What Every Startup Needs To Know About Marketing

So you’ve built up a startup. Now what? Do you have what it takes to be a game changer? Columnist Mary Wallace has some tips on how to build a marketing program that will help you achieve your goals.




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Seventy-five percent of all startups fail. Ouch. Considering that startups and venture funding are on the rise for the first time since the dot-com bust in early 2000, that is an even scarier fact.


Here are three tips to make sure your marketing effort will make you one of the 25 percent that succeed.


Know Your Customer

Stop looking at your product. Focus on your customer.


Why? The single biggest reason for startup failure is “lack of a market need for their product,” according to Fortune. Without market need, there are no customers. And without customers, there is no business.


Customers make a startup viable and keep us all in business. So who are your customers? What do they value?


One way to get a strong understanding of your customers is to build buyer personas.


Buyer personas are representations of your customers. They include key triggers like:



  • What is important to each of your customers.
  • What your buyer’s goals are when using your product or service.
  • How your customers define value.
  • What your buyers are more interested in (quality, ease of use, risk avoidance or the price-point of your solution).
  • Where they spend time.

Buyer personas can be created by interviewing prospective buyers or sending out a survey with focused and open-ended questions.


The internet is also a great place for buyer persona research. Read the comments and chatter in industry-leading blogs and websites. Scour Twitter for comments and insights.


Once you understand your customers, “speak” to them in their language about their needs and how they can optimally be addressed.


Create Amazing Content

Generate content that focuses on the solution and the benefits of your product as they relate to your customers. Remember, it’s all about them.


Show how your product meets your buyers’ needs, how it’s better than other like products and how it will alleviate risks.


Avoid focusing on how to use your product and its different levers and switches. Your future customers want best practices and secrets that will help them get ahead and key industry knowledge that is interesting and different; they don’t care about the features of your product until they are further along the buying journey.


Create more than one piece of content. Don’t try to say it all in one content asset.


Speak directly to each of your buyers, one by one. Build content that addresses their differing needs as they travel through the buying cycle.


Use different media that highlight the benefits of your product in the simplest way possible. Blogs, white papers, infographics, slide shows, videos and e-books are just a few examples of content media.


Share your content where your buyers go — e.g., LinkedIn groups, Twitter, a SlideShare, media sites and so on. Not only will this attract potential buyers, it will also position you as a thought leader.


Positioning yourself as a thought leader drives conversations and is instrumental in growing your business.


Define Your Goals And Plans

Line up your marketing goals with the overall aim of the startup. While goal specifics vary from startup to startup, what matters is that you define them early and rigidly, and write them down.


Setting goals ensures everybody’s eye is on the ball of success. It also has been proven that goal setting is linked to positive task performance.


As professor and psychologist Edwin Locke hypothesized, specific and challenging goals, along with appropriate feedback, contribute to higher and better task performance.


Build a plan that sets you on the path for achieving your goals. The plan should have specific deliverables, due dates, responsible parties, materials, budget, risks and a critical path.


And it should be published right along with your goals. Key sections of the plan should include:



  • Gaining an in-depth understanding of your customer.
  • Defining an infrastructure.

    • Martech stack (ESP, CRM, website, tracking)
    • Partners
    • Media/social media outlets

  • Building awareness.

    • Create amazing content.
    • Share that content with your future customers.
    • Engage with your early adopters (customers) to share their joy about your product.

Monitor against your plan on a weekly basis. You don’t want to get in a position of seeing your goals slip. You also don’t want “scope creep” to impede your success.


Know what was completed, what’s behind schedule and why, the impact of falling behind and what needs to be done to get back on track.


A strong marketing program that engages leads, fills the pipeline and positions prospects to convert to customers is key to any business. This impact (success and failure) is felt like a huge, crashing wave on a fledgling business.


A laser focus on customers and how to optimally communicate with them goes a long way toward having a smooth ride on a wave of success.



Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.








(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)


So you’ve built up a startup. Now what? Do you have what it takes to be a game changer? Columnist Mary Wallace has some tips on how to build a marketing program that will help you achieve your goals.


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