You must have heard the stories about startups that became successful overnight. But in reality, it takes most startups years of hard work behind the scenes before they make it big. The way these startups are marketed also contributes a lot to their success.
Starting a business is exhilarating. Whether it is a big business or a small one, your startup needs a lot of guts, willpower, and a good deal of marketing savvy to get off the ground.
Two fundamental truths exist when marketing a startup. The first is that no amount of marketing will make a poor product gain a mass audience. The second is that a great product alone is not enough to succeed.
You’ve succeeded on the first count. Now it’s time to make good on the second.
90% of startups fail due to various reasons, and not opting for a good marketing strategy is one of them. You have to be sure that every effort, no matter how small, is well planned and executed.
In this article, you will learn how to market a startup and the necessary steps you need to take before you begin. Consider these steps seriously, because your startup’s skyrocketing growth depends upon the right strategy.
Before you market your startup: defining your ideal customer profile
Your marketing dollars are precious. Investors expect them to count. The last thing you want is to throw that money down the drain with a spray and pray approach. Before you market your startup, you need to understand who your audience is and how to speak to them.
This is where your ideal customer profile (ICP) comes in.
An ICP is a detailed outline of your ideal customer. You can even say it is the core of startup marketing. When done right, your ICP gives you a good deal of insight that you can use to adjust your marketing and lead generation tactics.
Knowing your ideal customer’s unique characteristics makes it much easier to laser focus your traditional and video marketing campaigns and cut out unnecessary costs.
What to include in your ICP
The better you understand your customers, the more you can personalize their buying experience — all the while converting sales and creating loyalty. As you prepare to market your startup, include as many of the following elements in your ICP.
- Demographic: What is the average age, work roles, etc. of your ideal customer?
- Entertainment: What films, TV shows, podcasts, and events does this person enjoy?
- Motivations: What motivates her?
- Problems/pain points: Which of her pain points can your products or services solve?
How to gather information about your ideal customer
Two-thirds of consumers demand a personalized experience. The more specific you get with your customer profiles, the better.
To get this kind of detailed information, you’ll need to do quite a bit of legwork. But it is worth it. In the world of startup marketing, whoever understands their customers best eventually gets those customers.
Surveys, polls, and interviews are all great ways to understand your customers — who they are, what types of products and services interest them, and what they experience as their biggest pain points.
Use the information from these interviews to create your ideal customer profiles. But don’t stop there. Come back to these interviews — or conduct new ones — anytime you need to solve usability problems or gauge interest in a new product.
Choosing the right marketing channels for your startup
Marketing channels are just like bridges that connect startups with their customers. The more bridges you build, the more customers you access. In this digital world, you must define a set of multiple online channels for marketing your startup. Choosing multiple marketing channels will help your startup reach a wider audience.
There are many different ways to decide the best marketing channels for your startup. Here are a few of the most proven strategies.
Channels based on ICP
Just as the ICPs of different businesses are different, so too are the channels used for marketing to those ICPs.
For example, if you are marketing a new course, Linkedin is probably the best channel to use for marketing that course. As the audience of that network is professional, they will be more interested in the course than the audience on Facebook.
On the other hand, if you are marketing a photo editing app, Instagram or Facebook marketing will be the best channels.
There are also some marketing channels that work for just about any startup. If you use a solid SEO strategy to drive traffic to your website, written content marketing in the form of a blog is a valuable tool. So is YouTube. Starting a YouTube channel is a valuable marketing tactic for almost any business.
Based on budget
If your startup has budget limitations, there are a few marketing channels that are cost effective. Social media for businesses is really negotiable, and it can be highly effective. According to recent social media statistics, 67% of users use social media for customer support, and 33% of users prefer social media customer care platforms rather than telephones or email.
Email marketing is another budget-friendly marketing channel, and it will never let you down. According to some marketing experts, email marketing gets more than 40 times more customers than social media marketing.
These are a few marketing channels that are budget-friendly. On the other hand, if you have no restriction on budget, you can use other advanced marketing channels. Facebook ads and PPC are some of the best ways to market your startup product if you don’t have budget issues.
Pro tip: Ready to dive into email marketing? Engage your audience by embedding a video in your next email.
