A lot of new companies struggle with establishing their authority online. Some say that the best way to do it is to create a viral piece of content. Some say that they should focus on social media.
Where’s the truth? How do you promote your business online?
We asked 13 marketing experts a single question:
What is the best way for a new company to express itself on the Internet?
Let’s see what they think.
1. Tim Soulo, “Marketing Guy” at Ahrefs
The best way for a new company to express itself on the internet is by no doubt to put out lots of great content that people will enjoy.
And by saying "content" I don't mean that you should start a company blog and write articles about the same things that everyone else in your industry is writing about.
Take The Lego Movie for example.
Is this great content that people would love to "consume"? – Yes!
Does it promote the parent company and work in their favour? – Absolutely!
What about Michelin Guides?
Do people love them and look forward to the new edition? – Yes!
Do the readers get exposed to the Michelin brand and become more loyal? – Absolutely!
You can even have your existing fans and customers produce content for you. Like the Coca Cola Village Facebook experiment which resulted in 35,000 updates each day.
But please don't roll your eyes and tell me that you don't have budget/resources/time for this.
Here at Ahrefs we don't have the resources that Lego or Coca Cola has. So we execute this strategy on a smaller scale.
It's too early to measure the success of this venture, but I'm already seeing that this small content marketing experiment resonates with our audience.
And I'm sure you'll be able to come up with something similar for your own company.
2. Lauren Holliday, Founder of Freelanship
If I were starting Freelanship fr om scratch again, and I had to establish its online presence as quick as possible here’s what I’d do.
Even though I’m trying to establish my online presence ASAP, I’d take an hour or two to document my strategy so I wasn’t just running around the Internet like a chicken with my head cut off, shouting: [Ins ert some spammy, annoying promotional CTA].
My documented strategy would read something like this:
As soon as I decided I was going to create this business, I’d design a simple splash page that gave website visitors the need to know information about my business and an easy to signup email subscribe form.
Next, I would begin driving traffic to my landing page by blogging. I would choose to register on Medium.com because I’m trying to build my online presence as fast as possible. Medium comes with a built-in audience so it’s a no-brainer to piggyback on their network.
I would of course distribute/share everything I blogged about. Here’s a post I wrote a little while back on making your blog post go viral.
I would get deeply intertwined in niche communities, such as Inbound.org, Quibb, Product Hunt’s Maker Hunt, WeWork’s $45 online community and various Slack communities. I’d answer users’ questions with thoughtful responses. Quora is also a great place to do this.
I would try and guest blog and hack other big blogs audiences as much as I could. Guest blogging is what grew Buffer’s blog to its exuberant size it is today. Founder Leo Widrich wrote 150 guest blog posts in 1 year.
That’s just a taste of what I would do to drive traffic to my site immediately. BUT those tactics will only work IF you are providing true value and inputting a lot of effort into your writing, including the blog posts you write and the answers you write in any of the communities you choose to be a part of.
VALUE trumps everything. Just provide tons and tons and tons of value to people, and you’ll be rewarded handsomely for it.
3. Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz
My advice for new companies is to seek out the intersection of:
- Areas in which they have personal passion
- Areas where they believe they can provide value 10X greater than what's already out there (or easily accessible)
- Areas where their customers are likely to be and be listening
That could be different for every business, so no one hard and fast rule applies.
Make sure to check out our interview with Rand Fishkin to find out why Google is actually… gets evil.
4. Ed Leake, Founder of MidasMedia
It really depends on the company type and profile i.e. are you delivering a product of service, B2B, B2C or both etc? Either way, every company should have a value proposition that differentiates them fr om their competitors.
I'm not suggesting reinventing the wheel, which is a service niche is tricky, but deliver something tangible that adds extra val ue or is unique, or is simply better than your peers.
A start-up needs to understand each customer, literally down to an individual's requirements for their offering. They then need to focus what will likely be a tight budget, on the quickest results possible - traction and income is priority here.
This boils down to establishing where the buyers are, what they're up to and why they're doing it. How can the start-up place themselves so not to disrupt, but support this scenario?
