Marketing Advice for Startups from 13 Marketing Specialists
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Marketing Advice for Startups from 13 Marketing Specialists
From turning customers into advocates to prioritizing relationships, here are 13 answers to the question, “What are your best recommendations for how startups can yield the greatest results from their marketing?”
- Solve Problems to Make Lifelong Customer Advocates
- Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
- Take a Strategic Approach
- Align Audience and Business Objectives
- Develop a Strong Social Media Presence
- Sell the Short-term
- Build a Strong Brand Identity
- Multiply Spend Effectiveness
- Target and Test
- Create a Positive Experience and Remove Concerns
- Stick With One or Two Marketing Channels
- Find an SEO Agency that Specializes and Offers Exclusivity
- Focus on Customer Relationships
Solve Problems to Make Lifelong Customer Advocates
Marketing is about two-way conversations. Marketing is about problem-solving. Contrary to many people’s perceptions, marketing is not just yelling a list of product benefits or service attributes or your UVP at your potential customers.
Do everything you can to understand the needs, wants, values, and barriers-to-entry of your target audiences (aka develop custom Personas first!) and solve their problems. Speak to how your organization is aligned with their goals (personal, professional, or otherwise), and offer solutions. And nine times out of ten, your customer service, social media managers, and sales staff will have much better directional information for developing your content strategy than anyone in the C-suite.
Speak to your boots-on-the-ground first, then go solve problems for people. You’ll make customer advocates for life.
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
Don’t try to be in too many places at once. Spread your spending around when you’re testing to find the best channels (e.g., podcasts vs. YouTube influencers vs. TikTok influencers), and then again once you find a winning channel (i.e., testing TikTok influencers against each other to optimize), but the goal for startup marketing should be to keep getting narrower and narrower.
This is true even with “free” channels like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, etc. You don’t have a lot of resources as a startup, so you want to pick the couple of channels where you can most effectively and most efficiently reach your audience, and then put all your marketing resources towards them until they stop bearing fruit and it’s time to expand—or you add more resources.
Take a Strategic Approach
For startups, being strategic and focused on their target audience is essential. Thorough research to identify the target audience, their needs, and their pain points can help tailor messaging and marketing efforts to resonate with them and drive engagement.
To reach their audience, startups should concentrate on key marketing channels, such as social media, email marketing, content marketing, or influencer partnerships. The specific channels will depend on the industry and the audience, but it’s crucial to choose the ones most likely to reach them effectively.
Tracking and measuring marketing efforts regularly is essential to understand what’s working and what’s not. This data can then refine and optimize marketing strategies over time. Regular tracking and analysis can ensure that marketing efforts are cost-effective and generate the desired results.
Align Audience and Business Objectives
My best advice for startups to yield the greatest results from their marketing is to focus on creating an effective marketing strategy that is tailored to their target audience and their business objectives.
This should include developing a detailed plan of action which involves identifying the key goals and objectives, researching the target audience and understanding their needs and preferences, crafting a message that resonates with them, and implementing a variety of marketing activities and tactics that will help reach the objectives.
Additionally, startups should keep track of their marketing efforts and measure their success to ensure that their marketing efforts are producing the desired results.
Develop a Strong Social Media Presence
Developing a strong social media presence is key to the success of many startups. Having an active and engaging presence on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn can help draw customers to your brand. Building relationships with prospective clients across social media channels is important for creating authentic connections and increasing brand loyalty. This will help establish trustworthiness while staying at the forefront of their minds when making decisions about purchases or services they need from a business like yours.
Keep in mind that words alone rarely entice people to convert. Use visuals like high-quality images or videos to attract and engage your target customer. Regularly check how each platform performs so you can make adjustments if needed. By dedicating time and effort to building a solid social media presence, startups will reap the rewards of an engaged, loyal following in no time!
Sell the Short-term
The startup landscape has changed. After years of over-the-top promises about frozen costs and always expanding user experiences, customers are feeling burned. There’s a pattern at play: the technology becomes more expensive and less satisfying as the years go on.
