What is Marketing for Startups and How to Do It Properly?

Amanda Sparks
Amanda Sparks  |  October 8, 2018

Depending on the size and ambitions of your startup, you might want to consider marketing yourself at some point.

Some startups prefer launching in stealth mode to allow for extended development time. Others, however, choose to start off with guns blazing, letting the world know what they have in store for the future.

Approximately 540,000 people become small-business owners on a yearly basis. This number is not to be taken lightly – each of these business owners represents potential competition to your venture.

What exactly is marketing for a startup, and how can you make the most of it? What are the potential benefits and occasional pitfalls you should be aware of?

Let’s dive right into it.

Benefits of startup marketing

For the sake of argument, let’s say that you have a killer new idea in the pipes. You are developing a product or a service that doesn’t exist on your local market and are planning to make money off of it. Selling your product to potential customers and clients can only be achieved if you are visible to the public eye through proper marketing.

According to Smart Business Trends, 51 percent of people agree that the best way to learn about entrepreneurship is to start your own company. But why go through all the hoops of creating a marketing campaign and spending precious money that you can use for your development team’s needs? What are the benefits of marketing your startup?

benefits of social media marketing

Image source: v12data.com

Early exposure

Startups are “early bird” companies by nature. They are small firms and enterprises with big ideas about the future.

Marketing that idea to the public and attracting an audience early on can be beneficial for your brand. You can gain early exposure through social media, conference attendances, PR interviews, and other public showcasing opportunities. This can create an audience for your startup that will stick around throughout your development cycle and beyond.

Potential investors

Marketing your startup through adequate channels will let potential investors know about you.

Some startups have predetermined budgets and incomes without needing to look for additional resources. However, startups that do need extra resources can easily attract potential investors and partners looking for bright young minds to work with.

Increased buzz and hype

You want people to talk about your brand, products, and marketing materials. The more people know about you, the more they will become interested in what it is you are actually doing. With over 1,100 small business owners interviewed, only 40 percent of them believe that there is revenue growth in building hype and customer anticipation. 

This leaves a good amount of freedom for you to explore different ways to approach your customer base. Creating hype around your upcoming products and services is a great way to boost your launch window sales.

Outsourcing vs. in-house

Now that we have somewhat of a better understanding of why marketing is important, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – who do you hire?

It can be difficult to determine whether you should hire a marketing agency or do everything yourself. Let’s define both options and see what they actually mean:

In-house marketing

In-house marketing consists of creating marketing strategies and content for your brand entirely within your startup.

You can do everything yourself, distribute it online and offline, and simply wait for the results to come in. However, this type of marketing has major flaws, despite being much cheaper than outsourcing. You will never do as good of a job as a marketing agency would do.

This is especially true if you don’t have background knowledge of how marketing and promotion work, not to mention content creation itself.

You may have a good idea of who your audience is, but marketing your product through adequate channels is another matter entirely. However, if you do have a marketing expert on your team, you can successfully promote your startup at a much lower rate than you would otherwise.

digital marketing campaigns

Image source: SmartInsights.com

Outsourced marketing

Outsourcing is usually what people have in mind when they talk about marketing.

It consists of contacting a specialized agency, a freelancer, or a third party to promote your startup for you. This can be highly beneficial for startups without a marketing staff onboard or those that want to fully devote their time to product development. However, this option is usually more expensive than simply marketing yourself in-house, and for good reason.

The amount of work and dedication a marketing agency can put into your startup is above any level that you might be able to achieve yourself.

Weigh your pros and cons carefully and choose the adequate marketing method for your startup. 

Types of marketing

What types of marketing are we talking about? What are some of the most popular and influential choices that can skyrocket your exposure and traffic in no time whatsoever?

Social media marketing

One of the simplest and most effective strategies revolves around social media marketing. Facebook marketing, Instagram marketing and LinkedIn marketing can raise awareness of your startup and attract new audiences to your brand. Studies have shown that 89 percent of companies admitted an increase in the buzz surrounding their brands due to social media exposure.

This is a staggering number that should be taken into serious consideration.

Social media marketing can be done both individually and through outsourcing. It might be more beneficial to do it in-house and create dedicated pages for your brand that you can use to post new content without an intermediary. 

startup marketing tactics

Image source: BufferApp.com

Website search engine optimization (SEO)

People use search engines on a daily basis. This means that you should pay extra attention to your site’s SEO optimization. Make sure to use relevant keywords for your content and name your articles and subheadings properly.

