Chris Linn from Minicabster argues that a decent marketing plan should form the crux of any start-up strategy.
So you’ve designed an ace product that is going to set the world on fire. Congratulations.
But how, exactly, have you planned to tell people about it? Flyers on car windscreens? House calls? Shouting from the rooftop? These methods are all a bit dated now, to be honest.
And the crux of the matter is that, no matter how ‘ace’ your product may be, you need to make it stand out – not least to your target audience.
This is where marketing comes into its own. Let it tell your story.
Of course a good marketing roadmap needs the same love and affection you’ve put into developing your product – after all, you don’t just want to throw your money away.
Here are a few things to consider:
Many entrepreneurs believe that their product should do the talking for them. Unfortunately, it’s rare that this happens. Industries are just too crowded these days. To paraphrase ‘The Voice’ from Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams, it isn’t enough to believe that ‘if you build it, they will come’.
Therefore, you have to know what you’re selling and why you’re better than the other guy. Build a brand that encapsulates your start-up’s personality. In the days of social media, people will grow to love your brand first and the product second. Think carefully about the personality you’re trying to show off. Word choice, design, messages etc. need careful consideration, particularly in these early stages of your business.
Let’s be honest. When you build your cracking product, you probably had the ‘end-user’ in mind. You should be thinking along similar lines when considering your start-up’s marketing plan.
At a very basic level, consider who will be using your product? How often will they use it? Why will they use it? Revisit all the questions you asked yourself previously when executing your idea.
Depending on the audience you’ve got in mind, certain marketing channels may not as important as others.
To get to grips with your customer’s needs it’s important to invest in and learn how to use marketing tools to build the biggest picture possible of your customer base.
For example, Google Analytics is great for analysing visitors to your website. Existing built-in tools provided by social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter are worth considering; so too is investing in an umbrella dashboard such as Moz which can offer really useful site data in a digestible format. These don’t just provide data – but insights which can help you reach the ‘why’. By trying to understand ‘why’ your customers are doing things, you can really power an effective marketing machine.
By talking to your customers – and, more importantly, actually listening to what they have to say – you will reap unparalleled rewards in that your insight will significantly improve. It’s all about chiefly about networking and relationship building. If people take the time to reach out to you on social media, then be sure to acknowledge it! You can build up a reputation as a start-up that really cares about its customers. It can also be used as a useful customer service channel. Make sure you deal with your complaints effectively; it doesn’t look good when companies ignore any negative feedback.
Become your own industry expert
Sure, with marketing you need to have a good idea of what works for you and what doesn’t. You could, of course, hire an expert to help you with this, but it’s not always practical. It would be more beneficial, perhaps, to learn a bit about the industry on your own. Research is key.
Marketing websites and blogs are a dime a dozen – read as many as you can if you have any kind of marketing dreams for your start-up. Whether you need to get up to speed on email campaigns or content marketing, there will always be information available to help you. Sure, you won’t reach expert level instantly, but you’ll be in a much better place to consider all of your options.
These are just a few suggestions for start-ups to consider before embarking on their own marketing strategy. It’s tempting to just experiment and see what happens but, in order to build a stable brand identity, think carefully about messages and channels that work for you and stick with them. A targeted brand that reaches one customer several times will spread your popularity further than an untargeted brand that reaches a wide range of customers just the once.