5 Steps to Improve your Startup’s Marketing Strategy
An integrated marketing plan targets the right audience, increases traffic, qualifies leads, boosts sales, and ultimately grows your business.
Startup marketing is a unique challenge, not only due to competing priorities and limited resources but also the need to stay on top of new technologies, trends, and policies. Apple’s recently-launched ‘App Tracking Transparency’ feature is an example of how quickly the landscape can shift, demonstrating the need for companies to be attentive and agile in their digital marketing efforts. Despite this, nearly 50% of SMBs spend under two hours on their marketing efforts per week.
However, developing a thoughtful and well-positioned strategy can pay dividends for your business. Whether you’re looking to create a marketing blueprint from scratch or are revisiting your approach in light of shifting policies, taking the time to understand your audience, plan your content, and measure outputs is crucial. An integrated marketing plan targets the right audience, increases traffic, qualifies leads, boosts sales, and ultimately grows your company.
1. Create Audience Profiles
First, you need to clearly define your target audience. Understanding who you’re trying to reach is vital to ensuring your marketing efforts drive traffic and sales.
You can start by looking at your current and prospective customers and identify any patterns or similarities in their profiles. The goal here is to look for broad similarities and distil them down into a handful of unique profiles that will drive your messaging, tone, and channels. From here, you can look at how to reach these audiences and what types of messaging will resonate most. Some key questions to answer in this step are:
- What similarities exist among your customers?
Do you see any obvious connections among your current or prospective buyers that allow you to group them into profiles? Identifiers may be obvious, such as geography or age – or could be more hidden, such as behaviours or values.
- Where are they?
Which online channels do your audiences use? Do they rely on social media (and if so, which platforms?) or do they get most of their information from blogs and forums?
- What do they care about?
Understanding what drives your target audience generates your messaging. If you’re building an EdTech solution where your two target audiences are teachers and parents, it’s beneficial to recognise that they will likely have unique motivators. Identifying these drivers will allow you to craft more effective messages that speak to each of their underlying beliefs.
Once you’ve captured some unique audience characteristics you can create ‘personas’, which you should constantly revisit to ensure your strategy and messaging are always framed with the target audience in mind. One important note here is that if your product is geared towards children or families, ensure you review and adhere to child-marketing guidelines. ICPEN has developed helpful Child Marketing Guidelines, or SuperAwesome has compiled a great library of resources on compliance.
2. Investigate the Competition
Take a look at what your competitors are doing. What channels are they on? Which messages perform best? Analysing your competition can help you better understand what’s working and what’s not when appealing to your target audience. But it can also do something else just as important – it can inform whether there’s a gap in appealing to certain market segments. For example, can your brand’s tone be more youthful, when the rest of your competitors have a more conservative tone? Understanding this could help you appeal to an untapped segment of the market and establish a distinct space for your brand.
3. Build your Brand House & Select Channels
Now it’s time to start building your strategy. Based on your product, your audience, and your competition, think about what your brand should reflect. Here, you should develop a purpose statement, outline your value proposition, create key messaging pillars, and brainstorm a few words that will encompass your brand’s personality. Consider the psychology of your audience here – how do you want your customers to feel when engaging with your product? What does your brand stand for? Going back to your audience research, review their values and drivers to discern what your tone and messaging should reflect. At this stage, you can also determine which channels are most appropriate for your startup based on your audience profiles and competitor research.
4. Plan Compelling Content & Distribute
Developing a content plan or editorial calendar is an important step to ensure your messages are consistent and thoughtful. At LEGO Ventures, we use Notion to house our marketing strategy and content plan, which allows us to keep our audience top of mind, draft upcoming content, tag relevant messaging pillars, and collaborate.
There are a few important things to think about when planning what content you’ll share across your channels.
- Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in marketing. Personal anecdotes that speak directly to what your audience cares about will spark engagement and can help develop trust with your brand. Think about some of the stories you would want to see if you were in your target audience.
- Testimonials can be one of the strongest influences in acquiring new customers and qualifying leads, so make sure to leverage them by sharing endorsements.
- User-Generated Content (UGC) is a budget-friendly way to extend your reach, establish credibility, and save time on developing content. Ask your customers to share photos or videos using your products – or sweeten the deal by offering prizes in an online challenge, tracking participation with a unique hashtag.
- Consistency is key. Set a target cadence for how frequently you post on your channels and try to stick to it. A consistent brand presence performs best.
5. Set Goals & Measure Success
As Peter Drucker wisely said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” One of the most overlooked aspects in creating a marketing strategy for startups is developing goals and tracking success. It can be seen as daunting and time-consuming, but without it, all the hard work in understanding your audience and crafting your strategy becomes of little use. Dig into Google Analytics to understand user behaviour on your website, get comfortable with social media metrics like engagement and impressions, track your brand’s sentiment, and continue to measure your product sales performance.
Most online platforms and social media tools have built-in analytics, or you can opt for more comprehensive reports through systems like Hootsuite or Sprout Social. It may seem overwhelming with all the different metrics you can track, but this is an important step in learning which metrics hold the most valuable insights for your startup’s marketing. To set some initial goals for your digital marketing strategy you can look at industry benchmarks, and once you’ve gathered enough data on the success of your own efforts, you’ll be in a better position to set goals based on your brand’s performance.
Crafting a deliberate digital marketing strategy can have a significant impact on your startup. The steps outlined above can be used as a template to start your journey, but the most important qualities are to be thoughtful, organised, and agile in your marketing efforts.