How should you market your start-up?

How should you market your start-up?

It’s surprising how many times people ask me how they can market their product, and this is before they are actually in business.

A variation on the question (and one which I answered recently on Quora) is: How Can I Market My Start-up?

Here’s a shortened version of my answer from the original Quora question.

There is no such thing as an ideal marketing plan for all businesses or or start-ups. Start-up owners need to do a lot of research and understand their potential customer wants and needs, and how their product or services fulfill those needs or solve problems.

What one person does to market a local accountancy firm will be very different from what, for example, a nutritionist will do to market their start-up beauty product e-commerce store which sells nationally or internationally.

The starting point is not with a marketing strategy or marketing tools. It is with a business plan, which scopes out your business strategy and goals. From that plan, your marketing plan should be developed. And this will include which marketing tools you will select for your business.

Here are other key things to consider:

  • Branding: Regardless of your business and the demographic/geographic area you serve, you need a strong brand, one that clearly articulates what your business is, what you offer, and how you are different from your competitors.
  • Social media: When you are ready to market, select the social media platforms that you know your potential clients are using - don’t make the mistake of jumping in and trying to do it all at once. Evaluate the pros and cons of every platform. Just because you see business Facebook pages, that doesn’t mean you should have one without fully considering whether or not it will work for you. Don’t forget, social media takes time.
  • Word of mouth: One of the most powerful forms of marketing is still word-of-mouth, so think how you can use this to your advantage. Google Places? Testimonials on your website? One or two good reviews from customers can really help a new business gain traction.
  • Advertising: If you invest in advertising, be sure to understand the ROI, so that your investment is worthwhile.
  • Content: Use the best designer and writer for your website that your budget can afford, and if search rankings are important to you, read up on SEO. When it comes to your business, bad writing should be banned.

Today, marketing is more complex than ever before. Automation and data are making the decision-making processes easier for seasoned marketers, but for those starting out it can feel bewildering and overwhelming.

My recommendation is to do a lot of reading and research and have conversations with people who have launched their businesses and have experience. Ideally, use a marketing consultant. Choose someone with a great track record, strong references, and with whom you feel comfortable.

With tight budgets, it’s tempting to cut corners and tackle all of the marketing yourself. While some people can certainly do this, many can’t, and the eventual cost can be very high.

 

About the Author

Sheelagh Caygill is a journalist, writer, and content marketer. She is also the founder and editor of Communicateinfluence.com, an online magazine for marketers, journalists, and PR/communications professionals. She is available for freelance assignments and can be contacted via the contact form or Linkedin.

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