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8 Affordable Online Marketing Tricks for Startup Businesses

8 Affordable Online Marketing Tricks for Startup Businesses

According to research, 9 out of 10 startups are bound to fail. One of the reasons why startup businesses fail is the lack of funds to fuel their advertising campaign and become visible within the niche. Since most new companies don’t have the money to invest on traditional advertising strategies, it is a good idea to learn how to use online marketing strategies instead.

Online marketing makes a great alternative to the expensive traditional advertising methods. Online marketing is a cost effective option that even businesses with the smallest marketing capital can use. Thanks to our digital world, a startup can build their presence online at a minimal cost.

Here are eight effective online marketing strategies that startups can adapt.

1. Create superb content

Content is an important currency in today’s world of digital marketing. Content drives traffic, helps improve ranking, and could potentially help your site convert. However, you have to understand that it is not just any type of content. You have to ensure the quality of content that you produce.

How exactly do you make superb content for your online marketing campaign? As rule of thumb, content must be original and valuable. It should contain information useful to a particular niche.

Also, you have to maximize using headlines in order to help readers keep track of what you are discussing. Just how important are the headlines? 80% of people will read your headlines, but only 20% will read the entire content.

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It is also important to include images and videos to keep the readers interested. More importantly, images can be used to get ideas across even better. Next, you also want to consider the length. It has been proven that longer content favors your SEO strategy.

2. Increase the reach in social media

Social media is a game changer for startup entrepreneurs. It has altered the way businesses influence and communicate to their market. It has also benefited startups by providing them with leads. In order to maximize the use of social media, it is pertinent to increase your reach in social media.

Facebook is still the largest social media platform online. With billions of accounts, Facebook is (appropriately) the face of social media marketing. Unfortunately, organic reach for Facebook pages declined since the platform changed its algorithm. From 16% reach in 2012, organic reach is only at an average of 2.7% last year.

In order to increase the reach in social media, you will have to resort to both organic and paid methods. For organic methods, it is important to develop a voice that matches your company’s branding. Next, it is important to know exactly when to post. Timing is important, especially in maximizing engagement. Also, you need to share valuable content more than you promote your products and services.

As for paid methods, you need to first know your market well. This way, you get the most from your advertising budget on social media. It is important to know the demographic, and the location of your market to maximize results.

Also, it is highly advisable to mix the use of social media platforms. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have different specializations, which make them unique. Each unique social media platform provides another way to help you reach your niche.

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3. Improve SEO

How important is SEO for startup entrepreneurs? According to statistics, organic search leads have generated an average of 14.6% close rate. Also, 75% of Google users will simply stay on the first page of the search result. This means that finding your site even on just the second page of the search result equates lower traffic and fewer views.

In terms of cost, SEO is also cost effective. In fact, it is considered 61% cheaper than outbound marketing. Why is it affordable? SEO experts maximize what any given search engine’s algorithm offers. Marketers simply adapt to the changing algorithm in order to maintain and improve a site’s ranking.

Over the years, Google has improved its algorithm in favor of websites that provide the best user experience. This is why web owners are forced to adapt a mobile friendly site, and to have high quality content to provide their niche. Social media also becomes a game changer as it provides signals to search engine spiders which entries become trending.

4. Use influencers

Influencer marketing is relatively new in the range of effective online marketing strategies. However, in terms of concept, it is a modern means of word-of-mouth advertising. Influencer marketing is the use of a person’s network to promote a product or service.

Influencers can range from bloggers, to famous people on Instagram, and even YouTube celebrities. A startup entrepreneur can manage to increase the reach of their startup company once they have the right influencer. This is also a low maintenance and cost effective marketing strategy. Typically, influencers only require freebies.

5. Make a responsive website

There is no reason for startup entrepreneurs to ignore redesigning an outdated website. It is no secret that with improving technology, we have witnessed an increase in traffic from mobile phones and tablets. 16% of the entire web traffic now comes from mobile sources.

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Your website will reflect what your company is all about in the eyes of your market. According to a survey conducted by Google, almost 50% of users think that the company doesn’t care about their business if they don’t have a responsive website.

In case your site is still not mobile friendly, you are missing out on a lot. In addition to this, 70% of mobile searches have led to an action.

6. Use visuals

It has been proven that visuals can affect how a person thinks. In fact, addition of visuals can boost a person’s willingness to finish an entire text by as much as 80%. Also, associating visual images to information improves the retention of data.

By implementing visual strategy on their online marketing, startup entrepreneurs can increase the likelihood that their market is going to purchase from them by as much as 85%.

What are the types of visuals that you could invest in? Infographics make a great option. According to statistics, there’s an 800% increase in search volume for infographics from 2010 to 2012. What makes infographics popular is their ability to convey statistics and ideas in a simplified manner.

Videos also make a great option for visual marketing. YouTube and Vimeo are among the most popular video marketing platforms used by startups today.

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 7. Email marketing

A lot of startup entrepreneurs may hesitate in using email marketing given the presence of social media. To give you an idea about the power of email marketing, 77% of consumers prefer to receive marketing communications via email. Also, 44% of email recipients have purchased at least once because of a promotional email.

Startup entrepreneurs should understand that email marketing remains a proven effective online marketing strategy. In fact, 89% of marketers believe that email marketing is their primary channel for lead generation. In 2012, email ad revenue has reached $156 million according to a study.

As far as the cost goes, emails are free! In order to get noticed, you simply need to catch someone’s attention with a great headline and content.

8. Offer freebies

Does freebie marketing really work? How can a business afford to give something totally free? For startup businesses, offering freebies can help your business in so many ways. It can open a different market, not to mention prove your company’s worth.

What are things that you can offer for free? Valuable content is usually given for free in order to catch the attention of the market. Content may come in the form of blogs, but for startup businesses that want to take it to the next level, they can make an e-book instead. It is also possible to offer free videos, as well.

There are many creative ways on how to make use of freebies. For example, if you are selling a product, you can give coupon codes, or raffle off free items on social media every now and then.

Conclusion

It is possible for startup businesses to reach their marketing goals despite having a small marketing budget. By using the right online marketing strategy, it is possible to not only get more people to look in your direction, but also increase your sales.

Featured photo credit: Jay Wennington via unsplash.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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