One of the toughest challenges an entrepreneur faces is marketing. You can have a great idea and you can have a great product; but if you can’t effectively market your idea, you’ll never be as successful as you were meant to be. With so many other competing entrepreneurs and ideas, marketing can be a tough nut to crack. We asked some successful business owners and entrepreneurs for their tips on marketing, and how their strategies led them to success. Here’s what they had to say:
Get the attention of people already looking for something you have to offer. My best marketing tip is to create an inbound marketing funnel…A popular strategy that HubSpot has mastered is offering ebooks and other content. My company is currently offering a free webinar in order to entice our potential clients, law firms, to see a 28 minute research briefing that pre-sells most of what my business has to offer.
Thanks to Auren E. Kaplan | Legal Lookout
1) Tell a good story
I founded BetterDoctor because I was frustrated with a real problem. When I had medical issues in my family, it was time-consuming and difficult to find the right doctor to treat them. I didn't have a background in healthcare, but I had been leading the App Studio for Nokia, shipping dozens of apps. So I decided to tackle my doctor finding problem in a way that would make other people's lives easier as well. When you've chosen a real problem to solve, you'll always have a story to tell that rings true, because that's what it is. People love to hear stories, and they stick to our memory because they touch our feelings. If your story touches people (including the media), they will believe you better than if you pitched them your product or features. Sometimes good stories start to spread on their own.
Thanks to Ari Tulla | Better Doctor
2) You don't need to be an expert in everything… surround yourself with experts
Most business owners and entrepreneurs are smart enough to know their strengths and weakness. Otherwise, they wouldn't have a business to show for their efforts. Chat with these business people about who does handles certain specialized components of their organizations (e.g., financial planning, accounting, management) and they'll usually be quick to tell you that they have professionals who handle that for them while they operate the core development of their businesses. Yet when it comes to marketing, a disappointingly high number of the same business people fancy themselves the experts, clutching tightly to all elements of the sales, marketing and promotional process. Why do they do this? Because it's personal. Expressing their brand with passion helped build these businesses, and as such that process is most near and dear to their hearts. So they micromanage-misguidedly-the sales and marketing process. And it keeps good companies-and good ideas-from moving forward. Don't be that guy. Here is the most important tip I can think to offer: Work with a marketing partner (individual or company) that you trust. And then trust their advice.
Thanks to Paul Pomeroy | ab+c Creative Intelligence
3) These 3 tips can work for any organization…And you can implement them right away
Tip 1: Create a Blog – A blog can be an informational hub for interested consumers browsing your website. A great way to come up with blog posts is to simply take what people ask about your product or service. What questions are they asking, then write a blog piece around it. If you're using Google's free analytic tool, you can see search terms people used to get to your site. For instance, if you're a yoga studio and someone searched, “what are the benefits of hot yoga?” and that term brought them to your site, make sure you have a blog on your website that answers that question.
Tip 2: Use Social Media – If you've implemented tip 1 and started a blog, now you have fuel for your social media platforms. Oftentimes, when people want to learn about a business they just started researching, they look for them on social media. A platform like Facebook is a great way to not only show what types of offerings you have, but also shows a personality behind a brand. A user can see photos of employees, golf outings, office remodeling, and company sponsored events, etc. This is where you show the extras that aren't so promotional like a website can be.
Tip 3: Paid Media – It's wise to spend a little to get your name out there. Research content creation companies that include a good distribution list of newspapers or online pubs. This will get your content in front of a huge audience, there for building brand identity. If you blog, try LinkedIn Updates or Facebook Boost Posts.
