When it comes to marketing your startup, it’s okay to start small. Until you have room in the budget to hire a professional, the best approach is a trial-and-error, capitalize-on-your-strengths, learn-as-you-go plan.
What exactly does that mean?
Trial and Error
You can do a lot with no budget, but it does take time. As a startup founder, your time is valuable and already spread thin. In your marketing efforts, you don’t want to waste time on anything that is (1) taking up too many hours or (2) not working for your business.
Capitalize On Your Strengths
Maybe writing isn’t your forte, but you are tech-savvy – blogging is probably a bad idea, but improving your website’s search engine rankings and running some regular Facebook ads are a possibility for you. Maybe you can’t navigate your website without breaking it, but you frequently snap photos of your day-to-day and you already have some excellent customer testimonials – congratulations, you have superb social media content nearly ready to go!
You get the picture. Think about these basic marketing skills:
- mobile photography and/or videography
- social media
- website editing (usually through a content management system; no coding required!)
- drag-and-drop graphic design
- analyzing data
Which of these skills pique your interest? Which of these skills align with your strengths? Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ve identified a few great places to start.
Learn As You Go
Now that you’ve accepted that starting small is okay, and you’ve identified your strengths, let’s explore how to get started and learn a little along the way.
Here are two different ways to get started with digital marketing based on which basic marketing skills are strengths of yours.
If you’re good at storytelling, enjoy capturing your entrepreneurship journey through photo/video, and/or have a good eye for design, social media is a great place for you to get started.
- If you don’t already have social media accounts for your startup, think about which platforms your target audience(s) might be using, and create those accounts! Use a simple square image of your logo as your profile image. Be sure to fill out your profiles completely!
- Ask your friends and family to “like” or “follow” your new business accounts.
- Create a simple content calendar to plan some posts in advance and keep you on track. (You can download high-quality templates for free via marketing automation organizations like HubSpot or Coschedule, but you’re going to have to give them your email address.) For content ideas, consider: linking to helpful content on your website, frequently asked questions from your customers, customer reviews/testimonials, relevant holidays, events/conferences you’re attending, job opportunities, etc. Include images and videos as often as possible.
- Take it to the next level by “boosting” your posts on Facebook (AKA powering up with ad money). Facebook advertising is inexpensive and relatively easy – you choose your content, your target audience (based on demographics like location, age, and interests), and how much money you’d like to spend.
- I recommend this free HubSpot class to folks who are new to content marketing.
- Canva is a lifesaver when it comes to drag-and-drop graphic design. The site provides tons of free templates for things like social media header images, Facebook ads, business cards, infographics, and more.
- YouTube has literally thousands of videos about getting started on social media, Instagram basics, etc. Here’s a good 15 minute video from Buffer on using social for business.
BLOGGING AND SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
If you can get around your website’s content management system without breaking things, you’re halfway to becoming a blogger and keyword wizard.
- At its most basic, search engine optimization (SEO) means finding ways to increase your site’s appearance in web visitors’ search results.
- Blogging is directly related to SEO because search engines’ algorithms respond positively to sites with regularly updated/added content. Blog content, when created strategically, includes keywords that web visitors might use to find your product/service.
- When you write a blog post, you should choose a keyword or keyword phrase for that topic, and then include the keyword in these five places:
- Page title (in most cases, this is the blog post title)
- URL (in most cases, this happens automatically using the blog post title)
- Meta description (what the heck is that?)
- Alt text on the post’s main photo/image
- In the first paragraph of the body copy
- Utilize tools that will help you improve on-page SEO through your content management system. I recommend the Yoast plugin for WordPress and the Rabbit app for Wix sites.
- Take it to the next level by creating a blog editorial calendar to keep you on track and using your social media channels to share your new blog posts. For content, consider educating your audience on your product/service/industry, answering frequently asked questions, and including customer reviews/testimonials. Always include an image (with an alt text description and keyword), and don’t be afraid to embed videos into blog posts for more variety.
- If you need to add a blog to your website and your site is built in WordPress, click here. If you have already included a blog on your WordPress site, and you need a walk-through of how to actually post a blog, click here. If your site is built in a CMS other than WordPress, try searching “how to post to blog” or “how to add blog to website” with the name of the CMS you’re using (ie, Wix or Squarespace). If you have a custom website, talk to your web developer about adding a blog or utilizing one that already exists.
- Here’s a great beginners’ guide to SEO by industry expert Neil Patel.
- Here’s industry leader Moz on keyword research and SEO.
Just. Get. Started.
If you’re new to this stuff, it can be overwhelming, but if you carve out some time to learn a few new things, and choose avenues that play to your professional strengths, you’ll be confident about your new-found marketing skills in no time!
Take a few minutes today to start on a content calendar. (Here’s a free blog template and social media template – both in Google Sheets – via Hootsuite.) Whether it’s for your blog or your social media accounts, outlining an official plan will help the content ideas start flowing and get you excited about marketing your product/service online.