Marketing Strategy for Startups

An Effective Startup Marketing Strategy for Accelerated Growth

Startups, like any other firm, can’t flourish without a solid marketing strategy. A well-documented plan for startup marketing explains a company’s strategy for achieving its objectives. In other words, a good marketing plan serves as a road map for a startup’s success.

Startup Marketing Plans Are 100% Necessary

A marketing plan consists of strategies for the promotion of a startup’s products and/or services. It’s important to know, while there is no standard template, it usually includes details, information, timelines, and checklists that serve as the starting point for guiding the marketing process.

Standard marketing plans assist startups in identifying the right customers, media channels, and ways to target them. For most brands, the success of the business is highly dependent on a solid startup marketing strategy that is implemented on time. Marketing plans for startups can help by:

  • Determining the efficacy of a startup’s marketing strategy
  • Clarifying the market position of services and products
  • Understanding your market, competitors, and customers
  • Defining a company’s products and services
  • Recognizing and implementing various marketing strategies

The Elements of a Startup Marketing Plan

After reviewing hundreds of case studies from different digital marketing agencies for startups, we developed a marketing plan outline that can help you get your business off the ground quickly and easily.

First, customers must be identified.

First and foremost, you need to determine who exactly are your customers in as much in-depth detail as possible. Simon Sinek suggests beginning with “WHY” before moving on to HOW. Determine who your customers are and then develop a marketing strategy for them. You should be aware that numerous other startups are selling nearly identical products to yours. So, what is your competitive advantage? First, you must determine which type of consumer you are attempting to reach. Your efforts would be rewarded if you provided a comprehensive description of these categories. Describe the target audience in great detail so that everyone understands the goals you’re trying to accomplish.

For instance, here’s a buyer persona sketch for an e-commerce store selling yoga leggings.

Demographics: Primarily females between the ages of 18 to 28, University and College education, with median income of $40K per year.

Psychographics: Interests include athletics, gymnastics, fitness, yoga, and exercise.

Objectives: To become more attractive and slim.

Purchasing Power: $50-$100

Problems:

  • Lacks time to go out and purchase fitness gear from a local store.
  • Desires to lose weight quickly
  • Wants compression pants that will help lose weight and gain muscle

Follow the Buyer’s Journey

After there is a good understanding of the buyer’s persona, you can begin tracking them to gain additional information about their purchasing habits and preferences. This will uncover the future marketing focus of your startup. It’s important to develop clear and actionable information into how to expand your business further. As a result, it is critical to track the buyer’s journey using various tools and software.

For example, you can use analytics tools to translate website traffic into the buyer’s journey. Google Analytics is a free tool that provides a wide range of tracking options, including purchases, phone calls, and contact form submissions.

Differentiate Yourself From the Competition

The only way to stand out from the crowd is to leverage your unique position. A key component of a startup marketing strategy is by implementing features and benefits that competitors do not offer. Search forums, social media, and other online communities are great places to learn what your customers like and dislike. Then, simply incorporate those features into your offer.

Then promote the features in the same places so that potential customers are aware that you offer these features. A simple yet comprehensive positioning statement of how you will meet the needs of your customers while outperforming the competition can work wonders for you. A positioning statement with a goal-oriented approach to problem-solving is preferable to a skewed vision.

Include Marketing Concepts for Specific Niche Markets

Anyone who is starting a business from the ground up should find a way to give their company an advantage. One of the most important ways for a company to gain a competitive advantage is to identify a market niche where it can best implement promotions to outperform other players in that market segment.

Finding a niche can be challenging. However, owning a specific niche should be one of the primary goals for the business. By researching the details about the niche segment, you can really gain an understanding of the market in which you’re operating, where gaps in the market are, and how to capitalize on the niche segments.

To summarize:

  • Look for new trends.
  • Experiment with new technology.
  • Discover and pursue market opportunities.
  • Create novel solutions to a problem.
  • Ensure startup marketing strategy is documented before starting.

Selecting Profitable Marketing Channels

When you first start, you will focus on multiple channels, but after a few months of trial and error, you should have identified a few channels that work.

