Small Business Startups – In recent years, market analysts have been following a growing trend within startups here at home as well as around the globe. More and more startups are catering to an online, digital audience and fewer are starting land-based operations. Even those who don’t consider themselves to be tech savvy are finding it much easier, less time-consuming, or expensive to set up a virtual storefront.

Prior to SARS-CoV-2, online startups trended from time to time, with peaks and valleys, but never consistently high as they are today. Perhaps the pandemic led to this phenomenon due to leaving many workers unemployed, or offered remote work as an alternative. In any case, this led to a whole new generation of entrepreneurs seeking to capture their little corner of the market. If you are even remotely considering launching a startup in today’s economy, here are nine marketing strategies that you really must consider.

1. Analytics as the Foundation of Any Marketing Strategy

Would you build a structure without a foundation? No matter what kind of building you are constructing, the one thing that is common to all would be a foundation. That is the most basic support that keeps your home or commercial building from falling into the ground like it’s been swallowed up by some giant sinkhole.And so it is with any effective marketing strategy. It is essential to first analyze your market in order to identify your target market and how best to reach them.

Unfortunately, hiring a marketing firm can be a bit beyond what you can afford in the very beginning so much of the work will probably fall on you. One thing you may want to consider is advancing your degree, to earn a Master’s in Digital Marketing online from a well-respected school like Emerson College. As long as you hold a Bachelor’s degree, you can easily transition into a marketing degree program, especially if your undergrad field of study was business related. There ‘may’ come a time when you want to employ a marketing firm, but you just might get amazing results doing the ground work yourself.

2. PR and a Network of Market Influencers

There was a time when the whole idea of market influencers was listed way down in the basement of marketing strategies. Many businesses held to time honored, more traditional forms of marketing and advertising. However, what became almost immediately apparent is that this generation of consumers have what can be referred to as ‘trust issues.’ Once a celebrity or other high-profile person endorses a product, they have to try it, at the very least.

Also, market influencers are not as difficult to find as you might imagine! It isn’t always big names like Taylor Swift and her Capital One Bank cardigan commercials. You just might find that a prolific blogger can get similar results and notoriety for you once his, or her, followers take up your banner. This is, perhaps, the 21st century version of word of mouth, but it’s so much more effective because your audience is literally unlimited online.

3. A Strategic SEO Content Marketing Campaign

You will still hear it said that, “content is king,” and indeed it is. However, not from the vantage point it was just a few years ago. In the early days of web content developed to provide backlinks to your website, it was imperative that you vied for the right keywords with the right amount of competition. You didn’t want keywords too competitive, but you did want keywords that enough people were searching for. You wanted to build your way up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) so that your website ranked within the first few results on page one.

The importance of this hasn’t changed over time. It is a well-known fact that the majority of searchers will not read far enough down the page to see any results beyond the first 5 or 6. So, the right balance between searchers and competitive keywords must be struck or you won’t get the clicks you are aiming for.

4. B2B Networking and Partner Marketing

Another hot term within the past few years is the whole concept of networking. For example, when a company is primarily doing business as a B2B enterprise, networking is perhaps one of the finest ways of building a client or supplier list of businesses to deal with. The most popular way of networking in the B2B world is, obviously, trade shows, but in today’s world of the pandemic, most if not all trade shows have been canceled or postponed.

Consequently, it is necessary to find innovative ways to connect with other businesses in your field, or a closely related field. One suggestion made by a consummate marketer was to send freebies of some of your main products to businesses you’ve identified as possibilities for partner marketing within your networks. If you pool your marketing resources, you can grow your own target audiences exponentially. Partners can put companion products in the spotlight so that interested buyers will see the benefits of using both.

5. Take a Ride on the Coattails of Social Media

What can be said that hasn’t been said a million times over about social media? It can either be the bane or the salvation of your life as an entrepreneur. While many moms and dads find social media to be the scourge of their lives, marketers absolutely love having the ability to ride on the coattails of followers on other, similar pages.

As an aside here, let’s refer back for just a moment to market influencers and partner marketing. Social media is the absolute perfect platform to use for this marketing strategy. If done well, you can expand your networking affiliations simply be getting your page/pages liked, and don’t be afraid to ask for that “like page” or “follow me” buttons. Bear in mind that if you happen to network with a well-respected brand, you can ride on the coattails of that brand on social media. The reverse can be said as well. That marketing partner can also ride on the coattails of any followers you have gathered over time.

