Traditional marketing strategies don’t really work so well with startups, especially because of the limited budget that they have at their disposal and, sometimes, lack of experience. That is why startup entrepreneurs need to be inventive and find new ways of speaking to their customers, as well as continuously attracting new ones.
However, there is one concept all businesses should incorporate, regardless of their size and budget: a marketing plan, exactly what to include. Different than a business plan, as it focuses on keeping your customers and winning new ones, a good marketing plan spells out the tools you will use to achieve your sales goals.
Write Down Your Marketing Strategy
Don’t imagine a 500-pages long document, with in-depth market analyses, predictions, and 5-year plans. Any bulleted list will do just fine, as long as you build a concise plan you can and will follow.
Start with taking a look at your current situation. Bring your whole team together and discuss what you are selling and who you are selling it to. Decide what your target audience is and market your product accordingly. Come to a consensus on the purpose of your product and the exact service it fulfills in a customer’s life and focuses on that during your campaign.
Take a look at your competition as well and at what they are offering and how they advertise their products. Reach a clear understanding of what they offer and who their target is and design your strategy as to differentiate yourself positively and show that your product will provide better value.
Be honest about the strength and weaknesses of your company. Take a look at your product, make notes of what makes it superior to the competition, and integrate that into your ads. What about the service? When your customers have issues, do they find help on the other end of the line when they call your number? If customer service is one of your company’s main focuses, make sure potential customers know about that.
Weaknesses can be anything from an overcrowded market to inexperienced employees. Don’t hide these misuses and train your employees properly in order to be able to rely on them. Especially true in a small team, one good employee can make a world of difference. Meanwhile, your competition will also have its own plan which can involve taking you out of the game. Make sure you take that into account as well.
Reach your customers
With the plan done and dealt with, now comes the hard part: transforming it into action and reaching your customers. Apart from the traditional newspaper, radio or TV ads, which can be a bit expensive and strain the budget of a startup, your focus should be instead on more tech-driven channels that almost everyone uses today.
Social media is a great place to start, with many inexpensive, or downright free, options to choose from. Platforms such as Facebook, Google+ or Twitter are good since they are used by a lot of people throughout the day and will offer great visibility to your products. Newer platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat offer the opportunity for extremely creative campaigns, but also require a lot more work.
Mobile apps are also a great idea and can serve multiple purposes. Apart from marketing, you can also use the app for customer support, or as a platform for selling your products. The downside is that you will often need to hire someone specialized in the mobile development and support or contract another company, which can put pressure on your budget.
You should also be careful how often you send marketing notifications to your mobile users. An abundance of random popups throughout the day from your app could become a nuisance and make people uninstall it. Leave users in control by providing the option to turn off notifications.
Monitor Your Efforts
However, you choose to market your product, always have a way of receiving feedback, be it direct or in the form of data generated by your apps or websites. Send out simple surveys, targeting essential aspects of your product and your campaign, and be ready to adjust your effort if you see the need for it. Adaptability is a key prerequisite in the dynamic market of today.
This article is written by Amanda Wilks. She is the modest mastermind behind the powerful Job Application Center platform. She's a Digital Marketing Specialist eager to help as many fellow ambitious marketers as she can. You are warmly invited to follow her on Twitter.