So you came up a brilliant idea, overcame all odds, and managed to build your own startup. Congratulations…
While it may seem like you've gotten past the hard part, a startup isn't a profitable business without any sales. And in order to see those sales come in, you're going to need marketing.
And forget traditional marketing, you've got a small (or even non-existing) budget and you need strategies that work, fast.
Well...we've got you covered! here are 25 actionable steps to grow your startup.
Get in touch with meetup coordinators in your area and ask for speaking gigs at local events
Local universities and colleges are always looking for guest speakers with industry experience. Not only do guest speakers offer classrooms new perspectives and variety, you also get an opportunity to get feedback from students that may think outside the box. If you're feeling confident, try local TED Talk events, or even offer to host a workshop on your niche.
Film your speaking gigs and share the videos on your blog
This will help your audience and potential leads relate to you more easily. It also tends to be more engaging than text posts.
Edit the videos so they focus on the key points and are short and concise. According to Adweek, TED talks are restricted to 18 minutes, based on studies on people's attention spans. Keep in mind what people are looking for when they come to your blog and try to be consistent in your video content.
Teach a class on skillshare.com
Can't find a speaking opportunity in your local area? Nervous about public speaking? Don't fret, you can teach an online class on sites like skillshare.com. If you do want to try teaching in-person, try generalassemb.ly. They offer teaching opportunities around the globe, even in Hong Kong!
Write guest posts on other blogs
Exactly like what I'm doing. If writing isn't your forte, hire a writer. You'd be surprised how easy it is to outsource nowadays. Check out sites like Fiverr, where you can employ creative and professional services for as little as $5! You can always employ a writer to whip up a quick post for you, and then edit it to your heart's content.
Share your startup on the following (or related) sites
Betalist will feature your startup to over 25,000 early adopters who are willing to provide helpful feedback to launch your business into superstardom. Another benefit is that many of these people may sign up for your email newsletter, boosting your subscription list even before you launch.
Startuplist (free) works similar to Betalist, where your business will be shared with users to signup and give feedback.
Erlibird (paid) lets you test your product to over 70,000 qualified people around the world who match your target audience. You will receive feedback and data, making it easier to fix bugs and other issues before the launch of your product. Erlibird is best for testing apps, websites, and hardware… not so much physical products or services.
ProductHunt (free) is another website that features innovative products and services, including cool blogs and podcasts. So even if you don't have a marketable product or service yet, you can start by posting some articles you wrote.
Crunchbase (free) is a great tool for tracking startups like your own. Creating a page will put you into the database, and also allow you to benchmark against competitors using Crunchbase's market insights.
Hackernews/ShowHN is a forum that allows users to test out new products. The product has to have a trialability factor, or else it doesn't qualify. Think apps, games, etc. The users can then ask questions and give feedback.
Tweet other companies and thought leaders
Twitter is a fantastic place to connect and network. However, many businesses fail to harness the full power of the fast-paced platform. Target companies that have a similar number of followers because they are probably more willing to cross-promote.
Use Quora to respond to unanswered questions in your niche
Look for questions with a lot of people waiting for an answer. Quora is a good way to connect with the online community (similar to Reddit), and you can also get a lot of tips from other professionals… answers to questions you didn't even know you had!
Use your answers in Quora to write blog posts
There are going to be a lot more people who are interested in your answers, that may not be signed up for Quora. Chances are, these people will be Googling the questions, and may stumble upon your post for answers.
Use services that alerts you whenever your brand is mentioned
Monitor online conversations about your brand, your competitors, or even something in your industry that is relevant, and respond to them. This is will drive positive brand sentiment and help you find feedback on how you are doing.
Connect with school alumni, professors and old classmates on LinkedIn
I've probably repeated the gist of this several times (and will continue to do so), but networking is everything. Leverage their advice and assistance. At university, I was able to build relationships with several of my favourite professors that led to great opportunities for me, such as free passes to major marketing events.
Contact some of your old professors/mentors/alumni/classmates, invite them to a cup of coffee (who can say no to free coffee?), and go from there.
Write a post comparing your company to a competitor
Highlight the key benefits your product or service provides, and why it is superior to your competitors.
By posting this comparison, people who are Googling your competitor for information or reviews may land on your page instead. Checkmate.
