By Shawn Arora
Business objectives change all the time, and so do customers. It’s impossible to perfectly predict how customers will react to a product or feature, and this is why startup founders should ‘pivot’ their offerings based on this feedback. A good product manager moves quickly, understands what customers want, and tweaks things continually. Flexibility is key.
While pivoting business ideas is common knowledge in product development, very few businesses actually try to replicate this thinking in other areas of their business – particularly in marketing. But marketers are prone to the same issues that product managers face – it’s hard to know how customers will react before they see the marketing, and iterating quickly will get you to the promise land that much faster.
One of the biggest advantages of adopting a fluid, evolution-based approach to marketing is that it helps organizations save costs. Here’s how it works.
Start with Direct Selling: In the early days of a startup, you do not typically encounter a large volume of inbound customers from channels like SEO, word of mouth or brand visibility. The first step for businesses is to find beta testers and freemium users through direct selling of their products (think cold calls, cold emails, etc.). This not only helps businesses test the waters, but also help figure out the aspects of their product that works and those that don’t.
Invest In High ROI Campaigns: Once you’ve tested various marketing channels and your startup starts generating revenue, it is time to double down on marketing channels that have the highest ROI. Some examples for such campaigns include PPC ads and trade shows. The business can start small with reasonable budgets and must focus on a channel that can yield high returns. If Google Adwords is expensive for your industry, try alternate channels like Facebook advertising. Shopify has a fantastic guide for Facebook advertising that you can check out.
Benchmark Strategies For Future Course: By this time, you have effectively invested in at least two or three different marketing strategies that you expect to have high returns. After you have sufficiently tested each of these strategies, evaluate their performances and identify the top performers. The idea is to sustain and grow your investments in top performing strategies while dumping channels that customers do not show interest in.
Invest In High Resource Channels Only After Sufficient Traction: Marketing channels like reselling and affiliate programs sound attractive to startups that are desperate for marketing resources. In reality though, these channels can take up significant resources in just maintaining relationships. According to entrepreneur consultant Sam Ovens, investing in such channels is not a good idea in the early stages of your business. But when your business has generated traction and you can afford hiring specialist affiliates or resale managers, it is time to invest in building these strategies. But unlike the other strategies mentioned above, there is no way to gauge the performance of these channels unless they have been sufficiently tested.
Picking the right channel for your marketing operations can seem like trial and error and in many ways, it truly is. However, it is important to pick strategies that your business can afford at the particular stage of your business operations. While it is important to continue expanding your reach through newer channels of marketing, it is also important to measure the effectiveness of all your ongoing programs to identify what works and what doesn’t. This is the only way to build a strategy that can reach and attract customers to your product or service.
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