How to Introduce Your Brand New Company to the World in 5 Easy Steps

Compared to established companies, startups often have to play by different rules. They are just starting their journeys into the business world and face additional challenges to conquer early on.

One of the biggest challenges is marketing. Because startups have little to no brand recognition and often offer a niche product or service which might be difficult to explain to outsiders, a foray into marketing has to be carefully considered. Whereas other companies may make use of tried-and-true techniques, startups have to be more creative in order to succeed.

5 Key Steps to Market Your Startup

1. Identify your key audience and influencers

Before you take one step, first identify where you will market your product. A staggering 42 per cent of founders cite a lack of market need as the number one reason for failure. Even if you have an outstanding product or an excellent service, it is absolutely useless unless people actually want to use it.

Of course, that’s not to say you should only cater to an existing audience. Steve Jobs famously said that people don’t know what they want until you give it to them.

For instance, smartphones were adopted extremely quickly, yet few people could have predicted their popularity. Even so, you must understand exactly who your product will be marketed toward so you can create relevant content and marketing campaigns that will actually interest your audience.

2. Analyze and plan accordingly

Entrepreneurs often hear that the majority of startups are doomed to fail before they are even conceived, a notion that is supported by hard statistics. In fact, 90 per cent of startups inevitably fail for one reason or another; that’s a fact every person in the business has to face.

The first step is to make a cohesive plan. As any entrepreneur will tell you, plans are also prone to failure. The turbulent nature of business will render a lot of them useless by the time they are supposed to come into fruition.

Even so, studies have shown that setting challenging and specific goals is linked to more effective performance and increased motivation. When you have clear objectives in sight, you work slowly toward achieving them.

Even if you fail in some steps along the way, keep working toward fulfilling your purpose. Hurdles and obstacles in the entrepreneurial world are not just common; they are to be expected at nearly every turn.

Once you carefully lay out your plans, it’s time to make an in-depth analysis of what makes your startup tick. Before you go into market and start promoting your product, it’s vital to properly understand what your startup is made of. It’s only when you can safely answer all the questions that may be thrown at you that you are actually ready to go out and meet the world.

3. Craft targeted and engaging content

Some of the most effective B2B marketers spend 39 per cent of their marketing budgets on content, and there’s a general trend toward creating relevant, targeted content for specific audiences. That’s why ignoring content creation is a bad idea. After all, the majority of consumers learn about a company through content rather than ads. Though this takes into account a number of different services and ways to serve content, as a startup you may be limited on the type of content marketing that you can create and push.

Blogs, however, are fantastic and inexpensive, and the vast majority of companies employ blogs for marketing purposes. Marketers who prioritize blogging see increased search-engine traffic, build their company’s authority in the industry, improve conversion rates, increase leads, and more. It’s not hard to see the benefits of such a practice, particularly because you have full creative control over what’s happening in your company’s blog. It’s a great way to create a brand identity, reach out to potential consumers, and create much-needed awareness for your brand, your product, and what it entails.

4. Make sure you’re on social media (your competitors already are!)

In this day and age, you have no excuse for not keeping up with social media platforms. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites provide a free way of directly reaching out to your target audience. They are great places to promote your brand, explain how your product or service works, and keep your startup in the spotlight for as long as possible.

When you first start, social media management can easily be done by one person—often you, the founder. As you grow, you can always delegate social media marketing to other people within your company. Of course, first educate yourself in how social media marketing works. What you may think is simple and obvious might turn out to be a difficult lesson indeed.

5. Maintain engaging and interactive social media presence

In addition to being social, being interactive is of equal importance. If you maintain a social media presence that is faceless and cold, consumers will turn their backs on you. In the digital age, users expect their questions to be answered and companies to interact with them on a personal level.

As long as you respond immediately (or within two hours), 34 per cent of customers are more likely to complete a purchase with your company. In addition, about 43 per cent are much more likely to recommend your product or service to friends and family as well as promote it through social media. On the other hand, failing to respond may result in customers feeling indifferent about your brand, which means you won’t receive word of mouth advertising and a positive image in social media.

Common Mistakes Made by Founders When Marketing

  1. Putting too much trust in the idea of their product, not its real-world applicability. Since entrepreneurs live and breathe the products and services they offer, they often (mistakenly) think everyone will feel the same way.
  2. Failing to connect with customers and listen to their feedback. No one can offer a service without customers, and it’s the general population that largely defines the market.
  3. Failing to work out a personal, tailor-made plan for the company. Just because something works for another startup doesn’t mean it will work for yours.
  4. Managing the budget poorly. Though investments are necessary, they should be carefully thought out and executed since money is tight, especially in the beginning.
  5. Failing to identity the actual target market, and thus creating a completely irrelevant campaign. As mentioned before, in-depth research is absolutely necessary before attempting to reach your target market.

