Whether you’re business is built and financed within an existing company or you are a self-financed startup, you’ve likely got the same obstacles -- you don’t have much to spend on growth. The good news is there are plenty of things you can do to build your brand awareness and starting bringing in sales without knocking on investor doors or going into debt. Here’s 5 ways to increase your sales on a bootstrapped budget:
1. Attend to your Social Media Presence
This one seems like a “gimme” in this day and age, but still there are businesses who either don’t understand the importance and power of a strong social media presence or they think it’s too hard to do without some sort of marketing firm on the payroll. However, there are so many tools out there right now that simplify and aggregate your efforts into a single sitting that you have no excuse to not be active on social media.
Customers spend more time on these sites than virtually anywhere else on the Internet, and there is no better way to put your brand, and your face, in front of their eyes. You can share content from other blogs, offer your own industry insight through original posts and content, share videos and pictures related to what you do, and above all, engage with your followers. Answer their questions. Be personal and specific. Those personal connections build loyalty in a way that the lumbering corporate machine cannot.
2. Optimized Landing Pages
As you post your sales and offers via social media, and wherever else you choose, the landing pages need to correspond to each individual platform, and they need to prevent the most important information -- including the CTA -- in the clearest way possible, above the fold. This is not the time to be creative or artsy.
- Match the colors to the source page so they know by the affinity of color that they’ve arrived where they intended.
- Use identical copy so they can find what they came for.
- No bait and switch -- give them what you promised.
- Test various versions using analytics tools to ensure the most effective landing page is being used.
3. Proper SEO
A whopping 90% of searches end on a link on the first page. The top three links on this page get similar traffic. This means that you if you aren’t ranking near the top of the list, you’re missing out on almost everyone. Google doesn’t publish the qualities that affect search ranking, but people are constantly testing and discovering new factors through trial and error. Learn from their mistakes and hit the ground running. You can also sign up with a web hosting company that offers SEO optimized templates, complete with online marketplace features and secure payment services. Do your research to make sure you have everything you need, and none of what you don’t.
4. Hit the Pavement
On a bootstrap budget, it’s not always practical to hire a sales team. You likely can’t pay a competitive rate or offer the same comps that top salespeople are used to, so you’d not have to settle for less skilled, or less experienced salesmen who don’t know your product as well as you, nor will they have the incentive to learn due to the rate concerns. At any rate, your customers will likely respond better to the Founder than the hired lackeys anyway. You ought to get out there and rub elbows with the people you’re selling to. It will not only give you credibility in their eyes, but it will also give you greater insight into how they think and what they care about, allowing you to better messages your marketing materials.
5. Keep it Simple
You may have a lot of lines in the water, but that doesn’t mean you need to make things complicated. You have one goal, to increase sales. You decide which products to push, and which are faring well enough on their own. Focus on one thing at a time until you find something that works, then move on to the next thing. Avoid over cluttered websites and annoying pop up ads. Your future customers are looking for something simple, easy and fast, so even if what you do is anything but, find the way to smooth over the bumps on their side of the process. You can measure your success by the rate at which they empty their wallets.
Sawaram Suthar is head of marketing at Acquire, and also a founder of Jagat Media, a digital marketing agency. A digital marketing consultant, he has experience in things including branding, promotions and page optimization, along with research and strategy. He has an MBA from the University of Pune. Anyone can find him on @sawarams.