A marketing strategy for a start-up is not entirely different from the marketing strategy for a larger, more established company. The main differences are budget and the size of the campaigns. However, as Arya Bina of Kobe Digital, a full-service digital marketing and the creative agency said in a 2018 article from Forbes, “We all know marketing is essential for all businesses, but it’s even more important for startups. Unless people know about your startup and what it offers, they probably won’t buy your products or services.”
With less marketing budget and a smaller team, start-ups have to be more creative about marketing. These restrictions can actually lead to low-cost growth hacking ideas that are highly effective in leading to exposure and expansion. There are also many marketing tools and resources available specifically for start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses.
Creating a marketing strategy
There are four main elements of a start-up marketing strategy: market research, budget, your audience, and your goals. Thinking like a bigger brand even in the early days of a start-up helps to engrain healthy and structured approaches to marketing. For example, when writing a business plan, including an elevator pitch will help to define exactly what the business does, why it’s different, and who it’s for. Establishing brand assets such as a well-designed logo will also help to raise brand awareness and make your brand become instantly recognisable.
Not only do you want your brand to become recognisable but your main goal is to increase the number of conversions, and get new customers. Whether this is through a brick-and-mortar premises, or an online domain or both, a marketing strategy will help you define your tone of voice and how you communicate with customers across all touchpoints. The copy and content you produce should always lead to clear calls to action and persuade the target customer that they could benefit from your product or service.
Who is your target audience? Identifying who your ideal customers are will help you create relevant content that answers their questions or offers solutions and drives sales. From understanding which demographic you’re speaking to and which social media channels they prefer using to taking into account their geographic location and financial clout, knowing your customer is how you reach your goals.
Once you know who your potential customers are you can understand where you stand in the market through research. This is your chance to thoroughly understand who your competitors are and what your marketing plan should look like in order to reach your customers. If you’re applying for funding or seeking investment for your start-up, market research will put you in a better position as it will show venture capitalists that you’ve done the groundwork.
The budget will be different for every start-up, however, it’s worth considering that the marketing budget should warrant considerable spending because reaching new customers is how you will see your start-up grow. Digital marketing in particular is key to your customer reach and consulting professionals in design, copywriting, and search engine optimisation (SEO) should make up a large part of your marketing budget.
Choosing the right marketing channels for your business
Not all marketing channels will be suited to your product or service, so in order to get the maximum return on investment from your marketing tactics, think carefully about which ones offer the reach that you need. For example, podcasts are popular, either as a marketing vehicle to provide content purely about your brand or by raising your profile as a sponsor for podcasts. Just because they’re popular though, doesn’t mean that you need to jump on the bandwagon unless it fits with your marketing strategy and complements your other marketing activities. Always think about how the content you put money and effort into can be repurposed across channels effectively.
Build your website
In terms of marketing tools, a website has become essential to business, letting customers know who you are and what you do from the moment they reach your landing page. Ideally, your website should be a digital shop front allowing you to operate as an eCommerce business. Offering visitors to the site a discount on their first order is a tried-and-tested method to increase the number of subscribers to your mailing list.
Your website offers a platform to which all customers can be sent via your marketing campaigns. You can also offer a referral scheme which rewards both your customer and the person they refer to your business, bolstering your word-of-mouth marketing. Google ads may be useful for some, driving potential customers directly to your website after carrying out a related search or retargeting them with ads on different sites after they’ve visited your pages.
Emails can provide valuable interaction with your customers when deployed strategically. Ensuring that the designs of your email templates are eye-catching and that their content is relevant to the segment of your customer base that is receiving them will contribute to higher open rates more likely to lead to click-throughs and conversions.
Some marketing managers believe that a message needs to be repeated approximately seven times before a customer will respond to it. This doesn’t mean sending the same email repeatedly, rather, thinking about how you communicate the same things in different ways. Would infographics help to get the message across? Or perhaps a listicle? Don’t be afraid to repeat information or send news about promotions several times. You can automate your emails to go out at particular times and on particular days for the best response.
Social media marketing
Social media channels contribute considerably to any marketing strategy. Whether your start-up is more suited to sharing posts on LinkedIn or on Tik Tok, just like with email marketing, there are numerous formats for communicating your message. For example, LinkedIn blogs can help your start-up get noticed by sharing your thoughts as a founder on various current events. Or, if you’re a talented content producer, you may find that your videos go viral on Tik Tok and beyond.
Social media enables partnerships with other brands or influencers who can help you to extend your reach to new audiences and customers.
A solid content marketing strategy involves an editorial approach to content usually in the form of blogs. Content should be structured to answer customer questions about the product or service you provide. For example, why it is better than the offerings of competitors. Or you may discuss the company’s sustainability credentials if that is a key concern to your target audience.
Not only should the content be relevant and engaging, but it should also be optimised so that the content ranks well with search engines. A well-executed content strategy with well-written content will keep sending customers to your website long after the content has been published.
Despite much of the marketing efforts of start-ups and small businesses being digital and online marketing, there’s also a lot of mileage in offline promos. They can provide valuable cut-through because very few businesses focus on reaching customers offline. Some of the ways that potential new customers can be reached face-to-face are through trade fairs or pop-up stores.
Existing customers also appreciate receiving updates via old-fashioned mail. Encouraging customers who have only ordered once before by sending them direct mail like a postcard about a personalised promotion or a preview of a new product can contribute to the customer feeling valued and instil brand loyalty in them.
Grasp the fundamentals of strategy with a BSc Marketing
Effective marketing is one of the greatest tools in the start-up toolbox. Learning about quality content and how to distribute it can help you create a cost-effective marketing strategy that lets you reach new customers as well as reach milestones. There’s no specific step-by-step method but learning as you go and finding inspiration in successful case studies will make it clear which metrics matter most to your company and how to optimise your strategy.
Discover more about starting an online BSc Marketing course with the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) today.