As a new business owner, there’s a lot to do and plan for. You have to register your business entity, find a place to set up shop, decide how much to charge… it’s a long list.
Marketing your business is just one of the many things you have to figure out. Your strategy is an ever-evolving mix of tactics and channels. The marketing tactics you choose will determine how effectively your business finds and wins new customers—and how much time and money you’ll spend to do it.
With all of the marketing channels out there, where does a new business start? The tactics we chat about here work together to create the perfect starter kit for a new business. Have at ‘em!
1. Build word of mouth
In the marketing world, word of mouth is the gold standard. Simply put, word of mouth means people are talking about your business and recommending you to their friends and family. Word of mouth doesn’t cost your business anything, yet it can spur five times more sales than paid media. And consumers are 90% more likely to trust and buy from businesses recommended by friends.
When customers start saying great things about your business, it’s important that you’re ready to capitalize on that positive buzz. For businesses just starting out, here’s how to make some headway:
Claim your Business Online
When consumers hear good things about your business, what do they do next? For most, that means heading online to learn more about the business. If that word of mouth is going to turn into sales, they have to be able to find your business online.
That’s why the first step in building word of mouth is claiming your business’ online real estate. That includes places like Google My Business, the Better Business Bureau, and any third party review websites that serve your industry. Simply claim your profile on these sites and ensure all of the information is up-to-date and accurate.
Get on Social
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, much of the chatter that happens online happens on social media. Social websites are where consumers talk about their experiences—both good and bad. Where customers go for support and where potential new customers learn more about your business.
When potential customers look for you on social media, it’s important that you’re both A) there, and B) participating in the narrative about your business. Create an account on the major social media networks, and dip your toes into posting about your industry, engaging with customers, and (to a lesser extent) promoting your business.
Set Up a Referral Program
One of the most reliable ways to get customers talking about your business is to set up a referral program so that there’s an incentive for happy customers to tell their network. In a joint survey by Verizon and Small Business Trends, small business owners said they acquire more new customers through referrals than any other channel. That’s why it’s worth the time investment to set up an automated referral program from the very outset of your business.
Simply choose an incentive (something as small as $10 off their next purchase will do the trick) and then find a tool to help you automate the whole process. With a referral program through Referral Rock, Ambassador, or Influitive, you can set up the program now and completely forget about it. That’s some high-value marketing!
2. Build a Following
As a new business, you’re cooking from scratch—and the secret sauce for success is a loyal and engaged group of followers. Customers, brand advocates, social proof…all of these help expand your reach and market yourself to a new and ever-broader base of potential customers.
But you have to build that initial following first.
Engage on Social
Now that your business exists across the big social media networks, you can use them to help spread the word about who your business is and amass a following of current and potential customers.
How? By being active on social—posting about your industry, sharing updates along your business journey—and engaging with others. Social media networks are built for two-way communication. Make the most of that by participating in conversations and engaging with digital events (like Twitter chats, live streams, and hashtag campaigns.)
Don’t just post updates and cross your fingers the right people will see them. Follow your customers and big industry players. Encourage customers to interact with your brand on social. Have an opinion, and share your perspective on broad industry matters. Compile a list of relevant hashtags to keep track of and engage with.
Start an Email List
Email marketing is routinely ranked among the most effective marketing tactics—for businesses large and small. It’s one of the most cost effective ways to drive both customer acquisition and retention. That’s why you want to set the stage early on in your business for more robust email campaigns down the line.
That starts with building a list of subscribers. Your email list is full of consumers who are engaged enough to open up their coveted inbox and ask you to stay in touch. That’s powerful. Add an email capture to your website (at the top of your sidebar, in a pop-up, and/or a persistent bar), your social media profiles, even your email signature.
The subscribers you collect now will become an invaluable resource down the line, when you can truly invest in a broader email marketing strategy.
3. Lay the Groundwork for Tomorrow
Some marketing tactics require more resources—both time and monetary—than your business can afford to invest when you’re just starting out. To be effective, there are some tactics you need to go all-in on, and that’s hard to do as a new business.
It’s still good practice, though, to begin laying the groundwork for when you can fully invest in channels like content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).
Optimize for Search Engines
For starters, that means properly optimizing the bones of your website. That includes writing copy with specific, relevant keywords in mind and optimizing your design for quick loading and a good user experience. It also includes more nitty gritty SEO details like updating meta descriptions and title tags. If all of that sounds like gibberish to you, check out the Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz.
If your website runs on a hosted platform (like WordPress or Squarespace), you already have a head start here. Adding an SEO plug-in makes the rest easy as pie. Try tools like Yoast or All In One SEO Pack to help you become a veritable pro overnight.
Going all-in with content marketing takes a little budget and a whole lot of elbow grease. When you can manage that, content can do wonders for every facet of your business— from brand awareness to conversions to customer support.
Before your business gets to that place, focus on curating content. By sharing relevant content from other outlets on your social profiles, you can tap into the power of content marketing without all the extra hands. Curating great content helps in two ways:
- You get a feel for what topics and formats resonate well with your customers, and
- Customers get accustomed to turning to you for valuable information.
That means—when you are ready to dive into a full-fledged content marketing strategy—you’ll have tons of valuable information about what your audience is looking for, and they’ll know they can look to you to find that information.
Hit the Ground Running
There’s a lot of noise out there about how to properly market your company. But as a new business, you can’t afford to throw a bunch of money at a bunch of marketing tactics and hope something sticks. Don’t get lost in the noise. Focus on the key strategies above, and you’ll get the most bang for your marketing dollar and hour.
To sum up, here’s your marketing starter kit:
- Make it easy to find you by claiming your business online and getting set up on the big social media outlets
- Build a following by engaging with your audience on social and beginning to collect emails
- Establish a foundation for bigger marketing initiatives by implementing SEO best practices and curating high-value content
The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.