by Surbhi Bhatia | Featured Contributor
Planning to start-up a new business but not sure how to market it and acquire your first customers? While the initial few months can be challenging to build customer trust, brand value and go operational, social media can be a great tool to help you jumpstart your initial customer acquisition journey.
Go Live on Social Media Even Before the Launch
I love to call this ‘Product-less Marketing’ because you start subtle marketing even before the launch and this can be a real game changer. Set up your Instagram handle and start doing ‘Teaser’ posts. Give hints on what your product/service is about and introduce a few guessing games to increase interaction and build suspense. Have a countdown to the launch to get people excited. Also, start following influencers from your TG (target group). Understand their behavior, interaction and engagement tools they use as well as start following their followers. By the time you reach your launch date, you would have a solid set of followers who would be following and eager for your launch
Be Close to your First Customers and Get Them to Share their Stories on Social Media
After your launch, personally interact with your first customers, and incentivise them with gift cards and freebies to share their social media stories through their personal handles. This will have a double impact- they would come back to buy from your store again with the gift card or share it with a friend or relative which would lead to a subsequent purchase. In addition, the stories shared by them will attract their followers, and can easily be reposted by you to share positive testimonials. You could also post these testimonials on your website and request customers to write a blog to review the product too!
Try Out Network Marketing
Many great companies have used this tried and tested technique to gain more customers. Simply reach out to your existing customers and ask them to refer 10 (or any number appropriate) more customers using a customized discount link or coupon code that would get them store credits for every conversion. Many businesses like Uber, Yelp, Avon etc. have acquired customers through such referrals. This will also let you know who your biggest cheerleaders are!
Get Some Influencers on Board
Start with Influencers in the range of 10k-30k followers on Facebook, Instagram and similar portals who are willing to do a post for you in return for a ‘barter collaboration’. This basically means that they will promote for your product for free on their feeds, do a story and a post listing out its features. This is a very popular method to gain eyeballs today and ‘Influencing’ is a full time job for many social media enthusiasts who have garnered thousands of followers through continuous engagement and activity.
Be Present Everywhere on Social Media Channels
Create your profile on every leading social media channel- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Youtube. However, ensure that the users on each of these platforms differ distinctly and even consume the information differently. Hence, make sure that you are adding unique, differentiated and relevant content on each of these channels.
Do SEO right from Day 1
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is critical to start ranking on search engines and increase the organic traffic to your website. While this will take painstaking efforts and time to develop, make sure you make your website SEO friendly from day 1. Use Alt-texts for all images, create good and useful content, market your website through blogs etc. Usually companies start focusing on it after a few months when they exhaust the initial marketing capital, but getting it right from day 1 can be a real game changer and show results when you need them!
Social Media Ads and Promotions
The best way to build brand awareness digitally is running sponsored ads on social media portals like Facebook. Since Facebook now owns Instagram, just one sponsored ad on Facebook can have your product placement across channels- Facebook Story, Facebook Feed, Facebook Messenger, Instagram posts and Instagram Stories. This can be a very useful brand building exercise introducing customers to your brand and getting them familiar as well as draw traffic to your website which could result in potential sale. One thing to be very careful while running these ads is to choose your audience carefully. Facebook allows you to not just choose the demographics, but also interests, and thus you should be aware of what interests your TG are likely to have to run a successful ads campaign.
When I started out my entrepreneurial journey at The Mom Store, we were able to acquire customers quickly through an aggressive presence on social media (both paid and organic) and our continuous efforts to provide a great experience to our customers. Even today, one year on, 50% of our website traffic comes through social media of which 70% is organic traffic leading from our posts about our products or our customer stories!