How to promote your startup

No matter how good your idea, your startup can’t go anywhere without customers. Where do you begin to promote your startup? You need to identify your audience and discover the best ways to reach those people. Get them excited about your startup, encourage them to try something new, and give them lots of ways to share it when they love it.

Startup marketing

Marketing your startup does not have to be an expensive endeavor. Small marketing efforts focused on quality and reaching niche audiences are sometimes more successful than spending a bunch and trying to reach too many people at once. Your company is small and new, so leverage the inexpensive and free marketing tools available to you, like social media and content creation, instead of spending big on ads.

Identify your audience

Promotion starts with audience. You might think everyone will want your product because it’s innovative and better than everything else. You have to be realistic and figure out who is the most likely to become a loyal customer. Identify demographics, like age group, interest levels, or economic circumstances.

Defining your audience is important for several reasons. First, this gives you big clues on where to place your promotion efforts. Millennials and Baby Boomers don’t hang around on the same websites. Second, your audience helps you discern what kind of packaging your product or service needs.

The angle you take when writing content about your product, designing ads, and posting photos changes depending on who your audience is. Third, you look at who is already marketing to those people with products similar to yours. This gives you clues on how to make your startup stand out.

Explain your purpose

As a startup, you’re the new company on the block. Let people know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Why did you start the company? What do you want to offer your customers? Why are you different from competitors?

If superhero movies are any indication, people love a good origin story. Don’t be afraid to get personal. Share a compelling story about what led you and your coworkers to begin this startup. What specific ideas and experience do you bring to the table to create an unmissable company? Talk about how the startup has grown so far, and where you want to go.

Ultimately, you’re giving possible customers a reason to choose your brand over other brands that might offer similar products or services. People love feeling a personal connection, and if you happen to share a core belief or fight for a cause that someone else supports, you’ll win them over.

Craft a budget and a plan

Marketing takes time and money, so you need to have a budget and a plan before you start your promotion efforts. If you don’t have much money, you’ll have to focus your marketing efforts on the low-cost ways to promote yourself. Creating lots of good content, posting on social media, and interacting with possible customers are all ways to get people to take notice of your new company.

At the same time, free and paid marketing efforts need expertise, so you might need to hire someone part-time or freelance to work on your advertisements if nobody who works at your company can create good content.

Finally, that plan of yours needs to have clear and measurable goals. You may want to increase your follower base, get a certain number of people to visit your page, or build up your email list. Each aspect in your marketing plan should clearly serve one of these goals. Only then will you be able to tell if your efforts are working, or if you should put your time and money into a new strategy.

Create quality content

Today’s marketing strategies are all about the content. Bring in new customers with interesting articles about your industry or your products. Offer how-to videos and infographics to give people valuable information they need. Post attractive pictures that people will want to share.

People are tired of advertisements trying to capture their attention at every turn. Instead, they seek out content, recommendations, and interesting facts. Content creation is a deceptively simple aspect to promoting a startup, because bad content will have the opposite effect. If your content is a copy of information already available on the web, it won’t attract anyone.

Try narrowing your audience to a niche, and writing a few posts specifically for those people. Explain some industry terms to the people who come across your blog or social media accounts. Encourage people to download free guides by entering their email address.


Use a few simple SEO tactics to promote startup content. Start with long tail keywords. Identify what keywords people are using to visit your website most often. If those keywords match up with the audience you’re trying to attract, like if you’re a pet food startup in Austin and people keep reaching you with “Austin Texas crazy cat ladies,” then write content in which you can use those keywords. That will help drive more traffic using those keyword search terms directly to your site.

You also want to build links with other quality sites. This helps boost you in search engine rankings. Get your links placed on relevant websites by offering to write expert content for industry blogs, or providing influencers with products for review. If you’re very new to the scene, you don’t need big influencers.

Find niche bloggers and social media customers who might want a free sample in exchange for an honest review and some social media exposure. You’ll be sharing the post, too, which in return gives them exposure to people they didn’t know before.

Leverage social media

Social media can be a fantastic free way to do startup marketing if you know how to use it. First, you need to get your formatting straight. Long posts on Facebook don’t work. Instead, link to your blog post on Facebook with a sentence describing why people should click on it. Offer them new information, the chance to win something, or coupons for new products.

On Twitter, the game is similar but you have even less space. Twitter works well as a platform for engaging personally with possible customers. Typing an @ reply in 140 characters isn’t very time-consuming, and it’s a fantastic way to make individuals feel valued. On Instagram or Snapchat, your focus is obviously images, but words still count. A link in your Instagram description or a hashtag across a Snapchat screen might be all you need. Just make sure followers know why they should use the hashtag, like the chance to enter a giveaway to win free products.

Offer coupons and giveaways

Promote your startup and its new stuff by offering coupons. People tend to stick with what they know, so they need incentives to try something new. Introductory offers and coupons are fantastic ways to pull new customers in. Lowering the price is an easy way to lower the risk associated with trying a new product. Combined with positive reviews from people who’ve already tried your startup’s stuff, and these efforts will convert more than a few potential customers into buyers.

Keep in mind: you don’t want to make your startup look low-value. Your discount should be somewhere in the 10 to 15 percent range, both so you don’t sell at or below cost, and so it doesn’t feel like a clearance sale. Your giveaways should be infrequent, and should heavily focus on the experience you’ll be offering the lucky winner, not just some random product of yours. Perceived value is important, so coupons and giveaways should feel like insider favors, not desperation.

Measure metrics

Remember that plan you created when you set up your budget? The more promotion you do, the more measuring and analysis you’ll need to do. Companies develop different systems to quantify the leads they build, the success blog posts have, and how well social media blitzes work. You might use Google Analytics, a cloud-based software, or your own in-house system. If you don’t measure your successes and failures, you’ll never know which efforts are helping you reach your audience and gain conversions.

You may have an amazing product and big plans for it, but your startup needs promotion. Focus on building a solid customer base and marketing to the audience who really wants to hear about your new product.

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