Thanks to Jessica Gaumer | BrandPoint
4) Find unique ways to use the internet and social media
I am the founder of the start-up Delivery Chef in one of India's leading e-commerce websites that lets hungry Indians order food for delivery from their neighborhood restaurants. We work with over 600 of India's most popular restaurants and process hundreds of orders in a day. Given the online nature of our business, social media is an important part of our marketing and communication strategy. It helps us reach out to new customers as we all engage with existing customers to keep us on top of their mind at all times when they need our services. We use social media in a number of ways: (1) Contests: These help us reward our existing customers and reach out to new customers followers/ fans that engage in these contests also help us drive new followers/ fans (2) Run specific promotions/ offers for social media this helps us drive our fans/ followers towards becoming paying customers and helps measure conversions from these channels (3) Informative posts these provide know-how, current trends, etc on present topics
Thanks to Aditi Kapur | Delivery Chef
5) Focus your marketing to look at where people's eyes are going, not where they are
There are a lot of good ways to throw money away in marketing and I've done most of them! About five years ago, the sign dancer phenomenon hadn't picked up much steam but we found a guy who was the best I had ever seen! I immediately hired him to start dancing for us even though 90% of the people I know told me it was a dumb idea and I was wasting my money. Fast forward to today and he is by far and away the best marketing investment I have ever made. When people see the M&E Painting logo, the first thing they tell us is how amazing our sign dancer is! If I hadn't looked towards the future and seen the potential for this marketing opportunity, I would have thrown that money at another investment that 100% would not have paid off the way our sign dancer has.
Thanks to Matt Shoup | M&E Painting
6) Visualize your perfect customer
My number one marketing tip is to sit down and write a description of your perfect customer – who they are, what they want, and how they make their buying decision. Your first challenge is to figure out how to get in a conversation with your perfect customer, so analyze how they make their buying decision and determine the most effective medium for inserting yourself into their buying process. For example, if your customer is likely to research something on the internet first, then ensure you have a strong presence online will be important; whereas if you have a small retail product, perhaps you need to position yourself for impulse buys. Then imagine that perfect customer standing in front of you or your products for the first time, with 10 of your competitors also before them. Ask yourself why they should work with you over any of that competition. Make this the focus of your brand messaging – play to your strengths and differences.
Thanks to Andrew Whitford | TrafficZoom
7) Stick to the fundamentals
All companies are brands and should think of themselves that way. The fundamentals for marketing are the same whether you're a local dry cleaner or a global brand of toothpaste. (1) Set measurable business goals. Within that, write down what you want your marketing efforts to achieve (i.e. Raise awareness, Drive repeat business, Increase the amount existing consumers purchase, etc…). (2) Learn about your (potential) audience. Make sure you truly understand your target. It may not just be the people already buying from you. Both qualitative and quantitative research can be extremely valuable in setting your plans and your messaging. (3) Start creating plans by asking yourself, “How can I achieve my goals with this audience? What will motivate them?” If your target uses social media, great. If not, don't feel like you have to be there because everyone else is. Focus on activities that will help you meet the goals you set in (Step 1) based on what you understand from. (Step 2) Keep all of your resources in mind. That includes hard costs and the human resources needed to implement. (4) Create high value content that will be relevant for each touch point. You may need outside expertise for all of these steps, but especially this one. You don't always have to go in for the hard sell. Some touch points lend themselves more to providing thought leadership or even entertaining your audience. All of your activities should track back to the goals you already established. (5) Test, Learn and Improve. Keep track of what's working so you can focus your efforts in the future.
Thanks to Melissa Popiel Bahr | MPBrandManagement
8) Have a baseline structure
Sit down, gather all of the information that you need and create a cohesive 6 and 12 month marketing plan with a strategic rollout strategy and budget. I know this may seem boring and elementary, but you will be shocked by the amount of time and money having a baseline structure in place will save you. I speak to entrepreneurs and small business owners all the time and many of them “have no time to focus on this.” I bet if they knew how much they would save in resources, they might just put some time aside to nail it down.
