Creating a killer marketing plan doesn’t have to be expensive. However, it requires your time, effort and creativity. You’ll need to encourage innovative thinking among your team to generate the best ideas.
Building your brand is a perpetual process that starts on day one. We’ll share 13 startup marketing tips and explain how your marketing plan relates to the sales funnel.
When you’re starting a business, expenses can feel overwhelming. However, an excellent startup marketing plan doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are 13 marketing tips that can help you establish a solid framework.
Just as you wouldn’t embark on a road trip without knowing your destination, you must define your marketing and business goals before you can achieve them.
To reach your target audience and successfully convert leads, you need a well-defined approach with specific objectives. When creating your startup marketing plan, you must determine your short- and long-term goals and consider how you’ll achieve them.
For example, in the shorter term (the next six months), you may want to use social media marketing to increase followers by 1,000 per month and find ways to generate website traffic. Your longer-term goals (two to five years) may include expanding, increasing sales, opening a new business location and growing your team.
When you have end goals, you can use key metrics to gauge your marketing strategy’s success or failure.
No matter how excellent your marketing plan, product or service, customers are crucial to your business’s success. But who are these customers?
You must identify your target audience so you can structure your marketing strategy to meet their needs. Here are three ideas to help you pinpoint your ideal customer:
Your product or service must satisfy your target customers, and your marketing messages should convince them that your offerings are essential.
Keyword research is a crucial element of any digital marketing strategy. You must determine the keywords that best define your business and the keywords your target audience will search for online. Keywords are essential to your startup’s marketing strategy; you’ll use them on your website, blogs, social media channels and advertisements.
You must determine your key performance indicators (KPIs) and core metrics to gauge your marketing campaign’s success. If you record baseline metrics early on, you’ll have a way to measure future growth or declines.
Ensure that your metrics and KPIs are specific and measurable. For example, instead of saying you want to grow your social media following, aim to gain 1,000 new followers every month. Or, instead of promising to build an email marketing list, say you want an average email click-through rate of 4 percent.
The precise metrics that determine success will be unique to your business. However, you must establish these metrics early and continually assess your results. As your business grows and becomes more successful, consider reevaluating which KPIs and metrics make the most sense.
Before you can develop a marketing strategy, you must determine how much money you can realistically dedicate to it. If you’re in the startup phase, there’s a good chance that your budget is slim, so you’ll need to use it wisely. If you’re a small business owner, a business budget template can help you get started. Once you’ve determined how much money you have for marketing, you must divide it up based on the best marketing strategies for your business.
For example, if your target market is younger and interacts with your product only on social media, consider allotting a significant chunk of your budget to your social media campaigns. If you notice that your blog is your most powerful marketing tool, you may want to dedicate more resources to hiring expert writers.
Increasing brand awareness online is crucial. While your industry and target market will help determine the extent of your online presence, a website and blog are likely excellent tools for establishing your startup as a credible organization. Depending on your budget and skill set, you can build and manage your website yourself or use one of the best website builders and design services.
But it’s not enough to create the website and blog; you or a team member must continually update them and produce fresh content. For example, your blog should have a consistent posting schedule and produce valuable content.
Many startups recognize the power of affordable social media marketing. However, only a few understand the importance of using the right channels. Each social media platform serves different personalities and audiences, who engage with each channel differently. You must determine which platforms work best for your startup.
Evaluate and test various social media platforms. For example, business-to-business (B2B) companies can benefit from a LinkedIn business profile, home services companies can generate referrals from Nextdoor, and Pinterest can boost e-commerce product sales.
Always use social platforms thoughtfully to avoid cringey brand fails that can harm your business and customer relationships.
Influencers can be as crucial as customers. Getting influencers to market your product can build brand trust, offer social proof and boost sales.
Evaluate influencers based on their audiences and personalities. Ensure their audience includes your target customers. Contact them to see if they’re interested in cross-promotional efforts with free products and services. An authentic, organic influencer relationship can raise brand awareness and propel your startup to a credible force.
Emotionally connecting with customers builds brand intimacy. So how can a business connect with its target audience through emotional content? Consider the following emotions and how they can influence customer relationships:
Word-of-mouth advertising is a powerful marketing strategy that helps build brand advocacy. Because people make purchases based on trust and credibility, you can take advantage of their networks to get referrals.
