I have been reading a few books on startups recently and particularly promoting the business on a tight budget. Some books break it down into daily, weekly, montly activities. Some talk about making connections, being helpful, and connecting with existing customers, starting new joint ventures with other sellers, using social media, doing 'in the world' launches. Can anyone give any more advice about how to create a promotion plan and how to prioritise activities? I am talking more about promotion as marketing.
It all starts with a basic marketing plan before you start mapping out your promotional efforts. Do you understand the market trends, your competition, who your target audience is, where you can reach them? Have you clearly positioned your product or service, know what the key messages are, the unique value it brings to the companies/people you're trying to get to buy it? What are your objectives? It could be revenue...could be users to help attract investment...could be overall awareness...could be many things.
THEN once those things are generally figured out, you need to create the strategies and tactics to achieve those objectives. Think of a pyramid. There are certain things you must do. That might be a web site, general brand identity, collateral, etc. Whatever is appropriate. THat's the bottom level of the pyramid. Then next level of the pyramid is the most basic, highest priority tactics that you think are most likely to help achieve your objectives. So let's say that signing up customers is #1 priority. That second level might be search engine marketing or advertising on certain sites or social marketing or content marketing...You have to assess, prioritize and try based on your beliefs and your budget.
Marketing is about testing and failing and testing and succeeding and measuring and expanding. You should try different efforts based on your budget. Measure the results - how much does it cost for you to get a customer from search engine marketing vs. social media marketing vs. content marketing vs. site advertising...You get the idea. Obviously those areas that have the lowest cost to get customers should be expanded and the ones with the highest reduced...but continue to try new types of tactics to see if you can tune your efforts.
Best of luck!
I disagree with Stephen P on a couple points.. but first the agreement:
Where I disagree is the scatter shot approach..
The best way to prioritize is the scatter shot approach. Right now you have no data. Since you haven't established what does work for you, try a bunch of different things, track them, and compare. That said, you may have competitors trying things too. Check out where they go, what they do, and see where your plans should be different/the same.
It comes down to the fact that this is an investment of your most limited resource (time) with your most easily measured resource (cash). And the first rule of investment is diversification.
If you're functioning on a limited marketing budget, the most important thing to do is choose an advertising medium that will resonate most with your audience, and has the ability to keep detailed analytics.
You don't want to waste your limited budget advertising in the wrong place. If you're an app company, an ad on a subway platform that doesn't receive cellular service might not be a great choice, likewise if you're a plumbing company you don't want to show ads on a developer forum website.
Social media advertising is great, but remember to use the appropriate medium for the appropriate audience. The Twitter-verse doesn't resonate well with the audience at one of my companies, but because we're a very visual product Pinterest drives a whack of traffic for us. Once again, the right product to the right people as quickly as possible is important when starting out.
Which brings us to the all important analytics. Whatever advertising you choose to do, keep your numbers as detailed as possible to find out which campaigns are successful and why. This is another reason I like digital ads since click through rates and conversions are easy to track, it's a little harder with billboards and newspapers (although you can always track traffic to custom urls). Good luck and have fun!
BTW, whatever you do, don't scatter shot across a bunch of advertising media and hope you find out which one works the best afterwards. A Twitter account that's infrequently updated gives the impression that your company is not in touch with the medium, and a LinkedIn profile that's empty makes it seem like an intern set it up and the company has no idea they have one. Drive market driven content to each one of those mediums and give the campaigns long enough to track results.