Take a Cue from other Entrepreneurs’ Successes

Shopify may be an incredibly successful Canadian company, but that wasn’t always the case. According to CEO Tobias Lütke, there are some key elements that all startups should take into account when they are trying to launch their business and introduce it to a wider audience.

First and foremost, a startup that fixes an existing problem is much more likely to be successful. Even better, if you create something that you need for yourself, it means that you will be that much more connected to the product. You’ll also have an easier time identifying the right market.

Find the right team. This can mean a number of different things, but in essence it boils down to finding people who share your passion for the product and who are also able to help with its growth. A team of engineers might create a fantastic product, but if no one else can use it, then it has no value in the market.

Expect to do everything at once. When you are just starting out, you may need to conduct a range of jobs that you’re not well-suited for—and that’s perfectly fine. Though you may just want to create a product and leave everything else for other people to handle, you’ll most likely need to address those issues by yourself. This also applies to marketing. No one knows your product better than you do, and creating a brand should and most likely will be your responsibility.

Be visible, both to your target audience and to any potential investors. For example, you may find that the product you offer will do great in another city, but if you’re not prepared to move, you may risk everything else. If you don’t have a presence, users who may have been interested in your product will simply be satisfied elsewhere, with another product.

Stay focused and true to your purpose. Once you start marketing your product, you will face a lot of challenges. You’ll also be confronted by a lot of distractions and failures. Being distracted and inconsistent is a surefire path toward failure because your users need to identify stability in your product. A company that doesn’t know what to do with itself is harder to trust.

By guest writer, Jonha Richman  who is a marketing strategist with over 9 years of experience advising tech startups. She’s also a staff writer at Small Business Trends and her works were featured on The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Business Insider, among others. You may connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Tips for Apple App Store Marketing

appstoremarketingapptology

The app marketplace is highly profitable, highly competitive, and highly cluttered. Because of this, app developers absolutely need an app store marketing strategy to realize success in the app marketplace. Optimizing your application for success in the app marketplace should be a vital part of your overall app development strategy.

App Store Marketing Tips

According to a Statista worldwide mobile app revenue forecast, 41.1 Billion dollars in revenue was generated from mobile apps worldwide in 2015. This year, app revenue is on track to reach 50.9 Billion dollars. Even more astounding, 2020 is projected to see over 101.1 Billion dollars in mobile app revenue worldwide. With this continued rise in profitability, the app market will continue becoming cluttered with an influx of mobile applications. Here are some tips on developing a rock solid Apple App Store marketing strategy to ensure your app stands out:

Identify Your Advantage

Lay out your competitive advantage clearly and concisely. No one is going to read a long-winded statement about your app. They want to know exactly how the app is unique, what problem it solves, and how it improves on what’s already on the market.

Is the Price Right?

When pricing your app, find the sweet spot. You can decide between different pricing models depending on what kind of app you are looking to build. For example, some popular pricing models include flat price to download, in-app purchases, and in-app advertising. Charging to download is going to limit the amount of people who download your app since a free download is almost always more alluring to the user. In-app purchases allow the user to download the app for free and pay for upgrades within the application. The feasibility of this will vary depending on the nature of the application. In-app advertising is another popular pricing model. This model keeps the application free to the user in exchange for them viewing advertisements. Finding the right pricing model will depend on how you want users to interact with the application.

App Store Optimization

App store optimization (ASO) is very similar to its web-based counterpart strategy, SEO. ASO involves making sure that your app is showing up first for relevant keywords within the app store. Most users download an app after using the Apple App Store’s search feature. Therefore, your app will get lost in the marketplace if it isn’t showing up for related keyword phrases. A successful ASO strategy requires:

A common-sense title: According to app development company Enola Labs:

People sometimes forget just how important choosing the right title really is. For one, your app title will give you the heaviest search traffic. Second, you don’t want to have to change your title; It’s extra work, updates take time for Apple to process and most importantly it hurts any progress you’ve made in any initial marketing efforts.”

So, don’t get too creative with your app title. The title should be searchable and include the targeted keyword.

Bullet point features: Quick, important details about your application that will help the user decide if they want to download it or not.

Relevant keywords:  Because relevant keywords are so important, be sure to include specific keywords that relate to your application and its functionality.

