By Matt Sprague (@sprague13)
As a thriving start up company out of Manchester, NH, TestSoup has owned it’s share of ups and downs. The idea of getting it correct the first time is not realistic but the focus has always been to learn from mistakes and strive to be better each day. This post is one in a series of our perception of the start up world. Agree with it or disagree with it. Either way is OK because we already disclosed that we are not always correct. All we ask is that you join the discussion. Please feel free to leave your thoughts below.
Target Market Acquisition on a Budget
Stretching every penny is important not only for a Startup but for any business looking to maximize profits or increase efficiency. Generating quarterly profits of $10 million, may sound incredible. Right? However, if there is a large amount of waste / inefficiency, you may be able to be making $20 million per quarter. That example is a bit drastic but it drives home my point. Don’t be satisfied with a car that looks shiny, make sure to look under the hood.
Marketing can be a major expense for a Startup and often, the available capital still needs to be focused on product development. Make it GREAT so that your marketing efforts are a lot easier. Check out my previous post on “Building Brand Loyalty“. So, do you just ignore marketing whilst working out all of the kinks? Obviously not, but, let’s be smart about what we do. There are three major areas that most will target:
1) Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Blogs, etc… There are so many to choose from. Come up with a strategy and stick to it. Be consistent and utilize social media to develop credibility in your industry. Don’t just sell your product but contribute to the knowledge base. Social Media is, most often, not a quick fix to drive customers to buy. It is a labor of love and will take time to nurture. Considering Start Ups are all about fast growth this may not seem like a wise investment in time but that it is it, time. It is free. It should not consume your time but thought should be given towards making it as effective as you can.
2) Partnerships – These are the sweet spots. Developing the appropriate relationships with customer facing organizations can be the quickest and easiest way of increasing revenue or, at least, increasing traffic. You still need to be responsible for conversion but getting customers to your site is huge. We have developed several partnerships with schools to get our links in front of students, simply as an additional resource. These links come at no cost to the partner organization and have demonstrated a continuous spike in site traffic, every time. Also, these external links help with SEO.
3) Paid Advertising / Media – This is an option for those that are a bit more advanced in their efficiencies and revenue generation. It is extremely important that you not pay for customers until your conversion rate is optimized with your current organically generated customers. It does not make sense to pay for traffic if you cannot prove that you can convert them. However, if you have developed your site and are ready to get over the next hump, this is a great way to drive more traffic to your site. Be sure to have done as much through SEO first.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all things to do on a budget. It is a few things that we consider at TestSoup. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, as I am sure other would, as well. Till next time.