I have been apart of many startups from a production company, to a real estate site, to 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 the startups I have been involved with so that you can see the success you deserve and asome dangerous pot holes in an already bumpy road.
1. Build, then Market:
Before you can 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 needs to be in place are:
-Logo/Brand Image: Can people tell who I am at a glance?
-Uniform Social Media Platforms: Will people feel the same way on my Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Website?
-One Message: Is there a strong 'why' behind your startup that people can grab onto?
2. Become/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 need to get a SEO specialist to ensure that your website gets the right exposure, or a social media expert is needed to make sure that you connect with your consumer base. All of the aspects of marketing are equally as important to startups in their early stages. Hiring a specialist or only learning how to do one thing really well may bring you success for that one aspect of your business but 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, social media presence... But should not be afraid not to spend it. If people don't know about your new product or service, who's going to be your client?
Putting aside 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 Sell, Engage:
If what you are doing is completely new, people probably don't even know why they need it. 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 promo video
-responsive communications on social media
5. Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Your Community:
Being apart of your local community or the community of your peers makes a big difference to your start up. 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 a great way 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/advice from them. Don't forget that networking is an essential part of marketing.