How to market a start-up business

You could have the most amazing product in the world but if no-one knows about it you won’t get anywhere. Marketing is an integral part of your strategy, there is a whole section on setting up a website but that isn’t all your marketing covered. You need to look at the quality of your marketing and marketing materials, where you market yourself as well as Public Relations (PR). So let’s start with PR.

Public Relations

(PR) means getting your business known about by the public and/or the press in the way you want, by managing your business’ image and the information you give out about it. It also includes reputation management – how to deal positively with a crisis and handle any negative PR or coverage. PR differs from advertising because your audience usually receives the message you send out about your business through a third party – such as a magazine you’ve sent a press release writing an article that includes a positive mention of your latest product. PR is crucial for engaging, informing and building a relationship with target customers, and also with your staff, suppliers and other companies you do business with. As well as being aligned with your brand values, good PR tailors information given out about a business to perfectly appeal to that business’ target customers. It uses the language, messages and ideas that they respond most positively to.

If you’re running a business that’s going to need more or less on-going PR and publicity for as long as you can foresee, it may be well worth bringing in an employee specifically to handle PR. Someone working in-house will also be fully associated with all aspects of your business and brand so will ensure messages going out to the public are always consistent, on-brand and highlighting the best details of whatever it is you’re telling the public about. They are also likely to be much more dedicated to any PR campaigns you do and to convey passion for your business much better than a PR agency handling lots of different companies and not as familiar with your business. Here are several ways to conduct PR for your business:

  • Sending out press releases
  • Publicity stunts
  • Word of mouth – have you heard……
  • Charity work
  • Social media
  • Sponsorship
  • Networking and being seen
  • Public speaking

Social Media

Businesses are increasingly waking up to the fact that social media is now a must have, and that its many uses are becoming invaluable to building a business and strengthening relationships with associates and customers. Whether it be a channel of communication between a brand and its customers, a marketing tool for your latest products or services, or a tool to build sales leads, social media is a must have.

There are some companies that are dedicated to helping other companies with their social media, from scheduling their tweets to measuring their analytics. Most small companies try to do it themselves which is most cost effective but there are some things to take into consideration:

  • Examine the time at which people are likely to be looking at their social media when scheduling output. Well timed messages are likely to get more response and feedback.
  • Ensure you are linking from one source (ie, Twitter) to another (ie Facebook) and via your website. This will ensure that you are engaging your fans across as many channels as possible and driving traffic to your website, which should be one of your primary goals.
  • A strong social media campaign will be the right mix of timely and relevant messages. People search social media for news and businesses that are relevant to them but it is crucial to avoid using too many direct sales posts.
  • It is also essential to avoid messages being too infrequent and patchy in terms of issuing content.

Blogging is one of the quickest and easiest ways to update your online image, improve SEO and it’s free and easy – though does take a bit commitment. Blogging is also a great way to get the message across and promote your business. You can use more words than with Facebook or Twitter and you can include great content that links directly back to your website that can enhance the SEO. Use a site such as Blogger or WordPress to create your blog then either link it to your website or embed the blog within it.

Blogs are generally informal, and about 200 – 500 words long per entry and you should be aiming to blog at least once a fortnight or more. Use humor and make it personal but avoid being offensive and don’t say anything that you wouldn’t to a business contact. Try to include images and remember to keep on-message – the way you write and the content you produce should be entirely coherent with your brand. As with other types of social media, readers aren’t going to be interested in your day-to-day trivia – saying you’ve been to a big awards ceremony and you were nominated is fine, saying you’ve been out for your weekly team lunch is definitely not. Similarly, don’t just harp on about your own products – you should provide insight into wider sector issues. Content should be informative, funny, entertaining and insightful about its industry in equal measure, the tone should be consistent, it needs mixed media, and it should feel personal.

Cross-promote with other blogs to draw more traffic to your blog. Find non-competitive blogs with a similar audience to yours and offer to link to theirs if they link to yours. This ups both your SEO rankings and audiences.

If you’re using Twitter, tweet every blog you produce and finally, try to design your homepage so that the most recent blog is displayed on it – this keeps the content fresh and Google likes it so will rank you higher.


The value of networking cannot be overstated when you’re starting a business. It means building up a network of people. That might mean just having someone’s business card, or it might mean speaking with them twice a day on a conference call. It will depend on the contact and the nature of your business relationship. It’s easier to find the right service, investors, suppliers, partners, PR advisors, and everyone and everything else you need for your business when you know the people you’re dealing with or they’ve come personally recommended.

There are always networking events going on. Look online, get email subscriptions to relevant online newsletters, speak to friends and colleagues because they may be able to take you along to theirs. The potential to network online is now greater than ever, you can even use Facebook and Twitter to get you started. Everyone you meet is a potential business contact! The more people you meet and tell about your business, the bigger your network will be and the more business opportunities you will have. Carry business cards around with you everywhere, and practice describing your business succinctly. Don’t be overbearing or annoying, but gauge when someone’s interested and discuss how you could help each other.

Networking is a great skill to have but if you’re not confident either put yourself out there and go for it or work with someone who is a great networker to help you out. They may even teach you a thing or two.




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