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Recently, we attended Denver Startup week, which inspired us to create a short 'How To' Guide that digs into issues related to getting a start-up off the ground – building on the 'How to build requirements for an MVP' and our white paper on 'Tips every first-time entrepreneur should know.'
This article mamepecifically focuses on how to develop a marketing strategy as a start-up, with lessons learned from experts, as well as advice on tools of the trade and how to measure and analyze your progress.
The key advice that you always have to keep at the top of everything you do is:
What does this mean for start-up marketing?
It means that you shouldn’t market a product until you actually have one, or at least have a beta program and a concrete delivery date. Of course you can do some preliminary 'smoke test' stuff to collect emails and validate your idea, but what good is having a serious and structured marketing program before you have a product (or as least a concrete delivery date of said product)? And while you should be doing some marketing and PR to gain company awareness, don’t get ahead of yourself by sinking money into product marketing campaigns before you have a product to sell.
Focus on what matters first, even though it’s tempting to get distracted with gratifying but often useless things like gaining Facebook likes and Twitter followers.
This brings us to our second tip:
Now where do you begin with start-up marketing?
Blogging is also essential – to increase search is the obvious reason (SEO), but the less obvious reason is to establish yourself as a thought-leader. Providing your audience with accurate and valuable information, without asking for something in return, builds your credibility and your reputation.
The key objective is to take a stance on a topic, rather than simply reporting what other people have already said. You may be wrong or you may be right, but the point is to start a dialogue. You personify the company.
If you can make your point in five words rather than 20, use the five-word version. The simpler you make the idea, the faster someone will understand how you can help them and the more likely they are to buy.
Take a look at ly; this is a great online tool that can help correct your wordiness, passive voice and other problems. There are also firms for outsourced blog writing, which some local start-ups even offer
However, we recommend that you don’t outsource your start-up marketing until you have dedicated resources internally to support your plan.
The medium isn’t important; it’s all about the message. So play around and see what sticks. Don’t be afraid to do something weird.
Personally, I have been experimenting lately with ly and it, and I’ve had some successes and some failures. Keep a log of everything you try; integrate what works into your repertoire and trash the rest.
By challenging your assumptions, you may realize that a change is needed, which is especially true for the start-up marketers at the pointy end of the spear.Take a look at The Lean Startup.
Don’t just experiment as an exercise – actually pivot when it needs to happen and be ready to commit to the pivot at a certain point. The minimum viable product approach helps you do this.
Peter Drucker’s quote sums it up: 'There’s nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that shouldn’t be done at all.'
What can you do to make the biggest impact? Do that. And of course, if you get stuck, we can help.
And remember, correlations do not equal causation, so don’t step on to the jump-to-conclusions mat too quickly (a reference to 'Office Space' for all you movie buffs out there). Keep in mind sample sizes, test cases, variance and more. Don’t just pivot on a dime with only 10 responses.
In other words, think in advance of the actions you will take once specific triggers are reached and specific goals are hit around your start-up marketing analytics program. This will help ensure that your start-up marketing evolves appropriately.
You shouldn’t be afraid of negative comments and reviews you may receive as a result of executing your start-up marketing tactics, because these are what you’re going to learn the most from. The quality of these can often be better than the hard metrics, just don’t get too hung up on them.
Hopefully these tips have sparked a few ideas about how you can analyze and manage your start-up marketing program. As always, if you feel lost, or just want a sounding board – we’re here to help.
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