Starting a company is akin to fighting a war, with victories in a lot of little battles leading to the overall goal (i.e., sale, merger or IPO). One thing that is often overlooked – but extremely important – in today’s cluttered and noisy landscape is a company’s digital advertising strategy. A lot of people say, “Oh, we’ll figure that out later once we tap into all the free channels such as blogging and cross promotion.” But they couldn’t be more wrong. With even a limited budget, you can quickly create brand loyalty and help accelerate your growth.
The need for a retargeting service
Every startup needs to use a retargeting service, which directs ads to people who have already visited the company’s website. Retargeting can help keep a fledgling brand top of mind, can be direct response-driven so it turns into a revenue driver, and – most of all – can be done on a limited budget. When your company launches, not many people will go to your website (at least they didn’t to mine). As a result your audience size is actually quite small. Targeting these precious first few visitors can turn them into customers and – even more importantly – brand advocates.
Search marketing must be an important part of digital budget
The other key piece to a startup’s digital budget should be search marketing campaigns. You don’t have to go crazy, but if you gear your advertisements to drive sales instead of just treating them as branding vehicles, search marketing can pay for itself many times over. Creating brand exposure through digital advertising (especially paid sources) is the quickest way to jumpstart your growth. Word of mouth helps, but digital drives word of mouth as well. We actually started doing our own marketing a bit too late (that’s one thing I’d change if I had it to do all over again). That’s kind of funny to hear considering we’re an advertising technology company. But we should have started on Day One instead of a month or two into our launch (we were really focused on building a great product and nothing else).
Helping others learn from your mistakes is important
I mentor at GrowLabs in Vancouver as well as Accelerated Ventures out of Baylor University. When I give advice, it almost always ties back to a mistake that I or a friend made. I am a big proponent of learning through doing, and we learn through our mistakes. If you can help others and share these lessons as a community, everyone comes out better for it (as long as you don’t directly compete against those you’re helping, of course).
Part of helping a startup is giving information
Another part is giving the startup a push. I find most young startups are on a great path, but a bit lost or not willing to take the correct plunge. You can sit in an office and work all day long, but if you’re not working smart, someone else will get ahead of you. By helping startups grow, I’m helping to make our little ecosystem a bit better. If there are more successful startups, everyone wins.