Getting a referral is a two-step process. First, you must deliver top-quality results to clients. In addition to offering a stellar product or service, you must communicate openly and often with customers.
The second step is to ask for feedback — both good and bad. To build customer trust, lead with transparency when you handle mistakes. Asking for feedback is a great way to learn your clients’ personalities and find out how satisfied they are. You can then use their feedback to build on your service for the future.
Brand consistency is crucial for businesses of all sizes. Although your startup will undergo minor changes over time, consistency in your brand image and communication is vital, as it instills your credibility and customers’ confidence in your service.
The only way to gauge success or failure is by consistently measuring your digital marketing ROI. How does your audience interact with your brand online? Do you have high conversion rates and low bounce rates? Are your Instagram posts driving more engagement than your Facebook posts are? Assess your strategy’s performance to identify areas of improvement.
How frequently you measure your results will vary by metric. You might need to check some metrics daily (such as website visits, total number of leads, and leads and visits per channel). In contrast, other metrics can be measured weekly or monthly (such as new versus returning visitors, click-through rates, and cost per acquisition).
After you measure your results, don’t hesitate to modify your marketing plan if needed. Your marketing strategy should evolve with your business.
Individual talents and skills are essential for business success. However, teamwork and employee collaboration can take your business to the next level. To develop an effective marketing plan, you need the right team. Whether you hire full-time employees or a marketing agency, consider these factors:
Startups have limited funds, so you may need to get creative to build your team. For example, bring on an intern who’s a budding digital marketing expert or coding whiz. Use the resources at your disposal to gradually expand your team.
When creating your marketing plan and its associated budget, you must include marketing initiatives and strategies to address every aspect of the sales funnel. This ensures that your business has a steady stream of potential customers and that you continually nurture prospects with relevant and engaging content to encourage them to purchase.
Here are some marketing strategies for every step of the sales funnel.
Building awareness is at the top of the sales funnel. Potential customers likely haven’t heard of you yet, so you must do something disruptive to get their attention. This is called push marketing; it usually involves paid advertising paired with content, although it can also involve search engine optimization.
At this stage, you must get prospects’ contact information, such as their email addresses, so you can continue to reach them for your down-funnel initiatives. For example, you could place ads on Google or Facebook and drive prospects to a landing page or website where they could enter their contact information in exchange for a free e-book.
If your product or service is complex, consider creating a how-to guide in written or video form for potential customers to download or access. You can repurpose your blog content into a how-to format to save time.
Now that your prospects know about your brand, you must feed them information over time that demonstrates the following information:
An email nurture campaign is an ideal way to give prospects this type of content consistently, either in the body of the email or with links to your blog posts, videos, case studies, infographics or webinars.
Social media marketing is also an excellent strategy at this stage of the sales funnel because it allows you to distribute content to your followers while developing a relationship with them.
In this stage, prospects are getting closer to purchasing. It’s time to provide information that counters their objections. During the intent phase, consider one-on-one interactions with a salesperson or customer service rep, who can answer specific questions and objections personally.
For instance, if your product is expensive, tell customers it will last longer than competitors’ products, saving them money in the long run. Share testimonials, highlight good customer reviews, and display followers’ comments to present credible social proof to dispel objections.
This is also a good time to answer prospects’ questions via FAQ pages that proactively address common questions and concerns. For example, a B2B company could explain payment and financing terms and walk prospects through the purchase process and lead time.
When a customer decides to buy your product, your work isn’t finished. You must ensure that your purchase-and-payment process is easy and smoothly executed to present a zero-friction approach to customers. Removing friction from the purchasing process will reduce abandoned purchases.
To eliminate friction from the purchasing process, consider the following tips:
Now that a purchase is made, you have a new customer. But remember, existing customers are more valuable than new customers, so it pays to do whatever it takes (within reason) to retain them. In addition to providing excellent customer service, strengthen your customer relationships by providing valuable content, interacting via social media and offering customer loyalty programs.
Devoting resources to keeping your customers engaged and happy will pay off by increasing their customer lifetime value.
Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article.