Forbes reports that:

Among the hundreds of marketing channels available (PR, influencers, events, digital, podcasts, print, newsletters, partnerships, and so on), it’s critical to choose the ones that will work the hardest for you for the least amount of money. A good marketing strategy begins with strategically placing bets on a few channels where your customer is most likely to see your message AND take action (like, share, buy, comment, sign up, review).

Forbes

It’s also important to ensure that you’re engaging with customers at every step of the purchasing journey, from brand awareness to customer purchase. Also, be sure to stay in touch with customers after they’ve purchased to nurture brand loyalty and consumer advocacy.

Now, repeat the process.

Stay with your plan once you’ve devised one. Implement the plan for six months and then measure results to understand what worked and what didn’t. There will be times when the strategy does not go as planned; keep track of these instances and monitor your progress. You’ll have gained enough experience after six months to make better-informed decisions in the future.

Marketing Channels for Startups

Now let’s look at tactics for promoting your startup to gain new customers. Aside from the traditional approaches such as radio, print, or broadcast media, we have compiled a shortlist of various communications channels that can help grow your business.

Let’s look at how to use them effectively to make an impact.

Social Media

Social media has especially grown in popularity over the last 15 years, and serves as a good starting point for modern-marketing methods. It has transformed into an essential component of any marketing strategy because it allows you to reach a larger audience without a big investment. By taking a strategic approach, you can concentrate on smaller goals. Use it in conjunction with your other content, such as newsletters, blog articles, influencer collaboration, ebooks, and so on.

Points to remember:

  • Test content across all social media channels, but focus on a select few that are successful.
  • Post engaging and helpful content that raises brand awareness.
  • Assist potential customers by answering their questions in communities and groups.

Search Engine Marketing (SEO)

The majority of digital startups continue to rely heavily on search engines for revenue. They generate traffic organically from search engines like Google. That is why startups should prioritize improving their rankings on search engines. A solid SEO strategy significantly reduces spending while increasing potential ROI.

When you first start with search engine marketing, make sure to:

  • Create an effective content plan suited for organic rankings.
  • Experiment with high-volume long-tail keywords to generate relevant traffic to your website.

Email Marketing

Whoever said email marketing is dead, is dead wrong! Email marketing continues to be an effective medium of promotion and marketing for most companies. It is also an essential component of a marketing strategy and can be effectively used for retargeting. Email marketing tactics can help businesses expand their reach, and to convert visitors into customers, email marketing necessitates the automation of drip marketing campaigns.

Email marketing is implemented as a way to move visitors from the awareness stage to the conversion and loyalty stages by sending relevant marketing material to customers at different steps of the buying journey.

Startups that want to grow their business through email marketing should:

  • A/B test email subject lines, headlines, and content.
  • Subscribers can be segmented based on their interests and preferences.

Paid Promotion

Simply put, paid advertising is absolutely crucial to the grow of any business. As a startup, you must first become acquainted with your brand before advertising it to the appropriate audience and target market. You can impress your audience and extend the reach of your business by targeting customer preferences and advertising relevant messages to them. It’s important to ensure that you identify the most effective paid marketing channels for gaining new clients. For example, Facebook ads work great for consumer products but are less effective at driving growth for business-to-business brands.

There exists a degree of uncertainty when it comes to paid marketing. That’s why experts advise that your strategy should not rely solely on paid advertisements as the primary source of inbound traffic. Please keep in mind that paid ads rely on either purchasing intent or impulse purchases. People who use search engines have higher purchasing intent, whereas people who browse social media feeds in their spare time are more likely to make impulse purchases. 

Referrals and Affiliates

People frequently affiliate and referral programs confused.

  • Affiliates are other businesses that are attempting to make money by promoting your products.
  • Referrals are repeat customers who recommend your business to their friends and family.

Obtaining affiliate partnerships for your startup is one of the most effective ways to gain new customers quickly. Affiliate recommendations typically come with more authority, which positively influences people to sign up for your program. From an ROI perspective, you only have to pay your affiliates a commission when someone signs up through their referral link, rather than spending on tactics that drive traffic to your website.

In comparison to paid marketing, affiliate partnerships are a more effective way to acquire customers.