Based on your resources
It isn’t necessary, or realistic, to focus on every marketing channel. It’s much more important to focus on the right channels to maximize the growth of your business. How many channels you choose to focus on is also highly dependent on your resources.
If you want to market your startup via email marketing, social media, or SEO, you must have the professionals do it.
But exactly how many marketing pros do you need for your startup?
How many people do you need?
As I mentioned earlier, you alone can not put the right marketing strategy on the table. You need an enthusiastic marketing team behind you. How many people you need in the marketing team for your startup depends on your budget, industry, and company.
Briefly overview of roles
The marketing team plays a crucial role. It needs people at the top of their field who can handle anything you throw at them. Here are some roles that are important to have in your startup’s marketing team.
- Senior marketing head
- Marketing strategist
- Market research expert
- Copywriter and digital ‘Jack of all trades’
- Social media manager
- Business analyst
Structuring your team based on marketing channels
The structure of your team will vary based on the marketing channels you use.
SEO team structure
SEO is a great marketing channel, and you need a qualified team to perform SEO for your startup. These are the roles that matter in an SEO team:
- SEO team lead
- Data analyst
- SEO manager
Email marketing team structure
Email marketing is not a dead marketing strategy; it is the most efficient marketing strategy to get potential leads. A team that you need for email marketing includes:
- Email marketing strategist
- The ultimate email designer
- Email production specialist
- QA professionals
Social media team structure
Social media platforms are the best channels to market a startup. Here are some positions that need to be filled to make an awesome social media marketing team:
- Social media manager
- Social analyst
- Customer support
- Community managers
How much money should you put into marketing efforts?
At least half of your startup’s budget should go toward marketing. This includes digital marketing and advertising, public relations, promotions, etc. If you are in your startup’s initial stage, you must keep a close eye on marketing efforts. But how much you spend on these efforts depends on the marketing requirements for your particular business.
Using data to predict spending
Without market research and data, it’s hard to spend wisely on marketing. If you do not have relevant data on hand, you can not predict how much you should put into your marketing efforts or how successful these efforts will be.
The U.S Small Businesses Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of your gross revenue on marketing and advertising if you make less than $5 Million in sales in a year.
Other than this, you need to plan your marketing budget based on research and data.
For example, if social media marketing is one of your primary channels, research similar brands and their campaign running times. This will give you an idea about the ideal campaign time for your industry. And, because social media ad costs depend on running times, you can use this information to allot money to your own marketing.
Allocating money for tools and staff
Using paid marketing tools for your startup is not a bad idea. You can use tools for SMM, email marketing, and SEO. These marketing tools boost your efforts and fetch you potential leads. You can select subscriptions according to your requirements.
Tools for SMM:
- Biteable video making software: $19-$49 per month
- Buffer: $15-$99 per month
- Buzzsumo: $99-$499 per month
Tools for email marketing:
- ActiveCampaign: $9-$229 per month
- Moosend: $8 per month pro plan
- Hubspot: $45-$3200 per month
Tools for SEO:
- Lempod: $5 per pod per month ($2 per user, per pod, per month)
- Hootsuite: $17-$611 per month
- Ahrefs: $99-$999 per month
- Zapier: $19-$599 per month
With the help of SEO, you can rank your business on search engines without spending a penny.
Tools for CRM:
CRM allows you to harness data about your customers to improve understanding and create a more personalized experience.
You can use a free CRM like Hubspot or an inexpensive paid CRM that costs around $12 per user per month. Apart from this, expensive CRM systems charge $300 per user per month.
Cost for staff:
Of course, you also need a team to handle all of this. Here are the average prices of marketing based on the type of operation:
- Local agency in the US: Around $60,000 per month.
- Freelancers: Rates for the freelance marketer vary from $50-$300 per hour.
- Overseas agency: The overseas marketing agency may cost you anything between $40,00 to over $40k based on the location.
Startup marketing is a complex process. If you have a great idea for a product or service, but aren’t aware of the market and your customers, your chance of success is limited.
Before you launch your business, take time to thoroughly understand your ideal customer, your marketing channels, your tools, and the staff you need to make it all happen. The more you plan, the more likely your startup will take off.
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About the author
It takes a good deal of marketing savvy to launch a successful startup. Maksym Babych from SPDLoad shares his best startup marketing tips. He is the founder and CEO of SPDLoad — a product development company for startups at an early stage.