You’ve done all the legwork to take your alluring new business idea from a concept to a reality, which is something that relatively few people ever accomplish. You could have left it rattling around your mind as a “What if?” proposition. You could have written it off as not worth the risk and moved on to safer possibilities. But no: you bet on yourself and the potential of your idea.
So here you are at the helm of a startup, a seed to be cultivated until it grows into a mighty business, and you’re ready to make sales and deliver results. There’s a problem, though, and it’s a major one: you don’t know how to earn customers.
What difference does it make if you have spectacular products or impressive services when no one is buying them?
In principle, you shouldn’t get to this point. You should know before you launch where you’re going to find your customers and how you’re going to win them over. Leaving it until after your startup is in operation is strongly inadvisable. But that ship has sailed, and you find yourself in need of a push in the right direction. In this post, we’re going to set out some core suggestions for how you can find a suitable audience. Let’s get to them:
Piggyback off events, brands, and influencers
If you’ve ever been through a period of intensive job-seeking, you already know the importance of networking with people in your chosen field. It’s tough for employers to choose between aspiring professionals who offer similar qualifications and passions, so hiring teams often look for personal recommendations — if you can vouch for someone’s competence, and they can vouch for a prospective hire’s competence, you have a strong argument for hiring that person.
While it isn’t quite the same, you can take a similar approach to getting your startup noticed (and it’s an approach that’s becoming increasingly common). You’ll just be using events, brands, and influencers, using their established audiences to get noticed. You can find industry events and appear at them, making a direct case for your company. You can team up with compatible brands, perhaps even selling through their sites (for instance, if you sold clothing for golfers, you could reach out to golf clubs to pitch some kind of partnership).
Also, you can find interesting influencers and work with them somehow, whether through a paid deal or some kind of basic exchange where you give them free samples or trials and they get to create new content. However, you need to be careful, of course, because not all influencers are worth your time: look for those with highly-engaged audiences big enough to be valuable but not so big that they can charge exorbitant partnership arrangements.
Reach out to relevant social media users
Working with influencers can be very productive, but it isn’t strictly necessary, particularly if you’re willing to make a concerted effort to use social media marketing. The social media world is vast and complex, stretching from short-form services like Twitter or Snapchat to havens of elaborate discussion like Reddit or Quora, and there’s a lot of opportunity to get noticed.
The first thing you need to do is locate potential customers. If you haven’t created any buyer personas (descriptions of the people who might be interested in what you’re offering), then throw some together as a matter of urgency. Once you have those characteristics figured out, use them (along with keyword searches) to find social media users with the interest and the disposable income to potentially buy from you.
At that point, the key is engagement. You need to get involved in conversations, letting people know what you’re offering but never being overly salesy. Your goal at this point is to spread the word about your brand and encourage prospects to give you a chance. If you push too hard, you’ll lose their interest and find it very difficult to recapture it.
Use the skyscraper content-creation method
Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) are two popular marketing tactics, and each has a part to play in a comprehensive strategy, but finding an audience is about more than generating one-off buys — and for that reason, among others, SEO is a stronger option if you’re going to focus on just one.
And while there are various ways to attempt SEO, one method that can get a lot of attention in a particular niche and rapidly build up some high-value rankings is known as the skyscraper content method. It essentially involves looking for a standout content piece in your niche and seeking to improve upon it with your own piece: as with getting the tallest skyscraper in an area, you only need to beat the top dog by a tiny margin to supplant it.
This is so much easier with content because you can base your piece on the existing champ. I’m not suggesting plagiarism or anything approaching it: just seeing what works about that piece, and using that information to create something that shares its strengths but lacks its weaknesses. Nail it, and you can share it widely — people in your niche inevitably share it, link to it, and view it as a great resource, winning your brand plaudits and sales.
There are other options that we haven’t covered here, of course, but these three tactics are immensely powerful if implemented correctly. If you can find ways to reach existing audiences relevant to your niche, get active on social media platforms such as Facebook, and create superlative content that catches the eye, you’ll soon have the prospects you need to grow.
Business funding for marketing
Now that you know some strategies to earn customers, next step is just executing, right? The easy answer is yes, if you have the staff and knowledge to execute these efforts. If you don’t, there are plenty of marketing agencies that specialize in helping small businesses succeed. However, there is a cost with outsourcing your marketing efforts. So depending on your cash flow situation, you may not have the funds to support this investment.
No need to worry, there are quick business loan options for recent startups that have been in business at least 6 months. These funding options can help you secure the necessary capital to grow your business.