How to Market Early Stage Startup Before Hiring A Marketer
Let’s start from personal level! I personally have a passion for interacting with smart people who want to follow their dream. Every night when I put my head on the pillow, I think about doing one thing for the happiness of my soul. I want to make enough money to feed myself and my family by helping entrepreneurs grow their business faster than the fast.
So, I dream about building a system for marketers to make startups affordable and faster. For last 4 years, I found myself doing nothing 2 other than this. Similarly, I can bet, you also have a dream to build one great thing as a product!
I work every day on my dream project. A few months back the pain point for me was, due to limited resources and budget, I had to do most of the tasks by myself to achieve the daily goals. Gradually, I discovered smart tools and resources to get things done efficiently. Now I am comfortable with managing complete OpenThrive alone and rarely, I hire someone to help me.
I think you are also facing similar problems like I did. Therefore, today I am here to help you get the most of it done by yourself to achieve your goals much faster. I have designed this step-by-step DIY guide to take your startup and business from the idea in your mind to the real revenue generating venture on your own designed timeline.
This is a highly targeted and many times tested process to get faster traction in a very early stage startup much before starting with the thousands of dollar growth plan. This is far before you are ready to spend thousands dollar to hire your own inhouse marketing team to do this for you. If you have 2–3 hours daily, you can do this in very less time than you are going to spend in building your own marketing team.
I am not against hiring smart people, very often I do too. But my intention is if you can do this without any headache of hiring-firing with limited resources, why 3 shouldn’t you? After going through this quick guide, whenever you feel that it’s the great time to hire the right person for this, you would definitely do that.
So, for now, let’s figure out how you can get a massive traction without spending valuable time and resources.
Please note that, if you are still in doubt that you can’t do this, and you need some help, I am here to guide you. Yes, absolutely free of cost, no string attached for a one hour Skype call to help you get started. Click to Contact
1. Start with solid Startup Marketing Plan:
When you start something with a plan, it becomes easy from start to finish. Every step throughout the journey gœs smoothly and keeps you on the track. So, let’s start your startup marketing and growth hacking journey with a smart plan. There are hundreds of ways to do this, I have personally tried more than one, but this is very easy and simple way that I have discovered throughout my 4 years of startup marketing journey so far. Let’s get started:
1.1 Marketing Foundation:
How do you start anything? Remember when you found your first crush, how you were finding the ways to interact with that very special person? Do you remember, every night how you were planning to meet her/him before your eyes were closed 5 by itself? If you feel the same for your startup, my friend, you have done 80%, honestly! Keep feeling like you’ve got a new crush in your startup idea and make a virtual marketing plan to meet the success with your startup.
OK, wake up now! It’s time to give actionable wings to your soul tickling virtual plan. Take a paper and pencil and pen down everything that comes in your mind like, how you want to let more people know about your product. Here is the simple approach to do this much faster.
1.2 Product Market Fit:
In simple words, product market fit is the way to find out whether your upcoming awesome product is compatible with the market. If its 40% people are ready to digest, you are ready to go, otherwise, tweak and twist the product that people want to use.
Please note that it’s most important to determine whether you should do your project or stop wasting time anymore. So, do it wisely and quickly; I said quickly because don’t waste much time, just do it. There are a number of articles and resources on how to determine and make your hands dirty with PMF, but I found these resources extremely useful.
Note: As I said there are hundreds of articles on PMF, I have listed only the best here. If you want to save time, I would recommend you to stick and don’t search for others, as all others will be saying almost the same things.
Product Market Fit -Wikipedia
When has a consumer startup hit product/market fit? -andrewchen.co
Minimise your Time to Product/Market Fit -andrewchen.co
Zero to Product/Market Fit (Presentation) -andrewchen.co
Product/Market Fit: What it really means, How to Measure it, and Where to find it-medium.com
If you want to do it faster, create a quick survey using survey.io like this Openthrive survey and send it out to your existing early customers. Have no customers? Modify the questions and ask them to explain to anyone as if your product exists and the one who replies is your customer.
Now, after doing quick research and survey, you have understood which avatar of your product is the market going to accept and also a detailed overview of market segment you should target.
Start with Minimal Viable Product (MVP). You don’t need to build the perfect product before hitting the market. Just build a no-confusing product with core features and benefits that people would love to use and recommend.