High-Quality Screenshots: These help the user “experience” the application before deciding to download.

Your Marketing Strategy Will Evolve

Most of all, it is important to note that the app store is still very young and will continue to evolve. Therefore, your app store marketing strategy needs to continue to evolve right alongside it.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

SMS (Text) Marketing: An Effective Way to Reach Your Customer Base

In continuing my series on the  three pillars of a marketing strategy, the second pillar is SMS (Text) Marketing.  SMS stands for Short Message Service and  it’s  one of the primary ways  people now communicate.  To illustrate the change in communication, my cousin was complaining to me that her  kids (who are in their 20’s) never  responds to her emails.  When I talked to her kids, they laugh and basically said that they primarily text or  Facebook and that no one emails.

95% of text messages are read within 15 minutes.  Compare that with emails which has a 3% read rate.  Email use is declining and consequently, the effectiveness of email marketing.  However, I still feel that email marketing is still effective for B2B but if your business is more B2C, you really should look into SMS Marketing.

A&W SMS Campaign

A&W SMS Campaign

Here are some case studies that show the effectiveness of SMS marketing.  A&W burger chain was able to increase their revenue by a staggering 20% by using Text Marketing.    In similar fashion, Jamba Juice was able to increase their in store traffic by 10% with their Text Marketing campaign.

As a pillar to mobile marketing, SMS Marketing offers an effective means to market to your clients and if you business model is B2C, I highly recommend that you look into it.  (Shameless plug, Apptology does offer SMS Marketing packages).

In my next blog, I will look go  over the  third pillar of mobile marketing, Smartphone Apps.

Why You Need a Mobile Friendly Web Site

In the last blog,  I discussed the three  pillars in developing a mobile  strategy.  The first pillar is developing a mobile friendly web site.  This can also be  referred to as mobile optimized web site.   Figure 1 illustrates the problem that a smart phone has with a standard web site.

Figure 1.  Viewing our full web site from a smart phone.

Figure 1. Viewing our full web site from a smart phone.

Standard web sites are cumbersome to navigate on a smart phone.  The user would have to zoom in and out to navigate and read the content.  In fact, a recent poll cites that 44% of shoppers  would not return to a site this is  not mobile friendly.

One solution is develop a mobile friendly web site.   Figure 2 depicts our  mobile friendly web  site.

Figure 2.  Viewing mobile version of our web site from a smart phone.

Figure 2. Viewing mobile version of our web site from a smart phone.

 

As you can see, our web site is streamlined with what we consider critical content.  The site can be navigated with the user’s thumbs.  It also can support some native features like tap to call and even tap for directions.   Creating a mobile friendly web site is fairly easy to do.  Your web master can usually put one together or you can go to a third party like dudamobile.com, bmobilized.com, or (shameless plug) Apptology.com.  The way this works is that a script is added that can detect if a user is viewing from a mobile device and then redirects them to the mobile version.   This method is ideal if you feel like you invested a lot in your current web site and just need something quick.

If you are creating a web site from scratch or are looking at doing a total redesign, you should choose a web developer that is familiar with Responsive Design.  In a nutshell, responsive design allows the web site to adapt to the viewing environment, be a laptop, tablet, or smart phone.

Although I describe having a mobile web site  as one of the pillars of  developing a mobile strategy, I would  argue that if your business relies on your web site, mobilizing  it  is  a necessity.    According to a recent comScore report, almost 40% of “Internet time” is spent on a mobile device.  If you couple this  with the earlier cited poll that 44% of shoppers won’t return to a site that is not mobile friendly, you can see that having a mobile friendly site is crucial.

In my next blog, I will discuss  the  second pillar of developing a mobile  strategy,  SMS Marketing.

 

Rich Foreman

The Three Pillars in Developing a Mobile Strategy

Three Pillars of a Mobile Strategy

Three Pillars of a Mobile Strategy

In developing a mobile strategy to promote your business, I believe that there are three pillars to consider:

Mobile Friendly Web Site:  If you have a web site for your business, this not so much a marketing strategy, it’s an action item that you need to add to your to do list.   40% of Internet Time  is done on a mobile device and  if you’re site is not mobile friendly, you may be losing customers.

SMS (Text) Marketing:  If your business model is primarily B to C, you really need to look into SMS Marketing.  This has become an extremely effective method to communicate and market to your client base.

Smart Apps:  Apps is the high end solution among this group.  Apps can be used for branding purposes or it can be  used to develop into a new business process in interacting with your customer base.

In my future blogs, I will go into these pillars in greater detail.

—Rich Foreman