Thanks to Christopher Tompkins | The Go! Agency
9) The only way to make your customers care about you is to build relationships with them
You may want your company to remain faceless and you may like to operate behind closed doors, but human connection will always be king. There's no action that yells, “You matter to us!” louder than when a company owner, founder, or CEO delivers his personal touch. Whether you serve a massive audience or large, enterprise-level clients, you, the owner, are the magic of your company, and you are what your company is made of. If you make an effort to have candid, honest communication with your customers, they will develop loyalty, and they will stick with you for the long haul. You can offer free webinars through Google hangouts, offer to speak at events or conferences, call clients regularly just to check up on them and make sure everything is dandy, or even send hand-written notes when a product is mailed out or after a service is sold. I recently gave away free silver earrings in a contest to a handful of our Facebook fans and with each package; I wrote a hand-written note to each recipient with a quote that meant something to me. Make your customers feel special by letting them know you care and you will become special to them.
Thanks to Michael Okhravi | SpoilBox
10) Know and master the tools at your disposal
My number one marketing tip would be to make sure you have the right tools in place. Modern day marketers are expected to cover a wide range of tactics, the only way to make sure you are being efficient and effective is to know what tools are out there to help with each area – including:
- SEO – (Raven Tools, Moz, Majectic SEO)
- CRO – (Clicktale, Visual Website Optimizer, Inspectlet)
- Social – (Buffer, Sprout Social, Hootsuite)
- Email – (Streamsend, Mailchimp, ExactTarget)
- Automation – (Marketo, Hubspot, Net-Results, Pardot)
- Mobile – (Localytics, Flurry, Appboy)
- Personalization – (Monetate, Demandbase)
- Data – (Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Kissmetrics)
- Paid Advertising – (Adwords, Bing Ads, Adroll, Retargeter)
- Content Marketing – (MyBlogGuest, StumbleUpon, Contently, Scribe)
- PR – (Buzzstream, Vocus, HARO, PRNewswire)
Knowing the tools, what role each plays, which are in your budget, as well as which one(s) are right for your business can take a lot of time. It's something that I would definitely recommend every marketer take the time to research – it makes a world of difference!
Thanks to Chris Wise | DME Direct Marketing Services
11) Be a friend first
When I started my business I started with Facebook and I focused on not only sharing what I do but who I am. I answer questions promptly and related to the people who would later become my customers. It's through being a “friend first” that I was able to build the business I have now. It's also gotten me through some tough times when we were running behind schedule – If I hadn't been friends socially then I probably would have lost business. People like to do business with people they like, not with websites or companies. Be the person others like and your marketing will come across this way and you'll go far.
Thanks to Teajai “Annique” Kimsey | Annique's Nook
12) Engage with your consumers
It is not enough to simply be on social media. Having a Facebook page or Twitter feed does nothing if not utilized correctly. Some brands make the mistake of simply posting content, but not interacting with users when they comment on that content.. Consumers in this day and age value transparency. They want to know what the brands they use are thinking, what their values are, as well as what their favorite brands can offer them. By responding to consumer comments or posting intriguing content and questions that facilitate conversation, brands can create a dialogue that should eventually lead to loyalty.
Another key to success is a multichannel approach. Reinforcing a message across more than one channel can prove beneficial if a brand executes the campaign correctly. For example, studies have shown that television still receives a much larger audience digital and online media. However, digital and online allow brands to target a much more niche audience. By stretching a campaign across these media, a brand can cast a net with television, but hone in on who they actually want to speak to through online video.
Thanks to Frank Riolo | Conversation Agency
13) Get acquainted with video
So much of the Web these days is geared toward video, both content and advertising, that you're falling behind if you don't explore the possibilities now. This isn't a trend that will fade away; it's the future of marketing.
Thanks to Danny Groner | Shutterstock
So what’s the overall takeaway here? If I had to summarize all we’ve learned today, I would say it was three things: Do your research, engage with your customers, think creatively. Just as you need to crawl before you run, so too do you need to ground your efforts in the fundamentals of marketing and knowledge of your target consumer. Once you know your market and your ideal consumer, you can more effectively create an engaging and authentic relationship with that customer. That genuine relationship will allow you to generate not only more creative marketing strategies, but also more creative goods and services. As we’ve learned today, creating a marketing strategy is like pouring the foundation for a building; if you’ve laid it right, there’s very little that will be able to knock you down.