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What are your startup’s goals for Q3 and Q4 of this year? Realizing any of them requires marketing greatness — and marketing greatness requires a plan. Today’s marketing world requires a new expertise and familiarity with digital tools and online platforms.
Let’s take a look at six of the components of a successful startup marketing campaign:
A benchmark for where you (and your competitors) stand
If you’re an entrepreneur just getting your new business off the ground, you need to determine a niche for your product or service and define your competitive potential. What do you bring to the table? You can’t assume either success or uniqueness, so what’s your angle? Be honest with yourself about the merits of your product or service and why people should choose yours over the competition.
Use the online tools at your disposal to perform benchmarks for your competitors. How much traffic and search volume do they generate? Do they seem to have any weaknesses? Even if you don’t use a special tool for competitor analysis, you can run a series of trials to get a sense of how competitors rank for certain keyword phrases and what kind of content they’re leveraging to do so.
An understanding of your audience
Marketing campaigns are all about communication. Identify exactly who you want to speak to. Knowing your audience is the first step in learning how to successfully market to them. So, what kind of options do you have for diving into all the nitty gritty demographic details? And how can you reach these people where they are?
You might find it helpful to create a series of customer personas. This will get you thinking about the daily lives of the people you’re trying to reach. What do they do for a living? How much money do they make? What’s their home life like? Where do they live, what are their goals and what do they want out of life?
Then, study your competitors in greater detail. Who do they seem to be reaching on social media? What kind of personality and presentation does their brand have, and does it seem to be working? The goal isn’t to copy somebody else’s work verbatim, of course — it’s to discover members of your potential audience who might be hidden otherwise, or who might not be quite who you expected.
Social media savviness and authenticity
There’s no denying the power of social media channels in the building of a brand and the expansion of a customer base. But merely taking part in social media is far from enough — you need to cultivate a truly authentic presence.
So, how is this done? There are plenty of possibilities, but here are a few places to start:
- Show off your products: Try to focus less on plastering CTAs everywhere and a little more on humble-bragging about your product’s attention to detail. Show off how it’s made. Introduce yourself and the team who makes it. If you give back to the community or donate your time someplace, talk about why, or encourage others to do the same.
- Interact as much as possible: Show that your startup is part of the larger community by commenting on other posts and responding to fans and critics alike without sounding canned, rehearsed or defensive. Concentrate on building a network that’s about relationships first and closing sales second.
If social media is a part of your marketing campaign (and it should be!) you also need to know how to measure its success.
Specific, time-bound goals and a way to measure them
If you want to zero in on a set of proven techniques and campaign types that actually deliver the goods, the goal of your marketing campaign needs to be more specific than a simple “I want to increase sales.”
Suppose you’ve created what you think is a killer branded infographic. It sheds light on a little-known issue or a hidden corner of your industry that regular folks don’t get to see every day. You plan to drop it onto your social networks and pitch it to blogs. A specific and time-bound goal for this piece of content could be “Increase my social followers by [X] during this month of promotion,” or “Increase conversions on my website by [X] percent this quarter or week.”
Using a combination of social media analytics and Google Analytics, you can find out just how much people are engaging with your content and whether there seems to be a relationship between your content and the actual traffic on your website.
A presence in the “real world”
Some of the best marketing campaigns are those that bridge the digital with the physical. We know what you’re thinking: “What if I don’t have a brick and mortar presence?” If that’s the case, this suggestion is actually doubly important for you.
You can make an impact in the “real world” in many ways, which are collectively known as “offline marketing.” Even if you don’t have an actual storefront to promote, there’s every reason to believe “analog” marketing techniques will remain an integral part of business success well into the future. Many of them aren’t just holding steady, they’re actively thriving in the digital age. We’re talking about things like:
- Local radio ads
- Billboards and posters with vanity URLs or QR codes
- Trade show booths and banners
Don’t underestimate the value of face-to-face interactions, even in the digital age. If handing out branded merch at a trade show isn’t quite your thing, look for local events to attend or charities to sponsor. Even when you’re not online, there are lots of ways to broaden your reach and get your startup’s brand in front of multiple of sets of eyes — or ears, in the case of radio.
While this isn’t a comprehensive list of the marketing opportunities available to you, you’ve likely noted the numerous avenues out there, ranging from the purely digital to the decidedly physical. What you need is branding consistency. We touched on the idea of establishing a “personality” for your brand, which means the next step is to make sure you stand by that image.
If your brand’s tone is professional or formal, each of your chosen platforms should demonstrate those qualities. If you tend toward the whimsical instead, make that your calling card. Either way, use the same logos and iconography across your channels. Even maintaining mindfulness of your brand’s color scheme on everything from your website to social media channels to printed marketing materials will help paint a consistent image in your audience’s mind.
Having said all this, marketing your new startup is quite a bit like other pursuits in life: you can’t be afraid to try something new. That’s why taking benchmarks before you try a new strategy, and measurements during and after, is so important. It might take some trial and error to dial in the right combination of digital and offline marketing strategies. That’s why your task as an entrepreneur is to remember to have fun with it — and enjoy the ride.