Creating a business from scratch can be a lot of work, but it definitely pays off if you take the time to design an adequate startup marketing plan that helps bring your objectives closer.
Every successful company got to where they are now by setting a clear goal and implementing the tools to achieve it. And while that might be easier said than done, we want to help you get going in any way we can!
To that end, we’ve put together this bullet-proof guide to help you get started on your plan and quickly grow your new venture into a profitable enterprise.
We’ll cover the whole planning process, starting with building a strong value proposition through market research, learning the ABC of content marketing for startups, and ending with how to turn your mistakes into valuable lessons.
Are you excited already? Well, let’s get started!
Have you ever tried to sell a product you don’t know to a complete stranger? Well, you don’t actually need to try it to already guess it’s nearly impossible!
So, before jumping into the nitty-gritty of startup marketing, you’ll first need to set foot on a solid foundation based on market research.
This essential part of the process will help you answer key questions for your strategy, like who your customers are, what aspects of your product stand out the most, and what makes your offerings unique and distinctive. So, let’s start by learning how to do market research for a startup and figure out those crucial things.
Also known as ICP, ideal customer profiles represent a detailed and in-depth outline of your prospect customers. It’s the core of marketing strategies for startups since it will give you insights into how to proactively design your business plan.
Ideally, your research should answer this set of questions:
You can begin with superficial information such as location, age, sex, occupation, and average income. Then move into more specific traits, like what they do with their free time, where they shop, what influences their opinion, and how they talk.
Some of these may seem too specific at first, but trust me, it will all come in handy when you move on to create customized content that speaks directly to your target audience.
What troubles your customer’s everyday lives? What is the solution your product or service offers?
What do they think about its naming, packaging, features, and pricing? What are the real uses they will give your product or service?
Now, while it might sound like a lot, there are many ways to gather this information nowadays. Some startup marketing agencies use methods such as focus groups, paid surveys, and personal interviews. But if you’re working with a limited budget (like most startups are), you might want to use more accessible tools, such as audience statistics and online trend research, which should provide a lot of valuable insights into your audience’s preferences.
One of the most important aspects of successful startup marketing comes from understanding your own product or service.
More than just an item, you’re offering your customers a solution to a specific pain point. That’s the real reason they will buy your product or service in the first place! You can also think of it as a promise you make to your customers: you’re promising a differential benefit.
That’s your key value proposition: the number one reason your product or service is best suited to fulfill that need.
When we later move on to the ins and outs of content marketing for startups, you should use this differential benefit as the main message of all your promotional efforts. As for now, you should be able to phrase your proposition in the most simple, direct, and compelling way.
Pro Tip: a good key value proposition should feel like an elevator pitch: if you can’t explain it in just a few words, then you’re probably doing it wrong. Also, avoid using overly technical vocabulary: stick to the tone and words you know your customers use and respond to.
Competitor analysis is more than just “spying on your competitors”. It’s really about identifying potential opportunities while staying up-to-date with industry trends and ensuring your startup is consistently meeting – and exceeding! – industry standards.
An exhaustive competitive analysis is essential in startup marketing because you shouldn’t dive into the ocean without first knowing what kind of hungry fish are out there!
Here’s how you can conduct such research:
You can divide them into categories according to their place in your niche: solid leadership, intermediate and smaller business, or other startups. Research how long they have been in the industry and find out what products and services they offer.
Once you have a complete list, further your research by noting their production process, sales tactics, and social media presence. Keep in mind that most of this information may be kept under wraps, but there are still tons you can find out about your competitors with just a simple online search.
This will also help you polish your key value proposition since you’ll want to offer your customers a differential benefit from your competitors. Also, take a look into their pricing, packaging, naming, and what other kinds of services they are offering their target.
Competitor analysis will also provide you with a benchmark against which you can measure your own growth and success. This brings us to…
Setting clear and realistic goals is a crucial step of every startup marketing strategy.
It will not only ensure you have a specific picture of what “success” looks like, but it will also motivate your whole company into working together towards a united objective. After all, even the most imaginative startup marketing agency out there can’t pull out a magic trick if their client lacks vision and commitment.
Goals can be quantified and measured, like producing that many video ads, reaching a specific sales figure, or gaining a said number of followers on social media. They should also be time-specific, so you can approximately predict when you will reach them or if you’re falling behind.
Having said all that, do know that your marketing efforts can also have more abstract goals that cannot be put into numbers. Things like “becoming the go-to brand for people in a specific demographic” or “becoming the top-of-the-mind choice for customers in a specific location” which make for remarkable “barometers of intent” that help keep you pointed in the right direction as time goes on.