1.3 Pick up the tech savvy growth channels
After completing product market fit, you have two important pieces of information — first, what’s your improved product and second, the market. Now, use the product data to make your product better and the marketing data to find out channels and medium to let targeted people know about your product. Most often even the great founders start with the best practices to select the targeting channel. But after months of trials, they find out O-shit this channel sucks for my startup!
So, depending on your product market fit data and some internal logic, select the most scalable growth channels. Keep in mind where is the actual crowd who will listen to use your product first. Again, don’t go with what everyone is using, start with more tech savvy channels that are suitable for your startup growth seeding. As soon as you discover the suitable channel, seed and boost it to grow fast.
Don’t worry if you have stuck here, I have listed all possible growth channels with a short detailed plan in part 2.0 to help you select from. Again, select few or all the suitable from this list.
1.4 Create An Action timeline and calendar
So far you discovered why, what and where you are going to start marketing and thrive hacking. Now, it’s time to structure everything as a routine on a timeline to get things done smoothly at the right time. For this, fix 2–3 hours daily and mark it in Google Calendar at a suitable time or any other reminder tool you use. As soon as you get reminded, leave everything as it is and run to work to grow your startup.
1.5 Checklist before going ahead:
Before going ahead to start seeding the growth, make sure you have designed the homepage of your website to look great. After all marketing strategies and action, a great design of the website is the most important factor to attract strangers to know more about you and become your real customer. If you are using WordPress, you can use Genesis Theme by StudioPress for the great design.
1.6 Apart from design, check these:
Add opt-in form to collect email
Install Google Analytics
Create landing pages, if required
Create and customise all social media accounts
Create professional email address
Select suitable email marketing tool to send automated emails
OK! Now if you are done with above, select one or more growth seeding channels from the list below to start your startup marketing. Don’t try to work on all selected channels at the same time, start and finish one by one.
2. Tech Savvy Startup Marketing Channels
As I said, again and again, there are hundreds of marketing channels to take your startups to the next level. Here is the list of top startup marketing and growth channels with quick detail to select for your startup.
Note: If you want my help to select the suitable set of channels for your startup, I would love to help you. Let’s schedule one-hour video call to get started. I never charge a single penny for this, yes no string attached!
Quick and Faster Channels:
2.1 Email Seeding:
This is the very first step to let potentially thousands of people know about your awesome idea turning into a great startup. From school to college, office to home, we send and receive hundreds and thousands of emails. Go ahead and send them a personalised email that you are going to start or have started something new. What they think, what are their feedback and suggestions?
Collect and make a list of all email addresses of your friends, family, classmates of your school and college and coworkers if you are on the job. Draft a personalised email address with some quick question and survey link if possible. You can do this even before going live or do it now if you couldn’t yet.
2.2 Twitter Blast:
Twitter is a great place to take a lift from influencers to target their audience. The intention of twitter blast is to get tweets, reTweets or other twitter engagements to get the attention of their followers on your product or service.
As the end result is getting traction, so quality matters first then the quantity, of course. Start with listing all top influencers in your niche, follow them and do something with their tweets, and then start outreaching with your message.
Create personalised tweets with a solid message and byline CTA. Schedule all using Buffer kind of tool. At the end of the project, you will get a greater result than thousand dollar paid campaigns.
2.3 Email Outreach
Email outreach is another great way to take a ride on influencers growth engine to target their audience and get traction in short time. Again here, the intention is to get access to influencers’ attention and power audience directly. But, here, in this case, set an objective what do you want from influencers — tweet or mention on their article or roundup post on your blog or something like this that will attract their audience toward your startup.
Like twitter blast, create a list of influencers with their email address using some email hunting tool. Create a short, simple and sweet email and send them. Follow up until they respond, don’t irritate by reminding every day, just ping them after some day or week again if they skip your email. After they respond, ask their favor whatever you want.
Do it wisely, it’s a great way to find not only first few customers but also get lots of traction in short time.
2.4 Facebook Group Hacking
Facebook groups have a great power to target the niche audience of the group. Although you can build your own group later, but for now, you can leverage existing groups to get traction in short time. The only problem with facebook group posting is people join just to submit their post without any prior activities. It looks like spamming and at the end of the process, you don’t get any good result.
