Startup hacks: Three ways to market your startup without advertising

Every startup has an issue with creating awareness about the existence of its product or service without necessarily spending tons of cash on advertising. Leaving your day job and charting startup waters means you have to learn things you never knew and do things you have never done, and that includes how you can make sales and scale without burning down in the early stages. Here are three genius ways to reach target customers effectively:

Team up

At the early stages there is a need to reach out to communities and organizations that are connected to what your business is all about. Roving Heights did this by connecting with bookstores and book clubs around Lagos. The book clubs now know they can get new title releases from Roving Heights’ website, and the bookstores rely on that startup for distribution. That is how growth is achieved. If you want to startup a music streaming app, for example, there is a need to connect with local DJs and music festival organizers so you can reach out to those who really love music. You will get tons of downloads from a single event. By teaming up, you tap into already established communities of people with a passion for what your startup represents. That way you capitalize on pre-existing relationships and grow.

Build a cult following around your brand

Have you ever caught yourself in the middle of an argument about a particular product or service? How much were you paid for that? Nothing. It is great to spend a lot of cash on advertisement but if it does not resonate with the consumers it will be forgotten in less than 10 minutes. You have to focus on the effectiveness of the service or brand before going out to the market to make some noise. “Focus on building a brand customers love” is the mantra of email marketing startup, Mailchimp. By doing this, a lean startup that never took a single dime in outside funding is preparing to close 2017 with a mind-blowing 15 million customers. You do not have to be disrupting an entire system, you can build an ever increasing league of superfans by disrupting thoughts. Do not sell a product to the customers, instead sell a different way of thinking about the product, about themselves and the world. You also have to invest in quality branding materials to make sure every customer that comes in contact with your brand has this ‘elite’ feeling and perceive the brand to be bigger than it really is.

Think like your target audience

Where will they be on a Friday evening? That is where you should be too! Aside from pitching at the most likely places where pitching will make the most impact, you should also think ahead of their future needs and preferences. Feedback strategies should also be taken seriously because that is how you know which feature to improve and which to totally remove.  Sometimes, your audiences change. You might go out with a target audience in mind and stumble on a new crop of people totally sold out on your service. So you need to work on a new way of retaining this crop of new customers.

In conclusion, building a startup is a difficult journey. You have to fake it till you make it! That is the truth behind the doors of the bogus press coverage that founders are quick to get. But with perseverance and smart moves that keep existing customers happy, which will lead to steady acquisition of new ones, a startup will grow from lean to unicorn in good time.

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Chiamaka Akuba37 Posts

Chiamaka Akuba is a graduate of Mass Communication of the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is passionate about emerging markets and entrepreneurship and is actively working with the industry. She loves her conversations challenging and can’t help laughing when you call her ‘Honourable Writer of the Federal Republic'. Chiamaka is a Staff Writer at Outrepreneurs.

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