One of the first things any start-up should focus on is exposure. In simple terms, exposure leads to brand awareness, brand awareness leads to new user acquisition and new users lead to referrals.
Getting the right level of exposure is demanding work but it also requires working smart as well. Finding a product/market fit requires founders to get in the trenches of their industry and find their customers. Once a start-up can find their target customers they need to find out what exactly their customers’ need and any problems they might have. Then they need to explain to their desired demographic how their products or services can solve their problems. After this they will need to convince potential customers that they are the best solution out there in a sea of options and competitors.
With the low success rates of most start-ups and businesses in general, it is very easy in hindsight to see how even the most experienced founders can focus on the “wrong” processes and growth channels. The problem with focusing on the wrong things while attempting to grow a start-up is that they won’t know it at the time, but looking back they can see a lot of wasted time and money. Both time and money are precious resources when it comes to business and personal productivity in general.
Efficiency and creativity
So, this is where efficiency and creativity come into play. Focusing on getting a start-up visible and out there requires digging into lots of growth options to find as many customers as possible with the greatest efficiency. Once they find their customers, founders can start building long-lasting relationships.
You will find competitors looking to get found in similar places all over the Internet therefore it is important to focus start-up resources on the channels that work allowing for the most efficient growth. Efficiency in this instance equates to saving time, money and effort. Saving time and money means reaching the largest target audience possible while spending the least amount of time and money.
First point of contact
One of the most efficient ways to save both time and money is for a start-up to show up as the very first point of contact for customers. What does that mean exactly? Well, it means that start-up founders need to appear first and show up with the best solution for their potential customers. Showing up first from an SEO-perspective means being the first thing people see in Google. This may be ranking high in the local Google maps results for local businesses, or showing up on the first page of the organic search results, or both at the same time. If start-ups can focus their time and money on appearing first in the search engines for their target keywords they have an instant advantage over lower-ranked competitors.
Headlines and titles
Just by simply showing up first start-ups may not be doing enough to stand out in the search results. Founders need to ensure that their ad titles, headlines, descriptions and images are eye-catching and attention-grabbing. All the while presenting readers with an easy to understand solution within the ad copy. The attention span of a potential customer will be extremely short while checking the search engines, make sure you stand out and answer the questions on their mind. This process can be boiled to down to two key steps: showing up high in the search results, and presenting the best solution.
Present a solution to a problem
Most people want to solve their problems in the easiest, quickest and most efficient way possible. Acknowledging this as a fact of human nature, start-ups can present their product or service as a solution and encourage their customers to investigate further to see what they have to offer. People appreciate not being forced to jump through hoops and often this kind of appreciation turns into solid word-of-mouth marketing and built-in referrals. Showing up in the first few search results and making the best first impression goes a long way to improving a start-up’s discoverability.
Showing up and making a great first impression in the search engines is just one way for a start-up to grow. Another growth channel that almost all start-up founders focus their time and money on is social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit and all the other popular social media platforms reward start-ups that effectively utilise the platform’s built-in tools and resources to reach their audiences.
Like showing up high in the search engine results for targeted keywords and search queries, start-ups need to appear in the timelines of their target audiences’ Facebook accounts. They should be posting their applicable solutions in topical and local Facebook groups. It is also worth exploring the use of paid ads on Facebook as well as using Facebook proactively by posting in relevant discussions whenever possible.
Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube
When it comes to Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, start-ups can get exposure by including the right hashtags and keywords in all their posts. Tagging the relevant users on social media and getting their attention with relevant original content will also pay dividends. This relevant original content can include a message to their audience that this particular start-up is currently presenting the easiest and most efficient solution to a popular problem.
Some founders make the mistake of assuming that social media marketing is just about creating an account with basic information, then following targeted audiences and making a few generic posts. Then founders assume their start-up will begin getting a bunch of new visits and new users, even though they really are doing the bare minimum to create an active presence on social media.
On the Reddit platform, start-ups can join relevant community discussions and add value to those conversations. On Reddit and some other social media channels, users can create their own new community, their own channel, their own chats and more. However, most founders are going to find it difficult to pour a lot of time and money into attracting other people to their own new channels. When a start-up is just in the beta stages, most will find it far easier to sort of piggyback off of existing discussions, communities, channels and chats.
More social media techniques
On social media channels like Twitter, start-ups can participate in relevant ongoing discussions by monitoring hashtags and then adding value wherever possible. Adding value to social media discussions increases exposure and it helps build quality relationships. Building quality relationships with a target audience will help a start-up efficiently find product/market fits. Once a product/market fit is successfully achieved, businesses can use social media platforms like YouTube and Reddit to create their own user communities. These user communities act as efficient growth engines once the start-ups begin gaining traction.
Community driven chat
Finally, to grow their business founders can participate in industry-specific and local communities that are found on websites and in regular local offline meetings. An efficient way to start this growth process is to start getting exposure on the websites of the local TV stations and newspapers. A lot of local news station websites and local newspaper websites have entire sections devoted to local businesses. Founders can explore running ads on these websites or industry specific community sites. They can also contribute original content in the form of articles or comments as well as getting listed in all the relevant business directories without devoting a lot of time and money.