So, to get full advantage of Facebook group posting, list top groups, join and start interacting with already published posts, exclusively with Admin posts. After 3- 4 days, when you feel yourself an active member of the group, start posting your message to get attention on your startup.
Do it on consistently for few weeks or months, not just few days. Although I can’t give any guarantee, but I can make sure you will get a great result if everything is done in better way.
2.5 Quora For Marketing
Quora was started as just another QA website like Yahoo Answers, but from its early stage, it has become the most popular platform to get an answer to almost any question in any niche. According to Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, the website is getting 100m unique visitors per month (March 2016). As far as I know Quora, it has very active and engaged users. So, even a tiny fraction of this traffic can take your startup to the next level.
So, you can answer the questions that your product solve with perfect bio and suitable reference link to your own content to get more engaged traction. The golden rule is to use data and facts in your answers with reference instead of just playing with words.
2.6 Online Community Posting
Whatever is the niche of your startup, there are lots of online communities or forums that you can leverage to get initial traction just by posting their. Become the most engaged part of the threads, write suitable answers and add your link in author bio to get traffic of engaged users.
Again like Quora or any other conversation platform, do it wisely and in a structured way. Don’t act like you are there for just get traffic, contribute and get the benefits.
3. Long Term Growth Engines
3.1 SEO Foundation
Search engine optimisation is the cake for everyone, anyone can get a heavy traffic from the ocean of giant search engine search traffic. But, honestly, it’s not as easy as eating a pie but also not rocket science, of course. There are just certain rules and guidelines to follow before seeing the unbelievable contribution of SEO in the growth of your startup.
So, start with key strategies of SEO, find top keywords using tools like SEMrush and list them to create extremely useful content that people are searching. Be unique and active especially in the beginning and always stick with quality along with quantity.
Here I can guarantee, if you follow the golden rules of SEO, you will get great results in few months right from the day you start. Again remember, success with SEO is not the overnight process, it requires some time along with great effort. But at the end of few months, you will start seeing its magic.
3.2 Social Media Marketing
Social media is more than just a place to interact with friends, family and like-minded people. It has become the most crowded place with people of any interest. A great social media marketing technique has a huge potential to get a massive traf- fic to your startup.
You can select the most suitable platform to get the benefits. The golden rule is, create useful and viral content to get early stage traction.
3.3 Blog Foundation and Development
Blogging is itself a powerhouse to generate leads and then customers in long term. It has such a great power that even without business, people can make millions just by selling other people’s product (#Affiliate Marketing), then you can imagine how much you can get for your own business. Unlike other marketing channels, it requires some more time to build a great blog and when it becomes mature, no one can stop it to take your startup to the next level.
Start with highly targeted niche and create a traffic magnet blog full of useful and problem-solving content. The golden rule for blogging is to focus on certain niches, create shareable content on a consistent basis, capture email addresses and interact with each and every person of interest.
Building an authority blog is not rocket science, but at the same time, it’s not easy enough that everyone can do this. So, start from scratch and build a strong blogging community and then monetise it aggressively with your own product or service.
If you do everything in right way on right time, it will give you an unparalleled result in terms of growth and marketing of your startup.
3.4 Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the oldest marketing channel on the web, but still it’s the most powerful channel to convert and retain customers for long term. Email marketing makes communication easy and faster with your existing fans and customers. You can trigger it from when users submit their email addresses to nurture them until they become customers, then to upgrade to the next plan and then again to retain them forever. So, apart from converting leads to customers, it helps you to maintain your growth in long term.
Email marketing is not just about sending anything to the inbox, it’s all about building a relationship with users so that they never want to go ahead without your product and startup. On the other hand, if you don’t do it wisely, it can break all your email communication channel by taking place in people’s spam folder.
Therefore, start with a solid email marketing plan, send an email only when you have something great to share and keep it transparent and spam free.
There’s always a smarter way to work, any kind of work. So, this was what I found ‘smarter’ to give any startup a healthy boost. Most of the startups fail just because founders can’t market their product at the right time. Even if they do, they don’t market it through proper channels, either they spend time in wrong directions or in the best practices that everyone dœs. Every startup is unique even if it’s the carbon copy of any existing established company. You should start with a unique approach and a solid foundation to take it further.
If you have got anything that I haven’t listed here, do share your approach.
Ready to take your startup to the next level? Start here