I wanted to do this for a long time. Recently, I wrote an article on budget startup marketing. It got me thinking – I don’t have the time to write a post about every single marketing thought that crosses my mind so I might as well dedicate a complete article to them. You know, just post a bunch of random actionable startup marketing tips and tricks intended for all those who wish to market their startup, regardless of their budget, although most of the things I write about can be done for little to no money.
Should you want to discuss a certain point, please let me know down in the comments and I’ll make sure to elaborate it further.
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EDIT 02/25/2016 – Added categories and new tips and tricks.
- Try not to fall in love with a certain technology and hang onto it if there is a better alternative. Fall in love with results instead.
- Clickbait headlines are perfectly OK. A headline is supposed to make people click, not to be a piece of Russian Classic literature. What matters is the content quality. That is where you have to shine. This great article by Wired explains why clickbait works.
- A product won’t sell itself. That’s your job. Time to get rid of that obnoxious marketing mantra.
- If you already haven’t, take this fantastic free class from Stanford on startups.
- Become an authority in your niche. Contribute to community, whether it’s GitHub, Quora, Reddit or something else.
- Keep an eye on your direct competition, especially when they are bigger/better than you. You don’t want to risk losing all the time you spent building your startup just because they got all the attention.
- Keep seasonality in mind. By seasonality I mean two things. (1) The silly season/cucumber time is a real thing. Usually during summer months, the quality of media reporting decreases, often significantly. That could be your time to shine as some of them could be willing to publish news about you more than they would be during hectic months. (2) Not every month is the same. During my work as social media account manager, I noticed that people tend to become depressed during January (post holiday depression) and that can be seen on their activity on social media.
- You shouldn’t choose social networks solely based on the size of their userbase. It means nothing if you can’t reach the right audience.
- Should you decide to post your article in every Facebook group out here, at least write an unique description for every. It doesn’t take a lot of your time. A lot of people are following multiple groups and you don’t want to be remembered as a spammer just because you were lazy to write two sentences of explanation.
- Make sure to use a real account if you’re posting on Facebook groups. It adds credibility to what you’re saying.
- Twitter is a powerful tool. Although it probably won’t help you sell stuff, it can help you reach certain influencers. Here’s the famous “billion dollar tweet”
- Putting “Please ReTweet” in your tweets can generate x4 more retweets, according to Hubspot. Make sure not to overdo it, though.
- Socialbro is a fantastic tool to manage your Twitter profile. With great reports, follower management and lot of relevant data, it can help you step up your Twitter game. It has a trial period of one month so make sure to try it out.
- Plan your Twitter strategy in advance. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t retweet something if it seems interesting and valuable, but try not to be hectic. Use Tweetdeck to schedule tweets and monitor what’s happening.
- For the love of god, learn how to advertise on Facebook or hire me to do it (warning – I’m not cheap) :). Facebook offers a plethora of advertising options that can narrow down your target audience to extremes. While not for everyone, Facebook marketing is and will continue to be the premier social network marketing channel.
- A good marketer mustn’t be shy. If you won’t promote yourself, no one will.
- If the value of your startup increases with audience size and activity, you have every incentive possible to fake it till you make it until a critical mass gathers. It is important that in the early stages the first-time users get the impression that your platform is active and running. Quora founders and early-stage employees used to ask and answer questions to produce initial traction. Likewise, Reddit founders used to make a shitload of fake accounts until it blew up. It’s a grind.
- Stimulate brand ambassadors and give an incentive to become one. Dropbox does a great job with this by giving extra storage space to users who refer their service to others.
- If possible, start small but plan to scale. Reddit is a great example. It’s easier to draw early-users with generic and general content. Reddit does a great job by enabling users to create subreddits. That way, you enable users themselves to target specific niches. By targeting too many niches at the same time (with limited time/resources), you risk losing focus.
- Create an aura of importance and influence. Although there is a limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships, people still like to amass a large number of friends/followers. By taking advantage of narcissism and creating an aura of “social importance”, you can stimulate activity. You can also gamify this process. Here’s an article I wrote on the psychology of gamification.
