There are plenty of tech startups that no one has never heard of. And because they are relative “ghosts” on the web, they will never take off.
Techies are great at what they do – developing software solutions for businesses, some of them quite valuable. Unfortunately, they are not expert marketers and often just don’t know how to promote what they have created.
If this sounds like your issue, then read on. Here are seven ways to promote your tech startup that may just get you the leads and ultimate customers you need.
1. Identify Your Value Proposition
You developed your software solution for a reason. You saw a gap between what businesses have and what they need.to improve their functions and better meet their goals. If you cannot state this clearly and succinctly, you cannot begin to promote your product(s).
The idea behind a value proposition is not what you have done but, rather, how a business can benefit from what you have done. The focus must be on the prospect, not on you. What problem(s) does your software solve? How does your product make life easier for businesses you are courting?
Consider Basecamp, a company that offers project management software. In a single engaging cartoon drawing, it captures the pain points of project teams that do not have their software. The home page goes on to explain the value they offer, as well as a few testimonials from satisfied customers.
No one can identify your value proposition for you-you must reflect upon what problems you can solve for your potential customers, put it in writing for yourself, and then decide how you will present it to them through your marketing.
Once you have this proposition clearly stated, you are ready to promote.
2. Know Your Audience
As a tech startup, you are in the B2B business – you are marketing to businesses that can benefit from your product. Do the research. Find out where your prospects hang out online. These are the social media platforms you will have to hit hard with your content.
LinkedIn is a must. Generate a great profile, extol the value of your product; join groups in your niche and participate in discussions. At this point, you are not selling. You are speaking as an expert in your niche. You are making connections and establishing relationships.
Beyond LinkedIn, you have to figure out where your audience is. Here are a few more tips for doing just that:
- See where like businesses are present on social media.
- Make a list of the specific businesses you want to target with your product. Where are they online? Access their pages, start commenting and link to their blog pages where you can also participate in discussions.
- Attend events of niches to which you plan to market. See if you can “purchase” a booth to showcase your product.
Again, it’s about making connections and establishing relationships with potential customers.
3. Now to Generate Traffic with Your Content
Traffic comes from the content you create – your website, your blog, your social media posts, and any images or media you use online. The issue is this: you have to become a content marketer if you intend to drive traffic to your site. This means that you have to craft engaging and compelling stuff for your intended audience to read and view. And you have to publish, promote, and distribute that content everywhere possible.
You are in competition with an ocean of content that is published daily on the web. You have to be certain that yours is unique enough to stand out, and that it is responsive for any device. This is critical.
The best advice? Go beyond the typical text content with a few images thrown in. It’s time to move into podcasts, webinars, and, yes, video.
The Draw of Video: B2C marketers have been using video to introduce their products and services, to feature their teams and their customers, and to demonstrate the value their prospects will enjoy. B2B marketers have recognized its value and are on board, especially with explainer videos.
As a tech startup, no one expects you to be stiff and formal, so don’t be.
Given the great video making and editing tools out there, you can make videos on a shoestring budget. It’s easy. If you follow the following actionable tips:
- Use the value proposition that you have developed as the theme for your videos
- Equipment needs to be nothing more than a great smartphone, some inexpensive lighting (if necessary), and perhaps a high-quality microphone
- Actors should be yourself and/or team members – once you have some satisfied customers, you can use them too
- You do need a script. If neither you or any of your team members have a creative streak, then contract with a scriptwriter. There are a number of freelancer sites where you can find scriptwriters.
- Be informal but passionate. This generates a brand image that you want. You don’t want to be pretentious and formal. Businesses that work with tech companies expect them to be “shirt sleeves” kinds of companies.
If you are looking for some examples of the type of videos you can produce on a low budget, check out this resource and get some great ideas.
One B2B company that relies heavily on video is Slack. Here is a sample explainer video from the point of view of a satisfied client. It points out pain points and how slack resolves them. And in doing this, it has added humor and a great human element:
Podcasts and Webinars: these are other great audio-visual tools. Invite prospects to these “events” with teaser information about your product(s). Follow up those invites with an email reminding the appropriate people within each company of the date and time of your presentations.
Don’t neglect your blog: You need to maintain a blog with posts that relate to your niche. And drive visitors to that blog through your engaging posts on social media. And in your blog, offer incentives if readers will share that content with their colleagues – a white paper, or perhaps a discount on your product.
Reaching Out to a Global Audience: while English may be spoken in many foreign countries, many people struggle with it. If your startup is looking to expand globally, then you will need to translate all of your content for those audiences you have selected.
Choose a translator who is a native of the target country/language, so that you are culturally appropriate. Check out Pick Writers, a translation company review site, that will summarize the benefits of the top translation companies in the business.
4. Paid Advertising
This is perhaps the quickest way to get visitors to your website. Even though a lot of marketers consider this “so last century,” advertising still generates lots of leads. Today’s ads, though, should be a mix of text and multimedia content.
Because big data is now available to everyone, you can target your advertising to specific audiences, and even re-target those who have linked over to you and then bounced. You can offer discounts or other freebies in order to re-engage them.
5. Paid Search
SEO (search engine optimization) is complex, based on current and ever-changing algorithms. What you can do, though, is this: purchase paid advertising through search engines. This is truly targeted advertising strategy. Why? Because your ad will only be shown to those who have searched for products or services you offer.
This is how it works.
- Your research and identify the keywords and keyword phrases that relate directly to your product/service.
- Then you purchase advertising on search engines, based upon those keywords.
- When a generic search is conducted using those keywords, your company is featured at the top of those results pages. This is a great method to get early visibility.
6. Press Releases/PR
If you haven’t yet heard of HARO, check it out now. The letters stand for “Help a Reporter Out.” You can send newsworthy content about your product and your business, and if a reporter picks it up, you have free advertising.
It also will help to create your own press releases and submit them to online news media. You can easily learn how to craft them with available templates.
7. Don’t ignore Email Marketing
While a lot of marketers have discarded email marketing as a good tool, it still can have an impact in terms of lead generation. Almost 60% of B2B marketers state that email remains an effective tool. But it does take some time, organization, and creativity.
- You will want to divide your audience into segments as our email list grows. There are those who show very little, moderate, and high-interest levels. You will want to craft different emails for each of these segments
- Spend a lot of time creating your subject lines. As you know from your own experience, those subject lines can compel recipients to open emails.
- Be brief, unless of course, one of your recipients has signed up for your newsletter or blog.
- Be simple in style and informal in tone
- Include some type of CTA – either a method to contact you, a link to click to get more information about your product or service, or an incentive to share the email with others. Consider including a video in your emails.
Wrapping it Up
These seven tips to generate leads take time and effort, for sure. But without making a commitment to dig in and become a marketer, your tech startup will just sit out there. A famous line from the movie, Field of Dreams, is “If you build it, they will come” does not ring true for a startup. You can build it, but you have to reach out in the above ways to get them to come.
Elisa Abbott is a freelancer whose passion lies in creative writing. She completed a degree in Computer Science and writes about ways to apply machine learning to deal with complex issues. Insights on education, helpful tools, and valuable university experiences – she has got you covered 😉