You’ve chosen to take the plunge and out to discover the secrets to startup marketing? Here it is! We have all the information you need to send you in the right direction. We’ve distilled the boring, complicated data here down to easy-to-digest bites that actually make sense. Whether you like taking shortcuts or not, you’ll want to read this.
We’re sure most of us know that marketing is critical. Generally speaking if you don’t market your startup, people won’t hear about it, they won’t like it, and ultimately that’s lost business – whether it’s goods or services you’re offering.
And if no one does business with your startup, well then maybe all those money and hours spent working hard to transform your dreams into a reality seem to have been a waste of time.
Also, startups have a different approach to marketing than companies that have been around for a long time. In the early stages, startups need to pay extra attention to their marketing as there is not much brand awareness.
Sadly, after years of observation, we’ve come to the conclusion that most startups are running ineffective marketing campaigns that aren’t just wasting money, but also putting them at risk of not surviving.
The trend we’re seeing is that startups are wasting money on traditional marketing channels and using “gut feel” to guide their development and marketing strategy while ignoring more effective options.
So, we’ve put together this guide to startup marketing that will cover every step of the process from start to finish, and with a little bit of work, your startup will be well on the road to creating a marketing campaign that people actually care about.
Let’s get started!
How to Do Startup Marketing the Right Way
Start by understanding your audience’s needs and buying cycle
One of the biggest mistakes startups make is to create a product or service and then focus on how they can market it rather than understanding why people will buy it.
This is a huge time and money drain for your startup, but more importantly, you will not be able to effectively reach out to the right customers by only marketing towards those who already know about you or haven’t even heard of your business (growth-hacking anyone?).
The first thing startups need to do is understand their customer’s needs and how they go through what we call the “buying cycle”.
We’re sure most people are familiar with this concept as companies like Google use it all the time when advertising online ads such as AdWords (which can cost thousands per day), so that potential buyers searching for keywords related to products matching their search engine results page landing on websites selling said product – which is exactly what they are looking for.
This is why understanding your customers’ needs and buying cycle can be so effective – because you know who to target, where to find them, when they’re online etc. which ultimately saves time and money since you won’t needlessly spend it on marketing campaigns that have no chance of providing results.
Startups should use the customer’s information in order to create buyer personas (a fictional representation of a real user) while making sure not to make assumptions about these personas as this will lead down the wrong path towards creating ineffective marketing strategies based on inaccurate data.
You might want to take some time out each month or even week depending on how often your business makes changes, updates its products/services or adds new ones in order to keep your buyer personas up-to-date and relevant.
This means you will need a process for generating ideas, testing them against the information gathered from customers, then repeating this cycle continuously so that any changes or updates can be reflected accordingly.
Otherwise your startup is just wasting time and money with an ineffective marketing strategy – which we know is something nobody wants!
Maintain an eye on your brand mentions
Hear us out: Reputation of your Brand is one of your most valuable assets and the last thing you want to do is ignore it when someone mentions it – good or bad.
Brand reputation management is a huge part of modern day marketing strategies, and for good reason.
It’s important to be aware whenever someone mentions your brand online, including both good and bad reviews.
Why? It allows you to take action and potentially turn a negative into a positive. And amplify any positive mentions.
For example, if someone leaves a review on your Facebook page telling everyone how awesome the service they received was and that people should definitely order from you, it would be a good idea to thank them for their review and even share it on other platforms so your brand gets the exposure it deserves!
This is a great way to build relationships with potential customers, and it could even make them want to leave you another review or recommend your business to their friends.
While you’re at it, be sure to keep an eye on your competitors too! You never know what they might be doing that could attract potential customers your way.
At the end of the day, it’s all about getting as much exposure for your startup business as possible.
This can sound like a difficult task to manage, but there are brand monitoring tools out there that can help you stay on top of your brand mentions – or at least alert you when someone is talking about you. Not only your brand, but you can input the name of your product, services or similar.
The degree of intel you can glean from these tools is exceptional, and it is one of the few and extremely smart strategies you can take in order to stay ahead of your competitors, especially in light of the fact that your budget may be tight.
Socialize with Online Influencers
In the past, startups would have been required to spend millions on traditional marketing channels such as TV ads and billboards in order to get their brand noticed.
However, with the rise of social media influencers – which is basically someone who has built up a large following online by sharing valuable content that people actually care about – spending money on this type of advertising might not necessarily seem like a waste after all.
Social media stars are already making enough from brands looking to advertise through them naturally (which means they don’t need your startup’s money), but if you’re able to come up with an effective strategy based around what these influencers do best it could lead both parties towards mutually beneficial results.
That is to say that the influencers will be happy with your product/service, and you’ll increase awareness of what they do – which in turn builds brand recognition.
This can also help startups establish a relationship with these online celebrities since they could become customer advocates further down the road (i.e: share more valuable content about your startup and its products/services).
We think this system is win-win for everyone involved because both sides are getting something out of it while saving time and money from focusing on traditional marketing channels such as TV ads etc.
To discover influencers in your industry, you can use a tool such as Klear, Followerwonk, BuzzSumo, Upfluence etc.
These tools allow you to search for influencers by various factors such as: Industry, Location, Number of followers etc.
Once you have found some potential candidates – whether they’re micro-influencers (with under 100 followers) or macro-influencers (more than 100k followers), reach out by either messaging them directly through their social media profiles or any other contact available.
Our advice is to start small first before approaching those who already have a large following and use their influence to your advantage – otherwise you’ll risk having a poor ROI.
