Marketing for Startups: Life after Launch

Any business success often depends on marketing. However, in most cases, company owners have little to no experience in drawing a marketing plan or managing a marketing budget. If you are working on the next great thing, there should be an equally amazing product marketing plan in the works to go along with it.

What is a marketing plan?

Marketing plan is a written document that describes your advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year; it includes a statement of the marketing situation, a discussion of target markets and company positioning and a description of the marketing mix you intend to use to reach your marketing goals. – by Entrepreneur.com staff

In other words, in today’s world of nominal assets and eternal competition branding is everything. There are millions of articles and videos on PR and brand communications with sample marketing plan for startups or ideas, examples, and so on.

While everybody else is showing off smashing results, you write blog articles, share them on all and every social media platforms, trying to engage your audience everywhere and every way.  In the end, you only get pain in the neck and hassle, but no results. The vast majority of startup owners renounces the idea and gives up on content marketing entirely… Up until the moment, they pitch upon another “successful” startup marketing plan example and are caught in the same trap.

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The truth is that marketing for startups is hard and doing it right is even twice harder. Moreover, it takes longer than most people are used to.

Why do you need a marketing plan?

In general, such template helps businesses to:

  • Estimate efficiency of your marketing strategy (yes, it’s not the same. Marketing strategy is the basis of marketing plan that consists of all the marketing goals, drawn from thorough market analysis, and focuses on the top profit potential and business growth)
  • Clarify current position of your service or product on the market
  • Define and understand your target audience and competitors
  • Shape your product or service profile
  • Specify the marketing approaches you’ll take

Related article: Tips & Tricks on How to Develop Software for Startups

The crucial elements of a startup marketing plan are:

  • Your business intentions

With this sentence, you define your state of mind and what heights your company intends to achieve. You need to craft an obvious and action-oriented message to explain why your company is more credible. This insight will help your consumers get to know your startup better.

  • Profile of “would-be users”

There are millions of prospective consumers on the market, but will all of them purchase your product/download your app? Why do they need it? What benefit will they gain from this purchase/download?

Start small; begin with specifying a class of your target audience.  Proceed with an in-depth description and add as many details, as possible, to craft a lucid understanding of what you want to achieve.

  • “Mind your enemies”

For any startup tough competition is the foreseeable future. Moreover, bear in mind that your business rivals don’t want you to even heave in sight because no one likes to be taken through its paces. On the top of that, nobody wants you to play in the big leagues.

marketing-startups-business-launch-stage

Often business newcomers don’t bother about competitive assessment, though being aware of your merits and flaws accompanied with a comprehensive analysis of the competition can provide you with a head start. Over and above, entering the market with a unique idea and edgy product will definitely differentiate you from others.   

  • End-to-end positioning statement of your brand

Your brand itself together with its mission makes an essential part of your promotion array and, at the same time, it can become your ruling competitive edge. A transparent and yet extensive summary of how you’ll cover your consumers’ requirements while squeezing the competition can come into play.

These are the basics and now it’s high time to come over to marketing channels. We won’t talk about broadcast or print media, offline ads (billboards, business cards, and other promotional materials), but we’ll cover some most popular marketing channels that can be of much use to your business.

Related article: Six Common Mistakes That Startups Make

Pivotal marketing channels:

  • Social media/networking websites:

Social media is the face of new-day marketing that has become an integral part of any tech startup marketing plan. They let you address a wider audience and eventually turn them into potential consumers. With digital marketing early-stage companies can either sink or swim, so it is recommended to focus on smaller goals adhering to a package approach. Attractive Facebook or LinkedIn page, active Twitter account, creative Behance portfolio, and many other social profiles can stand you in good stead.

Social media statisticsSource: Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2016
  • Email-marketing

E-mail marketing is a tried and true tool that is still widely used for promotions, engagement, and better brand loyalty. The majority of companies apply this technique to consolidate their media outreach. Don’t forget about newsletters, educational and promotional emails, reengagement letters, birthday/anniversary/holiday cards, sales announcements, event invitations, etc. All these mailouts can help to sharpen the business.  

  • Mobile marketing

Smartphones and tablets are extensively stealing the market share from computers. These days, people take their mobile phones everywhere and keep them handy for all the time. Such tendency has already changed the way we market products and currently companies heavily employ mobile as a platform to promote themselves. Work on a strategy to target these devices directly.

Mobile marketing popularity statsSource: The 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report by comScore
  • Video, podcasts, and audios

Video marketing, various audios, and podcasts are powerful and effective methods to reach your customers and highlight your product or service. These tools stick out on social media because in about twenty or thirty seconds people can get all the necessary information about your company/app/product/service through an attractive and short promo video or podcast. Customers are not overwhelmed with long texts and they can watch/listen to it on the go.  

