Marketing for Early Entrepreneurs: Updates from the Hatcheries
Through the Butler Launch Pad, the Blank Center awards graduate and undergraduate student entrepreneurs access to professional and semiprivate workspace to grow their businesses. Known as the hatcheries, these spaces encourage ideation and collaboration. In a series of blog posts, this semester’s hatchery teams will go beyond the four walls of their offices and share their experiences, advice for other entrepreneurs, and industry expertise with us.
The following post is written by Ryo Shibasaki MBA’19, founder of Path to Success
My secret of getting the first customer
I know a lot of entrepreneurs who have great ideas or have developed innovative products but were stuck when reaching customers. When I started our online GMAT coaching service this summer, we got 8 clients in the first three months and could see some future prospect in our business. Today, I would like to share my experience and thoughts about marketing.
In a marketing course, usually we start by doing market research, understanding the customer’s pain, and then considering marketing campaigns such as your visual or tag-line. I agree that these practices are important for a relatively mature team. However, for entrepreneurs at a very early stage with limited resources to get profit, I believe the less expensive marketing channels can be more important than doing market research. A lot of early entrepreneurs may be spending great efforts in marketing research and campaigns, selling their products by spending money on social media advertisements or paid keywords on Google, but usually it is not sustainable because of their limited resources.
So what is a good marketing channel for early entrepreneurs? I think one of them can be writing a blog. It is a free marketing tool. Nowadays, a lot of startups (most of the successful startups) and even big companies have several blogs (also Babson has blogs!!) to share information related to their products or industries. The purpose is marketing and branding, creating fun and bringing potential customers to your landing page. Before I launched the GMAT coaching service, I had been writing my blog for one year to share resources related to English learning and studying abroad for MBA.
Also, you can share your blog posts on your social media and it is possible that someone shares your blog post on his/her social media account and brings back traction to your website. Now you have expanded your marketing platform into social media!
If you update quality content periodically on your blog and encourage users to subscribe, you can collect email addresses. Now you have another marketing tool, which is email marketing!
In my last post, I shared my experience writing blogs and SEO. If you are interested in blog marketing, please take a look at it. I am not an SEO expert but my blog views increased to 4,000 per day from 2,000 when I wrote my last article for Babson. It brings potential customers to us every day. I believe what I am doing is not that wrong.
Here, I would like to mention another important component of a successful marketing. I recently realized that growing a business is like learning a language. For those who do not know my background, I am a Japanese who hadn’t lived outside of Japan before coming to Babson, and I am struggling with English every day. Mastering a language is a very long journey. You will make a lot of mistakes, feel no improvement, and be disappointed with yourself, but do not stop learning. Month by month, little by little, you will improve your skill but may be still far away from perfect. It may take 1 year, 3 years, or 10 years to master it. However, you will never be perfect. I think this situation can be similar to growing a business. You start from zero. The first three months or 1 year, you may have no result even though you put your best effort into your project. The secret for success is to keep doing it until you succeed.
My business, just like my English learning, is about 1.5 years old now. It’s still a baby. I have made a lot of mistakes and am facing a lot of difficulties every day. However, little by little, I can feel the minor improvement in both my business and my language. It takes time and there is no sudden big jump. Yet, I believe I will see a different world if I do not stop learning or living my dream.