A Beginner’s Guide to Startup Marketing

Starting a company is exciting – exhilarating even. As bad luck would have it, just starting and not planning anything won’t hold the water and those overnight success news stories you read about are typically the result of behind-the-scenes years of hard work. Moreover, marketing for startups is a unique obstacle more often than not, since you only have limited resources at your disposal – whether it’s talent, cash, or time.

You need to plan every step of the way, no matter how trivial it seems, and execute it properly. To make matters even more difficult, traditional marketing strategies don’t always bring results. Still, you can do something about it. Here is how.

Create a mission statement and tell everyone about it

The majority of businesses in the world have a mission statement that explains them and their work. Although sometimes overly boring, there are those that inspire and provide an interesting insight into the organization’s key motivations and goals.

As a startup owner, you will need one also. It doesn’t have to belong – in fact, it’s advisable to keep it condensed. Just several sentences about your work, your niche, your reason for being, and why you do it better than others. Make a summary of it, and put it in your About us and What we do pages. Additionally, mission statements allow you to define and refine your goals and how you achieve them.

Traditional tactics

Sometimes it feels like online branding is the only thing you need in your marketing efforts and that those efforts will be successful with you focusing only on blogs and social media. Such actions can backlash in the vast majority of cases. You still have to find and market to customers who aren’t online all of the time.

For instance, you can offer promotional hats that showcase your startup logo and give them to your customers as a part of the prize pool for the social media giveaway. In this way, you combine offline tactics with online ones so that ultimately you ensure that your marketing is seen by both offline and online audiences.

What metrics to follow

Vanity, although useful when directed at being better, is an awful character flaw. The same goes for your vanity metrics. You shouldn’t indulge in both. Working with vanity metrics can be viewed as “playing in an empty theater” – while appealing to your ego, they’re ultimately useless. Since they aren’t tied to any real growth, you’ll never be sure if your startup has a chance at success or is a total mistake until it’s too late.

Core metrics need to be precisely measurable and specific. For instance, you want 500 new signups per month. You could measure the conversion rate of four calls to sign up. Basically, you need to have a few valuable metrics based on actions taken throughout the customer acquisition cycle – newsletter subscriptions, signups, app downloads.

Analyze the competition

Although you always have to understand the features of your service or product, in some cases it’s more important to know in-depth what your competition is offering. Only with this can you make your product original and decide its positioning in the market.

Find out what it is that you offer and no one else does. Describe it, just like your mission, in a brief format called – Unique selling proposition. Maybe your service is better in terms of quality or pricing. Or maybe it offers some benefits no other service has? In the end, what you give to your customers has to have a better value than your competition.

Tell your startup story – and have a place for yourself there

As the Internet came into being, Gore, Cerf, and Postel all played key roles. Cerf laid the foundation, Postel updated it into a workable structure, while Gore and other politicians paid for the design and building. There are many more great minds who were involved, yet received very little credit for it, probably because they didn’t know that little self-promotion can go a long way.

Not just any kind of mind you. Certainly not the blatant one. It’s all about some indirect self-promotion, where people can learn the story of your new company and you as its leader. Even LeBron James missed a few dunks now and then.

Ultimately, remember to define and research your target audience. Nowadays more than ever, the wants and needs of the target audience are very specific. Since such segments need to be precisely defined researching your target audience is crucial. Using dominant research methods such as email, telephone surveys, personal interviews, and focus groups allows you to gather data about your target audience. You can use different secondary data sources as well. For instance, you can devise your buyer persona that shows an in-depth view or your average customer.

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