Every startup goes through the phase of exploring the universal doubt, “Do I need marketing?” “Should I wait till I am established?” The answer to all these questions is simple, marketing is your wand that helps you reach out to a specific target audience in the most creative and sometimes cost effective way. It is one tool that includes all forms of customer engagement and at the same time focusses on the product, service, and brand.
There are several functions encompassed in marketing and a specialised agency helps narrow down these gametes to what is suitable for the brand. Marketing is an umbrella of functions and each of these functions has a crucial role to play in the process.
Companies that are starting up or launching something new during their course should conduct Marketing Research. It is an expensive affair but if carried out well it would answer all the required questions: “Who is my target audience?” “What do they think about my brand/product/service?” “Who are my competitors?” “What should I price my product?” etc.
Marketing research all in all defines the scope of your progress, the necessary steps that the brand would require to reach out to the audience and an intimate connection between the brand image and the consumers.
The world today isn’t on the screen in front of you, it’s the one in your palm. If companies have to compete in today’s world, they must adapt to advancing technology that exist in the form online presence, which plays a big role as it is the common platform that joins people from all sections of society and helps your startup reach a much wider target in a time-efficient way.
Digital Marketing Decoded
Today more than 40% of the world is using the Internet and there is no second thought that startups should be present there. This is where Digital marketing comes in, a form of marketing which uses any digital medium like the internet, mobile phones, displays etc.
Digital marketing goes beyond the mediums, it incorporates other online brand requirements like having a simple yet interactive website, spending on online advertisements etc.
Social media is one such effective tool; more than 75% of the brands today can be found online on social media platforms. Very simply put Social Media is a medium where brands can create and share content and interact with consumers. There are specialised websites and applications that companies can use, the most used being Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
When it comes to the digital backend, Search Engine Optimisation is of utmost importance. Digital marketing helps brands access and optimise search engine keywords that help make the brand a consumers’ first choice. How can one ensure a customer happens to stumble on to a certain product or service, by exactly this “search engine keyword/s”?
When a customer is looking for a service or product that you provide, they are very capable of googling their wants and that is when search engine optimisation is helpful as it makes sure your brand is one of the top links accessible to your target market.
It is effective to increase your ‘search ability’ and ‘visibility’ online by optimising content. After all the marketing efforts a company needs to know how the brand has performed, whether these methods have worked and what changes need to be adapted to. Data Analysis is used to gather the consumer responses from various marketing channels and then evaluated for future steps to be taken.
Content Is King
Startups now have their marketing mediums in place but what they market is something that will set them apart from their competitors and attract consumers. Content and marketing go hand-in-hand, you cannot have successful marketing campaign if your content is not differentiating and thought-evoking.
It is also important that your content is consistent on the various platforms your brand is accessible to by the public.
The content needs to not only focus on the details of the product but also entice consumers to want to avail it for themselves and create a need. It also should be specific in nature so it can target and benefit your desired target market.
Content helps create a brand identity, it describes your brand characteristics to your consumers so that they start relating to your company in a personalised manner.
Customer engagement is of utmost importance to any brand, it includes organising campaigns, events and contests. There could be online or offline campaigns which help target a particular part of society and engage consumers to be a part of it.
Many-a-times, consumers are tempted to take part in such campaigns as they target the current topics with high social relevance. Events is also an effective way to engage a large amount of customers, but is also more expensive than campaigns and contests, it is usually carried out on a large scale with media coverage to publicise the brand further. It is also very useful when a brand wants to modify their brand identity or drastically change their reach or target market.
It may not be cost-effective for a brand but has the desired effects on a large scale basis. A fun way to engage your consumers is with the help of contests, such giveaways always excite them to take part. It also helps broaden your reach as participants are required to share a link or download an app. Consumers prefer contests as they can easily take part in them and win at the same time!
Merchandising is also a popular way of reaching your market effectively, just like business cards, the name or logo of your brand can be inscribed on stationary and other goods which can later be used to hand over to prospective clients.
When interacting with a new or prospective client, handing them a pen with your brand identity is much like a business card, it helps remind them of your brand. Guerrilla marketing, on the other hand, is a cheap and popular way of reaching a mass audience in an obvious way, it takes place in public places and focuses more on a higher reach than frequency.
Lastly, the most recurring question, “Should I outsource marketing or do it in-house?” This question has many answers pertaining to what the startup needs at that time, but having an external agency on board is always a good idea because then the brand has a dedicated specialised team concentrating on one it’s most important organisational functions – marketing!
A startup should always focus on a mantra, ‘either take something offline to online or vice-versa for maximum results.’ This equation leaves a lasting impact in the mind of the consumers and has a higher recall rate.
[The author of this post is Ridhvi Agarwaal is a marketing professional and Managing Partner at Pangram Marketing And Solutions.]