So skip the long-term projections and focus more heavily on the current moment. Don’t make assurances you’ll have to go back on and don’t rely on permanently disrupting an established industry.
Accentuate the immediate benefits of adoption over future potential. If you do need to pivot, you’ll be better positioned to do so.
Build a Powerful Brand Identity
Building a strong brand identity that expresses its distinctive value proposition and connects with its target market should be a startup’s priority. Creating a distinctive brand voice, visual identity, and messaging that effectively sets the firm apart from its competitors and speaks to the needs and desires of its target audience can be part of this process.
Multiply Spend Effectiveness
My best advice for startups to yield the greatest results from their marketing is to follow two simple steps.
Step 1: Establish business-as-usual (BAU) cross-channel campaigns. This creates a net to capture demand generated from any activity/spend. The following are the basic building blocks of BAU: a conversion-optimized homepage, Google Search Ads for brand terms, Google Search Ads for high-intent terms (phrase match only), and one retargeting campaign.
Step 2: Choose just one channel for more aggressive growth. I suggest focusing on a channel where you can interrupt and build awareness. It could be LinkedIn outreach messaging, YouTube ads, banner ads on an industry website—it doesn’t matter. From here, you can focus on one channel at a time and scale up. This minimizes the resources and cost required, compared to attempting to scale multiple channels. It also provides the most data for message, offer, bidding, and creative optimization.
Target and Test
My best advice for startups looking to yield the greatest results from their marketing is to focus on two key areas: targeting and testing.
First, for targeting, startups should invest time in identifying their ideal customer personas and tailoring their messaging to address those individuals. We can achieve this through market research, surveys, or customer interviews. By targeting the right audience with the right message, startups can maximize the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.
Second, testing is crucial to optimizing marketing campaigns. Startups should continuously test different ad copy, landing pages, and targeting parameters to see what resonates best with their audience. This can be done through A/B testing or running different ad variations simultaneously. By measuring and analyzing the results, startups can quickly identify what works and what doesn’t, allowing them to adjust their strategy accordingly and achieve better results.
Create a Positive Experience and Remove Concerns
Most of your potential clients will start their search online. They have different search behaviors across their purchasing experience, so you need to guarantee visibility on each potential touchpoint to maximize your results.
Define a clear picture of how your different customers may behave while evaluating different options and have an answer ready to their questions and concerns on your website.
Stick With One or Two Marketing Channels
Focusing on one or two channels, rather than a dozen channels, will help a young startup get the greatest results from its marketing. Spreading yourself too thin as a smaller company can take away from potential results, so ignoring the noise and giving your best effort in certain areas will help you actually see positive outcomes.
A good idea of what channels you should focus on can come from watching your competitors. If they are doing a lot of good stuff on specific channels, then that will probably tell you that there’s an audience there for you to potentially win over. You can also speak with a marketing expert to understand what channels might be best for you to focus on.
Startups usually have a thin staff, and having that staff balance a dozen channels isn’t a great idea. Instead, I would pick one or two and put everything you have into those areas so you can get the greatest results.
Find an SEO Agency that Specializes and Offers Exclusivity
If SEO is a viable marketing channel for your startup, then doing these two things will put you on the path to fantastic ROI.
First, do the research to find an agency that specializes in your vertical. This will ensure that they know enough about your industry to use your budget effectively. Second, find an agency that will give you specific market or geographic exclusivity. It will cost more, but it makes no sense for them to be working for your competition as well!
Focus on Customer Relationships
My best advice for startups seeking to maximize their marketing results is to focus on developing a meaningful connection with their customers. This doesn’t have to involve traditional promotions, either—startups could engage in activities such as hosting events where customers can interact with the company’s team in person and form personal relationships.
By investing in customer relationships, which can be challenging for young companies who are short on resources, startups benefit from people talking about their brand and organically spreading the word about their products.
Additionally, this strategy gives their brand visibility outside of traditional online or offline advertising mediums, yielding powerful long-term rewards that no advertising campaign can match.
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