6 Uncommon Strategies to Boost Sales for Startups
You’re a startup. Money is very tight. You’d love to have that prime time ad slot just before the Superbowl, but that’s a distant dream. Boosting sales when you’re starting up isn’t easy, particularly if funds are limited.
To increase sales, you have to raise your profile. The two go together like milk and cookies – you have to ensure potential clients know you exist.
In addition, what you do not only has to be as effective as possible, but also inexpensive. It’s a difficult balancing act to achieve, but not impossible. Below, we’ll look at six innovative ways to get your name and your brand out there and increase sales – without breaking the bank.
What are we waiting for? Let’s go!
1. Make the Most of Print
I know, print – dinosaur stuff, right? Wrong! For a startup, creative printed material can really get your name out there and noticed locally, which will really help to get your sales drive started.
This doesn’t necessarily mean, by the way, printing on boring old paper. Nowadays, you can get messages and logos printed in edible ink on cookies or cupcakes. Imagine how great that would be if you were spreading the word at a special occasion, such as an exhibition? If you look at this British site and this site in the US, you’ll see what I mean. This can be done on a budget, and if you don’t have any budget at all, you could always try your hand at icing…
Unique business cards (i.e. unusual shapes or colors) will also catch people’s eye, and if you’re prepared to do a bit of footwork in the absence of funds, you can make flyers part of your awareness raising campaign. Nowadays, a good home printer can turn out a great product – add discount coupons to drive impulse purchases.
2. Utilize Your Assets
If you have company vehicles, you can turn them into great mobile shop fronts or advertising platforms. Most people who use company vans will have the company logo on them, but why not combine this with a catchy slogan or Call To Action (CTA)?
Remember to keep your phrases short to make them memorable – think of McDonalds’ ‘I’m Loving It’. The big brands know that less is more when it comes to people’s memories!
One observation that really struck me recently was that “people don’t buy a bed, they’re looking for a good night’s sleep”. In other words, people look for a benefit or a solution to a problem. You need to identify the benefit or solution that your product or service provides and put this across in a short, powerful message on your vehicles (and any other company equipment).
3. Pimp Up Your Packaging
If your product requires any sort of packaging, you can leverage this to get your brand and messages out there. Remember the press mileage Amazon got from delivering a car in one of its distinctive packages?
Everything that goes out from some canny companies is in branded packaging, which is a minor investment on top of the cost of the packaging itself. If you have a distinctive logo and CTA you can incorporate these for maximum effect.
It’s also wise if your product can be used as a gift, to offer a ‘non-branded’ option. There’s nothing quite as irritating if you are buying a surprise for your other half, than having it arrive in a package that screams out exactly what it is!
4. Make the Most of Your Customers
Customers are a free resource – try rewarding them for referrals, it’s an easy and cheap way to drive more sales. For example, offer customers a discount if a friend buys something from you, or start a scheme where you give a bonus for every five or ten friends that existing customers introduce. Hiveage has a unique referral partner program which pays 30% of revenue not just once, but for the entire duration that the customers you bring stay with them.
You could also involve your customers in your business – offering to put a small amount towards a local charity if they spend a certain amount, for example, or perhaps giving a free or discounted pass to a local event – you might be able to strike a deal with the organizer to part-sponsor the event at relatively little cost.
Incidentally, though it may seem like a good idea, don’t offer customers a discount if they link to your website from their own because it’s effectively link buying, which Google will severely penalize.
5. Use Local Press
If you don’t already know them, identify your local papers and work out who is the friendliest reporter for each one. Local papers are always looking for ideas to fill their pages, so if you can tie something interesting about your company to an upcoming event or a local issue, you might well get column inches.
You need unusual ideas, preferably with a great image, to guarantee attention – for instance, you could arrange something for charity, such as a fun run or walk, in which you and your staff dress up – a bit of cosplay with some relevance to your product or service. Animal-related images are also well received – donate to a local animal shelter and get your photo taken with a cute resident.
You should always be looking for free publicity – for instance, I know a carpet shop owner who raised his company profile by photobombing the rich and famous. Wacky, I know, but it drove people to his store, and sales soared!
6. Place Your Product
We’ve all heard of product placement – James Bond doesn’t drive an Aston Martin for the good of his health, for example. And while you’re unlikely to be able to get your product into the next Bond film, there are other ways you can put your product, or its logo, somewhere unexpected that will reach a new potential audience.
For instance, you could try sponsoring an animal at the local zoo. They’re often looking for funds, and may agree to put your logo next to the name of the animal you’re sponsoring. You’re looking for positive associations; for example, with local sports teams and sporting events. You could get your logo onto the plastic drinks cups used at games, or carrier bags, if you offered to provide the items or donate towards their cost.
If your product or service is intended for use in a particular niche, you could offer one free (or access to your services) to a worthy cause such as a local charity. People would then get the chance to see your product or service in action, and in a positive light, sales should follow.
When you’re a startup, finding ways to get your name out there isn’t easy, but there are some unorthodox strategies that you can use to raise your profile and boost your sales. For example, you can:
- Make use of print to get your name out there.
- Use space on your vehicles to advertise.
- Be creative with your packaging.
- Reward your customers for referring friends.
- Find ways to get free publicity.
- Use product placement to leverage sales.
Have you found any other great, inexpensive ways of boosting your sales? Let us know in the comments section below!