Do be careful not to publish any defamatory content as this can get you into a sticky situation. Generally, stick to facts and not opinions.
Submit a free press release
Create an infographic on something relevant to your niche and share on sites like Pinterest
Infographics are proven to be more effective and compelling when getting messages across. They can be shared easily across social networks and are more visually engaging than just plain text. Think sharing this with your friends:
Again, outsource if you are design-impaired. If you have deep pockets, check out Visual.ly, which takes content marketing to a whole new level.
Send drip email campaigns
What is a drip email campaign exactly? It's a set of marketing emails that are sent automatically based on a schedule.
For example, a 'Welcome' email will be sent out as soon as someone signs up, another one a few days later identifying the subscriber's needs, and one more a week later.
You could also vary the emails based on triggers, such as when someone has made a particular purchase.
Drip emails are more targeted than email 'blasts', which is a common practice in email marketing. Hubspot lets you try the service before committing to purchase, and is great for beginners. An alternative is Intercom.
Send email newsletters using MailChimp
MailChimp is a platform where you can send email campaigns effortlessly. Believe me, if I can do it, so can you.
In contrast to the drip email campaigns mentioned above, MailChimp is better used to for one-time, ‘blasts', which are handy for notifying subscribers of new products, sales, etc. If you don't have time to implement drip campaigns, start with regular email newsletters at the very least.
Cash in on AppSumo
Essentially like Groupon or LivingSocial, AppSumo deals only with digitally-distributed content. So if you're selling software or digital services, this is a great way to ‘market' your company for free.
Promote your company shamelessly in your email signature
Check out ours:
Yes, if you have an ebook, promote it. Promote everything, from your blog, to your Youtube channel to your Instagram page. If it's relevant, it doesn't hurt to include it! Just make sure it isn't too overwhelming or distracting—you want to keep the area relatively clean.
Write an e-book. Give it away for free
An e-book can be something as simple as a 'How-To' guide in your niche. The more 'difficult' the topic is in your industry, the more people that'll be interested in reading the e-book. Once you've finalized it, ask users to sign up for your newsletter to download it, like so:
Give away your product for free to influencers in exchange for promotion
There is little value in your content without influencer marketing. Influencer marketing can play a big role in driving sales, provided that you find the right people. According to Volume Nine, there are 3 simple steps in influencer outreach: identify, engage, and amplify.
Target YouTubers and popular bloggers, and ask them to review your product (local influencers tend to be more likely to do this). Chances are, if they love it, you will be able to build an ongoing reciprocal relationship. I mean, who doesn't love free stuff?
Share your content with influencers and thought leaders
Don't have a product to give away? Outreach to bloggers and influencers and invite them to share your content. Tip: if you mention them in your content, they are more likely to share it.
Survey existing customers for feedback
If you already have some customers, ask them to provide feedback on your existing products or services, as well as future projects. You can easily do this through an email campaign by sending them a survey (try WuFoo or even Google Forms).
Manually outreach to Twitter followers of similar companies or competitors
I'll admit, this tweet does look quite spammy, but it gives you an idea of how you can capitalize on the followers of OTHER companies. If you don't have time to reach out to them, just follow them.
Run a contest giveaway
If this is applicable to your business and you have some followers on social media, contests are a great, low-cost way to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your site. Depending on the nature of the contest, it can also build links (great for SEO) and create audience engagement. If you don't know where to start, use this quick guide.
Build strong backlinks using tools like MajesticSEO
MajesticSEO (free/paid) is effective for seeing the kinds of backlinks your site has developed over time. The stronger the links, the higher your site's search engine rankings. Use MajesticSEO to see who links to your competitors, and then contact these websites and ask for links.
For example, if you wrote a post on app-store optimization and a competitor also has a post on the same topic, outreach to the websites that have linked your competitor's post and let them know that you wrote a more updated and relevant post.
Encourage sharing of your content by using a tool like Twilighter.
Sometimes, users are interested in specific parts of your content, but don't want to share the entire thing. Twilighter (not to be confused with this), which is available on AppSumo, enables visitors on your site to highlight specific content and share it immediately to Twitter. According to Twilighter:
More sharing = more traffic = more readers/customers = more moola = more tacos
While this is a long list, it is by no means exhaustive. As you continue to market your site, remember that the key is to get your brand out there by connecting with people, whether through online communities or even through your personal network.