Another effective way to grow sales is through referral marketing. Generally speaking, referrals don’t perform as well as affiliate marketing, but it’s still a good marketing strategy for startups. For instance, companies like Lyft and Uber make excellent use of referral marketing. When someone downloads their app, they receive a message informing them that if someone else uses their coupon to get a ride, they will receive a credit to be used in their app.

Because of the direct impact on increasing profitability, affiliate programs deserve special attention in your startup marketing plan.

Startups can use this marketing strategy to grow their exposure and gain more customers. However, to pull this tactic off successfully, it’s important that customer support is superior. If not, you’ll risk losing your affiliate programs if errors occur with customers sourced from affiliates.

Blogs and Public Relations

Startups should also concentrate on developing content as part of their strategy. This entails developing a six-month blog marketing and outreach strategy focused on organic rankings. According to the Content Marketing Institute, blog articles alone are an effective way to raise brand awareness about your product than any other medium. Another benefit of content marketing is you own the content. You don’t know when the social media algorithm will change, or when the paid marketing channel you use to promote your products will increase in price. But you do know your blog will always be working for you, 24/7/365.

Marketing Through Influencers

Influencer marketing is another approach to generate buzz for startups. As a result, it is a critical component of the startup marketing strategy. It entails identifying, collaborating (and most times, paying) a social media influencer to spread your message within their network. Influencer marketing does not guarantee sales, but it is an excellent way to raise brand awareness.

It’s important to remember:

  • Influencers can be used to test new products in the market more quickly.
  • More ROI can be obtained by utilizing micro-influencers.
  • Focus on a variety of micro-influencers to expand your reach.

Offline marketing should not be underestimated.

Digital marketing is absolutely sufficient to spark growth on its own. However, some startups require traditional marketing mediums to succeed. Print media and television marketing, billboard and transit advertisements, event marketing and sponsorship, and guerilla marketing are all examples of offline marketing channels. Because of their impact on effectively growing a brand, these marketing options should be considered when developing a startup marketing plan.

Other examples also include sales brochures, business cards, flyers, and vouchers. Before deciding on the type of offline channel to use, it is critical to first have a deep understanding of your customers.

Marketing Performance Metrics

Now that you’ve determined all aspects of your marketing strategy, it’s time to put your plan into action. Begin by marketing through various social media channels, start broad then narrow your campaigns to a few that work.

Prepare to Make Changes

Lastly, don’t be afraid to change the direction of your campaign to find a successful marketing strategy for your startup. Things have a habit of changing. To meet market demands, all businesses must be ready to change the course to maintain a competitive advantage.

Were you able to use this guide to create a startup marketing plan? What else should we say about it? Let us know by sharing this article on social media and tag us in the post!

Guest+Posting+How+Why+You+Should+Be+Doing+It

Guest Posting: How & Why You Should Be Doing It

Guest posting has risen to become one of the best Search Engine Optimization practices for any website, from everyday bloggers to large corporations. One of the biggest challenges for an online business is getting your messages to your potential leads, and though a solid social media strategy will always be beneficial, it can take a while to see the fruits of your labor. This is where guest posting can come in. Below you’ll learn how guest posting can help your bottom line, and how to do it the right way.

First, it’s important that we answer the question, “What is guest posting?” According to newbreedmarketing.com:

Guest blogging, also called “guest posting,” is the act of writing content for another company’s website. Generally, guest bloggers write for similar blogs within their industry in order to: Attract traffic back to their website.

It may seem counterproductive to spend time writing articles for other sites (that you may even look at as competitors no less), when you could be using that time to create content for your own site. But the opportunities that guest posting can offer you can be monumental for your SEO and sales goals. Here are some of the things that guest posting can do for your site.

INTRODUCE YOU TO A NEW CROWD 

Writing blog posts for other blogs allows you to get in front of their audience, thus raising your brand awareness to potential prospects who may be unfamiliar with your brand.

INCREASE YOUR BRAND TRUST 

If your brand provides quality content, people will come back for more. It’s really as simple as that. Building authority in your industry goes hand in hand with building customer trust. Guest posting on other related sites allows you to display your depth of knowledge in your field.

HELP YOU PULL IN MORE SITE VISITS 

A website without traffic is a website without profits. When your article goes live on another site, this can supply you with months and years of traffic, depending on the popularity of the site that it’s posted on and how helpful your post is.