Last but not least, customer feedback is often more important than sales figures when it comes to digital marketing for startups. Tools such as online reviews and chatbots can help you gather objections from your early customers and figure out how to improve your product or service to stay ahead of the competition.
Now that we’ve covered how to do market research for a startup, it’s time to put all that valuable information you’ve gathered into use!
Most early-stage startups tend to use an aggressive content strategy, a very understandable choice since your first marketing goal should be to get your brand’s name out there. The thing is, there are several key aspects you need to get right for your content strategy to have the desired effect.
For your content to really click with your audience, it takes more than just creating tons and tons of it. As we’ll see, its effectiveness mainly hinges on segmentation and timing!
So, let’s see how to enhance your startup marketing plan with video content, social media, and email.
Over the past decade, videos have proven to be one of the most popular forms of content out there, a trend that has only deepened by the pandemic. And marketers around the globe have taken note of this by perfecting the art of branded videos to achieve astounding results in terms of engagement.
Far more compelling than blog posts and plain pictures, branded videos have the advantage of condensing big chunks of information into just a few minutes of animation. But given that setting up and deploying a full video marketing strategy can be daunting without any previous experience, we’ll focus today on two types of videos that work particularly well in terms of digital marketing for startups: explainers and culture videos.
There’s a reason explainer videos are considered one of the most powerful tools in content marketing for startups: they allow brands from all kinds of niches to promote their product or service’s benefits while also offering valuable information to their audience in a compelling format.
As an early-stage startup, some types of videos like commercials and traditional ads aren’t as effective when introducing a new brand and product to an audience. By contrast, explainers don’t feel like ads, overtly trying to sell something; they are a perfect mix of educational and subtle promotional content!
Explainers use creative animation and emotional storytelling to address the specific pain points of your target audience and offer a solution suited to their needs. Meaning you can feature your video on your startup’s website and post it on your social media accounts to maximize reach (more on that later!).
First impressions are essential in startup marketing: you want to introduce your company to potential customers in the most interesting and credible way. Culture videos can do just that by showing your audience your company mission and the values you stand for.
Culture videos are all about emotion and trust: it’s your opportunity to share the spotlight with the real people behind your brand and tell the heartwarming story of why you started your business in the first place.
While company culture videos are mostly used as a recruiting tool, they are also a great addition to your website’s “About Us” section. That way, early adopters and new audiences who’ve never heard of your startup can know all about you in just a few minutes of video.
Establishing a presence on social media platforms is one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to get your startup’s name out there and quickly gain an online reputation.
To fully take advantage of these opportunities, your startup marketing plan should consider these practical steps:
Most startup marketing agencies advise their clients to open a business account on every possible social media platform. The thing is, you may not have the time or resources to build a strong presence on each of those networks in parallel. So, our advice is to start with the main platform you already know your potential customers use the most as a priority and branch off when possible.
Figuring out your tone and online personality may seem difficult at first. Luckily, most social media platforms offer startups valuable metrics that you can use to know what type of content resonated with your audience and which didn’t.
While the overall number of followers you have on your social media account is relevant, the truth is that quality is often more important than quantity! It will take a long time for your startup to gather many followers, so you can start by building a connection with the people who already have an influential power on social media.
There’s always (and we really mean always) room for improvement.
When it comes to marketing, you should always be willing to learn from your mistakes and be ready to adapt your plan accordingly. Thus the importance of setting up metrics and quantifiable goals that let you know if you’re on the right path towards achieving your desired marketing goals.
Plus, the rules of digital marketing for startups aren’t set in stone. It’s not enough to test and iterate what you’ve been doing, but you also need to be on the lookout for new and creative marketing tools that will keep you ahead of the game.
Installing a customer feedback loop is essential to understand what areas of your marketing plan you should strengthen and what opportunities you may be missing. Make sure you adopt a structure that lets you minimize the time between receiving feedback and using it as actionable data.
This may seem like a difficult task since most people will not go out of their way to give you feedback. But your first customers need to know how much you value their opinion and how important customer feedback is to startups. Consider using incentives, such as special discounts and other sales tactics, to do so!
Startup marketing can seem like an extremely competitive affair. Thousands of startups enter the game every week, and most of them fail due to a lack of a solid marketing plan and customer awareness.
And while in this article we’ve given you enough valuable tips for your startup, we’d like to end with a useful reminder: always think in the long-term. Start by creating a foundation based on strong values and conducting insightful market research. Then follow with producing content that shows your customers you aren’t just another fleeting business venture: you’re here to stay.