These are only a few questions to consider before filming.
Please share with us some other tips on startup brand marketing based on your personal experience.
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