I would draft up a strategy that tackles getting traffic at speed (highly granular paid search), a reason for people to click (in context and compelling proposition) and a deliver landing page that is highly targeted.
Think of the strategy as 1 tightly aligned audience, with 1 overarching focus, to which you deliver 1 message and give them 1 reason to take action. Anything beyond is just noise at this stage.
Continuity is the real king here.
If you're really struggling to differentiate, trim back and focus one thing to one ideal customer - and yes I am being literal, you can be successful targeting just one person and build out form there.
5. Ana Hoffman, Founder of TrafficGenerationCafe.com
It's Friday afternoon.
I am minding my own business (good one, Ana!), prioritizing my inbox... which emails can I afford to ignore due to time constraints? which ones do I have to get back to? which ones look like I should get back to?
Then I see 'Ana, here come Russian folks' subject line.
Even though the sender's name didn't ring the bell (sorry, Tim!), the subject line told me this person took the time to find out a few things about me before sending it - like the fact that I am originally fr om Russia. And that's a LOT more than many people who email me do!
So naturally, I opened it.
The email was fr om Tim Fehraydinov fr om Texterra Digital Marketing Agency who reminded me we'd briefly talked in the past (sorry, Tim!), reintroduced his business, flattered me a bit, then asked a simple but interesting question to contribute to a roundup he was putting together.
Oh and mentioned a few recognizable names who'd already contributed to the roundup. Naturally, it was flattering I had been asked along with them, plus gave me no choice but to respond - who'd turn down a opportunity to make an appearance next to Rand Fishkin, Joe Pulizzi, Neil Patel, and Tim Soulo, right?
Mind you, Tim managed to do all of the above in a few very brief paragraphs - I appreciated him being mindful of my time.
So, let's sum it up.
Texterra Online Marketing Agency, even though not a new company, is new to the Western market. And they are entering it with a bang - by tapping into huge online marketing communities others had built.
That's by far the best way for a new company to efficiently build an online presence.
Instead of working your way fr om the bottom up, go to people - industry influencers - who've already done that, built mutually beneficial relationships with them, then tap into their existing audiences.
What Tim Fehraydinov did in his email to me was a great example of influencer marketing.
I bet you'd love to see more practical examples of how influencer marketing can work for your business, and I've got just the thing for you – two posts at TrafficGenerationCafe.com jam-packed with real-life influencer marketing examples:
- Be Memorable: 10 Practical Ways to Successfully Get Influencers’ Attention
- Influencer Marketing: 11 Memorable Ways To Gain An Influencer’s Attention
Now... before you run off to check out those posts at Traffic Generation Café, let me ask you a question: have you noticed what I did to stand out among the other (much more influential!) influencers quoted in this roundup?
Let me know in the comments – here or at Traffic Generation Café!
6. Tadeusz Szewczyk, Founder of Seo 2.0
What is the best way for a new company to express itself on the Internet?
This is a broad but very good question. I think the focus should be on "new". A company that just starts out has no audience yet. You can have the greatest content of the world but when nobody listens to you yet you won't get heard.
A common mistake is just to join many social media sites and to broadcast as if Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest were TV or radio with just a bunch of channels and ready-made large audiences waiting for you.
You need to do two things instead:
- 1. First off you need identify your ideal audience (not your "target" audience as the Internet is not the Wild West). I sometimes also say "preferred audience" to stress that it's your choice who you want to speak to.
- 2. Second you need to go where the audience already is. When you're lucky there is a dedicated social news community like Inbound.org or Growthhackers.com
In most cases it will be rather a forum or two or a few blogs. Sometimes there might be just a few journalists who cover your topic or area from time to time. Be helpful to the community, forum members, bloggers, journalists or whoever has an audience that listens already. Contribute to the sites in question or help them write about you by offering unique insights.
Don't broadcast, "narrowcast" to the people who really matter, not the whole world.
