Sales and Marketing for Lean Startups

Million dollar marketing budgets are not something most startups have.

As a startup today, you have to be lean to survive. In an arena where your burn rate needs to be closely monitored until you raise a round, spending big bucks on promotions doesn’t make sense at all. Where traditional marketing tactics don’t work well, the way forward is ‘Growth Hacking‘.

While a lot of entrepreneurs wrote it off as another Silicon Valley buzzword (“disrupt”, we’re looking at you), growth hacking is vital for startups who are trying to get heard – especially in a world where big corporates own all mouth-pieces.

Growth hacking, thus means, finding creative ways to cut through the noise, and using extreme innovation to become visible overnight: we’re here to help you with that! Here are some tips to follow:

1. Create content to attract your audience:

Don’t underestimate the power of inbound marketing (and thus, your content) in lead generation. Whether B2B or B2C, content is still king.

As per a recent research, blogging consistently has resulted in B2B marketers generating 67% more leads than marketers who do not.

In fact, here are some interesting statistics from a Hubspot study that might convince you further:

  • Companies that blog just 1 to 2 times a month generate 70% more leads than companies without blogs.
  • Companies that increase blogging from 3 to 5 posts per month to 6 to 8 posts double the number of leads they bring in.
  • Companies that blog 15 times or more per month get five times more traffic than companies who don’t blog at all.

What about the kind of content you should write. In that case, read our previous article on writing the right content.

2. Build your social media presence:

Beyond improving your SEO, social media is free advertising for your company.

Various startups operating on a peanut budget used social media to successfully grow their companies overnight.

In fact, there are companies whose reason of existence is social media. A case in fact would be the wonderful page called Humans of New York. Brandon Stanton, on the lookout to publish his photography book, got rejected by just about every publisher in town. The idea was simple: he took photos of people he met walking on the streets, and started putting them on his Facebook page. But it wasn’t just a picture that he posted. It was the story behind those pictures.

humans-of-new-york-post-example

Sweet, simple, poignant, tender, and funny. No wonder people loved it.

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The one-man FB page today is #1 New York Times bestselling photography book, and the page has over 4 million fans.

Social media is a great way to remove the barrier between you and your audience and democratizing marketing.

3. Manage Your Leads:

Because of the lack of aforementioned resource constraint, many startups don’t have a system to sort, rank, and follow up with leads. It’s the biggest mistake that a company can make.

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system like Streak and Pipedrive are available for as low as $7/month per user, and makes sure to automate workflow and that no lead falls through the cracks, losing them valuable business.

It’s important to follow up with your prospective buyers over periodic intervals, in case they are closer now in their buying journey.

4. Don’t do schmoozy “pitching”, just talk

Startup founders often start up because of the love for doing something different, and creating something new. Most of them do not identify by the schmoozy salesperson knocking on your door, trying to get you to invest in the new scheme. In fact, especially in high tech companies, they even subscribe to the thought process that if it’s good enough, people will find it themselves. It can be considered reasonable because a lot of the tech giants today, like Amazon and Google, became tech mammoths without spending too much on advertising.

However, this is the wrong way to go. A startup needs to have a clear sales process defined. You should know who your buyer is, and what is his purchase behaviour.

Sales does not mean bombarding people with incomprehensible sales pitches, but truly making him aware of his problem, and how you can solve it.

Have an engaging, mutual beneficial conversation with people who you think can benefit from your product with a clear, simple pitch through a standard, effective presentation.

To conclude, it can be said that while staying lean is important in a startup, it should not happen at the cost of customers. Entrepreneurs should think long-term when it comes to marketing and sales.

It’s not about “tricking” someone to get them pay for it one time, but “giving a solution” to your customers with the idea of setting up a long-term engagement.

Show the consumer that you’re invested in their progress, and you care about them beyond the transaction point – you want to be a helpful presence to contribute to their future success.

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Shriya Garg

A book-lover with dual degrees in finance, Shriya has created (and abandoned) eight blogs, started her first company at 12, published two books (first one at 16), edited dozens for others, and worked with five interesting startups in her career so far. Prior to joining ContentNinja, she worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and has a deferred admit from ISB, Hyderabad. She is an SLP Fellow and a Quora Top Writer. When she’s not fielding client calls, she can be found cleaning cat hair from her clothes.

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