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Bahrain today is one of the most exciting global destinations for startups. And not without a reason! With increasing government support for entrepreneurs, a fast-growing economy, and a virtually endless supply of rising talent, the Kingdom is literally teaming with innovation and knowledge-driven startups cutting across industries.

Not only that, an increasing number of these new-age homegrown startups are today making inroads into the global market as well. For example, we have startups like GetBaqala that is disrupting the grocery delivery market, or ONEGCC, which aims to  disrupt the recruitment industry across the GCC (just to name a couple).

Now it’s obvious that none of these startups would have made it this far had it not been for their ability to formulate impeccable marketing strategies in today’s cut-throat competitive business environment. Of course, product development is important. But at the end of the day, what’s the use of having an awe-inspiring product line if you’re not even able to persuade your target customers about the value those products can add to their lives?

So as a startup founder yourself, if you want to follow in the footsteps of these startups (and do even better), we highly recommend the following five-pronged startup marketing approach that most of the top Bahraini startups today adhere to. We even spoke to stand up comedian Imran Al-Aradi for his tips, so stay tuned to read what he has to say!

If done right, we guarantee that it will help you one-up the competition while ensuring a brilliant return of investment in the long run.

#1 Harness the power of social media marketing

We all know that a smartly crafted social media marketing strategy can do wonders for the growth of any business. Even more so for startups trying to make a mark on the global arena.

We know it’s easy to feel lost with so many social media platforms around today. We have also seen many startups getting carried away and starting multiple campaigns across many different platforms right from the word go (doesn’t usually lead to very pleasant outcomes).

Going by the advice of many eminent global marketing experts, you should ideally start slow. Preferably with just one platform — be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other popular social media platform. If you want to target a Bahraini customer base, Instagram would be the best option. If you want to target expats in Bahrain, Facebook would be the best choice. That’s because you don’t really want to overwhelm yourself with too much on your plate while you’re still taking the baby steps. And more importantly, targeting multiple sites simultaneously often makes it difficult to learn how to make the most out of each platform.

Therefore, start with a site that you think you’re most comfortable with and is more appealing to your target audience. For example, Instagram could make a sensible choice for an online marketplace for fashion accessories in Bahrain. Similarly, Twitter might work just great for an e-learning platform targeting college students in Bahrain.

Also, for maximum impact, be clear about your SMM goals even before you start. Are you interested in generating leads? Do you have long-term plans of establishing yourself a market leader in your field? Whatever it is, it always helps to have clear objectives in mind when it comes to leveraging the wide reach of social media.

#2 Get a superstar influencer on board

As you prepare to go head first into SMM, remember that it’s important to diversify your options for nailing the optimal result.

Go beyond just updating your Instagram story or putting up occasional witty Tweets to charm your target audience. Get a well-known social media influencer on board to participate in your campaigns. They will endorse your brand for you and help spread the word among their large fanbase. It’s a tried-and-tested tactic for boosting brand awareness, exposure, and lead generation.

Just make sure that the influencer you’re going to sign up has the clout and credibility to add value to your campaigns. Fortunately, for Bahraini startups, there’s no need to settle for mediocrity when we have so many celebrity social media influencers (with proven track records) right in our backyard.

A few most notable examples include Ahmad Sharif, Imran Al-Aradi, Omar Farooq, Shaima Rahimi, and Khaled Janahi, among others.

So what are you waiting for — go find one already! And while you are at it, you might want to refer to our short guide explaining the 8 key points every startup should know before hiring a social media influencer.

#3 Get personal

Marketing in the 21st century is a different ball game altogether. It’s not like the older times when marketing teams didn’t have the means nor the medium to execute personalized campaigns. (How would you use television/radio commercials, billboards, or newspaper ads to target individual customers anyway?)

In contrast, in this era of digital and online marketing, it would be a real shame if you blissfully ignored the power of personalized marketing. The reason is simple — consumers these days are likely to be more receptive to personalized ads that promise to address their specific individual concerns or needs.

Not only do personalized ad campaigns proved to yield better results, they also help you build a better rapport with your customers, which in turn leads to stronger brand loyalty over time. Typical channels of running personalized campaigns include online ads, SMS/email campaigns, personalized seasonal offers, and such. But do not spam!

#4  Content marketing can be your best buddy

Content marketing can be a pretty darn potent tool for marketing professionals if they understand their target audience well. It’s a perfect medium for getting your point across to the customer. It gives them a more detailed outlook about your brand and its ethics, achievements, the kind of problems it is good at solving, and so on.

Content marketing typically involves writing and curating content that your target audience will find interesting and helpful. Even if your content doesn’t include any hard sales pitch or Call to Action, its mere existence could go a long way into building an affinity toward your brand in the mind of the reader.

But of course, for that to happen, the content itself has to connect to your audience in a meaningful way, and help them find answers to their questions. Content marketing comes in various forms including blog posts, how-to/explanatory articles, and online videos, just to name a few.

Some local startups that have incorporated a blog into their platform are Eat, Majra, and Farahii.

#5 Stay up to date with new technologies

There’s absolutely no valid reason as to why a marketing professional in this era would not want to catch up with the latest technologies and use them to their advantage. Perhaps nobody can put it better than Imran Al-Aradi, head of Radio Bahrain and well-known standup comedian in Bahrain.

In his recent conversation with StartUp Bahrain, Imran emphasized that the time has come for Bahraini startups to pioneer the use of technology for expanding their reach and influence on a global scale.

“Take advantage of technology,” Imran said, adding: “Even nine-year-olds today have more resources on their smartphones than a million dollar corporate did back in the 70s. Yes, let that sink in.”

He continued: “There are various tools available for startups today that could accelerate their growth & productivity. Many of these tools are free or very affordable. You can utilize various tools for storage, accounting, design, social media management, marketing, and documentation. Just run a search on the internet’s favorite place “google” and you will find it there.”

So that’s all for today.  Did we miss any important marketing strategy that Bahraini startups could use to further expand their global footprint? Share your thoughts with us. We, your buddies at StartUp Bahrain, will make sure that it is conveyed to the right people.