Lately the Internet is full of all sorts of content on marketing topics. And the trend is that increasingly they are reaching out to professional marketers, and entrepreneurs, startups, small business owners, promising them viral growth and rapid business promotion through the use of marketing tools. The headlines a La “how to get millions of users for half a second” or “how to promote business with SMM for a week, spending only 5 minutes a day” (I exaggerate, although the message is saved), demolished the head and forced to browse endless longido, wasting precious time looking for the marketing “Holy Grail”. Of course, who among us does not dream to get millions of users or a lot of paying customers, performing simple manipulations in social networks. The problem is that on the background of trend of popularity of this topic the information space more and more clogged.
For intriguing headlines hiding frankly of poor quality materials, promises to “reveal the secrets of viral growth” — surface related with a listing of all known methods of traditional marketing. And okay even if they dont bring much benefit. But some advice can be quite harmful. To this I in particular take everywhere in the guides at influence marketing email templates for distribution to opinion leaders, bloggers and owners of popular accounts in social networks asking them to write about your project. This copypaste letter will always slam in front of the door to the heart of any blogger and opinion leader, guaranteed.
Since these templates from the negligent guru flooded the Internet, popular bloggers receive dozens of similar emails with requests from start-UPS to their e-mails and, according to many of them, immediately mark the sender as spam. Dont do this if you dont want to spoil his reputation and close his way in influencer marketing. Instead, take some time to go through the list of key bloggers in your topic. Learn how they write, what are your Hobbies, what are recent topics were in the focus of their interest. Write each of them a private letter, telling a little about yourself and your project and explaining why you addressed it to him and why your project/product/service can be interesting for their readers.
This strategy is used, for example, Simformer startup that developed an online platform for creating and carrying out business games and assessment of business competencies. At first, the guys also tried to send cold emails taken from another pseudo marketing guru, but noticed that the result of such emails is zero, and changed the strategy. Then they turned to opinion leaders in the field of e-learning and corporate training, writing each of them a personal letter demonstrating interest in the activities of a particular author, and asked him about his “pains” and needs. And offered to test their product with the request to give their expert opinion about advantages and disadvantages of the product.
The result of several authoritative Western experts responded to the appeal, tested the product and produced a text and video review of the platform Simformer who reached the primary industry publications Elearning. Magazine. Startup for free got a cool recommendation from professionals, is a million target audience, a nomination for Best of Elearning. 2016 and major corporate clients, who learned about the product from these reviews and blogs. And it happened due to the fact that the team Simformer spent over a month studying thought leaders in the industry and thoroughly preparing every case.
Limit the audience and opportunities for advancement. Another common advice for beginners in social media “dont rush on all social networks at once, choose one and work only in it.”. Yes, on the one hand, it is impossible not to agree that chasing 10 rabbits at once should not be. Stumble parissa and kill. Its impossible for a founder of a startup, which is engaged in product development and sales, to manage to do regular posts and promoted accounts in dozens of existing social networks at once.
But the Council has given practical guidelines for SMM for startups and sounding like “select only one channel”, causes at least bewilderment. For this you need at least to try, to explore and study a few key channels. To establish accounts, make trial posts to “feel out” the audience, to communicate to key groups and communities to evaluate the result. And only after that select basic, the most effective channel to promote your product or service. And note that in most cases one channel should not be limited, often as efficiently as possible the strategy of “seeding” of promotional materials in different sources.
For example, you chose the Twitter or Facebook as the main social network to communicate with your customers and promote your product. But if you also uses Triberr or Scoop.it even a couple times a week — this will have a positive effect on the ranking in the main channel, and on such indicators as backlinks and mentions by other users. Give an example of one of the start-UPS, service review, business books MakeRight. During the year they tested various promotion channels, leading accounts in Facebook, Vkontakte, Twitter, Spark, and”Habrahabr” (and other networks) before groped “their” social network, which was the Telegram.
He was the most effective for their business, with the active and receptive target audience. Now in a Telegram-channel MakeRight already more than 5 thousand subscribers, it is the main sources of traffic and paying customers involved. And notice. Guys still not stopped to test other channels and continue from time to time make a post and tell about your project in other social. Networks.
