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Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Can we stop for a moment and talk about how startups grow?

I’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t happen through branding or blog writing. I won’t argue that these things don’t have a place in marketing because everything has its place. (Branding is something I’ve personally — and unnecessarily — agonized over in my own business.) because everything has its place. However, a startups’ primary focus needs to be on lead generation, because that’s the only way they prove their concept, cover their burn, get funding, and become profitable.

A personal lesson in lead gen

Back in the day, I worked in the web department at a large organization for estate planning attorneys. The member websites at the time were outdated. They all had the same landing page content…. And there was A TON of it. The user experience wasn’t pleasant. The sites weren’t creating conversions. …


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Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Marketing is a broad term. Like really broad. It covers messaging, branding, PR, lead acquisition, lead nurturing, sales, and retention — just to name a few. And to do all of those things, you could write copy, post on social media, do hashtag research, jump into paid advertising, build landing pages, develop funnels, email influencers, pin stuff, make videos, do SEO and then do it again tomorrow, send out press releases, work on your lead magnets, create a sales calendar, make Stories, Tik Tok your lunch….

You get my point, right? That’s a lot of shit for a small team to manage, no matter how scrappy they are. …


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It’s shocking to me how many times a week I’ll meet a startup founder that hasn’t set goals for their business. (I’m not even talking S.M.A.R.T. goals, just goals.) It’s like saying that you want to go on a trip but haven’t decided on a destination. How do you expect your Google maps to find you a route to drive if you haven’t given it a destination?

This is essentially what founders are doing when they don’t set clear growth goals and back those goals up with the appropriate resources.

Get started by taking out the map

The first step is deciding what you want and choosing the destination that provides it. (No, we’re not actually talking mountains or beaches here.) This is the “big picture” conversation you need to have with yourself and/or your team as a founder to set up your roadmap. …


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Let’s get straight to it and address the elephant in the room: $1,000 per month is a really small marketing budget-but it’s probably on the high end of what most CPG brands starting out have to invest into their growth. So how do you make it work for your company?

The simple answer: you get scrappy. And getting scrappy means understanding consumer behaviors, focusing on revenue-generating activities, and being active (instead of passive) in your marketing efforts.

Why you should focus on D2C

The world is changing. (You already knew that.) But amidst the political, social, and economic upheavals, what you may not have considered is how our behaviors as consumers have changed. Ten years ago shopping online wasn’t a big thing. Many, many people grabbed their groceries at the local Kroger store and their clothes at the local Macy’s. …


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Ok, so this may shock you…. Unless you read the article title before clicking on it, then you already know what I’m going to say. (But it’s still a little shocking!) I am a service-based business that doesn’t require my clients to sign any kind of contracts. We work month to month, and if they decide they’re done, we part ways as friends.

Does that sound strange to you?

Well, there are 3 big reasons I’ve structured my business this way, and they all boil down to the same thing: no contracts = better client relationships.

Past experiences create a negative perspective

Bad past experiences definitely shape our realities. No matter how we try to shake them, they affect our mindset moving forward. …


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If you know anything about funnels, the first step is to get some eyes on your brand. Once you’ve captured their attention, you also must capture a lead’s contact information so you can nurture them and help them along the path to purchase. The easiest way to do this is to create a lead magnet that converts. There are tons and tons of options for lead magnets out there, but the truth is that not all are created equal. …


#1: Focusing on features instead of benefits

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Messaging is a key component of any marketing strategy. What will you say to people? How will you say it? We want our messaging to be strong and vibrant and unique — but it can be really easy to miss the mark. Without the proper insight or community feedback, brand messaging often falls flat. Here are the mistakes you never knew you were making with your marketing messaging.

Focusing on features instead of benefits

Shouting to the rooftops about all your amazing features isn’t a hard thing to do. (Afterall, you’ve got an amazing product, right?!) …


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All businesses have one primary function: to sell something. In order to make sales, your potential customers need to know your business exists and what value it brings. (That’s why we marketers have jobs!) And marketing is so much easier when you already have warm leads to sell to, which is why email marketing is so important.

But there are roughly a zillion options out there for softwares you can use to manage your email automations. So which one do you choose? MailChimp is my suggestion, and it’s not just because they sent me new socks. (True story.)

You need something affordable

When you are first starting up, you’re going to have a lot of expenses. Forgive me, but I don’t think email marketing software should be one of them. Unless you already have a strong list (which you likely won’t), there’s no reason to spend your precious marketing budget on software for sending emails. …


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Social media marketing is a method of marketing services or products on social media websites. Marketing via social media involves using various techniques on multiple platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, SnapChat, and even Pinterest. The beautiful thing about social media marketing is that anyone can do it — and for free too! Just because you don’t need to pay to be on social media doesn’t mean that social media marketing is an easy strategy to employ.

Each platform requires unique strategies, and you must customize your efforts for each one. With billions of people on social media sites, there are a myriad of opportunities for startups to gain traction here-if they know how to do it and put in the effort to see it done right. …


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As a startup, it’s important to spend money wisely, maybe even more so than for traditional businesses. Every financial decision you make requires confidence because once the funding runs out, it’s gone. More importantly, you want to know there is some kind of return on the money you spend. Unfortunately, this is very tricky where marketing is involved.

If you don’t do the necessary research and work through the right channels, you aren’t going to get the results you’re hoping for. The good news is that digital marketing can lead to brand authority and ultimately, profit, for startups. …

About

Shauna Armitage

Fractional CMO for early-stage startups. Achieving scalable growth one custom strategy at a time.

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