Everyone wants to know the ROI of marketing…from new business owners to marketers themselves. In my mind, there are two kinds of marketing: marketing that generates leads, and marketing that doesn’t. The latter isn’t bad; it’s a necessary part of marketing strategy at most companies. But today, I’m arguing that marketing that doesn’t generate leads has no place in a startup.
I know what you’re thinking—it’s a strong position to take, and you’re right. But hear me out:
A marketing baseline is a must.
When marketing for startups, there are certain pieces of marketing that you definitely need. You need to pick a brand color. You need a logo. You need a website. But if you’re a bootstrapping startup, the truth is, that’s all the baseline that you need. And there are affordable ways to do all of the above:
Check out Fiverr or 99designs. With these websites, you’ll have design professionals creating logo options for your business, all for less than $100. Is this a logo that your company will keep forever? Probably not. But it’s a great place to get started.
3) Build a Website
There are great platforms like SquareSpace that will help a startup owner get a website up and running quickly. If you’d like to outsource this service, check out our friends at SmBiz.Website for an affordable solution.
Skip the awareness marketing.
I meet a lot of people that are marketing for startups that really (really, really) care about vanity metrics. By vanity metrics, I mean numbers like page views, website visits and even content downloads. I think founders care because these numbers are an indicator of success…they mean you’re moving in the right direction, but they don’t mean you’re earning money. And when you’re a bootstrapping founder, money is really the only thing that matters.
So skip the radio ads. Definitely skip the billboards. Skip the banner ads. These are all fine in theory, and you can even track the traffic generated by banner ads. However, unfortunately, clicks on ads like this are notoriously low—.06% according to this Smart Insights article. This means that advertising is not a great place to spend your money when marketing for startups.
Use targeted marketing to generate leads.
Find out where your prospects are and meet them there. Create a content offer (I discussed this process in my last blog) that applies to your prospects, and show prospects where to find it. Here’s how:
Concentrate on SEO. Complete keyword research for every piece of content that you publish, then implement the right keywords. These keywords should be long-tail (3 or more words) for easier ranking opportunities. There are a number of keyword tools that are extremely effective, our favorite is Hubspot SEO but the Google Keyword Planner is another popular alternative. Layer these keywords throughout your content to ensure your website ranks when your prospects are looking for you.
Find your prospects on social media. Follow them on Twitter and send them a link to your resource. You could even set up uber-targeted LinkedIn or Twitter ads… these are an effective way to market as long as you’re sending prospects to a conversion-optimized landing page with a content offer.
Develop reciprocal relationships with industry partners. This is a strategy that is extremely effective for Accelity, in fact, you may be reading this blog on our partner’s website right now (Startup Savant). Many industry thought leaders will exchange guest blogs or promote your content if they believe in your knowledge as a company and enjoy your partnership.
What do you think? Does awareness marketing still have a place for a bootstrapping startup? Are there any other strategies you use to drive leads when marketing for startups? Say hi on Twitter and let me know.