It’s true that marketing is not a replacement for a bad product or service, but according to new research by affilinet, the average UK start-up owner spends less than 1 day per month marketing their business.
In fact, the average startup owner is spending just one and a half hours a week on marketing. It’s not earth shattering news when you consider the limited budgets and busy schedules most startups are balancing, but actually the biggest reason given by business owners as to why their marketing efforts are taking a back-seat is a lack of knowledge or experience.
So, with that in mind, here are a few simple ideas to help new businesses to spread the word without breaking the budget or commandeering too much of your time…
1. Referrals, Reviews & Recommendations
Your potential customers are far more likely to trust the opinions of your existing or past customers than a claim made by you. Make it as quick and simple as possible for customers to leave reviews of your service or product whether it’s on social media, your website or a third party platform. Even negative feedback can be beneficial in the long run as it gives you the opportunity to publicly address issues and show the quality of your customer service. You could even offer incentives or reward schemes for customers who refer others to your business.
2. Press Releases & News Features
News outlets are always looking for news so if you genuinely have something to announce make sure you’re getting it out there. You can send press releases or even contact journalists yourself to shout about your news and raise brand awareness.
3. Blogging & Content Marketing
If you or someone in your team is feeling creative, posting regular, interesting and useful content is a great way to increase engagement with your brand. It could be articles, videos, infographics…anything that doesn’t take you too much time or energy but has the potential to increase traffic to your website.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and, while it can be a complex subject, you can get a good handle of the basics with just a little online research. Essentially it’s the practice of ensuring the people looking for your product or related services can find your website easily via an internet search engine. Online tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer can help you get started by identifying relevant keywords and search terms that lots of people are using; you can then adjust your content to include those terms.
5. Social Media
We’re not suggesting that all social media platforms are right for every business. Once you’ve identified your target market you can assess which (if any) of them can deliver this audience. Start a profile, try to connect with some influencers in your industry and build genuine relationships based on engagement. It’s a slow burner but one which many brands have benefitted from.
Note: We haven’t touched on email marketing or PPC (pay-per-click) advertising here as there are important factors to keep in mind with both. For example, the introduction of the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has enforced much stricter legislation about how you can contact people / use their data. PPC obviously involves a budget of some kind although your level of expenditure is completely down to you and even the strictest budgets can usually find a platform to suit.
A little more about the research…
affilinet asked over 1,800 owners of startups (i.e. businesses less than 3 years old and with under 10 employees) how long they would usually spend on marketing per week. The average response was around 90 minutes with the biggest chunk of this time commonly spent ‘working on or selling products/services’, ‘setting up a functional website’ or ‘logistics and operations’.
However, 84% were planning to make marketing a priority over the next 12 months.
Head of Affiliate Development and Operations at affilinet, Richard Greenwell said:
“Marketing should ideally be at the heart of any new business start-up. Of course other things surrounding product and service offerings should take centre stage at the beginning, but marketing needs to be implemented in order to encourage awareness and continued growth. It’s fairly shocking just how little time and effort many startup owners are putting into their companies, and whilst it’s great that they plan to outsource efforts eventually, until this budget is in place it should be one of their biggest priorities!”