  • Content strategy

You’ve probably heard the statement that “Content is the king”, however, we don’t agree. “Quality content is the king” – this is the foundation of the tomorrow’s marketing. Currently, no business can go without an active blog. It helps companies to intensify social positioning, brand awareness, and promotion.

  • SEO and link building

SEO is heavily involved in content development, that’s why these two methods should go hand-in-hand in your startup marketing template. A solid SEO strategy can enhance your web presence, blog and social media activities, digital PR, increase content reach and have a significant impact on your potential users.

  • Digital PR and various partnership

Steady PR and communications partnership will consolidate and drive your online footprint and social networking activities. Beyond that, it will lead traffic, communications, networking, and partnering, create an online reputation and help with a monitor of web conversations and word-of-mouth. Not mentioning sponsorship, affiliate programs, social responsibility activities, workshops, seminars and so on.  

Related article: Seven Reasons to Hire a Dedicated Development Team

  • “People saying…”

Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) or word of mouth advertising is the most trusted form of marketing. People are social beings, who read reviews and bend an ear to what others say. Moreover, we trust recommendations from family and friends over all other adverts.

Word of mouth marketingSource: Invesp

 

People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising. – Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook

  • Online adverts

The advertisement is another tried and tested marketing tool. First, you shape and introduce your brand, and then make a pitch for it to the target audience. Online ads and sponsored posts are offered by nearly all social networking platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.), as well as search engines and other sites. Addressing the proper audience with an attractive message can double down your media reach and bring a vast improvement to your business.

  • Constant brand development

Mind intense competition and constantly work on a distinctive aspect of your business. You need to stand out from the crowd. Enhance your brand in general, not just your service or product. Develop your logo, image, name, credibility and make people associate your brand with quality, or innovation, or strength or any other emotion(s) you wish.

  • “You make me feel…”

Neuromarketing is a field that applies the principles of neuroscience to marketing research, studying consumers' sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli. (Wikipedia)

Neuromarketing is nothing new and most companies are already making a heavy use of this science to “read customers’ minds” and understand their sensitivity to marketing campaigns, commercials, brands, tricky designs and other wiles.  Scientists use MRI and EEG to read electrical signals from the consumers’ brains and analyze them to get necessary answers. Though, there are other methods as well.

For example, let’s talk about logo and brand recognition. What brand uses red color for its logo? – Most people will name Coca-Cola, though there are lots of other companies that employ red color for their logos. Another marketing plan idea is a well-known “buy before it's gone” or “last chance” strategy. The majority of people are more worried about what they can lose than what they can gain.

Colors are also used to create particular emotions and associations, as well as specific geometric entities in the logo (house roof “^” is identified with safety and reliability, that’s why it is often used by banks). Don’t forget about pricing tricks ($9.99 instead of $10), reward and punishment principle (especially in the gaming industry), use of memorable headlines (light changes in familiar phrases activate hippocampus and attract attention) and many others.  

Related article: Top 5 Most Popular Online Marketplaces. How to Join the Champions League?

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Summing up, let’s categorize the above-mentioned elements and draw up some rough guidelines.

Three stages of launch marketing plan:

  • Stage 1: strategic positioning, brand development, and online footprint

A positioning statement is vitally important for the proper start. It should include first steps, product/service category, a map of benefits, major value proposition, competitors’ profile analysis, and along with the mission, core message, plans, and objectives for the first twelve months.

Work on your name, logo, website, and general image. Be creative and try to stand out from the crowd. If you already have a brand name, then give it the proper feel and look. These days web presence is even more, than important and it can amplify your business on a tight schedule. An attractive website with a rich blog, Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter pages – the bare-bones agenda for the launch.

  • Stage 2: Content development, video marketing, PR, and advertising

Quality content is the core of the present-day social marketing program. It should not only improve company’s positioning statement, promote its service or product, and share internal operations and achievements, but also educate your potential customers and add value. Write articles, create videos, and use SEO techniques, following a robust plan and schedule.

Drive and strengthen your web presence through regular social media activities, digital PR, partnering, networking, word-of-mouth marketing and online adverts. As time goes on, each company peels apart some marketing channels and defines the top platforms for promotion. However, to identify the best ones, you should first give them a try.

Advertising is a broad field. Startups often turn to Google AdWords, social media ads including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others, depending on the location and user classes. Sponsorship, thematic events, speeches at conferences and workshops, crowdsourcing campaigns – all these are elements of advertising.

  • Stage 3: Never stop

Marketing is a dynamic and fast-evolving field. With the course of time, your business is growing and your brand develops with it.  Enhance your brand and image, not just services and products. Take tough competition as a challenge and enhance your strategy, elaborate it and exclude unnecessary steps and elements. Create greater value, craft your brand positioning, and keep your tactics up-to-date. Never give up.

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