Creating a marketing strategy is crucial for your startup, company or organization to address the right message to your buyers/users personas. It’s important to define a marketing strategy for your startup in order to have a marketing plan and be on the right path to success.
How do you create your startup marketing strategy? Should you use all existing marketing channels, or should you prioritize them? Today, I will help you create your startup marketing strategy by showing you a marketing strategy that I think any startup should implement.
Define your users/buyers/customers’ persona
First and foremost, I’d like to say that I recommend creating your startup marketing strategy before launch. It doesn’t need to be a long-term plan, but not having a clue what your marketing strategy should be is not a solution.
Defining your startup users/buyers/customers’ persona should be first on your list. Make a profile of your target audience. Who is your perfect buyer (age, gender, passion, native language, education, habits…)? This will allow your startup to know its direction and your market positioning. Knowing your users’ persona will allow you to know what type of message you want to pass along and give you indication for your branding strategy.
Here are some tools for finding your startup’s target market.
“Everyone can use my product, my startup does not need users’ persona or target”
Hearing this kind of sentence is classic. You cannot think like that. Do you think that a farmer from Ecuador, your father, a taxi driver in New York City or a politician in North Korea have the same chance to use your product in the coming months? If not, then you have to define your users’ persona in order to position your startup in comparison with your competitors.
“You should invest in my startup, I have no competitors!”
This is another classic statement in the startup world. Your startup has, and needs, to have competitors. If you actually don’t have any competitors, start worrying now. Not having competitors shows me, investors or anyone else that you probably don’t know your industry and didn’t study the market. There is an even worse scenario: you don’t have competitors, and this probably means that you have no market. There are millions of startups, businesses and entrepreneurs all around the world; if you have no competitors, it just means that no one is interested in what you do.
It’s great to have competition. When there is competition, this means there is market opportunity. Being the only one to have a disruptive idea in a market is usually a bad sign. Competition will help your industry to be known and indirectly help your startup to be found.
Knowing that you have competitors is a great sign for investors. If you are looking for startup funding, never say to an angel investor or a VC (Venture Capitalist) that you have no competitors and no users’ persona. The investors will think you are not professional, that you didn’t do your work, and will leave.
Another method to take advantage of having competitors is by following them to see what they do. Getting inspiration from other actors in your market is crucial. Also, you could even build partnerships with competitors having complementary products/services. Creating partnerships will be mutually beneficial and strengthen your startup compared to the rest of the competition.
Your network is your networth
Telling your family, friends, fellow entrepreneurs or ex-colleagues about your startup and product is important. As the saying goes, “your network is your networth”. Don’t be shy, ask your network what they think, ask for suggestions or recommendations. You need to ask them to be honest and not hide the truth from you.
Go to events, trade shows or conferences in order to grow your network and therefore your influence. Connecting with potential users or with people in your industry will bring great value to your startup. Offline marketing is a great way to get early traction.
Have a website and promote it!
You should already have a live website! If you don’t have one yet, use the lean startup approach, and think about your website like a MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Your website is the first stop where people will discover your product. There are many tools to help you create a website within a few days: WordPress, Wix, Joomla, Shopify…
You need to start with a basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy which submits your website to search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. You also need to have a great page title, and a good meta description by using the right keywords. You need to make your website fast-loading, and check how it looks in browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari.
Later on, you will need to implement a complete SEO plan, but you can start with the basics first. It usually takes a minimum of 4 months to get results with a SEO strategy. SEO is a great marketing tool to get constant leads and sales but it’s crucial to know that it is a long-term strategy. It won’t bring you fast growth, but rather sustainable growth.
The landing page tip
“Landing page” is a word you might have heard in the startup universe. What is a landing page?
The purpose of a landing page is creating a page on your website in order to collect relevant leads. For your landing page to be successful you need to address the right message or offers to your users’ persona, and this is why it is key to define your targets beforehand.