Reaching your audience
- Hackernews front page is the El Dorado of basically every startup out there. Here is how you get there, but here’s an article telling you otherwise. I’ll let you be the judge, just remember that it can backfire if the content is shit.
- Write a blog. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a blog. You are one good blogpost away from achieving great results. It establishes authority, gives visibility and can skyrocket your SEO.
- Your niche is not “too boring” to blog about. I’m not into toilets, but this was an interesting read. If a toilet company could do something like this, so can you.
- You can benefit greatly from answering questions on Quora. With a bit of tinkering, you’ll reach a pretty damn good conversion rates. If not, hey, at least you’ll get exposure.
- Yes, Quora upvotes can be bought. You didn’t really think that those 50k upvotes were organic, now did you? It’s up to you to decide whether that’s worth your money.
- Quorans love images. Use them to enhance your answer and preferably place them at the beginning of your answer. Bolding text seems to grab their attention, as well.
- Keep in mind when you publish your content. If it’s 3AM, people are probably sleeping, not reading your blog. This fabulous infographic by SurePayroll should be useful.
- YOUR CONTENT ALSO HAS USER EXPERIENCE TIED TO IT!
- People love stats. if you have any stats worth displaying, make sure to do so just like OKcupid did and watch the Facebook share count go berserk.
- Along the way, you’ll learn a lot of lessons. Write about what you learned, just like I did here. It’s one thing to theorize, but displaying real world examples and experience does wonders.
- Guestblog A LOT. It’s a great way to establish authority and reach new audiences. Nothing will improve your rankings like a bunch of good backlinks. If you’re on a budget, Buzzsumo has limited free options for you to find where to guestpost.
- In my book, as much as it hurts to say this, Linkedin simply isn’t worth your precious time, unless you have a killer story to tell. In that case, you could try writing an article on Pulse.
- If you’re going to use Youtube to promote your content, make sure to optimize your account and videos. Here’s a great article on Youtube video optimization.
- Youtube influencers can make you a star overnight. Find a way to reach them and ask them to review your startup.
- More likes don’t mean that your video will show up at the top. What counts is the amount of time people spend watching the video and the interaction so do whatever it takes to keep them on their toes. Cliffhangers are a great way to do that.
Shaking it up
- If you need detailed user analysis, offer them something in exchange for an interview. While they were starting out, the guys from Lucidpress offered $10-15 gift cards to users that were willing to have a 30-minute phone interview.
- Transparent pricing can do wonders to increase the value perception. Here’s how Buffer does this.
- A well-known atchitecture/interior design web community, Houzz, enabled you to put a badge to your website (the badge added a lot of credibility to your site), but in return you had to provide them with a backling. This way, their search engine rankings skyrocketed.
- Present your startup whenever possible. There are many facebook groups where you can present your startup, usually on a specific day if the groups are moderated heavily. Then, there is this monthly reddit post etc.
- If you’re monetizing an app, learn how to do so. A couple of months ago, I wrote a massive, 7000 word guide, on mobile app monetization.
Lead generation and conversion
- Putting a lot of opt-in options on your site/blog is like walking a cute puppy around the town. You’re bound to score something.
- Don’t be afraid of promoting others unless they are your direct competitors. Recently, Jon, a CEO of a New York-based app marketing agency saw my article on app monetization and decided to interview me. Don’t be afraid to share the spoils of war. When you do things like that, you’re getting free content and a possible future partnerships/deals.
- If possible, make full use of Stumbleupon. If you’re using a wordpress site/blog, make sure to use a social sharing plugin that has the option for Stumbleupon. Bear in mind that Stumbleupon can dramatically increase the bounce rate, especially if above the fold isn’t engaging.
- Hubspot has a great course on inbound marketing for you to get a grasp of inbound marketing basics. For most of startups nowadays, especially SaaS-oriented startups, inbound marketing is the way to go, at least in my book.
- Don’t try to do too many things at once when designing your landing page. Keep it decluttered and put only the most important information above the fold. This redditor shares a couple of great advices on how he did just that, increasing the conversion rates from 9% to 52%.
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