Today, there are thousands of options to invest money in online marketing through the Internet. The problem that we face as entrepreneurs is that we do not have the money specifically earmarked for this purpose in order to take the first steps. There are thousands of other priority needs to be met first.
As a consequence of this reality, what we need to do is focus on the strategies which generate new clients that show real interest and effectively use our service. In the last 5 years we have learnt several lessons that we would like to share in this article.
1. First of all: construction of a solution
As much as we would like to have thousands of clients to pay us for our work, we have to understand that we always start with one, the first one.
We can use any mechanism to attract the first client, no matter if it is through the social networks. It is essential that we, as an entrepreneurship, solve a real and concrete problem for the client.
Are we effectively solving a problem to our first client? The answer is very simple. If he is willing to pay for having it solved, then we are on the right track.
It’s not worth investing in marketing through the social media if we don’t have a product that is up to the circumstances. As a result, the first thing we have to do as founders of a start-up is to focus on the client and solve a problem for which he is willing to pay.
2. Customer knowledge: key differentiator
Now, once we develop our solution centered on the client, we will be able to know his profile, and accordingly, be able to reach more clients with the same characteristics through their social networks.
There are clients who prefer images and users who like extreme games, jewelry or accessories. On the other hand, there are clients who prefer videos, or those who play online or those who like to learn to cook through the web, etc.
Understanding in what network our potential clients are is very important. It might be on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on YouTube, on Pinterest, etc., or a perfect combination of the ones just mentioned.
The key issue is that if we understand our clients, we will see that the paradigm has changed in this new era of the social networks. It is not like it used to be, that one had to invest in traditional media (radio, TV, and the paper) to make the client notice you. It is about them now. In other words, it is about what they like and what they want to share.
All in all, we need to change the question “how much is it to be engaged in advertising?”, and instead, ask ourselves “what do clients like and why do they share it on their social networks?”
Specific examples are Nike and CitiBank that are, little by little, figuring how it works. They do not base solely and exclusively on marketing straightly investing their big annual budgets, but they do it creating communities and contributing to those with value. For example, Nike has created a community so that those who play golf are able to share their experiences (with videos, articles, reports, latest news, etc.) and organize tournaments, events, and different activities that, logically, will be later shared through the Internet.
Marketing in social networks is changing the world, and, as entrepreneurs, it is important that we understand it to be able to implement it later in our favor. The investment is not essential today, since what is vital now is what the client really wants and needs us to provide him with.
3. Transparent marketing in customer service
Lastly, in this change of paradigm, our action was to take our customer service center straight to the social networks, where the users can communicate directly with us in front of everyone and request what they need (from a suggestion to a complaint or a demand.)
In this way, they are the ones who have the microphone and the command, as it should always have been; and not just a phrase “the customer is always right.”
This has several concrete benefits which are so interesting that are worth mentioning:
When a defect is out there for all to see, it generates an importance and immediacy that makes us work internally quicker as entrepreneurs to correct it.
Other users see the answer in due time and form towards that client in question and it generates an interesting domino effect in our start-up’s favor. Being able to observe how an enterprise cares about and gives answers to its clients in a serious way is a key differentiator.
As it is public and transparent, we can use these testimonies freely in our own website. These testimonies help us to convince our future users that are “evaluating” the possibility of hiring our service to, at least, make them try it.
User in the offline world
We understood, as from day one, that since we do not deal with our user in the offline world because our entrepreneurship is carried out solely through the web, the first obstacles to overcome were distrust and insecurity. This mechanism was the key to our success. It is very easy today to go into a group or page on Facebook and know if it is real or if everything is set up/simulated.
We know that these items are not the same for all entrepreneurships; the rules of the game vary according to the sector. We also know that it is not easy to implement it successfully (there are many other priorities before this one.)
The truth is that this is a medium and long- term effort. It is not achieved over night. It is like in the offline world, everything takes time and dedication. The sum of little actions is what makes the difference.
Additionally, and in a direct relationship with this item and in our favor for the hard work as entrepreneurs, each “like” and each “share” in social networks is taken as a positive vote towards our entrepreneurship. This is correctly and each time read by search engines such as Bing, Google and Yahoo, which, in the future, will present our product in online searches organically a step higher than the ones of our competition.
Finally, let’s remember that this social media context grows day by day, that the potential is huge and that the rules of the game for our entrepreneurship and its online marketing strategy change rapidly. In conclusion, the sooner we start, the more we will be able to learn and the more advantages we will be able to take in order to raise our sales and revenues.