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 Sell, Engage.
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.