Marketing is extremely important for startups, because it helps startups to build awareness and gain traction for their products and services. However, with many different ways of marketing, first-time entrepreneurs may not know where to start.
In this post, Founder & Office nomad at Officenomad.org Janne Saarikko shares 11 steps that entrepreneurs can take to market their startup.
Janne is also a Mentor for the Helsinki Founder Institute, which is currently accepting applications.
The article, “How to Do Good Startup Marketing and Get Yourself a Perfect Cappuccino”, originally appeared on www.jannesaarikko.com and has been republished below with permission.
Startup marketing is very, very different from traditional corporate marketing. Less money, less resources, less rules, less restrictions, less control, less room for failure. Less everything. You can win only by being both analytical and creative at the same time. You need to know what you want from whom, and how you intend to achieve it.
This article will give you a generic idea on what methods of marketing are often useful for a startup. You can call it a checklist of things that might work for your startup if executed correctly. If you do the stupid thing and do not invest resources in marketing, do at least this.
1. Have A Website
Everyone needs to have a website. The role of the website should be considered properly. If your startup is selling online services, then you should make your website best in the world – a service center, product delivery and customer service platform.
If you only need awareness, there are better places for getting that. Then only use your website for basic information database – contact info, company info, product descriptions and links to places where to find you.
If you are not building your service on your website, just have someone to do a site based on wordpress.org -technology. It’s by far the best way to start.
2. Be Found
You need to get on the first or second page of the search results on Google - Otherwise you don’t exist. The best way to do that is to create content that will have your company, your products and your issues mentioned in natural text. So do create content on multiple locations, with you, your company and the topics mentioned.
There are other places people go to find you as well than Google. YouTube is the second largest search engine and Slideshare is a popular place for professional presentations.
Google+ helps you to get better search result positions, and in some areas can also create a good community to engage with.
Just be careful with people offering SEO (search engine optimisation) as a highway to heaven. Someone offering 1000% improvement on sales may have had one or few successes but are likely to have had many more failures.
3. Create Content and Be a Media
Spend resources on creating content related to your company and ecosystem it belongs to. This can be a blog on your own website, but it can also be a place on social platforms such as LinkedIn, YouTube and Slideshare.
In a big picture, you and your company needs to be a media with its own created, original content. When you publish it consistently and in right places, you become a media that will have a community around it. Being an aggregator for 3rd party content is not bad, but it’s not enough either.
4. Be Active On Social Media
Modern marketing is not about broadcasting, it’s about participation. You need to be active on most major platforms (depends on your business, but FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube are the most common ones) with your own accounts, but you also need to have your people active.
A basic rule to social media is to participate, always create real value and engage in discussions. In tge long term your efforts will be appreciated and all this starts to turn inbound for you.
5. Make Yourself Available Online
You need to be available to potential customers and whoever wants to reach out to you for any reason.
This may be your contact information, online chat, employees on social media platforms or your customer service.
The big questions here are: How can people find us if they don’t know about us? How can people get in touch with us and how do they get to know about it?
6. Make Yourself Available Offline
Even though much of the marketing can be done online, you need to create some sort of offline presence as well. Getting a booth in an exhibition is normally a waste of time and money, unless you have a huge diesel engine or an exoskeleton to show off in a very targeted show.
Probably the best thing to do is to start attending events as a participant, speaker and a contributor. Also, all types of smaller meetups may be really valuable since you will get much more attention in a smaller group.
If you don’t have events to attend, start arranging them yourself, maybe even together with your competitor. Just do not arrange a sales event, because people will not attend such things unless they are willing to buy. In that case you should serve them directly.
7. Hack Your Sales
I am one of the believers of marketing having a control over sales. This means that marketing should be all over the sales process, analysing and understanding how it really works, and improving the sales process with marketing understanding. Marketers must look deep in different stages and keep improving everything.
A good marketing hacker aims to transfer the happy customer all the way from ignorance to continuous customer relationship and also make the sales organisation useless. In reality this means that the marketer must hover between sales and customers and try to find things that could be improved. Ideally there are no rules, no boundaries, no organisational borders. Anything is ok, just as long as no laws are broken.
8. Be Systematic & Agile
You should plan what you are doing. Have an overall marketing plan that stretches over to some 6 to 9 months with a more detailed outlook for the next 4 to 6 weeks.
You still need to be agile. If something doesn’t make sense now, do change it even if it is in the marketing plan.
The most important thing is to go towards your long term target. Plan, but do not fall in love with your plan.
9. Measure and Analyze
Everything you do should be done because it has an objective and it has a number target that you are targeting.
Be careful with how you measure. Marketing metrics should be from a right distance from the activities.
For example, if you arrange an event, set the target relevant for the event. Number of visitors is probably too close to target and created sales too far away – if you attend the event because you want more sales, the target should be something like “agreed and documented next steps with visitors” or “documented requests for offer”.
10. Be Creative
Whatever you do, you should always try to get a different twist to it. If you do “the standard”, you will not be recognised.
The creativity should be focused on delivering real value to your customers. Always ask yourself “What’s in it for the customer? How does s/he benefit or amuse for this?”
11. Exercise Trial & Error
There are no absolutely right or wrong ways to do marketing. Do a trial and if it doesn’t work, learn from it. Analytics helps you to understand whether something works or not.
Quick’ n’ dirty startup marketing checklist
Consider if you need these and why you need them. Most of them are likely to help your marketing go ahead.
- Facebook page
- Twitter account
- Digital advertising
- Events or something else to meet potential people offline
- System for collecting leads from the web
- System and resource for creating content
- System for being active and in dialogue in social media
- Clear rules for employee behaviour on company issues
- Someone who has responsibility and authority to do any marketing decisions independently
- A marketing calendar with content plan included
- A list of cool creative marketing opportunities that may do magic
- Simple analytics for the most important targets
- Quantified targets for marketing
- Person responsible for hacking the sales
This is just a list to get you thinking and going. You also need to understand better what you are doing and why, and also each of the topics here needs digging deeper.