For entrepreneurs who are experiencing their startup grow and change each day, knowing how to harness your company’s growth and market your newly-founded brand in the most efficient way possible can seem like a large undertaking. When you begin researching marketing methodologies, it can feel like information overload and may turn up strategies that seem well-suited for brands who have bigger ideas, bigger wallets, and a bigger staff. But marketing and promoting your startup doesn’t have to be complicated. You’re already past the hardest part of a beginning a new venture – starting it! To help you harness the growth and excitement of your new venture, use this ultimate startup marketing checklist to help you market your business simply and expertly.
7 Startup Marketing Steps and Tips
1. Document Your Mission Statement & Core Values
As a startup who is just getting its foothold, you may agree to do work that’s outside of your company’s expertise or you may sign a client who isn’t a good fit. You probably feel like you can’t turn away business at this point. However, underperforming for a client may do more damage to your relationship and reputation than saying “no” would.
To avoid losing sight of what your startup is great at delivering, take time to write a mission statement for your company. This is a good way to begin your marketing plan because this mission statement will be the compass to guide you when you’re unsure if a project or a client is a good fit. Your mission statement can be revised as time goes on, but write it, print it, and hang it up at your desk so you see it often.
If you have a team of people, consider establishing core values. The values can change over time too, but use them to begin shaping the culture of your company and set expectations for your team.
2. Build Your Brand Identity
The other important thing in your startup marketing checklist should be building your brand identity. Your brand identity means more than just your logo and other design elements. As you begin communicating with more customers, start to put thoughtful consideration into your brand identity. It’s better to begin documenting the standards and preferences you have for your brand as you go. Your brand identity can change over time, but if you plan on building your client profile and your internal team, it’s good to keep your output and messaging consistent.
Your brand identity does include your logo and design elements, like the color palette, and it includes the words you want your brand to use and avoid, typography, and graphics. When creating your brand identity, Column Five Media outlines the 5 keys to an expertly designed brand identity:
- Distinct and attention-grabbing
- Memorable with a visual impact
- Scalable and flexible to grow with your brand
- Cohesive and complementary to the whole identity
- Easy to apply and design
3. Develop a User-Friendly Website
Websites are more than a digital business card in today’s tech-savvy world. Today, people are checking out your website on their mobile phone while they’re on the go, so make sure that people and search engines can understand what you’re website is trying to convey.
Your website should provide a good user experience and help convert users into sales. To do this, create a responsive website that will work well on different devices and load quickly. Think With Google provides a few marketing tools that will help you improve your site, with Test My Site specifically showing how to make your site more mobile-friendly and improve your site speed.
If you’re not much of a website developer, this is an area of your business that may be worth some investment into a web development company who can help you realize your website vision with more speed and precision that you may be able to handle on your own.
4. Create a Blog
Once you have an established brand identity and a fast, optimized website, create a blog for your company. A blog can be a great marketing channel for your company. As you begin to learn about the lifecycle of your customers, you can create a content marketing strategy to help potential clients find your site and convert. As you gain more experience and start collecting more data, you can start to publish original case studies and white papers that will help you show off your company’s know-how and close more deals.
When you begin blogging, remember that every single idea doesn’t need to be completely original and data-driven. You can use your company blog to share company updates, industry news from thought leaders, and to collaborate with other businesses and organizations. If you don’t have someone on your team who can write, turn to local freelance writers or search an online freelance marketplace like Upwork or Freelancer.com to find a writer.
5. Be Social
Social media channels are a great marketing tool for startups because they are free and easy to use. However, you need a social media strategy to use these channels effectively.
To start, choose specific channels to focus on. You don’t need to participate in every channel invented. If you’re an e-commerce company, visual channels like Instagram and Facebook will be great, but if you’re a B2B brand, consider leveraging LinkedIn.
The main thing brands forget to do on their social media channels is BE SOCIAL! If your Twitter stream is only about you, your products, and your blog posts, then you’re doing it wrong. Participate in relevant hashtag chats, ask questions to other thought leaders in your industry, share great content from other brands, and don’t ignore your customers – those who are singing your praises and those who are complaining. Above all else, be human.
6. Be Social In Person
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 56% of B2B marketers use in-person events as one of their top 5 marketing efforts. If you’re running a for-profit startup, attending and hosting industry conferences can be a great way to market your business to a captive audience. For a startup, hosting an in-person event or conference may not be the best use of time, but attending popular industry conferences to network and learn about other business strategies and upcoming trends.
If you’re a non-profit, hosting in-person events is critical to build awareness about your cause and to begin developing relationships with donors. To host a non-profit event:
- Set one specific, measurable goal.
- Choose the right event for your mission, budget, and audience.
- Secure corporate sponsorships.
- Create compelling content to incite interest and invite people.
- Go green and use an online ticketing platform.
- Encourage ticket buyers to spread the word
- Promote your event on your website, social media channels, email marketing, and print.
7. Measure Every Marketing Effort
Measure, measure, and measure!
As a startup, you’ll need to constantly measure and change your business strategies to increase efficiencies in your workflows. The same concept should be applied to your marketing strategy. Set marketing goals and measure your efforts against them. This will allow you to determine what marketing efforts are worth pursuing and which are worth changing or stop doing as you continue to grow and experience success.
Don't forget to share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section, so that we can improve the startup marketing checklist for everyone.