Another illustrative case. Russian startup in the sphere of e-commerce & fashion — the SAME who invented a series of identical clothes for children and parents. At the time of launch to the market all the money spent on the development and manufacture of collections of clothes, money on advertising did not exist, so the decision was made to move free methods, using SMM and affiliate programs. The guys were testing from the beginning Facebook and “Vkontakte”. Them in the VC group quickly gained popularity (now with more than 35 thousand subscribers) and began to generate income, while the FB audience could not stir.
They concentrated on the group of “Vkontakte” on the main site, but did not give up and continued to test the FB, resulting in started to get paying clients from this social network. With the growing popularity of Instagram hooked and this site. As a result, over the year since launch, the startup has earned more than 20 million rubles and was able to reach the stage of viral growth without the cost of advertising. Yes, it requires additional time and effort and doesnt sound like a “secret formula “success without effort” sauce which serves marketing life hacks. That is why the authors often forget to mention the need for careful preparatory work before selecting the relevant channel and further continuous evaluation of its effectiveness, as well as testing new channels.
Blindly following this advice you limit your audience and the opportunities for advancement, not having the objective data to define the primary channel for SMM. Another bad advice, often occurring in the so-called “guides on marketing for startups”. Start marketing activity only after you have the finished product. Like, its pointless to spend time and resources on the promotion when you dont have even product. I actually peace-loving character, sometimes even too melancholy, but when I read such advice to startups — want to shake the authors of these tips and to ask.
“you do know what youre saying, guru unfinished”?! To understand how ridiculous this advice, lets see what marketing for a startup different from marketing for established businesses. Often the promotion of a start-up project cannot be limited to the adopted in traditional business marketing techniques since before “sell”, you first need to generate interest, explain the functionality to deliver value, to create an audience around a product, to attract a demo user to test the product and gather feedback. All it takes is a huge amount of time and effort.
And remember to claim 1 — lack of budget for marketing. Means we have to use free methods of promotion, digital marketing and SMM, compensating for the investment of his time. And now imagine that, following the advice of another “guide SMM for startups,” you have thrown all forces on product development, completely ignoring the question of promotion until youre ready to enter the market. It is the “hour X”, your product fully ready (well, or at least you think so) and you are ready to meet adequately the flow of users and customers. But they are not.
And you have no channels to attract them, no hyped social media accounts, blog and no subscribers, no audience that knows about the product, waiting for him to try, to test, to buy.. You still did nothing and did not prepare their audience, because “you first need to have a product, and then do the marketing.”. And you have to start from scratch, creating marketing infrastructure around their product instead of releasing it on the already prepared and promoted channels. This is actually a very common mistake startups, which is found in almost every second case. And I hate to see pseudo-guru add fuel to the fire of such advice, causing more and more entrepreneurs to make the same mistakes. This year we InnMind even launched a series of free webinars and advice on marketing for startups and provides support for the promotion.
And, you know, every time another startup asks for help, we see a typical situation. There is a product but no idea how to promote it, no promotion channels, there is a prepared audience and money on advertising. The author of the book Startup Curve Evolution, a well-known European expert in marketing Donatas Jonikas said. “To start promotion of the product to be still at the development stage. If you think about marketing only after product launch — youre too late!”, and it is impossible not to agree.
And here you have a case with proof. Belarusian startup NormalFit that developed artificial intelligence for personal nutrition. They began work with social networks at a time when developers vengeance sawed algorithms and complete interface of the web application, and during development, began to develop the thematic group in the “Classmates”, interested in engaging the audience, telling about idea of the product, discussing the actual functionality, collecting opinions and requests of potential users. As a result, when I made the first available demo of the product, it was enough to announce this at their groups of social networks to hundreds of users and testers registered in the application in the first days after launch. And in the startup team was not (and is not) a professional marketer, the founder and the team themselves have spent time looking for the best solutions and studied marketing on the go.
So the startup has saved time and money during the launch phase of the product. In conclusion, I want to say. I hope this post didnt seem to be too aggressive. My goal is was not to offend authors writing about marketing. Many of them do a great job.
But I recall that as well as the creation and development of innovative startup has its own specifics, different from the traditional business and marketing startup you cannot rely blindly copy the methods of traditional marketing. And please do not rush to implement all the advice that was gathered from the Internet (even mine — test, try, evaluate and choose the ones that work for your case. Good luck with your projects!