ENABLE YOU TO GET FREE BACKLINKS 

One last advantage of guest posting is that it allows you to get a backlink to your website, which is a major factor in SEO ranking. Why? Because backlinks are the lifeblood of SEO, and typically the more backlinks a website has, the higher Google will rank it in search results.

QUICK TIPS FOR OUTREACH 

  • Start by making a list of anywhere from 10-50 sites that you’d like to guest post for.
  • Determine whether or not the site accepts accept guest posts first. 
  • Bypass your competition and instead look for related blogs to write for.
  • Shoot for sites that are bigger than yours, but not so much that you’ll likely get ignored. 

GETTING YOUR PITCHES READ 

When you’ve discovered the sites you’re going to write for, you now have to figure out how to produce an astonishing pitch that is sure to make the blogger you’re reaching state yes without fail. Here are a few ways to do this.

BE A “PEACOCK”

How can you make your ideas stand out from the rest? Try to think of unique angles to subjects that have been discussed recently, or consider re-hashing an old post and spinning it with new ideas and updates. Be sure to create a title that is attention-grabbing and memorable, and don’t be afraid to include links to other noteworthy pieces that you’ve published. It’s OK to show off a little bit.

CUSTOMIZE EACH OUTREACH EMAIL 

Don’t send the same template email to every site you pitch. Make sure to tailor all of your pitch emails to the specific person (and site). Also, be sure to include the person’s name (and the name of the site) as well as a reason why your pitch should be considered.

BE GENUINE 

Attempt to make an actual connection with whoever you’re contacting. Keep in mind, there is a human behind that site as much as there is behind yours, and regardless of whether their blog is bigger than yours, we’re all human at the end of the day. Be yourself and be clear about what you want from them. When it comes to effective outreach, people are more receptive than you may think.

Lastly, don’t spam your prospects. Create a spreadsheet or other tracking document and note all of your follow-ups. Try following up once or twice, and if they don’t respond then simply cross them off your list.

Guest posting can offer a great way to meet and share with other bloggers, introduce your content to new audiences, and get valuable SEO backlinks. Remember to be personable, direct, and unique when conducting your outreach. It’s really just a numbers game at the end of the day.

Customers+Wants+And+Needs

Understanding Your Customer’s Wants And Needs

SUCCESSFUL MARKETING REQUIRES UNDERSTANDING YOUR CUSTOMER’S WANTS AND NEEDS

At the end of the day, the basic wants and needs of your customer are the primary driving force for taking action to engage with your brand and buy your products or services. Whenever a need goes unsatisfied, there exists a gap between what a customer desires and what they currently have – whether on a physical or psychological level. This is important to remember for global mass-market organizations, mid-market companies, and small-to-medium sized businesses because the impact is the same. If a need in a market is unmet, a competitive will have an opportunity to gain advantage when contending for the same customers.

CONSUMER NEEDS

This is where human psychology and behavior come into play, which focuses on the premise that every human has a need. Needs can be a basic physical need critical to our survival, such as food, drink, shelter, and sleep. People also have social and emotional needs that are critical to one’s happiness and mental health, such as belonging, security, esteem, love, and self-fulfillment. Needs are what motivate the behavior of people to make a decision to find a solution, which in many cases is “consumption behavior”. Having needs fulfilled do not come from marketers or social forces; they come from the basic biological and psychological aspects of human existence.

Similar to customers, businesses also have needs that must be satisfied to assure survival and well-being. The driving force behind the needs of an organization is determined by the strategic objectives and the resources required to achieve the objectives, such as capital, equipment, inventory, supplies, or services.

CONSUMER WANTS

A consumer’s wants usually reflect the desired preferences for specific ways of satisfying a need. Thus, people usually want particular products, brands, or services that satisfy their needs in a specific way. A person is thirsty but wants something sweet, so perhaps they choose a Coke. Someone may need a new car, but they want a pickup truck because they live on a farm (a truck will best fit their needs) but they want Ford because “they’re tough” or perceived a dependable. When considering a B2B organization, a company may need office space, but they want an office with a prestigious address in midtown Manhattan.

