Marketing is essential. Your startup could have an amazing product or service, but if the market doesn’t know about it, you’re not going to get any sales. To ensure consumers are aware of your product or service, and to get feedback on your offerings, it’s important to create awareness using the best marketing tools and strategies. Here are some of the steps involved in marketing for startups.
Define your audience
Before you do any form of marketing, you need to start with finding your target audience. If you try to sell to the wrong people, you’re wasting your time – why try to sell a parenting book to a 21-year-old about to go backpacking? To find your target audience you need to ask yourself “what pain point is my product or service trying to solve and who’s in need of the solution?” Don’t make assumptions and try to consider all potential audiences.
Once you’ve found your audience, you need to get to know them. Once again, don’t make any assumptions about their behaviours. For example, we recently took a look at senior’s attitudes to technology and health and what we found might surprise you. Social media is now a powerful platform for seniors to stay connected, and 4 in 5 seniors use social media platforms. Seniors also spend an average of 12 hours per week on these platforms making marketing efforts to seniors relatively simple.
Identify your competitors
Once you know your audience, you can take a look at competitors selling to the same market. Don’t just consider your direct competitors (i.e. the companies offering the same products and services as you), but also consider indirect and perceived competitors, as well as companies in the search engine result pages (SERP). Get to know what makes your competitors unique and what makes people choose them.
Don’t try to replicate your competitors – instead, look at their growth strategies and spot something you can develop or improve. After that, try not to concern yourself with your competitors. Following their, every move will only interfere with your innovation and leave you feeling like you’re constantly trailing behind.
Start a blog
If you haven’t done so already, start writing a blog. Focus on value-adding content based on the topics your targeted audience is interested in and become an authority in your field. Remember, problem-solving is the core of entrepreneurship and quality content is king. Content can be text, images, infographics, videos, podcasts, PDFs, GIFs and beyond. Mix it up and be original, provide fresh insight or share an untold story. Write for your audience and not search engines. Most importantly, be patient. Blogging takes time and consistency so best you get started now.
It’s also worth noting that user-generated content (UGC) is becoming an increasingly important tool in modern marketers’ toolboxes. UGC is essentially content that’s related to a brand but is produced by its customers. UGC can be a blog post on the funniest or latest social media posts about the brand, a question from a customer answered, a review, a piece of content, or a video. This type of content is great for driving brand awareness and engagement, especially when there’s a prize involved.
While your blog and website content shouldn’t be written solely for SEO, it does help to have a list of primary keywords that will help you get found. To find keywords, ask yourself “what would someone type into Google to find my website?” Your keywords should summarise exactly what your startup does and be based on your value proposition. What is it that you’re offering customers?
Keywords are important because they are the linchpin between what people are searching for and the content you’re providing to fill that need. Your goal for ranking in search engines is to drive organic traffic to your site, and the keywords you use will determine what kind of traffic you get.
Set a budget
Time and money are two very important factors when it comes to your marketing strategy. How much can you afford to spend on marketing your startup? Set a budget early in the game and carefully plan how you will divide that budget – both in spend and time.
Gavin Slater, the CEO of Nimble sheds some light, “Scrutinize your finances at every given opportunity. Despite all the passion in the world, many small business owners fail because of poor financial management. It’s imperative to proactively monitor the health of your cash flow early and often. Bad cash situations lead to fast failures, so get ahead of any issues and never underestimate the importance of both short term and long term plans.”
Take into account that marketing is invaluable, especially when creating initial financial projections. Your budget spends should be dictated by what you hope to achieve, so have a goal in mind before you embark on any marketing plan. Customize your spend according to your short and long-term goals and make them SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Stay on track with your marketing budget by using an Ansoff Matrix-style marketing grid.
Market your startup
When it comes to starting a business, the “build it and they will come” theory doesn’t hold much weight. Those overnight success stories you hear about are often the result of years of behind the scenes hard work and very careful marketing.
It’s too easy for startups to say “I don’t know what I’ve got to spend on marketing because I haven’t made any sales yet,” but a startup can’t get started without marketing. Ideally, you should be spending 20-25% of your time on marketing in the early days, testing out different ideas to see what works and what doesn’t.
When it comes to defining the success of your marketing efforts, success is different for every startup. It could be 500 new signups per month or $50,000 in revenue per month. Whatever your idea of success is, write it down and make sure your entire team is onboard. Pick just one success goal too and commit to it in your marketing strategy.
Lastly, David Alexander, the Director of Student Services at the International Career Institute sums it ups nicely, “Keep it simple. Build an easy to understand problem-solving product or service that is easy to explain. Test your ideas and don’t forget a successful business idea should fulfil customer promises and exceed expectations.”
Author bio: Luke Fitzpatrick is a Forbes contributor and an academic speaker at Sydney University. In his past, he has worked for startups in both South Korea and Australia.
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