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A Killer Marketing Plan for Startup Entrepreneurs

Mark Sands
Mark Sands
Co-founder at High Risk Merchant Account LLC

Establish a solid framework for your startup by following these 8 marketing tips.

Creating a killer marketing plan doesn't have to cost a lot of money. All that is required is your time, effort and creativity. These ideas will get you started.

Why break the bank for your marketing needs when you can brainstorm your way to a killer marketing plan? The best marketing ideas are simple and inexpensive, but they don't come out of the blue. They require an out-of-the-box, innovative thought process. Always remember that building your brand is a perpetual process, so get into the right mindset from day one.

Here are eight marketing tips that can help you establish a solid framework.

1. Define your end goal.

Just as it is practically impossible to embark on a road trip without knowing where your final destination is, you have to define your marketing and business goals.

Do you relate with your target prospects on social media? How do you plan to increase the number of followers on your profile? How do you plan to generate traffic for your website? Reaching out to leads/prospects and converting them into customers requires a well-defined approach with specific objectives.

What goals do you hope to accomplish? In two years? Five years? When you have an end goal, you can now start using landmarks. Utilizing marketing strategies help you reach your destination.

2. Maintain a consistent brand and message.

The importance of consistency in the brand and message of startups cannot be overemphasized. It is often thought that consistency and discipline are important only for the biggest enterprises. 

While your startup will undergo minor changes over time, consistency is key as it instills confidence and credibility, especially for your customers.

3. Determine your target audience.

What can you possibly achieve without the right prospects? No matter how great of a marketing plan, product, or service you have in place, customers are crucial to the success of your small business. But who are these customers?

It is critical that you define your target customer so you can structure your marketing strategy to meet their needs. How can you determine your target audience? Here are three ideas to get you started:

  • Identify the basic demographics of your target prospects, such as their gender, age, and location.
  • Learn how to relate to your audience by analyzing their personalities and/or shopping behavior.
  • Establish your brand's message following your research.

These suggestions will help you hone in on your specific audience and determine their needs so your offering satisfies them.

4. Find the social channel for your startup.

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 channel serves different personalities and audience. And those audiences engage with each channel differently. Therefore, it's up to you to determine what works best for your startup.

Some of the channels and their behaviors include:

  • Facebook: This is the powerhouse of social media. You'll likely find all audience types on this platform. But you are not in business for everyone, so you must determine where you can find your targets and reach out to them.
  • Instagram: This is a great tool for native advertisement purposes. Since the algorithm is optimized for valuable content, you'll likely gain a natural following of your target audience if you provide quality content.
  • Twitter: Twitter is another top-notch social media channel. However, consistency is paramount in order to gain and maintain a significant audience. The ultimate goal should be to provide content that is relevant to your audience.

It's recommended that you evaluate and test each channel. For a minimal amount of money, you can invest in a sponsored campaign. You can rest assured you will achieve results sooner rather than later.

5. Build a referral network.

Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most powerful forms of advertisements, especially for small businesses. Since people make purchases based on trust and credibility, you can take advantage of their network and get a referral. And getting a referral involves a two-step process.

First, you must deliver top-quality results to clients. In addition to offering a stellar product or service, communicate openly and often with customers throughout the course of the transaction.

Secondly, ask for feedback. Transparency is a very important quality, especially for startups – even if something goes wrong. Asking for feedback is a great way to learn the personalities of your clients, how satisfied they were, so you can build on this for the future. 

6. Cultivate relationships with influencers.

Influencers are just as important as your customers. They are the people your target audience listens to on a daily basis. Influencers could include hosts of YouTube channels or radio and TV personalities.

Call potential influencers, send emails, offer free products or services. One mention from these high-profile individuals can propel your business startup from literally nothing to a credible and legitimate force.

7. Create ads that appeal to people's emotions.

A number of studies have revealed that emotional advertisement outsells logic. Emotions factor heavily into buying decisions for consumers, not just facts and information.

Unruly, a platform that ranks successful viral ads each year, discovered in 2015 that the most-shared ads relied heavily on emotional awareness, especially relating to friendship, happiness, warmth and inspiration. How can a business connect with its target audience through emotional content?

  • Happiness: Positive posts that create an atmosphere encouraging smiling, laughing and generally happy customers can increase user engagement. Coca-Cola is an example of a brand that leveraged emotional content to reach consumers. Its ads featured photos of happy people and taglines such as "Open happiness," and "Taste the feeling."
  • Fear/Surprise: Fear is an instinct that triggers reactions to threats and boosts our chances of survival. It creates a sense of urgency that prompts us to act, to effect a change, etc. Fear tactics are often employed in commercials to prevent cigarette smoking and drunk driving. Use caution with this strategy to avoid upsetting consumers and turning them off from your brand. 
  • Anger: Although anger is a negative emotion, it can spur people to action. 

Create ads that cause your target audience to ask important questions. Emotional content can be especially helpful to connect with your target audience.

8. Assemble the right team.

Individual talents and skills are important qualities for any business. However, teamwork kicks it up a notch. To develop an effective marketing plan, you need to have the right team in place. Whether you hire a professional marketing team on a contractor basis or employees, consider these factors:

  • Identify the roles you need to fill to achieve your end goals.
  • Determine whether you need individuals to work on a contract basis.
  • Interview each candidate for their strengths, skills and experience.
  • Conduct assessments regularly for members of your team.

Since resources are limited for startups, the suggestions above may prove challenging. But you can try out other alternatives. For instance, is your partner a social media expert? Do you have an intern who is a coding whiz? Use the resources available until you are gradually able to expand your team.

Closing thoughts

Creating a killer marketing plan doesn't have to cost a lot of money. All that is required is your time, effort and creativity. Focus on providing unique solutions. By being creative with your service, you will soon find your target customers opening up their wallets for you.

Image Credit: RossHelen/Shutterstock
Mark Sands
Mark Sands
business.com Member
See Mark Sands's Profile
With over 20 years experience in the credit card merchant account industry, in 2008 I set-out to build HRMA-LLC into a leading force in the payment space. Over the past decade, we have assembled a winning staff and have differentiated our company as a powerhouse in our industry.