Usually, needs are relatively few, but wants are shaped by social influences (celebrity or influencer endorsements), past history (recalls or awesome charitable work), and consumption behavior (the product or service is practical, functional, and effectively solves a problem). It’s important to remember that different people have different wants to satisfy the same need. Everyone needs to keep warm on a cold winter night, but some people want to use a down comforter while some people want to crank up the heat, and others may even want to use an electric blanket.

These differences between needs and wants helps to shed light on whether or not marketing campaigns and advertising can actually meet people’s wants and needs. Neither a marketing agency or any other social force can create the physical and emotional aspects of being human. However, marketing and social forces can influence and person’s wants and needs. A major role of a marketing agency is to help develop and promote products or services by simulating a customer’s specific want for a specific brand that helps them better satisfy one or more of their needs.

Photo by Demian Smit from Pexels

DO CUSTOMERS ALWAYS KNOW WHAT THEY WANT?

Some business owners questions whether or not a strong focus on customer needs and wants is always a good thing. It’s been argued that a customer may not always be able to articulate what they need or want. For instance, the smartphone is a good example of how consumers may not know that a product or service is technically possible, however the need for more convenience always exists.

Akio Morita (late CEO of Sony) once said:

Our plan is to lead the public with new products rather than ask them what kind of products they want. The public does not know what is possible, but we do. So instead of doing a lot of marketing research, we refine our thinking on a product and its use and try to create a market for it by educating and communicating with the public. (1)

In fact, the Chrysler Minivan was developed with little or no market research. (You’re welcome, Karen.) In comparison, the Ford Edsel, New Coke, and McDonald’s Mclean low-fat burger, were all flops that were developed with a lot of customer feedback. (2)

When you think about it, the laws of probability dictate that some new products will succeed and even more will fail, regardless of how much money is invested into market research. Although, we should point out that without fault, critics of customer market research argue that paying too much attention to needs and wants can suppress innovation, leading companies to produce only marginal improvements, or even settling for producing line extensions of products and services that already exist, wrapped up with brand messaging as something different. How then, should business owners and markerters find a balance in this dilemma?

CONDUCT MARKET RESEARCH

While end-consumers may not always be able to accurately describe what they want, the same usually is not the same for business-to-business customers. In fact, the wants and needs of B2B customers are generally very clear and easy to understand. Often times, B2B products are developed by the urging of customers and are designed in partnership between vendor and customer.

In contrast, gaining an understanding of consumer markets should be approached from an R&D perspective. This can be achieved by a conversation (conducted via focus groups, surveys, etc.) about technical concepts that can then be turned into salable products or services. The following is a great example of how we utilized social media to conduct market research for our client, Well Played Board Game Cafe.

A customer focus is critical for business development. It’s important to utilize analytical insights, market experience, and customer inputs to decide what products or services to make, what benefits they will offer to customers, and whether customers will value the benefits – at least enough to make it commercially viable.

The success factor of focusing on the customer often becomes clear when businesses attempt to develop a variety of new product offerings from an already well-established and successful product or technology. (i.e. Crystal Pepsi). In the case of a new innovative technology like Augmented Reality, the tech must first be developed into a prototype or product concept before consumers can react and the commercial potential can be determined. In other cases, customers are able to describe the specific benefits they need or want without knowing what is technically feasible.

Customers usually find it easier to express what they don’t like or want about a product or service and what additional benefits they would like from something new. For example, before Apple introduced the iPod (yes, even before the iPhone), very view people knew about the convenience the product provided or were unaware of the possibilities of digital technology. At the time, if you asked a customer if they would buy a product smaller than a Sony Walkman that could store 10,000 songs they could import from their computer without messing with changing CDs and the songs won’t skip we all would say “YES PLEASE!”

THE TAKEAWAY

Although a strong focus on customers is necessary for developing new innovative products, it also shouldn’t hinder business owners from focusing on satisfying the wants and needs customers are able to articulate by improving current products or services. More importantly, even though organizations can succeed in the short run by ignoring customer desires, incorporating a strong customer focus pays off over time in terms of market share and profit.(3)


1. Quoted in Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad, Competing for the Future (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press. 1994)

2. Justin Martin, “Ignore Your Customer”, Fortune, 5/1/1995/ P121-126

3. “The Effect of Market Orientation on Business Profitability,” Journal of Marketing 54 (4/90) p1-18