Then as a result you will be able to build an audience for yourself and your company step by step. Of course you need to create exceptional content, not just redundant "me too" one that just parrots popular articles, images or videos from elsewh ere. I've seen many agencies or tool makers grow their audience successfully that way.
I always start like this with a new blog. I try to contribute to the existing community and be a valuable part of it. Outreach and relationship building with particular peers can speed up that process significantly.
7. Dave Schneider, Founder of NinjaOutreach
I believe that content is still king in terms of building a brand online. It's not easy and it's not quick but it's clear that Google is ranking businesses/websites based on the content they produce. In addition to rankings there are also a lot of other benefits to having great content, such as customer acquisition, engagement, and even customer support.
We've built our customer acquisition strategy around content and it's worked out very well for us; we've tripled our traffic and sign ups in just 8 months.
8. Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute
I just talked about this issue in my new book, Content Inc. Basically, once you identify your sweet spot as a new company (your passion intersected with your knowledge/skill area), you need to find your content tilt. In other words, what is an online area of little to no competition wh ere you can actually cut through the clutter and become the leading informational expert over that niche.
Once you identify that "tilt", that's when you build your platform (one content type, one main channel, consistent delivery, over time).
9. Sujan Patel, Founder of ContentMarketer.io
The best way for a new company to express itself on the internet is by building an army of brand advocates. As a new company, you can (and should) invest in developing a brand presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or any other social site wh ere your prospective customers spend time on—but you'll gain a lot more attention and build a much stronger reputation by enlisting the help of your biggest fans. Your army of brand advocates can be comprised of employees, beta testers, first customers, friends, business partners, industry bloggers, or anyone else who would be willing to spread the word about your business. The best way to mobilize your brand advocate army is by delighting them. For example, at When I Work, we delight people by offering free swag, sending thank you cards and care packages, giving away discounts and exclusive deals, setting up referral programs, and more. In return, people rave about us online and send lots of business our way.
10. Andrea Vahl, All Things Facebook on AndreaVahl.com
A new company should use social media to tell stories. Tell people what makes you company different, tell stories about your employees, and show people how using your product will make their lives better. It's so easy to make great videos, show beautiful images in a different way, and reach people individually wh ere they are hanging out. But be different!
The great thing about the time we live in right now is there are so many affordable ways to use video, images, and to take advantage of storytelling. Plus with social media, you can easily reach people in so many ways. Reach out to influencers in your niche and just participate in their network (don't pitch but connect).
11. Nichole Elizabeth DeMere, Chief Strategy Officer at Inturact
Start the conversation. Find your community early on and make an impact.
Before I'd built a personal brand, I just got out there and evangelized as much as possible...and maybe evangelized isn't the right word, because I didn't evangelize myself, but I made sure that my name was on every site that was relevant to my ideal customer. This meant joining and legitimately participating in the communities at Growth Hacker TV, GrowthHackers.com, Product Hunt, and Inbound.org.
So, identify your ideal customer, determine wh ere they spend their time, and get in front of them.
12. Pratik Dholakiya, Co-Founder of E2MSolutions
The best way is to have a well-designed website with appropriate explanation on what the website is all about and the purpose. Other than website I believe a very strong presence on social media works wonders which eventually helps communicate with their customers directly.
13. Ryan Stewart, Founder of Webris
I'm sure a lot of people will say this, but the best way to increase your exposure is to consistently create uniquely valuable content. Then, go out and promote the hell out of it on every relevant corner of the web. Everybody now knows the power of content marketing (i.e. why you guys are investing time and resources into this very post) so the key is creating something uniquely valuable. Take a good hard look at what people are doing and DON’T do it. Take a chance on a different medium, style, presentation, tone – anything. Do everything in your power to be different.
For example, a lot of marketers write insanely long form content (i.e. 2,000 words or more). NO ONE WANTS TO READ THAT SHIT. Save it for a book, or a video or a training series.
I started a series on my blog called 500 or Less, wh ere I write blog posts in 500 words or less. It's short and to the point - I've gotten a tremendous reaction from people and increased engagement because people ACTUALLY read it.