Where to Start when Starting your Business
If you are launching a startup, you probably already have a great idea, product or service. You probably have legal advice to help you with the paperwork of registering and insuring your business. But the real start of your startup centers around customers. Where will you find the customers and clients who are eager to work with you as you build your company?
In reality, creating buzz and lining up customers and clients is one of the first things you should do as you launch your startup. You want to build anticipation, and you want to ensure there is a steady stream of customers and revenue on your big opening day.
Why Is It Important to Develop an Early Following?
You may think you have time to build brand loyalty, but the reality is that the clock is ticking well before you open your doors. If you don’t hit the ground running, you may have a hard time catching up, especially if you have leveraged your assets to open.
The statistics surrounding startups are sobering: 50% of startups fail in the first five years. The good news is that if you can stay open for two years, your chances of going out of business decline every subsequent year. Starting with a bang and ensuring you are successful right away, in other words, can help you beat the odds and stay open when the competition is forced to close.
Creating buzz early ensures you get to build on the fact you’re a new business. A new project is intrinsically exciting. It’s one way to get your foot in the door with potential customers. When you combine the novelty factor with some clever marketing, you have a recipe for success. There are simply no statistics to suggest waiting to market your new venture offers any benefits at all, so you will want to strike immediately while the iron is hot.
Before you Develop Buzz
It can be tempting to put a big ad on your favorite website or social media platform and call it a day, but startups today need to think strategically. You need a plan to lure clients and customers, and to do that, you need to answer a few questions first:
- What do I offer my clients and customers?
- Who are my clients and customers?
- What are their needs and wants?
- What do I offer that’s different?
- Do I have the infrastructure in place to handle hundreds or thousands of customers?
- What is my market like?
- Do I have a system in place for tracking my marketing efforts and results?
Gaining clarity before creating a buzz ensures you can communicate effectively to launch your business.
Building Buzz Online
The online world is an important way to share your message. There were 3.419 billion Internet users around the world in 2016, meaning there is a huge audience for just about any business online. A few online strategies you will want to consider for online marketing include:
- Distribution firehoses. Distribution firehoses such as Product Hunt, Betalist, Erlibird and Killer Startups are platforms that allow you to post your new business or product with early beta testers or early adapters who have the power to promote your product. You pay to post on these sites, but your company is placed in front of thousands or even tens of thousands of users who are eagerly looking for new products.
- Reddit. Reddit is a platform offering social news aggregation, discussion and voter rating. Reddit can be a great place to host AMA (ask me anything) discussions where users ask you questions about your company and your product in real time.
- Helpareporter.com (HARO). HARO is a way to connect with journalists and other writers who are looking for sources. More than 50,000 journalist questions are posted each year and the site reaches over 35,000 journalists and other writers. You can offer your services as a source or respond to questions and queries posed by writers and media personnel.Working with HARO is not like posting an ad online. To succeed, you must be knowledgeable in your field and be willing to answer questions about your field. Journalists are dedicated to impartial reporting, so don’t expect glowing reviews of your product or even extensive mentions of your business. If you are a good source, your name and even business name may be featured in the media. Using HARO builds media contacts, which can be useful. Also, working with HARO and getting featured in different media helps you gain authority. On your website, you can post that you and your business have been featured on specific media sites.
- Social media. In 2016, there were 2.307 billion active social media users around the world. Of all Americans who use the Internet, 79% use Facebook, 24% are active on Twitter, 31% use Pinterest, 32% use Instagram and 29% are active on LinkedIn. In addition, some users use multiple social media platforms.Quite simply, if you want to reach a large number of users online, social media is a great way to do so. Most social media sites have active marketing and advertising systems that allow you to pay for advertising. You can also choose to open free business accounts to advertise your business at no cost.One of the advantages of social media is that you can target your marketing. If you want to target younger audiences, for example, you can market on Instagram. Advertising on Pinterest will help you reach women while Facebook users tend to be older. In addition, Facebook and other social media platforms let you target paid ads by demographics.
- Online review sites. Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor and other sites allow customers to leave reviews about restaurants, hotels and just about any business. In addition, there are specialized review sites for restaurants, medical professionals and other businesses. About 9 out of 10 Americans report using online reviews to determine whether to patronize a business and about half claim they read online reviews regularly.
Online reviews matter. You can start generating positive reviews by creating pages on popular review sites. You can also ask customers to review your sites. Before your launch, you can offer customers previews of your products and services and ask them to review your new business online.
Creating More Buzz
While online marketing is important, it’s not the only option. You can also create buzz by:
- Reaching out to websites that profile entrepreneurs. Inc. and other websites profile entrepreneurs. In addition, Forbes, Huffington Post and other websites allow business leaders to become contributors. Both options are a good way to gain exposure and a following. To get the best results, write useful information readers will want to read, rather than only writing about your business or product.
- Entering competitions. Business plan competitions and other contests aimed at businesses are a great way to get exposure, free marketing and even cash awards. To find competitions for your startup, set up a Google Alert for terms such as “contests for startups” and “competitions for businesses.” Set aside time each week to look at the results and to put together impressive entries.
- Distributing press releases. Free sites such as Free Press Release and PRLog.com allow you to post free press releases. This content is then available to journalists and media professionals and is also searchable online. For the best results, submit press releases with hard news content. Rather than information about the launch of your company, for instance, run a survey and publish the results, including some information about your business. You are more likely to have writers use your press release and cite it if you include valuable information.
Once you have created buzz about your company, make sure you have the phone system to handle an influx of calls from interested customers. AccessDirect provides you with a virtual phone system, ensuring your calls are picked up and directed to the right department, so you never lose a potential call. Review the features of this system today.