When you have a baby, there are a dozen important milestones—their first smile, first laugh, first toddling step. As a parent of a new business, though, there’s one milestone that eclipses all others: the break-even point. Once you’ve got there, the world knows you’re for real.
However, getting to the break-even point is hardly ever a cakewalk, and there’s no magic formula that will get you there. Productivity in business isn’t enough. It may take months, even years, of pouring everything you’ve got into your business- and if there’s any possible way to get there quicker, you’ll want to take it. The longer you take to reach your break-even level, the more likely your initial backers will lose confidence and go elsewhere. Every business, therefore, is faced with this crippling pressure to reach their break even point as soon as possible.
If you could do just one thing to hasten your way to a balanced ledger, it would be at the drawing board: create a solid product that meets a felt need. If you don’t have that, you’re dead in the water. But let’s face it, there are scores of startups with up-and-coming products who never broke even and are now in the graveyard of good ideas. What were they missing?
In two words: effective promotion. You’ve got a vision; you know the world needs the product or service that your startup provides. Now, you need to make sure that the world knows it too.
The Quick Road to Your Break-Even Point: Brand Promotion
It’s essential that you make your mark when you launch your product in the market. Nothing signals a failed business than a launch that failed to create any hype. Remember to launch big and promote your product on every platform you can think of. Every online space that your potential customers may be spending time on you should be on too.
Your launch day can be promoted with stunning graphics; graphics that grab attention and make a splash even before you’re in business. Anticipation is the goal here: if your new followers begin counting down the days till your launch, you’ve got what you need for instant success. Build up hype with social media posts, then work in some live video on the big day and allow your new fans to get up and personal with you in your headquarters.
There are a few lucky startups like Dropbox, Everbrite, and Snapchat who managed to work self-promotion into their product to create a viral experience that never needed much of a marketing budget. If you can pull that off, the dividends are enormous.
But we can’t all be viral prodigies. If you’re in the camp of more ordinary startups who have to earn their brand awareness, you’ve probably been frustrated by one vicious cycle: the more you want to get to that break-even point, the more you end up spending on your marketing campaigns. And the more you spend on marketing campaigns, the fatter your expense ledger gets. How can you ever break even?
Here’s one big tip that can help you break this cycle: take advantage of free design software to jumpstart your brand awareness campaign. PosterMyWall is an online graphic design tool that offers professional-level ad design at cost-cutting prices anyone can afford, and social media graphics can be downloaded completely for free! Use their stunning Grand Opening templates to get started and keep the momentum going with the wide range of marketing graphics available.
Social Media: Put Yourself Out Where the Action’s At
Pubs and coffee shops used to be where the world gathered, and if you wanted to try a few conversion techniques you’d have to put on your shoes and head out there with a pile of posters. Today, social media is where the action is. Facebook has 1.6 billion daily users, Instagram 600 million, and there are 134 million people logging into Twitter each and every day. If you can effectively pitch your product on all three of these networks, you’ll have it made.
As a new startup your first step should be to establish consistent branding: choose a handle that you can use across all platforms, and come up with a message and identity that defines who you are. Then you’ll want to start creating your visuals. You can find ready to go Facebook ad templates and other social media graphics on PosterMyWall, and they’re easy to customize with your own logo, text, brand colors, brand fonts, and other design elements. What makes it really easy is a handy feature that allows you to resize one image for all your social media channels …anything from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram Squares, and Instagram Stories.
If you find posting regularly on social media takes too much of your day, you can upgrade to PosterMyWall Premium and utilize PosterMyWall’s handy scheduler to get your posts to magically appear at specified intervals. It takes all the work out of the process, and you can schedule for weeks or months in advance. This allows you to plan ahead for busy seasons: for instance, if your startup is planning a new product launch and you know your team will not have time to create new posts.
Something to Make them Stop Scrolling: Video for Social Media
Images are great for social media, and a well designed visual can create instant good feelings. But you know what is better than images? Video.
Videos are a consumer’s favorite type of content from brands on social media, and marketers who use video grow their revenue 49% faster than non-video users. That’s a significant difference right there. Videos allow you to share your vision with potential new followers even before launch day, presenting information about your service or demonstrating your product’s unique selling points.
Gone are the days in which video advertising meant you needed to hire a special video production team at sky-high prices. You can actually put together effective professional-looking marketing videos from the comfort of your kitchen table! PosterMyWall’s promo video maker is easy for anyone to use, and the template-model again cuts down drastically on design work. Get high-resolution videos in the sizes you need for your social media channels, and share them directly to your Facebook or Twitter pages without having to deal with the actual files. The Premium plus plan offers unlimited video downloads, and is very affordable.
Don’t Forget Guerilla Marketing
Guerilla marketing involves using your imagination and creative energy to think outside the box and market your product to consumers in ways they would never expect. A good guerilla marketing campaign can jump-start your marketing and make you go viral, and even a half-good marketing campaign can get your name out there.
Examples of successful guerilla marketing campaigns include flash mobs, reverse graffiti, publicity stunts, and treasure hunts. Hashtag contests that encourage your small group of users to take ownership of your brand can also be very effective. Campaigns like the ALS ice-bucket challenge or #nomakeupselfie were highly successful in turning a hashtag campaign into entire movements.
None of these require very much in the way of initial outlay. A hashtag contest may require Instagram story ads or other promotional graphics. A successful treasure hunt needs no more than a plan and a series of posters or business flyers that invite viewers to participate and find the next clue.
Use PosterMyWall to create the visuals you need to get your guerilla marketing off to a good start. Since a successful campaign requires some intensive brainstorming and creative thinking, PosterMyWall’s collaborative features are especially important here. Discuss with your team how guerilla marketing techniques can help in brand awareness marketing, then encourage each of your team members to play with the graphics design software and come up with something new and exciting. After they’ve worked independently, have them share designs with the team and decide who’s got the winning idea. You may be surprised at how creative your team can be after you’ve woken up their entrepreneurial spirit.
When It’s All Said and Done
An effective brand awareness campaign is essential if you want to get to that break-even point, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend the big bucks. Take advantage of the free assets already at your command: creativity, your initial follower base, social media, and PosterMyWall. That’s all you need to go viral. These three low-cost strategies will enable you to move forward toward financial viability without going deeper into debt.