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Content Marketing Digital Marketing Lead Generation Marketing Strategy SEO

5 Things I’ve Learned While Marketing for Startups

I have been a part of many startups including a production company, a real estate website, and a tech company innovating a new type of battery. In that time, I have seen patterns emerge that lead to success and I have seen the red flags of failure over and over again. I want to share the top 5 things that I’ve learned while marketing for startups so that you can see the success you can achieve, as well as some dangerous potholes in an already bumpy road. 

1. Build, then market.

Before you even start to think about marketing your brand, you need to build it. The excitement of your new startup might motivate you to start running for new connections, but it is so much harder to run before you’ve even put your shoes on. Some key infrastructures that need to be in place are: 

  • Logo/brand image: Can people tell who you are at a glance? 
  • Uniform social media platforms: Will people feel the same way when visiting your Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and website? 
  • One message: Is there a strong “why” behind your startup that people can grab onto? 
2. Become or Hire a Generalist. 

SEO, social media, lead generation, content creation, data analysis. There are so many factors to marketing in today’s world. Big firms will tell you that you need to get a SEO specialist to ensure that your website gets the right exposure, or that a social media expert is needed to make sure that you connect with your consumer base.  

All aspects of marketing are equally as important to startups in their early stages. Hiring a specialist or only learning how to do one thing well may bring you success for that one aspect of your business, but this will hurt you in the long run because have neglected everything else.  

Give your business a strong foundation by generalizing. Doing everything well is important to make sure that when you grow you will be ready to bring on specialists.

3. You Will (Probably) Need to Spend Money.

A lot of marketing can be done for free; SEO, content building, developing a social media presence. But you should not be afraid to spend money on it. If people don’t know about your new product or service, who’s going to be your client?  

Designating some of your budget for ad spend is just as important as hiring that new part-time developer because if you don’t have a client base, you won’t have a startup for much longer. 

4. Don’t SellEngage.

If what you are doing is completely new, people probably won’t even know why they need your product or service. At such an early stage, you have the ability to engage your consumer base and share your central why behind what you do.  

Help them understand why they need your product or service by explaining the future you are creating. You can do this with: 

  • a promotional video; 
  • blog posts; or
  • responsive communications on social media.
5. Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Your Community.

Being a part of your local community or the community of your peers makes a big difference to your startup. If you scratch their back, they will do the same for you. 

Sponsoring a community event can be a great way to gain exposure and to network with people you may need to know further on in your development. When you are involved in the community of your industry peers who are more established than you, you may be able to learn from their mistakes and seek help or advice from them. Don’t forget that networking is an essential part of marketing. 

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Content Marketing Digital Marketing Lead Generation Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing Tactics vs. Strategy

Wishing your phone would ring?

As a business owner myself, I am often (almost daily) informed about some new way to advertise my business or some new online tool that is going to revolutionize my business. These tools could be super useful, and the advertising method may attract attention and maybe even clients. 

However, the reality is often that the new advertising method or tool doesn’t result in new clients, and business owners like us are left feeling like we threw our money away.  

Here are a few questions every business owner should be asking themselves when it comes to their advertising and marketing opportunities: 

  1. If I’m attracting attention, what do I have in place to make sure its the right kind of attention? 
  2. Do I have tools working for me that ensure I achieve the maximum benefit of the attention I get? 
  3. The buying cycle is about the clients decision-making process, so how am helping the clients inform their process and move them closer towards trusting my business? 
  4. If Im getting attention, and maybe even phone calls and opportunities to create clients from the attention, am I properly positioned to do so? Can I handle the work? 

This is where the advertisers and marketers calling you with a new way to market run into trouble. They tell you about all the reach you are going to get because you bought into the advertising opportunity. What they don’t do is help you make sure you are set up to create and receive clients from your advertising and marketing efforts. 

Back to Basics 

Before developing a marketing strategy complete with tactics, a business must consider some basic business and marketing plan essentials. Think about these elements of your business: 

  • Who or what is my business? 
  • What do we do? Why or how are we better than the competition? 
  • Who are my clients? 
  • What problem do we solve for clients? 
  • Where do my clients come from? How do I find them?
  • Who is my favourite client? Where did I find them?
  • Who are my competitors? Who do my favourite clients think are my competitors? Who does google say my competitors are?
  • If I receive more phone calls or sell more products, can I handle that? Do I have a growth strategy?
  • What’s the true lifetime value of a client? How do I know if my marketing dollars made a return?
  • Does my pricing structure support the cost of growth? 

