After you found the investor for your startup, ‘kickstarted’ or bootstrapped it, you can launch. But what’s next? How to market your product?
Anyone who has ever worked in a startup knows perfectly how much time, efforts and nerves it takes to develop the product. And this long-awaited moment of the launch is just the beginning of a huge journey. How will you sell your product, find the customers and promote it? Your product can be unique and qualitative, but if you will not apply the marketing methods to make it ‘necessary’ for the customers, it will not survive.
The first approach you could hear of is Buyer Personas. It tells you about creating a portrait of the target client. Typically, such a portrait contains set with the characteristics: gender, age, living area, social status, email, income and skills, the company where the client employed in and so on.
But from the experience of Ukrainian IT industry, it doesn’t work much since “products don’t match people, they match problems“. This expression was extracted from the “Jobs to be done” book. Well, of course, if your product is ultimately specific and targets some specific people, you can use Byer Personas. For the other cases, we have several other approaches that really work. Because if your TA (target audience) is big, you have a lot more contestants that you could imagine. They can have other types of the product, unlike yours, but if their goal or problem is similar to yours — they are your ‘enemies’.
So, how to market your product? Nowadays main marketing channels are split into two big groups: Outbound marketing and Inbound marketing.
This approach is based on the direct sales when you get the potential consumer’ attention by presenting your product on exhibitions, forums, and conferences. Pros of the Outbound marketing are
- personal communication with a potential client
- an opportunity to demonstrate ‘how it works’ in real life
- living communication always gives more opportunities to sell your product.
The drawback of this approach is participation’s high cost (if you run a startup, you will unlikely be able to invest a lot of money to participate and allocate a budget for promotion).
But there are three more channels considered outbound: advertisement, cold calls (emails) and affiliates.
An advertisement is one of the most popular channels today. With its help, you can build a large database of client contacts. Its main advantage is scalability: you can increase your budget after you’ve found the right message and your TA (target audience).
And the disadvantage is the high cost and the quality of the contacts, which will be lower than the quality you can get at conferences and exhibitions.
Cold emails and cold calls are another of the outbound market channels. But how quickly the client answers that he or she is interested in the offer, as quickly the client disappears and stops reading the letters after the proposal to conduct a demo.
The affiliates are the partners who, for a certain commission, will help your company attract customers. Often this channel really gave a positive result. But that is not an easy to create an affiliate’s program. Decide and find your affiliates, attract them and set the rules for the program. For B2B companies, perhaps, one of the most suitable affiliates are digital agencies. As a rule, such agencies do not have their own product and work on the setup of services for online stores. A good example of affiliates is bloggers and opinion leaders with a large number of subscribers.
Inbound marketing differs from outbound-channels because it doesn’t use the “cold method” of attracting customers. Instead, in Inbound marketing, you have to warm up the client to such a state, when she or he would like to buy your product. Thus, inbound marketing implies the creation of useful content.
Its main channels include blogs, SEO, and social networks. Essentially, your task is to create an expert image in the eyes of potential clients. Regular educational articles are good for the blog. Various kinds of presentations, eBooks, checklists, instructions, which can be posted on the site for download, are also suitable for educational content. To download them, a potential client must fill in a small form with his or her contacts (at least email). This approach, with proper design, will improve SEO optimization and raise your company’s position in organic search.
Good, so you have enough clients’ contacts in your base. They are interested in your product. How will you make them make a purchase? This is the responsibility of a sales manager. Don’t be too persistent, but make it clear that your product really solves the customer’s problem. This could be a dialog with the potential customer that based on the next formula:
“[When ______ ] [I want to ______ ] [so I can ______ ]”
Be brave, be smart, ready to provide a dialog with the customers and ready to improve for your end-user.
This material was created thanks to Kristina Pototska whose smart thoughts inspired me.