In running a digital-marketing consultancy in a tech mecca like Seattle, I work with larger companies and spend time with local startups hoping to crack the big time with their ideas and energy.
What’s apparent, though, is that many startup entrepreneurs struggle to market their companies through digital channels. Many of these fledgling businesses are led by people who are perhaps great developers or salespeople but they lack experience with digital marketing and public relations.
If you’re a budding entrepreneur, here are three things to know about marketing and PR to give your company the best shot at being competitive within your target niche:
1. Understand the importance of web search.
OK, I’m sure you know how to use a search engine, but do you understand how they work? Check out Search Engine Land’s video for a solid quick and dirty introduction to search engine optimization to understand how to position your company’s website to rank for relevant search terms.
Did you also know that search engines collect a ton of related information on search trends and consumers’ use of mobile devices that entrepreneurs can mine for competitive intelligence and to understand what their target audiences are looking for? That way it’s possible to tweak marketing messaging to make it more relevant and engaging.
My client U.K.-based Majestic.com offers a tool called the Site Explorer that company owners can use for understanding which websites are linking to a corporate site. Many SEO professionals use it since search engines like Google and Bing value high quality links. The tool can be used to figure out which blogs or online publications are linking to your site or your competitors’ so you can compile media list of relevant journalists and bloggers to contact.
Ignore search engines and the data they possess at your peril. They are fantastic sources of intelligence, which can help inform and propel your marketing strategy as you seek to grow your business.
2. Comprehend that social-media marketing takes sophistication.
Entrepreneurs without much marketing experience operate under the misconception that a successful social-media program shouldn’t cost much. They also have unrealistic expectations that every social-media update they post or blog post they write should instantly go viral.
But organic reach across social-media platforms like Twitter and Facebook has dropped dramatically as more companies leap onto these networks hoping consumers will catch a glimpse of their wares. More sophisticated tactics are needed to design compelling images and video that will translate into content people want to see and engage with.
The competitive intelligence, the design work, the tactical execution and success measurement require effort and cost money. And if your company’s site can’t attract organic traction, you will have to invest in Twitter’s, LinkedIn’s and Facebook’s advertising programs to get eyeballs on your products or service.
Good quality digital execution costs money. Set aside funds to make it happen.
When spending money on social media, don’t just think of return on revenue in terms of how many sales it brought you. Make sure you’re counting the money saved on call-center costs or employing customer-service agents.