Tag Archives: online strategy

Why Marketing Magic is The New Black For StartUp Businesses

marketing-magic-for-startup-businesses - OC&K

Last week I attended a networking event organised by IBEC in partnership with Bank of Ireland and sponsored by Skillnets in support of the StartUp Gathering 2015.

As one might expect, I bumped into a number of people who had recently started up a business venture. At one stage while I was explaining what we in O’C&K do (outsourced marketing), I realised that it is must be hard for a non-marketing person to grasp the importance of marketing, especially if they don’t understand it.

To ensure that marketing can deliver its magic for a business, it needs to be planned for properly, in advance. That is why I thought I’d put pen to paper (so to speak) and provide some tips on startup marketing below.

It is fully understandable that many startups cannot see the ‘forest’ because they are so focused on the trees. Focusing on the immediacy of the trees is also understandable because they are tangible and provide short-term results.

Such items as planning revenue, sorting out premises, legal and compliance procedures, cash flow and IT items are usually the front-of-mind concerns, but marketing should be there as well.

A startup that doesn’t take the time to plan for customers and how to communicate with them is bound to fail. The truth is that you must look on marketing as an investment, just like all the other elements of a startup. Then it just might perform some magic for your bottom line.

Unfortunately, many founders don’t see that marketing should be an integral part of their overall strategy from day one. As a result, they only embrace it after they’ve launched, which is often too little too late and really lessens the communication’s impact.

Another condition that we encounter quite a lot is that everybody considers themselves to be a marketer. The number of times that I have heard – ‘oh my partner / friend / family / neighbour had some great ideas for publicity so we don’t need to hire anybody’ – is staggering.

When these ‘ideas’ don’t work people then consider marketing a time-suck and a waste of money. So they put it further down the to-do list or worse still, ignore it altogether. They start relying on the features of the product / service for marketing purposes. The ‘build it and they will come’ mentality.

The only advice that I can give, if you’re not employing a marketing professional, is to consider (or better still – involve), your potential audience at each development stage and start thinking about a marketing strategy from the moment you have that great idea.

Initial tactics that startups can use to bring in customers.

In fairness, most startups appreciate that they will need marketing at some stage, but as mentioned above it can end up low on the ‘to-do’ list, for all sorts of reasons. The main reasons appear to be time, money and lack of experience. Here are some thoughts that might help overcome those challenges, initially.

  • Despite what some bloggers say – email is not dead. It is a very effective method of engaging an audience in a direct and measurable way. There are many free services available (such as MailChimp), with which you can automate newsletters etc.
  • Social media is another way of attracting customers. If possible, allocate even half an hour a day on a channel where your prospects are conversing. Many communities on social media form free local networking groups (e.g. dubnet). These can work to collect leads, build awareness and learn from peers.
  • See our post here, about good networking habits.
  • How about looking around for marketing opportunities by creating a joint campaign with a complimentary business e.g. hotel / sports club, gym / spa, theatre / media outlet, beautician / hairdresser, SEO / web design, recruitment / printer etc.
  • This one goes without saying – it is imperative that you have a user-friendly website.
  • Finally, you could look at doing a small direct mail campaign in your area, sponsor an element of a local event or advertise in community newsletters.

If you don’t have time for any of these elements, you really should get help from the ‘outside’, as early as possible. Have a look at some services listed on our website, to get an idea of what areas you should be thinking about.

Tips and Timesavers.

There are no magic bullets of course but in order to avoid being a startup casualty, try and plan for the following from the get-go:

  • Use a revenue goal to measure your business – over a two year period.
  • Go after the small and easy prospects first – generate up-front cash.
  • Decide how you will be different from any competitor – avoid sameness.
  • Don’t undertake new things that aren’t on your to-do list (plan) – stay focused.
  • Be willing to change based on customer experience – be flexible.

To use a rugby analogy – earn the right to go wide i.e. don’t be distracted by long-term prospects – focus on the first two years and earn the right to survive.

Now that your business is up and running and you want to move your startup to the next level of business communication, consider formalising these 7 elements:

  1. Branding – your brand identity says a lot about you. Your name, logo, a tagline should back-up your brand promise, remember – first impressions count.
  2. Marketing communication – fliers, brochures, business cards, packaging, signs (including online) etc. all reflect your business professionalism.
  3. Channels of communication – can your customer contact you in a way that they prefer? e.g. mobile phone, email, postal address, skype, google hangouts and face-to-face.
  4. Online presence – your website is often the only place that a customer engages with your brand. They should have an excellent user experience at all times.
  5. Social Media – work is required to find out where your actual prospects are, when they are there and what’s important to them.
  6. Blogging – helps SEO, delivery of value to customers / prospects and is a way of embedding your brand story in people’s lives.
  7. Marketing campaign – a short, flexible and simple campaign using online and offline channels for promoting your business should always be measurable Professional help will probably be required with this element.


