With all the work that goes into developing a product as a startup, there’s often little time left to think about marketing strategies that prove successful at early stage sustainable startups. Strategies that are feasible enough for time, money and people to be allocated. 

If you find yourself in this boat, don’t panic. You probably know the tools that are helpful for startup marketers to use when strategizing — a CMS, social media accounts, and graphic design software, for instance.

Now, what you need to know is how to use these tools, and similar methods, to create campaigns that align with your business goals. We have gathered some useful information and tactics to help you grow!

Why is Marketing important for early stage startups?

In its early stage, startups focus on product or service development. Marketing is often forgotten in this stage while the chances of a product succeeding without proper marketing are very slim. You should start marketing your business as early as possible to build an audience that you can promote your product to in a later stage. That said, it is essential to create a marketing strategy in every stage of the startup lifecycle. 

Startup marketing and branding are such integral components of company development because they help a new business establish a unique brand identity. They also help a startup set itself apart from the competition and gain customer loyalty by building a community in its early stage.

How do you start with marketing for startups?

1. Set goals

Having predefined goals can facilitate and guide your process a lot! That is why we suggest you take a look at the SMART method that you can use to guide your goal setting.

These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. For example, a SMART goal could be:

  • Increase organic traffic to our website by 50% by 2022.
  • Create 10 new sales focused blogs by Q3.

The purpose of SMART goals is to set businesses up for success. They provide a sense of direction and help to organize efforts. And, while SMART goals are valuable for any organization, they’re particularly beneficial for startups.

In most startups, employees have to wear several hats (often due to budget constraints or lack of resources). The founder for instance, might be responsible for strategy, product development, and even PR, while the chief technology officer (CTO) might be involved in the design of the website, marketing, and social media. It’s here where SMART goals can really help. Instead of trying to do everything at once, focus on the most business-critical goals, put everything you have behind them, and tackle things in a strategic way.

2. Define your target group

No matter the type of startup, it’s crucial for your marketing to reach the right people with the right message. As you’re developing a marketing strategy, take time to think about who your ideal audience is — or who you want your audience to be.

Here are a few questions you might ask yourself when you’re deciding which audience to target:

  • What are you offering your potential customers?
  • What makes you unique?
  • Why would a customer choose you over your competitors?
  • If you’re B2B, would your product be more beneficial to businesses of a certain size or within a certain industry?
  • If you’re B2C, does it make sense to choose a preferred audience based on their location, demographics, or interests?

We have previously written a blog about it, so in case you want to dig deeper in the topic, you can find more details here.

3. The Golden Circle

Building the blueprint of your marketing strategy should start with asking yourself several questions. The Golden Circle model could significantly aid this process by making you focus on 3 important areas:

  • Why?- Your purpose
    Here is where you explain your purpose and the reason you exist and behave as you do.
  • How?- Your Process
    This helps you identify the specific actions needed to realise the ‘Why’. 
  • What?- Your Result
    This describes the products a company sells or the services it offers.

4. Have a clear compelling messaging

In an age of slick, big-budget marketing campaigns and buzzwords, it falls to you to keep your messages clear and concise. Great compelling messages have a few characteristics in common: 

  • They get to the point.
  • They take the customer’s viewpoint.
  • They use familiar language.
  • The need no further explanation.

Some examples include:

  • “We help your sales team close deals more  quickly.”
  • “No surprises. Ever.”
  • “We win way more eyes for your ads.” 

People want to understand what it is your product does and how it can help them solve their business challenges. In fact, most of the time it’s not even about your business, it’s about how you can help your potential customers solve their problems. 

5. Do not overpromise

You can never go wrong with under-promising, yet most businesses go the exact opposite direction and over-promise. Why is over-promising a problem? Because not fulfilling the promise can lead to dissatisfied, disappointed, and often angry customers. Needless to say, this will have a negative impact on your bottom line.

6. Set a budget

Your business’ marketing plan can be expensive, which is why setting a budget is important. Your plan can include the total cost, as well as a budget for marketing campaigns you want to run. You’ll know how much money you have to spend for different marketing methods, and you’ll lower your chance of overspending. Some basic steps in setting up a budget  include:

  • Listing essential start-up costs
  • Defining your fixed and variable costs
  • Calculating your monthly revenue

7. Social Media Marketing

When you consider the number of people who use social channels, it makes sense for your business to be on social media. Each social channel gives you an opportunity to market your business. Tthe top social media platforms include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Tiktok

You may not have the time or resources to develop a presence on each platform. In that case pick one that is most valuable to your target groups and to that one really well. 

8. Develop relevant, shareable content

It’s not enough to just have a presence digitally. Your business also needs to create shareable content. While it’s important for you to post regularly to get people to look at your page, making shareable content increases your reach. Here you can see a useful tool that could guide you through this process:

More information

This said, running an early stage sustainable startup is definitely an exciting adventure, filled with many challenges. To help facilitate this process we have written other blogs that are useful to you as a startup founder: