How To Create Cost-Effective Digital Campaigns

Digital marketing maverick Dylan Kohlstädt unpacks how start-ups can maximise their marketing spend, get noticed and reach customers through savvy and cost-effective digital campaigns.

By
You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

PLAYER: Dylan Kohlstädt

Sarah Schäfer

COMPANY: Shift One Marketing

VISIT: www.shiftone.co.za

 

Q.How can start-ups go about using social media, networking and word-of-mouth to grow their businesses?

You have to be active on social media, that’s a given, but the only way to cut through the content marketing clutter is to produce content that moves the needle, and the only way to do that is to really immerse yourself in your customer segments.

Ideally, it’s video-based, and ideally, your customers are creating the content for you. Social media is digital word-of-mouth — so if you’re doing it well, customers will become your sales reps, and refer friends to you. Make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you (usability testing), and for them to refer you.

 

Q.Why is it easier to market your business than before?

Digital marketing is cheap, and you can set it up and manage it yourself. It also means that you can segment your markets like never before, and reach micro targeted segments with just a few rands.

Facebook ads are super cheap, as long as you’re not chasing ‘likes’. You might actually get a few sales from them. Just remember, there’s a lot of rubbish you’ll have to trawl through first.

 

Q.On the other hand, why is it also harder with such overcrowded markets?

Everyone has competitors, because all it takes is a website and a few bucks and you’ve got a business. Niching is critical. You have to understand your market.  You have to be unique. You have to appeal to them, and their needs and emotions.  You have to understand their needs really well.

Marketing plays a critical role in brand building — without the research involved in marketing your business, you might not understand your target audience well enough, and your product or service might not hit the mark as a result.  Similarly, without a clear brand, you’re going to be lost in the sea of competitors out there.

 

Q.How can start-ups access their beachhead markets through digital marketing campaigns?

It’s important to be very clear on who your customer is and what your niche is before embarking on a digital campaign. The more niche your market, and the more defined your product, the more success you’ll have and the cheaper your marketing becomes. I encourage start-ups to complete detailed market analysis covering:

  • Who is your customer? Include market size, description, demographics.
  • What need drives them? What is the gap?
  • What are their emotions? What emotions cause them to make decisions and how can you appeal to these emotions, bearing in mind that emotions make people buy, while logic makes them think.
  • Which product is right for them? Which product meets their needs?
  • What is your message to them? How are you going to package all of what you know about them to create messaging that is compelling?
  • What channels are they on? Where are you going to find them? This is critical as you need to target channels that they’re using, and not only the ones you’re comfortable with using.
  • What content do they need? This will inform your content marketing strategies.

If you don’t do research, you make assumptions. The more time you spend on this process, the cheaper and more effective your marketing will be. It will also help you avoid one of the most common mistakes start-ups make when it comes to establishing who their target market is — you want to be niche, not broad.

Nearly all markets are accessible via digital marketing, and if they are not digital, then SMS and radio. The more information you have about your customers, and the more niched you are in segmenting them, the better your results.

 

Q.How can a start-up figure out who their real target market is? Any tips?

There are many forms of research out there, but the ones I personally advocate are:

Usability testing: Get six to 12 customers to use your website and products. This gives you endless insights into who they are and what drives them, as well as the correct wording to use throughout your communication with them.

Dipstick research: We go to customers, wherever they are, and talk to them, find out who influences them, find out what drives them, find out their feeling about your product and your competitors.

Content research: Once you’ve identified the voices in the community, reach out to them to get content, establish them as influencers to the community, and create content that is appealing to the market, because it comes from the market.

 

Q.What should start-ups avoid doing?

Many companies avoid the channels they are not comfortable with. Many agencies produce content that appeals to the account management team, and not to customers.

Don’t make big production TV ads or sign up an agency that just wants to win awards — rather create YouTube content that your customers will respond to.

 

ON FUNDING

Q.Start-ups often think they need funding to launch. When is this not actually the case and why?

In a services industry, you can get away with bootstrapping. With tech companies, you’ll need to rely on sweat equity (which generally means partnering with a developer and giving them shares in the business) if you can’t afford to pay them.

You might just get stuck with someone that isn’t that great at development, but at least they are working on your project for free.  If you do go the bootstrapping route, you need to keep your costs low.

You definitely don’t want offices. Instead, run your small team through collaborative online platforms like Trello, Slack or Asana. Don’t be in a hurry to get funding — it comes with a whole new set of trouble and it might kill your business.

Instead, loan what you can from the 3Fs (friends, fools and family), or even a bank loan if you can get one. At least you retain ownership of the business.

 

Q.Why is cash flow more important than funding in many cases?

Funding isn’t the panacea that start-ups think it is. There are many alternatives to finding an investor, including overdrafts and loans from friends.

Cash flow is critical for the day-to-day running of your business. Funding might only pay out in a year’s time, based on performance, and in that time you might run out of cash.

Nadine von Moltke-Todd

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Nadine von Moltke-Todd is the Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Media South Africa. She has interviewed over 400 entrepreneurs, senior executives, investors and subject matter experts over the course of a decade. She was the managing editor of the award-winning Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa from June 2010 until January 2019, its final print issue. Nadine’s expertise lies in curating insightful and unique business content and distilling it into actionable insights that business readers can implement in their own organisations.