When it comes to using magic to bring your ‘wonderful idea’ into reality you need to start by determining exactly who your audience is and what matters to them. Thereafter, effective marketing will build a structure for relationships to be created and nurtured in order to ensure business opportunities in due course. And that would be magic.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

7 Good Reasons Why Your Business Needs Social Media Marketing.

social media marketing

Constantly, we are reminded that social media marketing is all about time management. We would argue that managing your business’s online presence is all about time management, but would agree that social media management is a large part of that time suck.

That being said, when done properly social media marketing can be very lucrative for your business. It can also be a little ‘fun’ as you have the opportunity of engaging with new people, most of the time. Before it can be lucrative or fun, however, it is imperative that you decide what you want it to achieve and how you plan to manage your activity.

As long as your proposed social media marketing is linked to an overall online strategy and more importantly, your business objectives – you’re good to go. Of course, it would be great if you had the time to manage the individual relationships yourself. More than likely, though, as a small business owner you just won’t have the time.

Having decided to pursue using social media, good housekeeping would be to avail of one of the many tools out there. In particular those that allow you to schedule posts. Admittedly, these can take a while to discover what days / times your audience prefer. Eventually, though it will make your content more relevant. You can always outsource the role but be sure to be mindful of who you use. See here for tips from a previous post.

If you go it alone, do your best to integrate social media marketing into your regular workday. Even 30 uninterrupted minutes a day would be fine. Assign a particular time for sharing relevant information. You can also tell your brand story and like / favour / save items posted by those you follow.

Don’t forget that your blog posts etc. should be optimised for search engines, as well as your website, to enhance positive search results.

In general, your social media activity should not be a campaign to sell your product / service but it can be used to boost your business’s visibility and reputation.

Put a little more thought into why you want to use social media marketing.

We’ve mentioned this already above, but it cannot be stressed enough – you must have an idea of what you want to achieve when starting to use social media. It might be for brand exposure, as a customer service platform, as an informational channel, or to drive website traffic etc.

Thereafter, you have to decide what platforms / networking sites you are going to use. The bottom line is that you work on channels that will return the most for your efforts.

Using social media is also a good way of delivering on your brand promise, i.e. to reiterate your ‘purpose’ to your audience so they know what to expect when they engage with you.

Social media marketing can also be an opportunity to humanise your brand. Although, we firmly believe that social media is just that – social, it is definitely a way for businesses to show how friendly / casual they can be (or not). Being friendly does not mean being intrusive, but does mean sharing other people’s content.

Another advantage for marketing activity is that there is a huge momentum change on social media towards being a visual experience. Capitalise on this by including loads of pictures / images / videos with your posts. This can be particularly useful for marketers who can use infographics and how-to videos etc. and thereby provide relevant value to an audience.

People have a natural tendency to tell and share stories. Therefore, almost any social media platform that facilitates engagement will be popular. Of course, new ones will appear continuously, but all indicators are that the growth of social media is unstoppable. Surely it is a no brainer that every business should be taking advantage of the opportunity.

As participation grows, it is becoming harder to be heard on social media.

One result of the increased usage of social media by individuals and businesses is that it is most definitely more difficult to be heard, especially if you’re a business start-up.

We have been active on twitter, for instance, since we started up in 2013 and the scene has definitely changed. From our experience, here are some tips in relation to increasing your chances of being heard online.

  • You really must have a professional profile photo and bio. Use keywords, hashtags and links to your website.
  • You have to commit to being active such as consistently following people and posting / sharing their content.
  • Connect with people in your industry that you may not know.
  • Meet the people you connect with online – offline. Attend group gatherings – here are some tips on networking from our last blog post.
  • Be an active listener and build thought leadership within a narrow community.
  • Use the tools available to you, to join the conversation.

Tips and Timesavers.

We were asked at a networking get-together recently to give some reasons why a business could not survive without social media marketing. Here are seven reasons we offered in reply:

  1. More and more of your customers are hanging out (searching) online.
  2. Traditional marketing methods are becoming less effective (but still useful when required)
  3. Your customers expect a customised experience by interacting with real people.
  4. Building a community of loyal ambassadors is easier online.
  5. Managing your social media marketing can differentiate you from competitors.
  6. Even the ‘big’ corporates are using it – notice the CTAs for social media engagement on traditional TV / Radio advertisements.
  7. It is much easier to measure and to receive feedback than the traditional methods of surveys and polls etc.


In the greater scheme of things, smaller businesses using social media marketing is still relatively new. For organisations about to embark on the journey, it would be wise to plan it like any other marketing activity i.e. set goals and a timeline.

This plan would typically include who will manage it, how it will look and how much time will be spent on it. When set-up and linked to your other ‘owned’ media, you should be as active as possible.

Bear in mind that social media marketing is NOT an alternative, cheap form of advertising. It is a tool to progress business goals which should be tracked and measured.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K