Supercharge your startup marketing with these first steps

Sergio Paluch
Mar 26, 2019 · 6 min read
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Image for post
The right message meeting the perfect channel. Image via onlinedigitialmarketing.com

Who is your ideal customer?

How and where you try to reach your customers has everything to do with who exactly you are targeting as well as their unique needs and challenges. For example, let’s say that you have created a novel platform for connecting employers to job seekers. It is not enough to say that you are “marketing to employers” or “marketing to job seekers.” What kinds of employers exactly are you targeting? Are you trying to reach small businesses or corporations? Is your platform optimized for finding executives or janitors? Is your customer more likely to be a manager or an HR professional? Is your ideal customer likely to be using your platform on a laptop or mobile phone?

Where do your ideal customers live?

After clearly identifying distinguishing details about your ideal customer, the next step is figuring out where they hang out both virtually and in real life. Continuing with the above example of a job platform for small to medium-sized creative agencies, you might find out that many of your ideal customers read publications such as Communication Arts and Wallpaper as well as blogs such as Brand Struck and the Igor Naming Agency blog. In addition, you realize that many creative professionals work in cafes (not to stereotype or anything) and attend industry conferences such as the AIGA Design Conference. Finally, you do some research to find that many designers hang out in virtual communities such as Reddit, User Experience Stack Exchange, and Designers Talk Forum. Now that you know where to reach your target customer, all that is left is creating a strategy and executing on it.

Crafting your marketing message

The effectiveness of your marketing is a factor of the message and channel, which is why you have to first answer the above two questions. Having a detailed understanding of your ideal customer will help you create messaging that is likely to resonate and capture their attention while knowing where they hang out will make it possible to quickly hone in on the best way to reach them. Most important is to first identify what you would like to communicate to your audience that demonstrates your startup’s unique value. Keep in mind that the message that I’m referencing can take forms other than the written word; pictures and videos are just two other ways that can effectively communicate a message as well.

Identifying message types

This article started with a common refrain from startup founders that they are doing social media marketing. Notice that this statement only gives a vague hint about the channel (social media) and mentions nothing about the specific actions or types of messaging (what). Is the startup writing Medium posts, tweeting on Twitter, posting pics on Instagram, posting videos on YouTube, answering questions on Quora? Perhaps many of your customers are on Instagram, but are you prepared to create images on a daily basis and will they effectively convey your message? Additionally, you must decide whether you will engage solely in outbound marketing such as paid advertising and PR or if you will also aim to become a part of the discourse through valuable insights and commentary–inbound marketing.

  • Short posts
  • Answers
  • Photos
  • Graphics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Newsletters

A menu of marketing activities

Up to this point, we have focused primarily on creating and publishing content aimed at building your startup’s reputation and engaging in dialog with your customers. However, there are many other activities that can effectively reach your audience. Bringing inbound and outbound marketing strategies together leads to the following list of activities that your startup can pursue to promote your product to potential customers:

  • Publish short posts
  • Publish answers to questions
  • Publish videos
  • Publish images or pictures
  • Publish a podcast
  • Send emails or newsletters
  • Buy traditional advertising
  • Buy digital advertising
  • Buy influencer promotion or endorsement
  • Get covered in media
  • Speak or promote in person at events
  • Run a contest
  • Create partnerships

Creating a marketing strategy

The final step in creating a marketing strategy is to prioritize and flesh out what exactly your team will be doing. You obviously cannot cover all of the items on the above list, but start by choosing the five most promising activities that will both fit the capabilities of your team and that are likely to effectively reach your customers. Once you have identified the top five, catalog details about how you will implement each. For example, if your team is going to be writing long-form articles or blog posts, what will be the publishing cadence? What topics will you cover? Who will do the writing and editing?


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