You need to create a concise and appealing message to make people want to click on your CTA (Call-to-Action) button. Your CTA button should be compelling in order to make the landing page’s visitors click it. The goal of the CTA is to sell your product, but I recommend to not sell directly on the landing page. It’s better to offer something for free to the visitors, for instance by giving a free e-book, a free webinar, or a discount on your product. The real objective of your landing page is to get email addresses from qualified leads.
Start building your social media community
Social media is a great way to increase your product or startup visibility; it cannot, and should not be ignored. There are many social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, Instagram) but don’t worry, as a startup (or any business actually) you don’t have to use them all. You should concentrate your efforts only in the ones where your target users are most likely to be.
Now that you have a target, you know your competitors, you have a website with a landing page, and you know which social media channels to use, your startup is ready to launch. Postpone your launch if you don’t have those ready.
Work on content marketing by creating a blog
Content marketing became a buzzword in the past few years. The best and easiest way to have a content marketing strategy in place is by creating a blog. By addressing your target users with the right messag,e and by posting regular quality content on your blog, your startup will increase its visibility, reputation and influence.
One of the greatest challenges with a blog is to acquire regular readers, make them interested, make them come back and want to share your content. Content marketing is based on quality not quantity. Focus on quality, relevant, interesting, controversial, weird or funny content if you want it to be shared, and have the possibility to make your content become viral. You also need to vary your content, don’t just write white papers. For instance, you could create a video, answer a question, make a beautiful infographic, write an e-book or run an interview with of one of your users.
Your website and blog navigation also need to be easy for your audience. People should be able to find your content simply. You also want to keep your readers on your blog by, for example, showing them related content they might be interested in.
Market your product / startup on social media
You started to build your community on social media, but this was just the first step. This is not enough. You now need to share your content, market your product, service or startup, promote your landing page, communicate with your community and more. You can do it for free or you can use social media marketing. If you are not sure what I mean by social media marketing (SMM), have you ever seen a Facebook ad? This is an example of SMM.
Create an email marketing campaign
Email marketing is an amazing channel to convert leads into sales, and I am always surprised to see how it is underused by startups and established companies. Emails allow you to directly talk to your followers and your target users. You can ask questions, sell your product, promote your content, give an offer; all this by having a personal touch with your users. If your startup or business doesn’t use email marketing, finish reading this article and start to create one today.
Public Relations (PR)
If you are lucky, your startup will get covered and published in the press for your launch. This is amazing, but let’s be honest, it’s not that easy for the majority of startups. I want to give you a few tricks to increase your chances to be published:
- Build a media list: You should build a list of journalists or bloggers in your niche that have already written about similar products or startups. You should know their name, their email if possible, their LinkedIn profile, and more importantly their Twitter handle. Twitter is a great tool for PR, most of the journalists all over the world are active on Twitter.
- Create a compelling press release: a good press release is all about storytelling. If your story is great, you will get published, I guarantee it.
- Build relationship: journalists and bloggers are people, not robots. Treat them like humans and don’t spam them. You need to build a trustful relationship with them. Don’t send your media kit straight away without knowing them. Introduce yourself first, send them an introduction email, or tweet, for example.
Journalists enjoy writing about startups, so don’t be shy. If you have a great story to tell them, they will be more than happy to share it with the world. You don’t sell your startup; you give them a story to write. And who doesn’t love a great story? By providing a journalist with a great story, you also give them a favor as their readers will enjoy it.
The great benefit of PR is that it will bring you a great boost.
So, what do you need to create your startup marketing strategy?
To create your startup marketing strategy, you need to know your target, your market and competition. Then, in order to market your startup, I recommend any startups to have the following minimum:
- A website
- An offline marketing strategy (Events in your niche or tradeshows in your industry)
- A blog to get leads
- Using social media to promote content and interact with your community
- An email marketing strategy to convert leads into sales
- A PR strategy to get exposure
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