Category Archives: social

Marketing for start-ups on a shoestring

Today I had the pleasure to present at Launch48 about how to market your start-up on a tight budget (or no budget). If you couldn’t make it you can view my slides here: ‘Startup Marketing on a shoestring‘.

Some of the key points for start-ups to remember when they’re looking at marketing their business and their product are:

  • Marketing is about understanding your users and building a relationship and an emotional connection with them. Find out what interests your target audience, what they read, who influences them and what problems they have that you can help to solve.
  • Get the basics, including your branding, user journey and metrics, right before you start outreach.
  • Focus on your key differentiators and make your messaging clear and engaging. Tell a story with your messaging and people will be able to tell their friends and share your product easily.
  • Have real users review the user journey and see where the friction is and improve it to make it simpler.
  • Engage the influencers and ask for their input. If the influencer can feel ownership over your idea and your success then they’ll be more motivated to help you.
  • Create content that is interesting and useful to your target audience, e.g. video, RSS, blogs, podcasts. Don’t try to sell, focus on building a relationship and providing real value to your audience. Re-use this content everywhere you can – Twitter, Facebook, your Blog, newsletter to current user and so on.
  • Build viral into your product’s DNA from the beginning and make it simple for people to share.
  • Share your content and views on social media, including Twitter and Facebook, and if the content is useful and interesting you’ll benefit from the network effect and gain new fans, followers and ultimately users.
  • Email is a powerful channel so don’t ignore it. Think about not only regular promotional emails but also emails to guide users through key points in their journey with your product.
  • Build a community and give users a voice using tools like UserVoice and Zendesk. Listen to your customers wherever they may be, on forums, Twitter or in blog comments, and engage and respond to them.
  • Test, Learn and Iterate – Embrace AB Testing and don’t be afraid to try things with no budget or a small budget, if they work improve and invest in them and if they don’t find out early and stop wasting time and resource on it.
  • Be passionate about your brand – others will follow.

  • Do the right thing. Treat customers as you would like to be treated yourself and they will thank you for it.

Launch48 brings people together for a weekend to build a web app. Last year Vouchacha and ILikeUCoz came out of it and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of the event this year. Good Luck everyone and have fun!

Social Media Marketing’s growing importance

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about the roles new online channels will play, and indeed much derision from some as to the impact Twitter can have as a marketing channel. The release of a number of reports and survey results help to show the growing importance of these social media channels for marketers going forward.

A survey of 18,000 marketers at Online Marketing Blog found that the top ten digital marketing tactics which marketers are planning to use in 2009 are:

  • Blogging (34%)
  • Twitter (29%)
  • Search engine optimization (28%)
  • Social network participation (Facebook, LinkedIn) (26%)
  • Email marketing (17%)
  • Social media monitoring & outreach (17%)
  • Pay per click (14%)
  • Blogger relations (12%)
  • Video marketing (10%)
  • Social media advertising (7%)

Out of the top ten, six of these can be considered to be social marketing.

At present the top sectors currently engaging in social media include: retail, consumer goods & services, high tech, media & entertainment, automotive, financial services, Government and Travel. This list closely mirrors the top spenders on online advertising at present and it’s no wonder as Hitwise numbers show that social media is now driving 7.1% of traffic to e-tailers up from 5.2% in 2008. Hitwise figures also show that the importance of paid search, though still vital for online retailers has fallen from 27.8% in 2008 to 22.5% in March 2009.

Therefore it comes as no surprise to see that of the Top 500 e-tailers 56.8% have a presence on the social networking site, 41.4% or are on, 28.6%, are on and 20.4% are using, according to Internet Retailer.

These reports help to substantiate the importance of social media marketing and demonstrate that we’re likely to see advertising budgets moving away from traditional online channels in 2009 and towards social media marketing.

The growth of social media marketing is an opportunity for many but for those companies who are not ready for social media marketing and those who aren’t currently planning for it this should serve as a timely wake-up call. Brands need to begin testing to see how they can best use social media to develop ongoing communications with customers and find ways to integrate social media into their current marketing mix.

Companies who aren’t planning to use social media as part of their marketing could find themselves playing an expensive game of catch-up.

Skittles becomes social

Skittles have launched a new website, well in fact they’ve launched a lot of links to various web 2.0 and social media sites where their customers are talking about them. The homepage shows various chatter about Skittles on Twitter Search and other navigation links point to their Facebook page, YouTube for Video and Wikipedia for product information.

Skittles parent company, Mars, have essentially handed over control of their homepage to Twitter users, and with updates in real time you can see both positive and negative comments posted. It’s a big step away from the traditional use of websites in FMCG for delivering controlled messages to consumers but a very interesting experiment in social media. The novelty of this move will no doubt generate a lot of press coverage and exposure in blogs and social media for Skittles.

The website launch has certainly got people talking, the Twittersphere is abuzz today with mentions of Skittles (and indeed some nostalgic purchasing of Skittles it would seem). However as the buzz around this launch settles I wonder if people will still be talking about Skittles on Twitter. In fact the design of the website seems to suggest that a more traditional homepage may be waiting in the wings, with separate links for Home and Chatter both pointing to Twitter Search at the moment.

Skittles have taken a brave step into this new world and I’m sure we’ll see many companies follow with a more gentle integration of social media into their online presence in the coming months.