Marketing your Startup with a $0 Budget
Working on a startup of your own can attract a rush of emotions. While some days you work on a high, certain that you have the next big thing within the palm of your hand, some days you are left with a load of uncertainty and doubt. Whether your startup is a new mobile app, software or tangible product, the journey is nothing short of exciting.
Pinpointing the problem you wish to solve and laying out the concept for your app is just the first step. Once development is under way, the next daunting task would be to focus on how you can roll out the app to a relevant audience. As I am currently working on an app startup of my own, I thought I’d share a few marketing tips learned along the way. As like most startups, our budget was limited and almost nonexistent so here are a few tips which would require a large sum of, well, $0.
Disclaimer: I have only shared a few tips that helped us market our app. As we are yet to launch, I cannot comment on how successful this may be for you.
Create a Landing Page
Once you have finalized on a name, logo and tagline for your app, the next step would be to create a basic landing page in order to get some traffic to your site. The website should allow visitors to subscribe to your app in order to get updates on features and the launch date. You may also need to do some basic SEO for the site.
Tip: There are a number of free WordPress themes available for you to modify and use. Also ensure that your site is always up and running to avoid losing potential users.
If you aren’t active on social media now, it would be a good time to start. Through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and many other platforms you can reach out to a mass audience relevant to your app. A good place to start would be to create a list of Facebook and Google+ groups and pages where your app can be promoted during the launch. Also create promotional material like infographics, tag clouds, videos, etc., which can be shared to create awareness.
Tip: Be careful not to spam in order to avoid being removed or criticized on the group. Also search for app review exchange groups which will help you get quick reviews for your app on the launch day.
Another great way to promote your startup is by following social influencers on Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora. If you reach out to relevant people, they may be willing to try out your app and talk about why they like it. Getting endorsed by an influential person within the mobile or app space will definitely earn you some good credit.
Tip: Actively participate in discussions on all platforms and then reach out to influencers whom you like to follow. You can also write answers to questions asked on Quora that seem related to your app. As long as you do not spam and hard sell your own app everywhere, Quora is a great place to market it to an intelligent and active online community.
These are good outlets to reach out to in order to get coverage about your app or startup. Make a list of such sites and ask for a feature or review about your app.
Tip: Make a list of tech sites first and prioritize them based on their reach and popularity. Getting featured or reviewed by a few well-known sites can make a big difference. While reaching out, remember to keep your e-mail very precise.
There are plenty of active forums which allow you to promote your app. These forums are filled with entrepreneurs like you and early adopters. No matter who reads your post, you are guaranteed to get some good feedback or downloads.
Tip: Before promoting your app on forums, it is recommended that you participate in a few discussions and build some sort of credibility. Higher credibility will most certainly lead to a better reception and response from other users.
The blogger community can be extremely helpful in reviewing or featuring your app / startup. Reaching out to as many relevant bloggers as possible can guarantee you some coverage on at least 2-3 blogs.
Tip: You can invite bloggers to test your app in beta and give you feedback. If they like it, they may agree to write an honest review on it. Also, don’t restrict your reach to the top bloggers. Bloggers who have medium reach are more likely to respond and take you up on a feature / review request.
Create a well-written press release and prepare a PR kit which can be sent to all print magazines, newspapers and established tech sites. You can also target local newspapers as they may be more open to featuring your app.
Tip: As a general rule, new startups seldom get featured in newspaper articles. But, if you reach out to specific journalists from these papers who have covered other startups, the chances of them featuring you are higher. For contacting journalists, check their articles for an email address or send them a message on LinkedIn or any other social media.
Attending Startup Events and Networking
This may seem trivial but there can be plenty of takeaways. There are various startup events organized around the city where startups at various stages – be it the idea or traction stage – come together to get advice and feedback from each other as well as mentors within the startup space. If your startup requires VC funding, these events are a great start to understanding what investors are looking for and you even get to pitch to a few of them and watch other startups pitching.
Tip: Networking is the key to good marketing at these events. Getting your brand known by other startups and mentors within the startup space will go a long way.
Stay Updated with the Latest News from the Startup Cloud
If you are planning to venture into the startup space, it is important to keep up with the latest news. Whether you are reading about successful funding a startup has secured or an ongoing warfare between two startups, it won’t hurt to stay tuned with what’s happening around you. If not, the comfort and motivation drawn from knowing that others out there are on a similar journey is good enough.
Tip: It definitely helps to know what promotional activities deemed successful as it could give you a few tips when marketing your own app.
Sites like F6S have a plethora of freebies listed on them. They are all focused on startups and can definitely come in handy. You will probably find a coupon for everything from hosting to marketing on it.
Tip: Not all freebies are free, but discounts will definitely be a lot better than what you would get otherwise. It’s best to sign up for an account in advance and keep checking for new freebies once a week.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not sure which of these tips will give you the best results. Every startup is different and what works for one might not work for another. I just hope that this serves as a good starting point for those who haven’t made a concrete marketing plan.
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