A healthy 83 percent of small-business owners believe that a well-kept website can bring more revenue and traffic to their businesses. This is undoubtedly the cheapest way to market your startup through organic search and traffic generation. It can be done entirely independently of any third party doing it for you.

SEO localization also plays a huge part in e-commerce and online marketing. Pauline Farris, SEO specialist of IsAccurate, spoke about local SEO recently:

“I always put an emphasis on site-wide SEO optimization with my clients, no matter if we are tasked with pure content creation or translation and localization.”

Make sure that your content is available to as many readers as possible in order to attain high traffic and, subsequently, convert more people into followers.

When all is said and done, keyword density optimization isn’t something you should overlook. In essence, any keyword that becomes popular in your niche will “trigger” certain checks within Google’s SERP.

Too many keywords in one piece of content might look suspicious or be seen as spam. Make sure to aim for an optimal keyword density based on your industry and the type of content you publish.

Email marketing

Reaching out to potential customers and subscribers through email takes very little time and effort. All you have to do is create original content and ship it to your mailing lists.

Companies that use email marketing have shown increases in their return on investment (ROI) up to 400 percent and more in some cases.

This means that email marketing is still as relevant and active as ever before. Email marketing can also be automated and scheduled for independent delivery, meaning that you can focus on creating good quality content instead of thinking about email calendars.

Influencer marketing

Using online and local influencers is a very trendy marketing strategy to consider.

Influencers are mini celebrities with large followings that can influence their audiences into checking you out.

Depending on the type of products you are developing, you can choose YouTube influencers, bloggers, or even local heroes that are popular in your country or city.

This is a great combination of outsourcing and in-house marketing because you basically hand the torch over to your influencer and have them promote you.

In a recently conducted survey, 94 percent of marketing experts believed that influencer marketing can and will make a difference. This is one of the more unobtrusive and socially acceptable marketing strategies that works especially well with younger generations. 

60 seconds online

Image source: SmartInsights.com

Mistakes to avoid

Mistakes are bound to happen, even in startup marketing campaigns. Some of them can cost you far more than just money, however, because your reputation is also on the line.

Being cheap

One of the biggest mistakes that you should be prepared for is the matter of being cheap.

First of all, make sure that you have invested enough resources into your web design, SEO, and UX writing. These are essential elements of successful marketing that will speak volumes about your level of professionalism.

Most small companies tend to spend as little as possible on their marketing. A recent research shows that only 22 percent of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates. This is because investing into your brand, product, and marketing in general is the only way to earn a return on your effort and investment.

Copying from competitors

Bigger and more successful companies will always exist.

Copying from their marketing content and trying to pretend you are like them simply won’t work. You need to make sure that your content is as original and individualistic as possible.

Studies have shown that 75 percent of business owners believe that internet marketing can make a huge difference in startup management. Finding yourself on the wrong side of the equation might cost you more than you are prepared to pay.

Let people know why you are different than everyone else, and what is it that you have to offer. This is the only way to stand out and make a dent on today’s market.

Wrong audience

Proper audience research is an integral part of marketing strategy creation. Neglecting to do proper research will result in catastrophic results. You will attract the wrong audience, and your core followers will be left confused and uninterested.

Make sure to define exactly who you are targeting and what your message is before creating any sort of content.

Poor content marketing

Poorly created content is the bane of all marketing campaigns. If you don’t have native speakers or writers in-house, you should absolutely outsource your marketing to someone else.

Some of the most essential marketing content should be placed on your website and take the form of your blog and general content.

James Scott, a CEO at EssaySupply, recently spoke about the importance of advertisement in content:

“Every business needs to put smart and innovative content to the forefront. Today’s marketplace is too saturated for startups to ignore the potential benefits of proper content marketing.”

 live startup stats

Image source: Medium.com

Marketing a startup (Conclusion)

It can be difficult to make ends meet when developing new products as a startup.

According to a recent poll, the founders of failed startups have admitted to poor marketing as their top reason for failure in a surprising 42 percent. However, proper marketing content can make things easier for you if you are smart about it.

Draw the line and choose the adequate marketing solution for your situation and budget.

It’s really no secret that more than 80 percent of startups fail due to mismanagement, poor marketing, lack of PR, or other unpredictable reasons. Once people start talking about you and your exciting projects, you will start to see the benefits of letting people know what you are up to as a startup.

Amanda Sparks
Author

Amanda Sparks

Amanda Sparks is a professional marketer and blogger at RatedByStudents. She has been working as a marketer for seven years and is passionate about developing innovative and customer-friendly solutions for brand growth.