Founding a startup company is always a thrilling experience, no matter how many times you do it. It can be inspiring to have the opportunity to impact the world with your products and services.
But as every business owner knows, a successful venture is an incredibly challenging accomplishment, with close to 90% of startups failing. One of the primary reasons for the high rate of failure is bad marketing.
That's why marketing help for startups can be incredibly beneficial to any founder. This article will discuss some strategies and tips for marketing success, from knowing how to get users for your startup, to the best way to write a software startup marketing plan.
Startup marketing is the art and science of acquiring customers for companies in the startup stage – where profit is yet to be realized.
The goals and processes here are just like those of traditional marketing, except that you have to work within a startup's constraints: limited funding, a smaller talent pool, and insufficient time.
With startup marketing, there's very little room for error. Every strategy and tactic must be executed flawlessly in order to deliver results. But on the plus side, smaller operations mean startups can quickly pivot and optimize their marketing, which larger corporations can't do.
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty details of your strategy, you need to define your startup marketing plan first.
Specifically, what's your startup marketing goal? For most, it's usually one of these two: customer acquisition or brand awareness. You can do both, but it's better to focus on only one at a time. Which one it will be depends on the nature of your startup and its business goals.
After you have your goals established, you need to define your target market. Research your audience and create personas, so you know their needs, wants, and unique characteristics. Only then will you have the insight to market them an offer they can't resist.
Aside from these two crucial points, it is beneficial to include a few other factors in any marketing plan for startups. Examples include a marketing budget and market research stats.
Due to limited funding, startup marketing resources are often not enough to produce spectacular content that can be posted regularly on social media. The solution? Use your users’ content instead!
User-generated content (UGC) is any piece of content that came from your customers. Examples include testimonials, photos, and videos of them using or talking about your company or product.
UGC is fantastic because it's both free and authentic. You get free publicity and social proof from actual users who are happy with your product or service. You can create campaigns that encourage your users to post UGC, such as hosting photo contests or including official hashtags of your brand.
SEO, together with content marketing, is one of the most effective strategies for the startup market. When executed right, it results in a high search engine ranking that's a free and evergreen way to generate organic leads for your brand.
More than garnering a high ranking, valuable content creates a lasting relationship with your market. Providing an article that helps with their pain points, for example, can foster trust with your customers and makes them more likely to buy from you.
The only drawback is that SEO and content marketing are long-term strategies requiring consistent effort, enough time, and constant testing to produce results. But, the investment is well worth it.
A key startup product marketing tactic that helps get customers quickly in your door is to offer a free product sample or trials for services.
Most people love anything free, so they’ll more often than not take you up on that offer. Assuming your products are excellent and the price is right, customers will be encouraged to become regular buyers after the trial or sample.
Not only are free trials great for acquiring customers, but they are also an excellent research tool. You can quickly gather feedback from people actually using your product, giving you much-needed insight to improve.
Going viral is the Holy Grail of digital marketing. It allows brands to build awareness and gather a large number of customers at record speed, all while spending almost zero dollars on marketing.
Virality is, unfortunately, hard to achieve, and there's almost no guarantee of it happening. No one can predict what will go viral. There are ways to increase your chances, but none is more effective than having a memorable offer. An irresistible product or service that your market will gladly recommend to their family and friends is the key ingredient to a viral sensation.
You can gauge the likelihood of your offer going viral with a metric called the Net Promoter Score (NPS). It's a simple measure of how likely a customer will be to recommend your product to others on a scale of 1 – 10. An average of 9.0 or above will most often lead to viral, exponential growth.
Every lead is precious to a startup, so converting as many as you can is key to success. Even a 2–3% increase can rapidly grow your revenue. You can do this through conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies.
Optimizing conversions is a mammoth subject that deserves its own article, but here are a few best practices you can use to improve right away. One is to optimize the copy on your landing or sales page, making it more persuasive to convert more leads. Design and color theory also play a role in impacting conversion rates, while funnel design can improve revenue with strategic upsells and cross-sells.
To measure and optimize your conversions, you can use tools like A/B testing and heat maps to determine which changes are working and why.
Startups need to be clever with their marketing. A way to do this is to focus only on the early adopters and innovators – the people that are always first in line when a new product, service, or technology rolls out. Think of Apple fans who camp out the night before a new iPhone launch, for example.
If the early adopters have a fantastic experience with your product or service, they can generate enough positive reviews and referrals to influence others in your market to follow suit. This laser-targeted approach is much more cost-effective than catering to your entire market at once.
One big mistake most startups make is trying to get into every social media channel. Maybe they got into Twitter because their competitors are there, too. Or perhaps they felt the need to be present on every social media platform.
Whatever the reason, the result is the same - their social media strategy is spread too thin. The key, as with any startup marketing plan, is to focus on specific channels first. Consider the quirks of each social media platform, and go with those that are more aligned with your strengths, goals, and target customer.
Email remains one of the most effective and low-cost marketing strategies for any business. That's because email is a permission-based channel, meaning your customers allowed you access to their inboxes. Thus, they are much more likely to read and respond to your message. There's also much more room for personalizing emails, which can further build rapport and relationships.
The key with email is to earn, respect, and maintain the subscriber's trust. And it all boils down to sending them relevant content that aims to give value first and advertise second.
In today's digital-heavy world, it's easy to forgo traditional marketing tactics. But that's what makes them more effective than ever; if you're one of the few who use these tactics, you instantly stand out.
Holding local events, distributing flyers or brochures, or even supporting a local cause are great "offline" ways to market. These strategies get people talking and help spread positive brand awareness.
Are you considering doing a crowdfunding campaign to raise capital? You might not realize that it's also a fantastic marketing tool because of the press it generates. This can build brand awareness, which attracts more people to either invest in you or become potential customers in the future.
Crowdfunding is essentially hitting two birds with one stone.
Websites are the most versatile digital marketing tool you have in your arsenal. Most marketing channels like sales funnels, content, and email marketing all rely on having a website. You can also use it as a platform to educate visitors about your offering and what your company stands for.
More than anything, having a professional and stunning website sets the tone for your visitors. It gives positive signals that you're a fantastic business, with careful attention to detail that deserves a second look.
Something as important as your startup's website should be entrusted only to an agency with a proven track record of success, like Expedition Co. Get in touch with us today, and let's start a conversation about how our web development services can help.