An article written by James Caan of The Guardian on how "startups needn't spend a fortune now that the internet provides a number of cost-efficient advertising strategies"
As a startup, you may have the best product or service available in the market but until people are aware of your business, you don't have a business. Advertising plays a key role in raising awareness and securing new and repeat customers.
One size won't fit all though. The way you choose to advertise your business will depend on your market, customers and product or service. Advertising should be specific and targeted. Do your research. Focus on the message that you are trying to communicate. Think about imagery – do you want a face behind your business?
Your advertising should bring together the collective message of your brand. Startups have the benefit of being free and unbound by the constraints faced by large corporates when it comes to advertising. Have some fun with how you choose to advertise your business and capture your target customers' attention. Think creatively. Once you have thought about the message that you want to promote, consider where you are going to place this message.
Some exceptional pieces of technology can help you to drum up publicity. With social media services such as Twitter and Facebook being used widely across the world, your business needs a presence on such sites. A well thought out status update or tweet can attract am lot of attention but yet involves absolutely no cost. There are so many options online to advertise for free, cash-strapped start-ups would be foolish not to take advantage of these.
Unibubble, a Start-Up Loans Company recipient did just this after two of the founders applied for a loan through their delivery partner, Rockstar Youth. Unibubble is a website set up by a group of students, Stefan
van der Fluit, Victor Vintu, Alex Dobinson, Dhwanit Zaveri and David Linderman, from the University of Warwick. It allows students to connect, buy and sell belongings and find out about daily news and events, making campus life more interactive. It also enables businesses to advertise directly to their desired student population.
To put Unibubble in the spotlight, the guys behind the company decided to capitalise on the viral trend of the infamous Harlem Shake. They created an event via Facebook; within four days, 1,000 people had clicked "attending". The students created Unibubble posters for participants to ensure the brand was captured on film. More than 1,500 people turned up. The event was posted on YouTube and has since been viewed by 80,000 people. The Unibubble site saw a 776% increase in traffic per day in the days following the event and an increase of 297% in registered users. The phenomenal results of this free advert highlight just how creatively and cheaply startups can advertise.
Spreading the word
Mobile apps can also be a fantastic way to communicate and advertise what you do as a business. I decided to create a business app and the volume of business that has been generated off the back of this app is fantastic.
Advertising through media publications such as local papers or websites, social media sites, industry-focused publications and online search engines such as Google can be an effective way to reach your target market. Trade shows offer another opportunity to get your business off the ground. You may also decide to personally advertise among other local businesses. I am a firm believer that networking is one of the most important things to do as an entrepreneur and that it should be the fabric of your business.
However, if you have the budget but feel lost when it comes to advertising, you could enlist a specialist agency to devise and implement an advertising campaign. If you decide on this route, do your homework and shop around to find the best deal. Make sure the agency completely understands your company, the direction you want to take it in and the results you expect.
It is really important to track the results and effectiveness of your advertising to avoid wasting money. If your company has a website, you can measure the success of your advertising campaign by finding out the number of visitors who have clicked through to your webpage. I suggest keeping a spreadsheet of your advertising costs and comparing figures with the enquires you have received through your campaign.
James Caan is chairman of the Start-Up Loans Company