5 Lean Marketing Strategy Hacks for Startups

September 26, 2016 Updated: September 26, 2016
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Startup marketing often requires delivering the impossible. Especially under the immense pressure to demonstrate meteoric growth to investors, the lion’s share of resources that are usually dedicated to product development. Consequently, leaving marketers understaffed and unable to invest in conventional methods of user acquisition.

If you can’t afford to spend aggressively on marketing to achieve growth, what are you to do? The answer is to keep your marketing lean.

Go for the tactics that deliver the biggest punch for the least amount spent. Ignore the tactics that take months or years to bear fruit. Make changes to your marketing operations often, iterating your strategy to find the best growth value.

So what do some of the top lean marketing strategy hacks look like? Here are five ideas worth exploring.

Apply for Free Business Listings

SmallBizTrends has a great list of top free business listing sites. The advantages? It can generate new leads with virtually no cost to you—and it’s good for SEO value. Since first-page Google result websites get 91.5 percent of the traffic on that keyword search, driving up your SEO value for free is always a good hack.

Since not all listings are created equal there are listings you don’t want to be associated with. So make sure to vet them carefully and meticulously. Take a look at Open Site Explorer a solution that helps you evaluate the listings and discover potentially damaging links.

Know Your Audience

Stewart Butterfield, CEO and founder of Slack, says about the early days of product launching:

“Sometimes you will get feedback that is contrary to your vision,” Butterfield explains. “You may be trying to drive in a particular direction that people don’t necessarily understand at first. In our case, we knew the users we had in mind for this product. So in the early days, we looked at our customers, really just testers at that point, and we paid extra attention to the teams we knew should be using Slack successfully.”

Learn from your audience, even when it contrasts with your vision. Knowing your audience is also key to social selling success.

To be more effective when nurturing your leads via social media, use a program like Leadfeeder, which integrates with your CRM and your Analytics data to provide you complete logs of each visitor’s page views. But the true power of Leadfeeder is the way it taps into IP address databases to reveal the companies that likely employ your audience. This information is extremely helpful, not only for informing strategy iterations but also for scalable lead nurture processes.

Blog on a Subdomain

The first important takeaway here is simple: blog. It requires constant commitment, yes, but it’s extremely important. Neil Patel’s research has shown that sites who blog get 55 percent more regular traffic and 82 percent of companies blogging have acquired new customers through that channel.

In terms of subdomain (blog.company.com) vs. subfolder (company.com/blog), there’s an ongoing SEO debate around that, and that debate has been going on for years.

The most important thing is distinguishing your blog from your overall website. They should discuss the same products or services of course, but the tone and ideology can be unique in the blog context. Using a subdomain is less about pleasing Google, and more about delighting your audience.

Maintain Steady Activity on Reddit

Most marketers focus their attention on Facebook and Google, which is logical in terms of how much traffic those sites can drive you. There are drawbacks to both because close to 2 million blog posts being published daily and about 6-10 spots on Google’s front page getting 91.5 percent of the clicks, so your content may never be seen that way.

Reddit is a different story. The entire ethos is about people sharing quality content they found. Write quality content and don’t promote yourself. Talk about interesting concepts related to your business and the problems you are trying to continually solve.

When people find it and share it on Reddit experience traffic and know you’re on the right track. Because nothing promotional or sales driving gets love on Reddit.

Be a Torchbearer for Your Business

Some people eye roll now at the term “thought leadership,” but if you follow the advice in the Reddit section above, you can succeed on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and other platforms. Instagram is a bit different and is primarily visual content, but works for specific types of startups.

As the CEO and founder make sure you’re doing this. Post to the major social platforms but also contribute to sites like IDG Network and InformationWeek. Talk about pain points. Talk about startup management. Be transparent about growth challenges. Add a tag at the end with links to your business and social profiles as a way to generate traffic and followers.

Sometimes founders are so busy that they forget to blog. So make it a priority to do. It’s a huge way to carve out new audiences. The goal is to educate and build a relationship through education.

Hacks and Lean

Social tools are typically free to use. Good content requires some fresh ideas and a creative writer. Reddit love is free if the content is quality. Free business listing sites abound. Knowing your audience can happen organically through these other platforms if you monitor and respond. Rapid growth without breaking the bank on specialized campaigns is possible. Use the above as a guide.

Takeaways and Conclusions

As a startup resources will be limited, but deploying these tactics will be a major payoff. The reason so many startups are unraveling is their constant pursuit of the big idea. There are tons of free online tools and social media networks to explore for your efforts.

Putting to practice these five strategies or hacks will help target your message better. Finally, you will see the results over time and reap the benefits.