Starting a business is exciting. Unfortunately, the “build it and they will come” theory is unlikely to work and those overnight success stories that you hear about are often the result of years of hard work behind the scenes. Getting your startup marketing right is a challenge, particularly as resources are likely to be limited, whether it’s time, money or talent. You have to be sure every effort, no matter how small, is well-planned and executed.
With the buzz around social media, there can be a temptation to rush into action and start communicating. However, as with building a house, you need to start with solid foundations, so before you jump into marketing your startup, make sure you have the following covered:
1. What is your value proposition? This is similar to an elevator pitch and should articulate in a concise and compelling way, why your business exists, what you do and how you do it uniquely well. Developing this may take a bit of time and you should have your target customers and market sectors at the front of your mind. You are aiming to communicate why you are different and make it memorable.
2. Which are your target markets and specific target customers? What job functions will be the decision makers?
3. What benefits do you bring to each of your target markets and what pain points do you help customers in these markets to overcome? Working through this should enable you to create the external messages for your business, which will form the basis of your startup marketing on your website, social media and in the press.
The process needs to be followed rigorously to ensure that the external market is at the centre, and to avoid messages based on the features of your products or services and what you are good at. Your startup will need to stand out from the crowd to be successful, so the time invested in building the marketing foundations will bring returns in the future. External challenge can often be helpful, particularly when you are well into the process.
Once you have this in place, you will want to identify the communication channels that your target audience accesses and decide which you believe will be the most important in communicating the launch of your new business.
A website is likely to be an essential, and a clear, modern, easily navigable style will make it simple for visitors to find the information that they require. With your value proposition and messaging in place you can begin building a keyword list, which you will use on your website, on social media and when blogging. You will want to answer the question ‘what would someone type in Google to find my startup’s website.’
Social media can be a cost effective way to communicate your startup and reach influencers. A great content promotion plan brings potential customers to your website, but there are some considerations before you start. Firstly, prioritise and choose the right social media platforms. It is unlikely that you will have the resource to master all the possible networks and focusing on those most used by your target demographic will bring the best return. Then, decide on a content plan, focusing on topics and blog posts which will bring value to your target audience, and which they will find useful. Content marketing is not a ‘quick win’ and it may take a couple of years for it to have a significant impact on your business.
You will undoubtedly want to use other communication channels, such as events, PR and face to face networking to name but a few, but prioritisation will be vital in the early days. Aligning your marketing and business development plans will ensure a joined-up approach which will fuel your startup’s growth in a cost effective way.
Once your business starts to grow, you will be engaging with prospective customers via a number of marketing channels, and people will expect to hear from you with valuable and interesting information on an ongoing basis. With so many priorities, you may not have the time to focus on marketing and professional part-time support can often be the solution.
To find out more, please get in touch. Birch Marketing provides cost effective, part-time startup marketing services to help companies grow and realise their ambitions.