I’ll share some practical tips, tricks and tools I’ve used over the last few years that I’ve been marketing startups with The Basement Project in the United Arab Emirates.
Recently, I moderated an event at The Cribb called “How to market your startup on a small budget,” organized by TechVoize. Our panelists Kara Schoeffling and Nabil Al Sayed shared some good insights on marketing a startup and I was inspired to write a follow-up post, sharing some practical tips, tricks and tools I’ve used over the last few years that I’ve been marketing startups with The Basement Project.
Here we go.
Tip 1: Be active on niche social media platforms as well
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are a few of the more popular social networking platforms and it seems like a no-brainer for entrepreneurs to use these platforms to represent their businesses online. Depending on your product offering, I personally see merit in using some niche social networking/online platforms since the level of competition is lower and hence your chance of standing out is far better. For instance, I have noticed a few salon businesses use YaDig.com to interact with their customers online, even though some of them don’t even have dedicated websites for their salons. Even crowdfunding platforms like Zoomal and crowdinvesting platforms like Eureeca have become good marketing tools for startups who want to connect with specific audiences and raise awareness of their startups. There are also local social networking platforms like AreebaAreeba that have millions of users from the Middle East. (I am still trying to marketing on Areeba – if any of you have had any experience using this platform, comment below!)
Tip 2: Don’t jump onto the SEO bandwagon before looking at search demand
Search engines like Google can provide you with a lot of useful data that can help you make marketing decisions. With tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and SEO for FireFox Extension, you can gauge how many people are looking for something relevant to your business. As an entrepreneur, you can use this data in at least three different ways:
1. To validate the potential market size and (search) demand for a product idea even before you’ve started working on it. This provides you with a good starting point and you can conduct further experiments to get more clarity on the demand of your product.
2. To set goals. When you’re starting off, you don’t have proper benchmarks or any historical data. I typically use Keyword planner to aspire to achieve a marketing goal – for example, capturing 10% of the search demand traffic when marketing Product X.
3. To devise SEO/SEM strategies. If you’re writing blog posts to boost SEO or if you’re buying ads through Google AdWords, it is important to use the right keywords to get the best boost on every marketing dollar spent. The Keyword Tool provides this information, so you can make strategic and effective choices to get high on the search ladder.
Tip 3: Don’t run after numbers every time
In relation to Tip 2 above, when you’re selecting keywords, don’t always go for the most searched keyword. Why? Because it’s a price war out there and it is unlikely that your startup will standout unless you have a massive budget to play with.
As an example, I have used a very competitive keyword “hotels in Dubai” in the screenshot below. On average, 49,500 people look for hotels in Dubai from across the world. As a startup in the hospitality or related sector, it makes no sense to invest in the keyword and be part of the price war with corporates who have bigger budgets.
It’s better to choose unconventional keywords that fit with your product’s positioning. Even though fewer people will search for it, the competition will be less and hence the chance of you gaining traffic on your website, and hopefully closing a deal, will be higher. For the sake of an example, I have tried the keyword “modern hotels in Dubai,” which has significantly fewer search results: If this company can find other niche keywords like these, I can stand out further amongst smaller audiences.
This post was originally published on The Cribb‘s blog.