This post originally appeared at Caypen.com.
You’re launching a startup on a shoestring. You’re stretched—developing a product, service or app. Creating a website, finding partners, maybe looking for investors. How are you going to get customers?
Big-company options like buying advertising or hiring a public relations firm are budget-busters.
You can’t just put up your website and wait to be discovered. ‘Build it and they will come’ simply doesn’t work. Why? Because there are now gazillions of company websites and social networking sites, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, Google+ pages—just to name the main ones—who are all competing for the attention of customers and trying to sell stuff. They’re all engaging customers with valuable website content—blogs.
As a startup, you can attract your ideal customers without a big company-advertising budget—and by using your own voice. Launch a business blog to tell your company’s story and help your customers solve problems.
Blogging is the best option because you can create and then share videos, blog posts, or photos of your very best ideas for how your customers can solve problems. Educate your customers!
Here’s a stat that shows how blogging is one of the most cost-effective methods for getting customers. On his blog, Quicksprout.com, Neil Patel, successful serial entrepreneur, says you’ve got to blog. He credits blogging for 82 percent of web visitors and 70 percent of sales leads for his two Internet companies, New Egg and KISSMetrics. Check out the New Egg blog here.
9 Ways to Get Customers to Your Startup’s Blog
1. Create drop-dead simple how-to content. Customers with problems grab a laptop—or smartphone—and type questions into a search engine. Make it easy for customers and users who are looking online for answers to find your site. There’s no better, cheaper way to get found by your community than by writing a blog. You can also produce videos or record audio podcasts if you prefer telling your story using other media.
2. Use your customers’ own words. When blogging about how to solve problems and do stuff, don’t use industry jargon, acronyms, and insider terms. Listen to your ideal customers. In his highly regarded book, The Startup Owner’s Manual, Steve Blank calls this “get out of the building”. Don’t assume you know how your customers think about and ask for help.
3. Build credibility as a problem solver. Become known as the ‘best site for killer tips’. Be generous with how-to information. Spell out what works and doesn’t work.
4. Establish yourself as a thought leader. Now that you’ve developed your product, service or app, you’re an expert. Create content that shares your views on issues, trends, and approaches to problems faced by your market. Mark Suster, two-time entrepreneur and venture capitalist believes that startup entrepreneurs should blog. He explains that you’ll create authenticity, transparency and establish yourself as a thought leader. Suster walks his talk and blogs at BothSidesoftheTable.com
5. Teach your customers how to do stuff. Serial entrepreneur Hiten Shah, a founder at KISSMetrics and NewEgg says the best blogs teach. No one cares about your product (before they know you). Customers only care about how well you help them to fix things. Solve problems. Explain a new approach to a pesky problem. How you make them rich and famous. Think: blogs, tutorials, how-to info, and eBooks with real life examples of getting problems solved.
6. Cultivate early customers. Startup expert Marty Zwilling describes blogs as ‘a startup’s most valuable investment‘. He says, “It’s never too early to start a dialog with customers, as long as you don’t mislead them about where you are in the cycle.” Don’t wait for your perfect product to attract customers. Blog about your Minimum Viable Product. Share your early customer feedback. Share what you’re learning along the way to building your startup.”
7. Ask for opinions and feedback. According to the Lean Startup principles (Eric Ries) it’s never too early for input. If your product direction is off course or missing a key element, find out now. Make it easy for people to give you feedback, ask questions. A blog with comments enabled is a low-cost way to get feedback from your future customers.
8. Build your brand. Your product isn’t ready yet? Blog about ways your customers can solve related problems. Blog about progress made by industry leaders. Interview other experts. Claim your industry place by making your voice heard.
9. Update your static website frequently. You’ve got only seconds to grab the attention of online visitors. Tell your story with engaging blog posts. Original photos. Entertaining video. Update your site frequently. Keep those pesky search engines coming back for more with frequent updates of blog content.
I promise you, you’ll be glad you invested the time to create a blog to get customers for your startup. You’ll be a hero for teaching your audience good stuff and you won’t break your shoestring budget.