SMB Checklist for Marketing Innovations

by Melissa Burns

If you are a small business owner launching a new product you might have noticed that marketing and PR are changing faster than ever.

When my friend has created his first Mac os application 7 years ago, I volunteered to help him to market it. All I had to do in terms of marketing and pr was building a user-friendly website, sending emails and creating a social media account for online lead generation. Now, rather than simply creating a blog and social media page, I have to think about new ways to engage the audience better than the competitors do.

Even if you successfully launch your innovative product and business is growing well, you still have to think about new marketing and PR methods that will promote your product and help you to be ahead of the game. For this reason, entrepreneurs often search for the latest and most effective online marketing campaigns which are usually designed for big brands and high budgets. But if your startup budget is limited to every dollar, you should think about investing in the most effective marketing campaigns. If you are you seeking popular marketing methods for your SMB…

Here is a collection of  digital marketing tactics that can serve as a checklist for the new product launches.

Social Media Marketing

So how to use social media to successfully introduce your innovation? First of all, think about customer profiles. Who are those customers that visit your site and buy your products? Here are my personal tips for targeting the relevant audience:

1. Focus on social networks where customers spend their time. I have come to a conclusion that most of the customers spend their time on Facebook and Instagram, that’s why I have used free targeting tools to get more engagement on the social media pages.

2. Consider the targeting options for Facebook ads. Facebook ads can target your audience according to the demography and their interests. For example, for the remote assistance solution, I have targeted new to Mac users of a particular age.

3. Take Video Seriously. According to the video marketing volume statistics, 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week. For marketers, this may be the way to produce videos that contain both educational and entertaining content. In my case, I have posted branded online tutorials, video interviews with the customers and different educational webinars.

Building community from start often requires direct communication with customers and finding influencers who will promote not only your product but also the quality of your customer service. The community that you will grow eventually will make a good group of brand ambassadors who will spread the word and help your business grow.

Content Marketing

Whether it is Facebook, Instagram or a blog, quality content has always been in focus of all my marketing activities. Good piece of content I created 5 years ago is still working for me and generates leads for years. To make the content working for a long time I had to stick to these basic principles:

1. Write valuable posts. It is not completely true that your customers prefer shorter versions of your posts. If you give them valuable information, they will keep reading while your website will be ranked higher on Google.

2. Use Visual Content. According to the statistics, when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.

3. Use Content Marketing Tools. Such tools as Blog Topic Generator will give you an idea of titles and topics for your next blog post as well as help you create a regular editorial calendar.

Public Relations

Both new and established companies need continuing PR activities to keep interest to their products. If your company does not have a communications department, here are several tips for a low budget PR campaign.

Webinars provide direct contact and live interaction with your target group. If you need to tell about a new product or innovative solution to your audience as well as journalists, webinars are a creative way to do this. To invite the relevant media and clients to my friend’s first webinar, I have used an email finding tool to send the invitations and had a good coverage of local and foreign media.

Events. If you have enough budget for PR activities, you need to make a research of the local events and exhibitions that relate to your product. If you have an innovative software product, think about participating in such technology events as Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, or go to the less expensive one as Pepcom that is held around the world and gathers a large amount of target media.

Advanced Online Marketing Techniques

Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has 11 times higher ROI than traditional advertising. That’s why companies of all sizes prefer to find an influencer to effectively connect with their fans. In order to find and pitch suitable influencers, I usually follow these steps:

1. Find relevant hashtags. It takes time to create a list of hashtags suitable for the industry your business is in. The best way to do it is to look at the competitors and find social media leaders that have posts about your topic. Instead of pitching the top influencers, find those who have a small but loyal audience of 1000 to 50 000 followers. Think about pitching Youtube tech reviewers or getting in touch with the relevant journalist from Wired, Techcrunch, or VentureBeat. Do not be afraid of contacting large media even if you are just a startup. If you offer a truly innovative solution they will respond for sure.

2. Pitch the micro-influencers. Influencers are mostly business people, that’s why you should be specific and direct about your offer. The good old method is to send them some of your products for free so that it could get in their feed. A personal message that will explain your gift is a must, as long as you do not want to make them feel obliged.

3. Support them on social media. Be good friends on social media. Like, comment and share their posts. Try to mention them in your posts to increase their visibility and traffic.

Crowdfunding Platforms

If you are planning to launch an innovative product, you should utilize such crowdfunding platforms as Kickstarter Getting featured on such platforms will create a win-win situation as you can not only market your product to potential clients, but also promote it and receive great financial support.

New Amplification Platforms

Even if you create a high-quality content, no one will read it unless you deliver it to a qualified audience. Depending on the type of content you generate, you have to pay attention to different distribution platforms where you can put your content in front of your customers.

Here are several valuable amplification tools to boost your content online:

Reddit. Think about becoming a trusted member of this community and focus on topics relevant to your business. If you regularly post genuinely useful content with relevant links, answer questions and start discussions, there are more chances that other members will share your content.

Medium. This is a good place for a personal blog with good UX and extremely intuitive way of writing articles. Moreover, it gives an opportunity to comment next to individual paragraphs and highlight important sentences.

Product Hunt. If you are a technology company, Product Hunt is an ideal place to promote your product or service and get reviewed by top journalists. As soon as you get your product placed on Product Hunt, make sure that you have enough upvotes to get top rankings.

Remember that third party platforms are only as good as your community. That’s why, in order to generate content that will see a lot of people, you need to create your own community first.

Startups can crack an online marketing code if they form a plan and combine it with their online marketing efforts. Producing and distributing worthy content, partnering with micro-influencers, as well as communicating your brand through media channels are perfect marketing techniques that every small and medium company can use without spending much money.

image credit: checklist.com

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Melissa Burns earned a Journalism degree from Iowa State University. She is an entrepreneur and independent journalist who spends her time writing articles, overviews, and analyses about entrepreneurship, startups, business innovations and technology. She has also conducted workshops and provided consulting services for young, but promising startups. Follow her @melissaburns. 

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