For a startup, exposure is everything. If you can get your brand and its products in front of the right people, you exponentially increase your odds for success. But therein lies the challenge. How do you get exposure on a limited budget and few connections?
The Challenge of Standing Out
You could say established brands have it easy. Their own internal brands would probably argue otherwise, but it’s a valid thought. When a company like Target, Chevrolet, Apple, or eBay releases a new product or service, they can be confident that they’ll be able to reach millions with their marketing messages and promotional campaigns. Why? Because they already have the brand name, clout, and audience. Not every product they release will be a huge success, but they do have the opportunity. A product from a Fortune 100 brand will never fail for lack of exposure. It can fail for plenty of other reasons, but it won’t be because of a lack of reach.
The story is much different for startups. The reach isn’t automatically there - the brand loyalty doesn’t come baked in. Everything is fresh, new, and unprecedented. Not only does a new venture have to develop a compelling product or service, but they also have to garner the necessary exposure to engage with the right audience and earn the right to convert. They have to push customers through the entire sales funnel - all the way from awareness to purchase.
The challenge of exposure is even more difficult when you have competition that’s already established. And if it’s an existing brand with years of customer loyalty, it can feel nearly impossible to get the visibility you need to generate anything resembling noteworthy results. But there are ways...and we’re going to hold your hand and show you how.
But First Things First...
In this article, we’re going to dig into some of the specific ways in which you can generate visibility and buzz. But before we get there, it’s imperative that we touch on two cornerstone pieces that help to establish a strong foundation for future growth. Without them, no amount of clever promotions or growth hacking will work.
The first foundational cornerstone is to understand who your startup is at a core identity level. Think of your brand as a person with human traits. Is your brand young, hip, and energetic? Or is it wise, experienced, and diplomatic? What is your brand’s back story? Where is it going? What are its strengths? What are its challenges?
No question should be left unanswered. Even the undesirable aspects must be addressed. (You don’t have to share these with your audience, but it is important that your internal team has a clear understanding of how all the puzzle pieces fit together.) Any gaps that exist in your understanding of your brand will appear as gaping holes in your marketing.
The second foundational cornerstone is to understand who your ideal audience is. While it’s possible that you have just one ideal prospect, you probably have somewhere between two and five. Each group has slightly different wants, needs, desires, and expectations. So, while they may purchase the same products, their motivation for doing so is unique to their situational factors.
In order to be successful with either of these foundational cornerstones, you have to get granular. Generalities will not suffice. You need to zoom in and study the details, otherwise your marketing and promotional tactics will come across as being flat and lifeless. And if you put in this hard work up front, you’ll have every chance to be successful with a well-planned and executed launch campaign.
4 Ways to Generate Visibility and Buzz
Armed with a clear understanding of your brand’s identity and who your ideal prospects are, you can begin thinking about getting your new products and services in front of your audience. Here are powerful tactics that are designed to help emerging brands generate the visibility and buzz they need to stand a chance of being successful. Filter them through your brand’s approach and look for ways to grow with minimal friction and maximum results.
1. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging has always been one of the more valuable methods of generating exposure for your brand and reaching people outside of your own sphere of influence. As the name implies, guest blogging (or guest posting) is the strategy of writing content and publishing it on a website other than your own.
“The main purpose of guest blogging is to get traffic to your website, boost your domain authority, increase brand visibility, and establish relationships with your peers in the industry,” marketer Christopher Vasilis writes for Woorise. “Guest blogging for high authority domains guaranteed that your business will get a credibility boost.”
The key to successful guest blogging is to write for blogs that intersect and overlap with your audience. In other words, you don’t just want the SEO “link juice.” You also want the visibility and exposure to human readers.
If these readers are in your target audience, it paves the way for the possibility of immediate and/or future conversions.
To get started with guest blogging, make a list of possible websites where you could be featured. (This should include a mixture of websites that overtly promote guest blogging platforms, as well as ones that you think would be good candidates for accepting guest blog posts.) Then you’ll have to network, leverage connections, and work your way into the right opportunities. From there, it’s about consistently pumping out fresh, high-value content that benefits the guest blogging website, as well as your own brand. (If you lack the time to write these posts yourself, hire a freelance copywriter to handle it for you.)
If you don’t have influence in your niche, the next best tactic is to partner with someone who does. And in today’s age of social media, this means aligning your brand with an influencer.
Influencer marketing is basically the act of leveraging people who have pre-existing clout with your target market and paying them to give you exposure. And depending on the type of products you’re selling, there are a few different approaches you can take.
BabbleBoxx is one unique idea that many startups and established brands have found useful. They create bespoke, signature boxes with thematic, brand-dedicated experiences that are distributed to pre-selected influencers. These influencers are then free to create high-value content featuring your products. In turn, their audiences are exposed to your products and organic buzz ensues.
When you’re a tiny startup with no connections or visibility, you aren’t going to be featured in leading blogs, newspapers, podcasts, or YouTube channels. Even if you did something newsworthy, there’s no guarantee that anyone would pick it up. But there’s another way – and it’s called newsjacking.
Newsjacking is a powerful strategy by which you leverage currently popular news stories to build attention for your own brand. In other words, you find something that everyone is already talking about and look for a way to add your brand into the mix.
Dunkin’ Donuts provided a powerful example of this during the viral 2016 debate about whether this dress was black and blue or gold and white. To get in on the party, they created two new doughnuts (one with black and blue icing and the other with gold and white icing) and ran several social media posts around it. It was a huge success and quickly propelled Dunkin’ to the top of the news cycle.
Always be looking for creative ways to align your own brand with new and evolving stories. Just make sure you’re prepared to act swiftly!
4. Free Product Releases
People love free stuff. It doesn’t matter if you’re giving away free t-shirts at a basketball game or a free car as part of a massive marketing campaign - people will respond. So, what better way to generate buzz for your startup than by giving away free products at your release or launch event? Better yet, use social media.
As long as the free giveaway is something that people value and would otherwise pay for, you shouldn’t have much trouble generating results. The key is to establish parameters whereby you encourage virality. Require people to follow your accounts, share your content, tag other people, etc. You want as many eyeballs and clicks as possible. This is the key to building momentum that lasts beyond the giveaway.
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