The Ultimate Guide to Startup Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Startup Marketing
24 Mar 2016

The stories of startups’ overnight successes and upstart billionaires are some of the most popular fairytales business newcomers and increasing number of more experienced players like to tell themselves before sleep to scare off the monsters of today’s harsh business reality. The truth is that, although we can always count at least few dozens of such examples, they are nothing more than a single drop in the ocean of struggle, persistency, and a lot of hard work, where not all stories have a happy ending. As grim as this verity can be, it should serve as a great reminder that we should not leave anything to chance and make sure that all the aspects of our startup are made rock-solid. Let us see how we can deal with the one that is the most important through your startup’s infancy, and that would be marketing.

Making a Great Foundation

We have to point out, though, that in order to have a great marketing strategy, you have to create a necessary foundation upon which it will lay. Here are the most important things you will have to address before you put your marketing plan in motion.

  • Choosing a market: Choosing the right audience you will promote your product to is like pointing the gun in the right direction. It can make or break your business. Try to find out which target demographics suits your product the best, research its spending power, check the competition, and, finally, use all of the above to form unique value proposition.
  • Develop the brand: Although the fact that final say in forming your brand’s identity is, ultimately, in the hands of your customers, you will still have to make sure your brand is fully developed the moment it hits the market. More personality it has, more marketable it will be.
  • Setting the goals: The set of clear, precise, and, of course, achievable short-term, and long-term goals will ensure that you know where you are and what comes next at any given moment. Try to be as thorough and as realistic as you can.
  • Lay the path for SEO: If you have successfully defined your market you will have no problem defining the keywords relevant to your brand. Essentially, the core keyword list should rely on the unique value proposition we mentioned above.
  • Set the budget: Realistic budget is like a good friend that prevents you from doing something reckless. Be sure to have one.

Promote Your Brand through Interesting Content

No matter how strong marketing campaign it may have prior to its launch, or how hyped it may be, every startup starts its run from the place of relative anonymity. The chances are that the vast majority of mankind will hear of your brand, only if it stumbles upon it while searching for something else. Let us see how we can offer that crucial “something else”.

  • Blogging: These days, every serious business features a blog, so be sure not to be left behind the pack. If you manage to constantly publish interesting, well-written, and easily-digestible content, you will make your blog the go-to place for all the people interested in your niche, regardless whether they are interested in buying your product or not. Also, make sure that your posts are frequent, so your visitors do not lose interest in the blog and develop a habit of coming by to see is there anything new.
  • PR: Publishing PR statements is not only another great way to drive your startup’s web presence, but also to let the audience know why they should even care about it, position your product in the market, direct the word-of-mouth, and address some of your products’ potential weaknesses. If you just find the answers to the questions “what do you need to say”, “when do you need to say that”, and “to whom do you want to say it”, you cannot go wrong.
  • Viral videos: Ever since YouTube made its debut, there has been much discussion has the video killed the blogging star. As long as you accompany your written content with compelling, and interesting videos, the outcome of this debate should not be of your concern.
  • SEO and link-building: Essentially, Search Engine Optimization will tie up all of the previously mentioned efforts, give them one singular purpose, and amplify their combined effects though better search engine ranking.
  • Guerilla marketing: Up until now, we dealt with marketing only from the web standpoint. The truth is that interesting content, and interesting marketing messages can be placed virtually anywhere, as long as they are fun and creative. Why should you miss the opportunity to turn your brand’s HQ, vehicles, employees, and, why not, the entire city you are operating in in one massive billboard.

Harness the Power of Social Media

Following the unfortunate gun analogy we previously made, if your potential customers are targets, and your content bullets, social media would be the Gatling gun you would use to effortlessly bring these two together. Do your best to establish some core follower base on each of the relevant social networks and motivate them to share your content and invite their friends to follow you through various incentives (photos that feature creative spins on the results of your guerilla marketing and rewards in the form of branded promotional products make particularly happy marriage) and your audience will grow very quickly.

Online Marketing

Finally, we should not overlook the benefits of traditional online marketing, and not only because of the fact that banners, YouTube commercials and other similar assets are a very efficient way to carve all the things we mentioned above into the public consciousness. They are also scalable, which is very important considering the fact that you are starting from the scratch. If your resources are too meager, limit yourself to Google Ad Words program until you see some return of investment, and explore other less-common platforms like Bing/Yahoo, Facebook, and YouTube later.

As we can see, marketing your startup requires a lot of skill, patience, and diversified approach. All the effort you have to put into it will, however, be adequately rewarded in the form of exit out of the labyrinth of anonymity so many startups failed to find before they fell victims to the monsters lurking inside.


Tanveer Ahmad

I am a freelance graphic designer & passionate reader of entrepreneurship magazines.

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