6. No-Investment Affiliate Marketing

As a small business startup, your marketing funds may be extremely limited. Altogether too many startups take out loans to fund a marketing campaign when these simple strategies can be effective at little to no cost to you. Have you considered opening up your product line to affiliate marketing? All it would take is a few incentivized marketers to get the ball rolling. You can set and agree on a standardized compensation package based on sales or leads. Both can be effective. If you don’t close that deal the first time through, at least you have baited a buyer who may return later to make an offer or buy a product.

Other than stock you have on hand, there is no initial outlay of money. The affiliate marketer links interested people to your site where they can get more detailed information on the product/s they are interested in. At this point, let’s refer back to social media for just a moment. Did you know that YouTube is second only to Facebook in terms of popularity and traffic?

One very effective form of affiliate marketing is to send a product to a reviewer with a large following on a YouTube channel. After the product or service is reviewed, the reviewer mention links below the video where the audience can purchase products reviewed. Imagine the power you can tap into by utilizing both influencer and affiliate marketing!

7. Carefully Selected Referral Rewards

This strategy does seem to be a little less effective than the above marketing tools, but it can be extremely rewarding if done right. The problem many small businesses have is in offering a reward they feel someone would want. What many marketers have found to be highly effective is in offering a choice of rewards a person can choose between. If they are incentivized with a reward they are interested in, then you will almost always see results. The whole idea is to get them to want someone to buy from you so that they can get that freebie for little to no effort and no money changes hands. It’s highly effective if your rewards motivate them to participate.

8. SEO Optimized Website Content

Search engine optimizedcontent for your website is still very highly effective; however, it is imperative that you understand there is a specific skill set involved in choosing the right keywords to target within your content. This pertains to everything from products that you list to images that you post to content in a blog you may have running on your website.

In fact, this brings up a very good marketing strategy in that informative content tends to rank well with the search engines and will gain you rank if you focus on quality over quantity. There is no need to have a blog filled with poorly crafted content because it will not get noticed by the crawlers and you might even find that poor content gets you downgraded a bit. Remember to carry over all those keywords throughout every strategy you employ. Soon you will be ranking near, or at, the top of the SERPs and that’s just what you are shooting for.

9. Carefully Selected Email Marketing Lists

Unfortunately, email marketing is a strategy that works for some but is less likely to be effective for others because they are going about it all wrong. It is important to understand how most people see unsolicited emails as spam, and in reality, that’s just what they are. If you want email to be effective as a marketing strategy, make sure to have the consumer request newsfeeds or emails with a form they need to fill out.

A little tip here is to make that email request form a little longer than simply an email address and a button of agreement to click. Yes, do keep the form short, but at least ask a few questions to see what kind of content they are interested in receiving in their inbox. How-to emails and videos are quite popular at the moment so you might consider having them choose between various categories of how-to articles they are most interested in.It all depends on your industry and the products or services you offer. One very good suggestion here is to create how-to content for use with a specific new product or service you are trying to sell.

Chances are that person will not have the product considering that you are highlighting a brand-new offering that has just been released. If the how-to article or video does what it’s supposed to do, you will see sales rise exponentially. Bear in mind that you cannot just start sending emails to everyone who visits your site or those which you bought on a marketing list. You will make more enemies than friends with that type of approach, so take an extra few moments to create an email list of truly interested consumers.

What Is Your Key Takeaway?

Much of the above information you may already be familiar with, but perhaps that one little spark ignited a fire of interest within you to learn all you can about marketing in the 21st century. Yes, many of the strategies were built off a time-honored method, but many have their roots in a digital world. Doesn’t that inspire you to perhaps get that advanced degree in digital marketing? Not only can you use it to grow your business startup, but you just might find that you enjoy the field of marketing more than you ever thought you could.

Now it’s time for you to take a good look at all of the above to give an honest assessment of what your key takeaway is. It may be a strategy you want to pursue and it may be a concept you were unfamiliar with. The whole point is to recognize the various ways to reach your market by the time you launch your startup. If you get enough momentum now, you can shoot into your future – and that is what marketing is really all about.