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Here, we will dwell on Digital Marketing strategies and principles which speak more to the requirements of modern business Startups and entrepreneurship.

GTM objectives

A quick look at GTM planning thought process, showing the plans, objectives and recommended approach.

Communications Strategy

The next item to examine is the communications strategy. The following should form the pillars of your Marketing communications plan.

Positioning

A well-defined positioning strategy for your product or service goes a long way in keeping you focused and guaranteeing success. The positioning for a Customer An example Customer Feedback product’s communication plan could be crafted as follows:

  • Dominating the customer feedback space in a location.
  • Focus customer segment: the medium and small enterprises.
  • The service will serve as a feedback collection form as well as a business intelligence tool for analysis of data.

 The HOW

 Clearly define how you would be engaging customers.  For Customer Feedback tool example above, the following were identified based on the nature of the service and the engagement methods that would resonate with the customers.

  • Organic posts on social media
  • Sponsored posts on social media – this will enable you to target appropriate customer segment and ensure the campaign gets to the right customers. This increases the chances of service uptake.

 The WHERE

One needs to carefully select the social media platforms that are relevant to the service offering and customer base. Choose the platforms where your potential users are most likely to visit. The following platforms are good considerations:

  • LinkedIn
  • Tech Blogs
  • Google AdWords
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Instagram

 Launching your product

Can you recall the date or occasion of launching of any of the current digital super powers such as Facebook, Instagram, oracle, Google, YouTube etc.? I bet not! There is nothing special about a launch date. Learn to launch fast, and relaunch and relaunch..

 

You don’t need to throw a big launch party or do anything special on your launch date, especially if you cannot afford to. Just ensure your product is live and working optimally, then have a communication and engagement plan. Focus on how to sell your product for at least the next 12 months.

Learn to launch and re-launch

Sometimes you can just quietly introduce your service to the market without much fanfare. For example, you could put out a website with only the following information on it:

  • Domain
  • Company name
  • Short description of your service
  • Your contact
  • Your call to action.

Launch with Friends and Family:

Just as the name indicates, Family and friends is a good target segment for piloting your products and services. Get them to use it for free and provide you with candid feedback. This is an effective way of getting the first set of user feedback needed for product improvement.

Launch with random strangers

The idea here it to be able to showcase your product to any random stranger out there.

  • Try to visit users in their normal daily activities especially in places where people gather a lot such as malls and their work places.
  • Try to catch them in moment of need. When they are in dire need of help, your app or service might just proof useful to them, this is the best way to show the real value of your service.
  • Engage them further to get their buy-in and feedback.
  • You should always go prepared for end-to-end sales. Don’t leave anything for the next time – it may never come.

Online communities

Always be respectful and polite in your conversations. However, you need to be “shameless in selling”.  Start by introducing your company, your product, target segment, unique selling point(s) and other insights.

Some popular communities are:

  • Indie Hackers
  • Hacker News
  • Startup schools
  • Reddit
  • Facebook groups
  • WhatsApp groups
  • Product Hunt
  • Blogs and social media
  • Pre-order model
  • Press and PR

These re-launch schemes help to discover how users react to your products and services. It also helps to validate if you are talking to the right users. The feedback collated should help in further product improvement iterations.

 The Communications strategy and team structure

Studies show that businesses fail mostly because of a dysfunctional team. It is therefore very important for every Startup to be very cautious while setting up teams.

Worthy to mention that the founder/MD must have a strong will, focus, business vision and continuously communicate this to the staff until they have all assimilated and imbibed the vision. It’s worthy to mention that the first task of the MD is to sell to the staff – sell vision to staff. Isn’t this interesting?

This following are the obvious reasons and advice on setting up a Startup team:

  1. Helps to carefully define the team roles, create only the very relevant roles needed by the business at that point in time, thereby reducing redundancy and conflict of job roles as well as duplication of roles.
  2. The team is the core of every business. Therefore, every Startup must hire individuals who can contribute to her success via innovation and creativity.
  3. There is also a need to balance different personalities and capabilities. This breeds diversity of ideas and culture and helps to propel the business forward and position it to be more competitive.

Similarly, if you are looking to generate leads, build brand awareness, or establish strategic partnerships, social media is the best platform to use. To put this in perspective, let’s look at some key statistics from these platforms.

Facebook has over 2billion people every month connecting with family and friends and searching for things that matter to them.[1]

LinkedIn can connect your brand with more than 450 million professionals across the globe.[2] 

Instagram also boasts of same healthy statistics with 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram, 200 million+ Instagrammers visit at least one business profile daily, 80% increase in time spent watching video on Instagram and 1/3 of the most viewed stories are from businesses.[3]

Table below shows a sequence of required activities to successfully sell your product and services on the social media sites.

It is also recommended for a Startup to practice Lean team structure for the first few years of operation to manage cost and optimize control.
For digital services, that does not require physical sales channels, inventory management or distribution logistics, it becomes a bit easier to manage the business and align priorities.
A review of the sales team structure adopted by a typical lean Startups would indicate that the team structure is aligned to a clearly identified and defined job roles. For example:
Content writer and Social media community manager

Such Startup would carry out over 95% of all the communications and engagements online. Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced content writer. It is recommended to always use an indirect sales approach in content writing, some of the features of this approach is detailed below:
Personal and corporate branding

Customers are always keen to know the people behind businesses they want to interact with. Create a good personal brand that will show you off as an expert in the field. You need people to believe and trust your ability to offer erudite advisory services on the subject matter.
Your business profile page has to be very professional and offer customers opportunity to know what products and services you are offering and how you conduct your businesses.
Building a followership

The next step is to build followership. To do this you just have to be very active and consistent. You need to post content at least once a day. A good mix of long articles, medium and short contents is recommended. Added to this is the engagement and interaction with the users on daily basis. You need to able to offer advice, help, answer topical questions as well as banter with the users in your group on any topic from social, economic, political etc. This is not the time to sell however, you can relate discussions to your product or give it a good mention once in a while. This way you begin to gently introduce your audience to your product offering.
Participate and interact

Learn to join the discussions happening on your social media platforms. Ensure you read all the comments, both comments on your post and comments from other posts and interact as much as possible. This clearly shows them that you are heavily involved with them and fosters trust and followership.
Introducing the product and services to the groups
As the group begin to grow and banter starts getting a bit boring, then it’s time to start introducing the product. This has to be in a fun way. Gamification ideas should help in this situation, as well as freebies. Encourage the users to try the product and ensure to give out a few random gift items to encourage them. Above all, be very courteous and gentle in your approach. Focus on communicating the product features and benefits to the users.


Now is time to sell

The users who are curious enough to trial the product should be ring fenced. They now form the next stage of engagement. The conversation here can progress to transactional but still courteous and gentle. Here you can sell!
Sell-Engage-Sell cycle

The cycle above is repeated over and over for new users. Try as much as possible to keep active platforms, engagement is the key to success here!


Creative director
A good graphics and video designer are needed. If you can get one that doubles for both tasks then you are lucky. The job here is beyond mere knowledge of Adobe Photoshop or other tools, you need a creative mind to translate your thoughts and ideas into nice media content for your users. Usually, big media houses dedicate a bunch of resources to this, but as a Startup, you would not be able to afford such luxury. Outsourcing this job is also a good model, however, since the job is repetitive and impromptu sometimes, it would be nice to have someone on a regular schedule. Would be nice to wake up in the night and update some images on your product page against a promotion the next morning! Who wouldn’t want to be able to do that!