As a college entrepreneur, what is the best way to market internet start up launch with the most cost effective way possible? As my partner and I are coming to our launch date I need to find some clarity on how to market this the most cost effective way possible. I am a college student and on very limited funds. I do have experience in social media but as you guys know it does cost quite a bit to really get the traction you want. Not much has been spent being that my partner and I have the creative background to get this done and him being the technical guy to build this thing out. I have read in other forums to seek investment for marketing but I don't want to remove my focus to try and acquire funding. Especially when we don't have many users and know we can get this thing off the ground using free or low cost resources. I've made a list of potential collaborators and acquired a list of emails to shoot to all bloggers in the technical space. Is there anything else I can pursue when coming to the launch? Also in terms of content creation for social media. This is my first tech start up. Essentially it is brand and needs to have its own feel that people can relate to and notice. Is there any tips or examples that someone can give me on that? I appreciate all answers and look forward to hearing from everyone. Thanks!
How to best market your product will depend largely on what your product is, and how far along you are in having a 'minimum viable product' (MVP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_viable_product). For instance, word of mouth advertising at your college may be the best route, but below is a general description of the lean startup approach:
1) If it's a web-based startup, generally the cheapest way to start marketing is to set up a 'landing page', which is a simple page which shows the key features of your service, and gets people to sign up. Here are some services which make it easy to make a landing page:
Free photo resources: https://unsplash.com/
2) Once you have your landing page set up, set up tracking analytics for it. You can use:
- Google Analytics
- Mixpanel + Popcorn Metrics (easier than google analytics)
3) Once you have your landing page and analytics set up, start advertising on relevant platforms, e.g. Facebook (allows you to target very specific demographics), Google Adwords, etc. Look closely at your analytics to see how many people are going to your site, are they signing up, how deep down your sale / sign-up 'funnel' are they getting. To advertise on Facebook you'll need to make a little banner image to use as an ad. To advertise on google you just need a text description. If you set up a lot of different ads, it would be good to use UTM codes ("urchin tracking monitors") which will allow your analytics to track each individual from each different ad through your funnel.
In addition to Facebook and Google advertising there are lots of other cheap ways to advertise, including getting press (e.g. use HARO), and sending emails to blogs as you mentioned. If you'd like more in depth or specific advice relevant to your specific product let me know,
I would say that instead of going wide, go narrow. Get some quality feedback to fine-tune the product. What I mean by that is, show your product/prototype to people you already know and get their feedback [ignore if you have already done that]. Make the product so compelling that they become your "marketers". Can you show it to some extreme users - somebody who would absolutely love it or hate it? Get their feedback - see what triggers them and incorporate that into your product if you can. This way, when you go spend the budget you have on marketing, you have a better chance of success. Also, the feedback will help fine-tune the messaging that goes with your marketing.
My experience is with Design Thinking, where you are are constantly empathizing with your user and getting their feedback to fine-tune your prototype. Also, the focus is on delighting the user. My thoughts above come from that experience.
Not really the marketing answer you wanted, but will help you fine-tune the message when you go market. Hope that helps and best wishes!
You're on the right track. Since you can't pay for advertising (and at this point you probably shouldn't), your idea of going after INFLUENCERS to create buzz about your startup is very good.
You didn't say what your startup DOES. That would be helpful to know.
For branding, you do need somewhere for interested prospects to GO. They need to be able to sign up to a list so that you can capture and track those leads, and continue to market to them. If you don't do this, you're throwing your lead generation effort away.
Get a designer you feel comfortable with. There are, yes there are, some on Fiverr but you have to try a bunch out to find 'your person'. I've found one that has a brain and does amazing work that actually has an idea behind it for $15. But I had to go through a few to find this person, and I've been using Fiverr for at least five years. Still, for under $100 I'm sure you can find someone who's a fit.
Video is a huge means of communicating your method. It's personal, and you can post it on YouTube which I'm sure you know the power of since you're in the tech space. Make videos. Talk about your ideal prospect's problem situation that your solution gets them out of. Get a Call To Action on the end directing them to the lead capture device. Don't expect instant sales. You could split test sending leads to the lead capture vs the sales page, but I personally would rather capture and continue to market to the lead rather than waste it on a one-shot attempt at conversion.
But key idea: get a well-known influencer to start talking about you, and make use of their network to create buzz for you. Yes, you might have to make a deal to get them to do it; however, I recall an article about someone who hired three bloggers in their space to create buzz and the investment do so was under $300 each. Amazingly low.
And finally, just because you built a better mousetrap doesn't mean that anyone will care. Nothing sells itself. Don't expect influencers to fall on their butts just because you sent them a notice about this thing. Remember "what's in it for them."
Right now, while you're still thinking about marketing strategy and haven't committed to an already-launched site, you should pause and seriously examine your brand name / domain.
I realize you've got all sorts of other angles to consider too – web design, funding, customer acquisition, advertising, etc. But think about it this way: You can tweak design at any point. You can pursue new methods of customer acquisition whenever you feel like experimenting. Funding is always a possibility later.
The one aspect of your project that's the most permanent, the least pivot-freindly is your brand name and/or domain. If you get it right from the outset, that will save you money and headaches later on.
Beyond that, a suitable name can help you gain traction with customers. All your marketing will be more efficient. Pushing a sub-standard name is like pushing a grocery shopping cart with a broken wheel; it requires much more force (i.e. cash and work) to get anywhere. Plus, if you want to woo investors, it doesn't hurt to have a catchy professional brand name that conveys what you're all about.
Care to talk it through? Names and domains are my profession.