When you launch your startup, a marketing strategy is essential to effectively position and promote your business for both your customers and your potential investors.
It can be overwhelming knowing where to start with a marketing strategy given that it drives how your startup’s brand is perceived in the marketplace.
You will find all the pillars you need to develop a strategic marketing plan that will support your overall growth, engage potential customers and build your brand.
Before Planning a Startup Marketing Plan
The beauty of startups is that they are unique and if their marketing strategy is to have the desired impact it needs to be entirely tailored to your startup.
There are various areas to cover before you even start planning your marketing plan which we will discuss below.
Identify the Problem
Your startup was born as a solution, whether it was scribbled on a scrap piece of paper at 3am in the morning or deliberated upon for months before it’s actual conception. You set out to solve a problem.
What is your problem? What pain does it cause? How well do you know your problem? To build a strategy for your startup that solves this problem, you need to know it inside and out.
Unique Selling Point
What is your USP? This sets you apart from the rest and also drives your brand personality.
You already know your problem, now you just need to highlight the biggest benefits and define your promise.
What makes your startup the one your audience should turn to?
Know the Market
Knowing the market space you’re planning to break into will give you invaluable insight into how big your target market is. Trend analysis is used to assess data and recorded market behaviour over a specific time frame. This is used to forecast market traits and anticipated consumer behaviour. Find the data, crunch the numbers and use this to build a visualisation of the potential market so that your startup has all the insight it needs to succeed.
Understand your Customer
You’ve got the intel on your target market which is the baseline you need but now you need to get a little more personal so that you can segment your customers appropriately.
This includes basic demographics such as age, gender, marital status, occupation, location, and income. Once you’ve gathered the superficial data you will need to dive a little deeper by analysing their psychographics. Psychographics are characteristics based on interests, activities, and opinions. This helps you understand the decisions your customers make, why they make them, and how to persuade them to choose your startup’s solutions.
Learn About Competitors
Your startup might be really niche but there will always be competition in some format so it’s important to learn everything you can about them so you can compete armed with all the knowledge you need.
Look at their ranking on Google, identify their keywords, research their social media and spend some time on their website figuring out their strengths and weaknesses. This is also a good place to identify what points make your solution the better choice.
The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis is a tool that keeps on giving. You can use it before you launch your startup, for individual campaigns, company reviews, customer challenges – you name it, you can SWOT it.
This is a great way to figure out what is working, what needs work, and where you can improve.
Every marketing strategy needs a mission statement. This should match your startup’s dynamic and can be changed so that it’s always relevant.
This is specifically the what, who and how of your vision.
Where are you right now?
And, where do you want to be?
Using tools such as perceptual mapping to visualise where your startup fits in the market can be really informative in assisting you in establishing your niche and where you measure up against your competitors in regards to price and quality, or alternative dimensions more relative within your industry.
Goals for your startup essentially. When you are fleshing out your objectives you should consider these parameters; profitability, customer experience, finances, growth, and competitor analysis.
Putting your objectives into tangible tasks can be done by implementing SMART goals. We’re moving on to these soon.
Steps to a Winning Startup Marketing Strategy
You have the theory down. You are armed with the information you need to create a strategy for your startup and now it’s time to build that strategy out so that it can be implemented.
SMART goals are; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. For example, you might have goals such as; retain 10% of our customers over the next 12 months or increase organic traffic to the website by X% in Q3.
All businesses can benefit from SMART goals but they are particularly useful for startups because employees usually have to spin several plates at the same time. To achieve sustained growth your startup needs to be consistent and SMART goals are an excellent way to maintain focus.
You’ve got the background sorted, you have an outline of who your customers are. Now you want to really dive deep and create buyer personas, otherwise known as representations of your ideal customers.
You can build your buyer personas based on market research, data, and existing customers. These archetypes will help you refine your strategy.
There’s a lot of competition out there and you really want your startup to lead the pack so invest time into developing your core messaging.
Be clear, concise, and on-brand. Think about your buyer personas and create your messaging thinking of your end-user at all times so that the messaging is accessible, compelling, and desirable.
Create and Distribute Content
Your content will be what builds your expert positioning. This is the bulk of what builds your reputation, positions your brand, and gets your target audience to trust you.
Build a plan to encourage organic traffic onto your website. Use SEO best practices to get traffic onto your website and then have informative content that is optimised to engage your prospects. Then get it out there, publish the blog, create a resource to download, and shout about it across your social media. Let people know it’s there so they know where to go!
This is a brilliant way to lay the foundations for your startup’s digital footprint and start establishing its brand in the market space.
Your marketing strategy won’t give you instant returns. It will lay some solid groundwork and help you identify with your startup in a way that guarantees your success in the marketspace but for quick results, you will need to run ads.
Ads are important because they get your brand in front of your target audience quickly so that your startup can generate leads and ROI.
Traditional PR had various benefits but nothing compares to the power of transformative digital PR in press coverage, events, thought leadership content, and outreach.
Quality backlinks increase your startup’s visibility online and offline which gets the market excited about your brand.
Customer Lifetime Value
Retention is more cost-effective than generating new leads which is why your startup needs a plan in place for CLV.
You can improve on this by building a customer-focused experience, tracking customer satisfaction, and continuously innovating upsells and cross-sells.
Your startup will thrive on advocates. There is nothing more effective than a peer referral and your reputation will impact this.
Rely on a feedback loop; ask your customers for detailed feedback, generate organic testimonials, build social proof and respond to online reviews to help build your CLV.
Word of mouth remains a reliable lead generator. Your customer experiences good service and they tell person A who tells persons B, C, D and E, and so forth. Before you know it you’re a referral machine.
Referral programs are a great asset here because they will encourage your customers to shout about your startup a little louder to help the organic process along.
Measure Your Startup Marketing Strategy Performance
Your startup has a firm standing in the marketspace and you’re just getting started. You’ve implemented your marketing strategy and it’s brought you qualified leads that are turning into advocates and sticking around for more than one sales cycle.
Startups are constantly evolving as they scale and your marketing strategy should too which is why measuring your performance is so key. The results will give you all the information you need to optimise your strategy.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are what we call the metrics used to measure your progress according to your goals.
Set your KPIs as frequently as is relevant to your goals and keep them updated. Have a goal of increasing sales by 25% over a quarter? Did you achieve it? If not, why not?
Use what you learn to improve across the next quarter.
Your customers are the reason your startup is a success. Giving them what they want whilst maintaining your authority is what makes the system work for everyone. If you are using email marketing then A/B testing is a really insightful way to learn how to speak to your customers in a way that they will respond to.
Use Google Analytics, Search Console, and other reporting tools to measure your progress, see how well your content is working and take what you learn to improve your overarching strategy.
Even the most successful startups need to take what they learn from their customers, reporting, and testing to optimise.
To optimise is to make the best use of a resource, this is true in marketing and it is especially true for startups because evolving is such a key part of startup success.
Take what you learn and integrate it into your startup’s marketing strategy so that it remains relevant, valuable, and most importantly accessible for your customers. Without a strategy that has the capability to evolve with supply and demand, your startup won’t be in front of the audience you want it to be visible to when you need it.
Reach out for expert strategy should you wish to fast forward your start-up’s growth!