As Amazon and Amazon-similar businesses continue to gobble up entire industries, bootstrapped technology startups need to build their brand.
The problem, however, is that most founders see their brand as their logo, fonts, color chart, and brand guide. In a digitally-transformed world, your brand is everything that anyone says about your company when you're not in the room/conversation.
1) Educate and Build Trust with Customers (and Prospects)
Tech startups can no longer afford to put their brands' future in the hands of intermediaries. It's critical that all marketing focuses on educating and building trust with customers (and prospects) that matter most. Social media is a part of this, but social needs to be prioritized into the most relevant channels for a company's most critical economic stakeholders/buyer personas.
2) Learn the Basics of Digital Marketing
Everyone needs to be creating content that answers the questions of their most important buyers and potential buyers. If you're good on camera, record videos. (No need to use lack-of-gear or tech skills as an excuse. Anyone with an iPhone or Android phone purchased in the past three years has more than enough to get started.)
Not comfortable on camera? Start a podcast/audio. Can't stand the phone of being on camera or mic? Write blog posts. (Don't punt these to freelancers either.
f you have a shoestring budget, you won't be able to afford the person/people you need to outsource confidently. Instead, a few hours learning how to DIY content creation.)
3) Biggest Digital Marketing Mistakes That Bootstrapped Technology Startups Make
Founders love to talk about themselves and how wonderful they are.
The problem? No one besides your mom cares. Or maybe your employees.
If you sell to CFOs of enterprise insurance companies, create content that answers their questions. If you sell to owners of small manufacturing companies, create content that will be interesting to them.
Key point: People care about their problems and their goals, not yours. The faster your marketing strategy adopts this, the more successful you'll be.
4) Go All-In on Digital Marketing and Digital Transformation
Everyone is all-in on digital marketing and digital transformation. Buyer preferences that start on the consumer side (B2C) always find their way into the business side (B2B) as well. If you thought video consumption (YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, etc.) was on fire pre-pandemic, we've experienced a decade of digital transformation in the past year.
If your company sells to other businesses, you need a video and webinar strategy just to have a chance at being competitive. Your content needs to do most of the heavy lifting in your sales process because your prospects prefer to do most of their research before they're open to having a sales conversation.
5) Ask Others to Help Spread the Word About Your Startup
Word of mouth is more important than ever, but it's very much digital word of mouth.
Do great work for your customers and invite them to spread the word. (A certain kind of persona loves to write reviews. Most people heavily depend on consuming other peoples' reviews as part of our research/buying process.)
Co-marketing is also another creative low-/no-budget way to spread the word.
Own a professional services business? Start a podcast where you interview your customers and other similar kinds of business owners. Many will be so flattered that they'll be happy to share the podcast episode you recorded with them on social media. Some will even blog about it and include the content in their own email marketing.
6) Don't Waste Resources Paying Off Old-School Gatekeepers
I'm not a big fan of spray-and-pray interruption marketing, as especially in times like now, it can come across as tone-deaf.
I also don't believe that bootstrapped tech startups should be worried about paying gatekeepers to rent their eyeballs until they've taken time to build out their own digital marketing footprint.
Now more than ever, founders need to have more control over their company's destiny by owning their own messaging and reach, rather than being at the mercy of intermediaries.
(Paid social and paid search can be incredibly valuable to small businesses IF they take the time to build the right foundation first.)
Are you part of a bootstrapped tech startup? What's in your digital marketing playbook? Let me know in the comments below.