Create blog posts on a regular basis
Today, many people seek answers to a specific question, problem, or need online before making a purchase.
So, it’s important that startups do their best to answer these questions by creating blog posts that are relevant and targeted towards the people who would be interested in what you’re selling.
Not only will this help to better position your startup in the eyes of potential customers, but it can also increase organic traffic and SEO rankings.
Start by targeting “low-hanging” i.e easy to rank for keywords within search engines, and then work your way up to more competitive terms as your website builds momentum.
Additionally, if your startup is specific to a particular location, target local or geo-specific search terms as well, since these tend to return more relevant (and higher) results that can drive traffic and engagement.
This is a sure-fire way to increase the awareness of your brand and drive more traffic to your website, which in turn will hopefully lead to more conversions.
Piggyback on Popular Websites by Guest Posting
As a startup one luxury you don’t have is reach -in other words, how many people are going to see your website.
This is why it’s important for startups to look beyond their own websites in order to maximize their visibility online.
One way of doing this is by guest posting on the websites that your target customer personas are more likely to visit.
So, create a high-quality content piece that is relevant to the needs of their readers and submit it to them.
If you’re able to get your content published on these popular websites, it could drive a ton of organic traffic to your startup’s website/social media pages.
This strategy can also help startups promote their content to a new audience which can lead them to creating more content in the future.
Guest posting is also another great way for startups to establish relationships with influencers in their industry and also get feedback on what they could improve upon.
Something to keep in mind though is that the people who manage these popular websites are always on the lookout for content pieces that will generate interest among their readers.
So, if you want your post to be published, make sure that you’re targeting the right audience and creating content around topics they usually cover.
Build an Online Tribe on Social Media
Social media is one of the most important marketing channels for startups to use when they want to grow their audience.
Startups can benefit from social media in many different ways, however for this article we’ll focus on how social media can be used to grow your audience.
First off, create profiles on appropriate platforms (emphasis on the word appropriate) that are relevant to your startup.
Then ensure you create and post relevant content in order to build an online tribe of people interested in your product or service.
You could also post photos, videos etc., that are related to your startup to attract more followers.
Be smart about it, be witty, jump on correct trends, and use appropriate hashtags. The goal is to not only generate buzz about your startup, but also to get a significant number of people interested in what you’re doing.
Do whatever it takes to show your audience that you care about them and not just trying to sell them something. If they feel that you’re simply using them for your own benefit, then there’s a good chance they’ll unfollow (or worse, report as spam) your startup’s pages.
You want to build a loyal tribe that not only cares about what you’re doing now but will also pay attention to what you’re doing in the future.
Commenting on Popular Websites and Forums
Another way startups can gain visibility online, is by commenting on popular websites and forums that are relevant to their industry.
Startups can create profiles on these sites, follow the rules of being active in order to be noticed, then comment or contribute ideas about topics related to your product/service.
This strategy works especially well for startups trying to increase awareness among certain niches (e.g., IT, finance) who tend to have a strong presence on popular websites and forums.
Startups could also look for comments that are related to their industry and leave insightful responses that will help generate interest in what they do while engaging with others at the same time. This strategy can lead you into creating more content in the future as well.
Use Press Release Distribution Services
There are many press release distribution services that startups can use to create an online presence. So, if you’re looking to increase your startup’s visibility and drive more traffic, then press releases could be an option.
Important news and announcements related to your startup, can be posted on these distribution services and picked up by popular websites.
Leverage Online Directories
Online directories are the modern day version of the Yellow Pages. What does this mean? This means that they’re a great place to list your startup and get more visibility while increasing awareness about what you do.
You’ve heard that the money is on the list, right? So, if you’re looking to create relationships with your customers and potential clients then email marketing is another technique that can help you get the job done.
Typically, the phases in email marketing include: a) attracting new leads, b) building relationships with them and c) converting these leads into paying customers.
Just remember that email marketing is a long-term strategy that doesn’t work overnight. It’s also important to note that this particular marketing channel can be successful once you’ve built a loyal following that trusts what you have to say.
Another important thing about email marketing is the fact that it’s more personal than other types of marketing channels. This means that you can get more creative and develop a strategy that’s based on providing value to your audience rather than trying to sell them something.
You can also use email marketing to announce a new product or service, provide discounts and exclusive offers, send thank you messages/videos, etc.
When collecting leads, it’s important to have a dedicated landing page where people can receive more information about your startup. It’s also good practice to include an opt-in form that can be found on your website.
Once you’ve collected these leads, ensure you verify the email addresses and make sure that they’re real.
Also, it’s important to segment them into target audiences (e.g., age, gender, location) so that you can send them the right emails. This will increase email open rates, click-throughs and conversions in the future.
With the right budget, a startup can use PPC advertising to get the word out about their product or service.
Startups that are new to this type of marketing can use Google Adwords, Bing Ads or social media ads to promote their website.
The main goal of PPC advertising is to gain visibility in search results when people use relevant keywords.
Another important reason to choose PPC advertising is the fact that it’s easy to track conversions and see how much money is being spent on ads.
As mentioned before, this type of marketing requires a budget but it’s worth mentioning that you can set-up a PPC campaign for as low as $100.
Once you’ve created ads, it’s important to track your results and see if they are performing well. If there are certain ads that have a high click-through rate, then you should consider creating an ad with the same message but slightly different keywords.
If PPC advertising is done correctly, the benefits can be enormous.
As you can see, there are many different types of marketing strategies that startups should consider. If done right, these channels can help a company grow more quickly and bring in new leads on a regular basis.