Contemporary startup ecosystem may seem like a “schizophrenic” jungle – overflowing with creative juices in one part, only to be bordered by cash-starved deserts of reality in the neighboring one. The reason for this are varied, chief among them being tight budgets that run out of steam before a business idea manages to grow some roots. That’s why startups try to come up with growth hacks that will allow them to achieve as much sustainable growth as possible before the cash fizzles out. One of the key areas in which this can be achieved is marketing, which offers clever marketers enough flexibility to put to use at least two important skills: creativity and the ability to survive on cash-strapped budgets. Read on to learn more about three marketing hacks that can skyrocket your growth without breaking the bank.
Narrative Video Marketing Tells YOUR Story
As insiders would have it, growth hacking art boils down to growing as much as possible without robbing yourself blind in the process. Marketers learned this before all the others, as their job is frequently put on the backburner when allocating pieces of a startup’s budgetary cake. That’s why they have to look forward to new technologies in absence of financial executive’s friendly ear, and one of them is surely video marketing focused on attractive and storytelling-powered narratives.
This notion is based on the idea that storytelling is currently one of the smartest ways to kickstart a memorable marketing campaign and this effort is greatly helped by the fact that the costs of video production have dropped significantly. Whatever your product is, its visibility and credibility will be hugely boosted by making a memorable video about it. This is based on what the marketers count on as a feature of human visual-focused psychology, which processes these images 60.000 times faster compared to textual content. At the same time, having an attractive video will secure you a willing ally in form of social media whose users, in general, are more likely to share a video or screenshot-based content with their peers compared to other media formats.
One of the textbook examples of effective pairing of visuals with storytelling is the marketing campaign created by the Dollar Shave Club, whose inventive video on a rather prosaic everyday item such as shaving razor rocks 25 million YouTube views at the moment, helping the company disseminate its brand message to every corner of the world at little or no initial costs. Bear in mind that storytelling can also take other forms, such as creating videos that are strictly instructive like tutorials. Marketing guru Neil Patel swears by Whiteboard Friday videos created by Moz’s Rand Fishkin. These videos combine visually attractive presentations with informative content, with both of them effectively harnessed for marketing purposes.
Timing Virality from the Outset
Speaking of the sharing potential of video-based marketing content, having a healthy level of awareness when it comes to ensuring the early virality of your products can be an important hack-friendly skill to be acquired from the start. Whatever you want to sell or promote, the viral germs need to be grown no later than the embryonic stage of your startup. This is a key consideration, at the time when numerous startups’ are based on the idea that ensuring the contagious virality of your product is something you need to do only once it gets past the development stage. You can avoid this and jumpstart your business by enshrining virality as the core ingredient of your product from the very outset, instead of treating it as a posterior marketing consideration playing a second fiddle to everything else. In practice, this boils down to utilizing the power of language to the fullest, and coming up with content that is educational, practical and accompanied by clearly presented calls to action. Remember that you actually want the readers to keep clicking on your titles, followed by reading and sharing engaging content. Using power words that are bound to evoke strong emotional response is a tried & tested option for attracting and keeping your customers’ attention and ensuring the virality of your content.
Going for virality early in the process doesn’t mean you should wait before employing a bit of brand evangelism. Having a relevant personality spreading the word about your products means building reputation and networking infrastructure from the start which, mind you, doesn’t necessarily have to mean an influencer should be a consumer in the general sense of the word. Do not be put away by claims that word of mouth marketing is an obsolete equivalent of positive gossiping. Your evangelists do not have to be recruited among major influencers or media persons. Nielsen research indicates that 83% of consumers still prefer recommendations from their friends and family compared to the rest of advertising channels.
However, the hand of virality can (and should) be slightly forced. There are ways for you to influence how viral a piece of content can be, by making sharing simple. Brian Solis (digital analyst) twisted the old KISS philosophy in that regard – Keep It Simple and Shareable. That means making sure all the sharing options (Share on Facebook, send via email, etc.) are simple, and within hand's reach, on all devices. Particularly on mobile devices (tablets and smartphones).
Thus, if you are unable to hire an influencer from the outset, your financial officers will surely appreciate your offering to take this burden upon yourself, or striving to turn your product consumers into early bird brand evangelists. In any case, the lesson is similar to the one you’d use with video marketing – making an emotional appeal to your audience from the start will allow your product to grow some teeth early and nest itself easily within any budgetary projection.
B2B technology marketing, for example, has long felt the need to leave behind the exhaustive retelling of tech features from user manuals and move on to narrative-based advertising. Guy Kawasaki is an Apple brand evangelist dedicated to “creating and maintaining the Macintosh cult”. He does so by preparing engaging technological demos and refraining himself from using generic tech buzzwords in favor of coming up with concise and audience-friendly narratives about the company and its products. That way, instead of fancy wording which can be perceived as a game of smoke and mirrors, businesses can create and nurture long-lasting relationships based on trust.
Image Credit: Pixabay
Play to Your Ideal Early Customer First
Yet, storytelling, early virality and brand evangelism can hardly function without a vital ingredient that rules them all: the audience whose shoulders your startup needs to climb on in order to reach for the sky. Knowing that these shoulders should belong only to a highly targeted and select crowd, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the target audience. That way, a start-up will be able to speak only to them.
Don’t fall into temptation of trying a spray and pray technique for your marketing efforts. As your product is hardly a hot cake at this marketing stage, it will be neither loved nor desired by just everyone.
Targeting your customers plays an essential role here, as you want your product to achieve relevancy by appealing only to the right eyes and ears, similar to avoiding to offer a steak to a committed vegan, no matter how juicy it is. You are better off turning your marketing efforts into a laser weapon, instead of making it a blunt club worn by a rapacious berserker. You will achieve this by creating a crystal clear image of an ideal customer for your startup’s product and focusing your campaign efforts around this persona.
Think of this as a stepping stone to the time in which you’ll have both a larger budget and an audience to work with. This is done in numerous ways, starting from social media profiling to using analytical tools. Whatever you opt for, you’ll want to know how your ideal customer breathes, not just how old he/she is, where they come from and what gender they subscribe to.
Take, for example, what you can do with a simple fix such as streamlining your homepage message, a CTA or a landing page, in the manner which will reflect what you know about your audience. Knowing who you address with it means that you can come up with an appealing message that will introduce your visitors to what you believe in, your startup’s mission and its whole reason for existence.
Tight budgets place noticeable constraints on startups’ marketing campaigns. At the same time, these should not restrain your imagination and creativity in devising quality growth hacks in these penny-pinching times. Pairing video with quality storytelling, putting viral hooks on your products from the outset, and identifying an ideal early customer are great ways to secure quick initial marketing victories that will help you secure financial sustainability and growth potential for your cash-strapped startup.