It is hard to argue against the assertion that the first year or two is the most crucial period in the life of a start-up business. Statistics show that it is during these early stages that most start-ups fail – with a lack of customer awareness being one of the top contributing factors. For that reason, it is extremely important for start-ups to focus on marketing their product or services from the earliest stages.

Here are five tips that will help you to build awareness for your business.

Startup marketing

1. Move from marketing to engaging

There has been a shift in the way that businesses contact potential customers: instead of purely pushing messages to buyers of products and services, businesses are now actively engaging with their customers. Social media has been the major driver of this, allowing start-ups to directly engage with their customers by letting them interact with their online followers. Reaching out in this fashion can include directly commenting on customers’ personal social feeds, or sharing posts that your customers have made, which includes your product.

2. Using custom content to promote your business

Online content can have a very positive influence on the ability of your business to promote itself. Content marketing is a powerful way to explain what your business does to customers, and carries the additional benefit of being widely shared on social media. Whether you write the content yourself or get an agency to help you, posting original written content online or creating videos showcasing your products is an ideal way to build awareness.

3. Traditional marketing

Though you have numerous non-traditional marketing channels available to you, don’t ignore the traditional marketing channels – both in print and online. Depending on your market segment, you might find that some of your potential customers are heavy users of traditional media. If this is the case, weigh up what the costs are of advertising here against the size of the potential market. Traditional advertising channels are typically expensive to make use of, but they can prove critical to promoting your business.

Create marketing people love
photo credit: Michael Conway / Flickr

4. Use event-based marketing

Consumers and business owners all operate in a noisy environment with a huge amount of marketing efforts directed at them. One way of standing out amongst the masses is to promote your business at events. These can be events that you host yourself or ones organised by others – industry events, or events for hobbyists. Being an event sponsor is an excellent way of building awareness, and it has the benefit of making sure that your marketing funds are being spent directly with the target market.

5. Don’t operate in stealth mode too long

It is difficult to find the right time to go public about your start-up. Too early, and customers might not take you seriously. If your product or service is ridden with problems, a premature public outing can put customers off for life. On the flip side, don’t wait until your start-up is completely ready to launch as building awareness is inevitably a time-consuming process.