The success of a startup rests on its approach to marketing. Unfortunately, there are so many ways to implement marketing and so little time to capture the attention and trust of audiences. Well, it’s all in the planning! Make sure that you’ve got your marketing strategy in line. In this article, we will present a tried-and-tested approach, typically rolled out step-by-step over 18 months. We hope that this tried-and-tested marketing plan for a startup helps you launch your startup or take things to the next level.
Step 1: Strategically Position Business (the foundation)
Every successful startup launch program employs strategic positioning to include the early adopters. Positioning-determines the direction you will be traveling for at least a year.
Start by defining the category within which your product/service exists and who will benefit from it. Stay as customer-focused as possible. Map your Customer Segment’s Pains, Gains, and Jobs to your Product/Services’ Pain relievers, Gain Creators, and Products/Services. Then you can craft the right Value Propositions for each audience.
A great resource for this is the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas, along with the Value Proposition Design Book by the folks at Strategyzer (Alan Smith, Alexander Osterwalder, Gregory Bernarda, Trish Papadakos, and Yves Pigneur).
Step 2: Develop a Memorable Brand (the personification)
This marketing-saturated world includes endless variables and competition, making branding more important than ever. Outline why your startup exists (purpose), how your startup works (values, culture code), and what your startup does (products/services). Then make sure that your brand’s name, logo, and URL resonate with your customers and stand out from the crowd.
If you already have the right name and URLs, then give it the right look and feel. Create a memorable brand identity that lures employees, customers, and partners from day one.
Step 3: Set up a Web Presence (the campaign headquarters)
In this age of social media and digital marketing, your web presence is both more crucial and more complicated than ever. Web presence no longer requires only a functional site; you need a sophisticated website that performs multiple roles. Think of your website as a headquarters for your ideal customers rather than a simple showcase of information.
Adding components to your website only increases the likelihood of reaching your potential audience, leading today’s marketers to implement content-rich and customer-centered blog content, a dynamic Facebook Fan page and the right Twitter page at a minimum. Some also develop their own Web apps, Facebook apps, iPhone apps and more.
Tip: Get your web presence right before you launch or relaunch! Design communicates and serves as eye candy, but content and resources are critical. Site content should be embedded with the most relevant SEO keywords and clear visual elements. With the never-ending onslaught of mobile devices, be sure that your website is fully responsive.
Step 4: Build an Inbound Strategy (the crowd-pleasing act)
These days, few businesses can get by without successful blogging. Quality blog content is the core of a modern social marketing and communications strategy. It should reinforced the company’s strategic business and brand, promote its product/service category, define credentials, messages, and benefits as well as drive successful thought leadership.
The promotion of the blog content on social media is critical to getting the most mileage out of it.
Your startup’s blog is your marketing frontman. Your startup’s blog section of the website should be set up properly, designed professionally, and managed well. Thoughtful content strategies need to be developed, writers appointed, guest programs implemented and content carefully planned and produced.
Viral Videos and Guerrilla Marketing
Both B2B or B2C startups can gain a lot by implementing viral video and/or guerrilla marketing programs in the right way. These tactics can increase awareness and word-of-mouth. They should be strategically produced and put into play. Doing them too fast or the wrong way can cause this method to backfire.
Viral videos or viral games and guerrilla activities rely on original ideas, content, and production. Some of the highest viewed videos cost next to nothing to produce. Get creative and remember that good humor almost always works.
SEO and Link-building
SEO and link-building initiatives must be applied to ensure that your Website, Blog, and Social Media marketing activities have a strong technical infrastructure. This ensures that your content is effectively processed by search engines for maximum exposure to your audience.
A smart link-spreading and link-baiting strategy should be closely orchestrated with the digital PR and social media marketing program. Keywords are important. Research them, develop them, expand upon them, and let them help drive your content.
Tip: Do whatever you can to get comprehensive research and strategy in place. Starting to implement content without proper direction will cost you lost time, energy, and money. Working with a certified Inbound Marketing group (like ourselves) will allow you to create these strategies for a wide range of clientele, and to expedite the process and get the components in place for successful content.
Now that you’ve established your startup’s brand and are creating steady content for your potential customers, you’re in a better position to develop an effective Outbound Marketing (advertising) program.
Step 5: Build and Outbound Strategy (make some noise)
Online Advertising (PPC)
When the previous steps are put in place, you’ve created a firm and cost effective launch program for your startup’s marketing with basic viral ingredients. Once it’s been adopted and effectively running it should always continue to be extended and enhanced. This is what this step is all about – kicking off an online Outbound (advertising) program.
A Google AdWords program (pay-per-click) is typically the best place to start. If you harness it well, it can be cost-effective, flexible, and highly scalable. Other search engine ad networks like Yahoo/Bing, Facebook Ads and other strategic banner campaigns should also be considered.
PR has changed a lot over the years, and like everything it’s gone digital. To really stand out, it needs to be strategic.
Once your brand and product/service is well-established it becomes effective to develop PR initiatives to strategically drive events, high profile awareness campaigns with big media, and high impact events. This allows you to build brand recognition with the right audiences. Putting your web presence and content in place helps make this even more impactful, as people can stay engaged with your brand.
Taking advantage of exposure to audiences in relevant media, critical conferences, and eventually radio and TV can offer you valuable visibility when appropriate.
Campaigns that are crowdsourced have become another tool in the Social marketing toolkit. Both early stage startups and large companies are tapping into the power of people for contest-based campaign ideas as well as viral content marketing development.
You can also use crowdsourcing for cost-business development, market research, opinion gathering, customer service support, and more.
Speaking and Briefing
After your reputation and awareness has been established, a targeted speaking and analyst/media briefing program should be created to ensure that your brand stays top-of-mind and is relevant.
A well-developed business model, brand, web presence, as well as Content and Inbound strategy, are the basis for making an impact with marketing.
The steps we covered detail the proven order that successful startups take as they mature into steady businesses. Following this marketing plan for a startup growth when launching your startup (after Series A/B funding) will help ensure the best possible opportunity for success.
If you want to learn more about how to leverage the best marketing strategies for your startup, feel free to grab our complimentary eBook: The Ultimate Startup Marketing QuickStart Guide for Startups with Series A or B Funding.
If you have any questions about how to get started with an Inbound Strategy to grow your startup, don’t be shy, reserve a time to speak with us here. We’re here to help.