Start-ups rely on self-promotion; and with the funds they tend to have at hand (often not too hefty), cheap means effective. Where large corporations have all the necessary funds for all types of paid marketing, you have to rely on more affordable, but often more effective strategies. The key here is doing an awesome job without being annoying, because this will inevitably turn your prospects away, but there’s a lot more to it.
There is no shame in self-promotion
First of all, let’s be clear: whatever you may have learned or may think about typical advertisements goes out of the window instantly. You are not doing this just so that you can earn money, and you are not trying to trick anybody into helping you. What you are doing is showing people how awesome you are – you are helping them help you! Think of it this way: if you don’t tell them about your product, they’ll be missing out.
It is essential that you approach the marketing of your business absolutely shamelessly; you need to be more than adamant about getting your product/service out there: you need to be honest! You need to believe that whatever you’re pitching deserves to be pitched, and the only way to achieve this is to do your best, so that it actually does.
Set your priorities
I know you have already got your priorities set – you are trying to pitch something awesome that people are going to love. Well, don’t keep these priorities a secret! If you approach your pitch by starting with the ‘What?’, you’ll be just another one in the sea of competition. Since starting with the ‘How?’ of your product/service doesn’t really make any sense, you should always start with the ‘Why?’. Think that this revolutionary advice? Not really, it’s already out there and it has been for quite a while now.
Simon Sinek, a world-renowned entrepreneur and public speaker, said this during one of his most popular TED talks, and he couldn’t be more right. However, when you look at Apple, it’s actually exactly what they were doing back in the day, and why they are so popular right now – they are not without competition (far from it), they aren’t even the best on the market; but what they are is – the most successful.
This should be the very foundation of all of your marketing strategies.
Don’t think, know!
It’s all about the attitude, and if you aren’t certain about your product, you’d have to be pretty good at deceiving the masses to push your product/service out there. Even if you do manage to do this, you won’t earn too much, and people will quickly brand you as a liar, and then you can say bye-bye to your entrepreneurship career.
Instead of being dishonest, you need to be as open as possible, and if you think that whatever you might be pitching to the masses is good, go back to the drawing board and work like crazy, until you know that it’s great.
Whether you’re trying to market your product/service to your prospects, investors, or friends and family, you need to believe in your legacy.
Customers are everything
Yep, especially when they’ve already paid up; self-promotion doesn’t stop here, oh no, this is where it enters the second stage; something I like to refer to as ‘second act self-promotion’. Every seasoned entrepreneur knows how valuable word-of-mouth marketing is, and your customers are the ones who are going to spread that word, completely free of charge, without your even having to do a single thing! Well, unless you’re counting treating the customer right as doing something, because this should go without saying.
Customer experience is absolutely vital! Treat them with respect, offer them loyalty discounts or cool promotional items: giving them USBs, pens, notebooks, etc. is a good way of saying ‘thank you for buying my product’ and simultaneously advertising it everywhere. Be creative.
Sure, social media advertising is useful, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about free platforms that can go a step further – put you in direct contact with your community; that is, show the human side to your company and help you learn how to become a better professional.
Hacker News is an awesome platform for targeting tech people and promoting your product/service.
Designer News is an excellent place that can help you pitch to designers.
Betalist features a ton of successful startups; the experience you can come to contact with here is invaluable.
Reddit is a fantastic tool for getting quick feedback and joining in on trending discussions from all around the internet. Reddit-Side Projects focuses on new start-ups.
There are many of these around, such as Erli Bird, SignUpFirst and AngelList that are here to help you with your particular promotional needs.
Realizing that self-promotion should be handled shamelessly is the first step towards quality brand building. Keep your priorities in check, believe in whatever you might be pitching, cherish your customers, especially after the purchase and use the power of the internet to get feedback, promote your business and learn from other people’s experience.