It’s only after we back up a little and ensure that these essentials have been considered that we can write a marketing plan that includes a social media and digital marketing strategy for your business. 

The Magic Potion of Digital Marketing 

Anyone can post an ad on Google or Facebook; the tools are relatively easy to use. You can push out the message easily, just like running a radio ad. Yes, people will hear about you for sure. They may even mention the ad if they become a client. But what they don’t share is the journey they took to decide to become your client and that it wasn’t the ad itself that led them to their decision.  Just like the radio.

An ad without a strategy does not create a client. It may help people know your business name. But that’s about all it does.

Your digital strategy itself must include a plan for nurturing your perfect client along through the buying cycle of your business, whether the buying cycle is a 15 minute, an 8 week, or even a 1-year cycle. This part of the strategy is the magic potion of a digital marketing and simply running an ad or putting up a website will not help you with this. 

At Stone City Digital Inc., this magic potion is our differentiator. Our unique 4 stage marketing process, takes our clients back to the essentials, creates clarity around your brand and your product and builds a wholistic strategy to connect you with your perfect clients at every stage of the buying decision.  This magic potion recipe is different for every business, and we are committed to discovering yours with you. 

The Client Journey 

When you’ve got the ingredients right, a great nurture sequence, and you are reaching people who are exactly like your perfect clients, the client journey goes a little like this:

Stage 1: Initial contact 

The potential client heard the radio ad, received a piece of direct mail, saw an ad online while reading their morning news, or even saw a billboard ad they pass by every day.  Soon after, they looked up your business on Google, by name. Maybe they even went to your website to check out your brand and your pricing. Perhaps they noticed your Google reviews. Two were 5star reviews but there was a 2-star review there too. Finally, they also checked out your competitors, by searching for your keywords on google and decided to hold off a bit, they couldn’t decide on following through. 

Stage 2: Reminder but no need and no follow through 

A few weeks later an ad popped up on Facebook and caught their attention. They took no action, it wasn’t the right time. A few days later, while on YouTube, a quick 6 second commercial popped up while they were watching a funny video AND their favourite vlog. They hit “skip ad” and kept watching their video. Still naction. 

Stage 3: The need arises 

The need for your product or service truly arises, and the potential client realizes they shouldn’t delay the purchase anymore, so they return to your website either searching your business name or typing in your keyword. You’re #3 on a list of 10 or 11, but they know your brand so they click yours first.  

When they land on your website they notice an article titled “10 Questions you don’t know you should ask us before you buy from us.”  They have to add their email address to read the whole thing but you’ve peaked their interest, they give you their email address and go ahead and read. They visit your competitors sites too, but they don’t have an article and your prospective client is out of time today… they’ll finish this later.

In the meanwhile they get an email thanking them for being well informed customers and provides a few details that weren’t in the article or listed on the website. The email also asks them a few questions about what they might be most interested in or if they have any more questions… From here they are treated to a scheduled group of emails based on their answers to the questions in their first e-mail Every contact with them being meaningful and helpful, never pushy. From time to time a coupon for extreme savings is included but mostly it’s great information.

Stage 4: It’s time to buy

Finally, the time has come.  The prospective client awakes in the morning and knows they must finally buy your product or service and they remember that they have a coupon in their e-mail in box, they didn’t delete it. They decide they’ll reach out to you to complete the purchase with you today.  Your phone rings and your sales team does everything right.  When your team asks “how did you find out about us?” they answer, “from Google”.  

Stage 5: After the sale

The sale is finalized and in true professional form, your new client gets a welcome message and enters into an email sequence written to ensure that your client feels welcome and confident in the quality of their purchase.  What’s more, your post sale e-mails confirm that once they buy they are still important to you. So, when they need to buy again, they’ll buy with you.

Connecting with your perfect client 

Great marketing is more than running an ad or posting on social media. It’s a process of meeting your perfect client before they need you and then being available to them at every stage of the journey. The results are indisputable. You know your marketing works, when your perfect clients are coming to you first because they already trust you before they’re ready to buy.  

There’s no silver bullet to any marketing. Yes, we use tactics and some commonly used tools that anyone else can use. However, Stone City Digital Inc. critically addresses the essential questions listed above by ensuring that you have a marketing and digital marketing strategy that includes a plan for nurturing your perfect client through the entire buying cycle of your business.  

The next time you consider an advertising opportunity, ask yourself, “Is this tactic going to bring me my perfect client and get them into my buying cycle so I can nurture my relationship with them? “

If your answer is no or even I don’t know,” call us. We can help.