Getting funds for a startup is essential, but it is what you do with the money after getting it that truly counts. With disposable funds available for your new company, growth will be the main factor to consider, and marketing is the primary weapon in the company’s arsenal regarding growth. Therefore, you need to spend considerable time on startup marketing – having a sound marketing plan for a startup is essential to succeed in the startup growth phase.
Having a brilliant product or service does not guarantee customers will buy it. You have to strategically market your business to ensure you grow your business and utilize the funds well.
The following is a complete marketing plan that any startup can use to grow their business.
After receiving seed funding, the first step in developing a marketing plan for a startup should be to perform market research. You may have done some market research when writing your business plan, which you will have used to attract investors.
However, once you have the investors, you need to perform more detailed and focused market research. The research should inform you about the type of customer you want to have.
It is tempting as a startup to shoot for any customer you can find, but that often leads to poor results. Some customers may lead to your product developing a bad reputation, they may underuse the product, and different customers will attach different values to the solution your product provides.
Therefore, you should first develop your ideal customer persona. Find out precisely the type of customer you want using your product. Once you know that, go out and find out as much information as possible about them.
Market research will also include finding out the current state of the market you want to enter and what share of the market you can eke out for your company.
Find out how the market responds to various types of marketing. Assess who your competitors in the market are in detail. The more information you can get, the better, as it will be the basis for your startup’s marketing plan.
Startup Marketing Plan
Once you have the requisite information, you should formulate a specific marketing plan for your startup. The plan should include the goals you want to achieve when marketing.
Like any other endeavor, goals give you a point of focus and metrics to judge success or failure. Your startup marketing plan should include website ranking and strategies to use such as link building, increasing website traffic and conversion.
The marketing goals of a startup will be different from those of a decade-old company. You should write down the goals you would like to accomplish according to what you would consider success.
Comparing yourself to other businesses or startups is a recipe for disaster so ensure the goals are best for your business.
The best way to do that would be to perform various analyses that will help put things in perspective. It would be best to start by doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis.
The first two are mostly internal business analyses, while the last two are primarily external. However, you can go deeper as far as the external analysis is concerned and perform a PESTLE analysis which includes:
- Political Factors
- Economic Factors
- Sociological Factors
- Technological Factors
- Legal Factors
- Environmental/ Ecological Factors
Based on the analyses, you should set goals. Marketing goals should be S.M.A.R.T. meaning specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. The goals will be based on an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as well as your external environment, which the analyses above will help you do.
For example, your goal can be to generate a million dollars in revenue by the following year. Your marketing strategy should be to help you achieve that goal.
A crucial part of making a startup marketing plan will be to develop a marketing strategy. Though you may have clear-cut marketing objectives, you will not be able to achieve them if you do not have a strategy to help you reach them.
Your marketing plan is how you put your marketing strategy into action. The strategy will have to be custom-tailored to your startup and based on the information you acquired through market research and when formulating your plan.
A marketing plan could have multiple strategies whose diversity will depend on the plan’s goals. However, a startup should keep the strategy minimal and simple.
A good understanding of the market will help you develop the best strategies. You should select the strategies that offer the best return compared to the investment.
For example, your strategy could include segmenting the market. You can then evaluate what customers in the segment want, the competition in the segment, and what you can offer them.
It would be better to choose segments where your startup has the most advantage. Moreover, you should ensure that the market segment is large enough to generate enough sales.
It is vital to note that strategies are not set in stone and can change. If you implement a strategy and it fails, you should be flexible and change it. Being adaptable is one benefit of being a startup, and finding the marketing strategy that works may take some time.
A seminal part of writing the marketing plan for a startup will be creating a marketing budget. The budget will guide the spending during your marketing campaigns and should be duly considered when making a marketing plan.
As a startup, you will be limited to the funds you receive from seed funding. There will be other things to spend on, such as fixed assets, operations, working capital, payroll, etc.
When trying to grow a startup, you should assign as much to your marketing plan as possible, provided all other business sectors are well taken care of.
However, it is wise to always have a margin of error and stick to the most potent marketing activities. The budget should be detailed and show how much your company is willing to spend on each marketing activity.
Funds are difficult to come by for a startup, so sticking to the marketing budget should be religiously adhered to.
After settling on a marketing strategy to help you implement your marketing plan, you should choose the marketing tactics to execute the strategy. One way to think about marketing tactics is to consider marketing principles as they will help put things into perspective. For this, we can rely on the Marketing Mix/ 4 P’s:
Consider the product, its value to customers, and any improvements you may make to make it more marketable or valuable to customers.
In a competitive market, price matters significantly and will affect how you market your product. Pricing a product is an intricate process and will require great judgment.
You may choose to go for higher margins but a lower volume or vice versa. However, you should never forget that customers view prices as an indication of quality. There is a wide range of pricing strategies to choose from – pick the one you think will work best for your specific product and market environment.
The place refers to where and how you sell your product. How you distribute your product will determine whether customers get them and the supply. You can sell it online or using retailers.
Promotion pertains to the avenues you will use to market your products.
You have the marketing plan for a startup, the strategy to achieve the plan’s goals, and the tactics to implement the strategy.
Now, it is time to consider the channels you will use to market your startup’s product or service. Considering how many channels there are available today, it will be a daunting challenge to decide.
What will help is asking yourself three key questions:
- What channels will most likely reach your target market?
- Does your team have the skills to use the channel?
- Which channels have the highest return on investment (R.O.I.)?
Answering the three questions above will help you choose the best marketing channels for your startup.
The marketing channels you can use as a startup include:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Paid Advertisements
- Social Media
- Business Development and Partnerships
- Direct Selling
- Email Marketing
- Trade Shows
- Content Marketing
As a startup, you should choose the easiest marketing channels to scale, such as social media. As you grow, scalability may not be as essential, but scalability is paramount given a limited marketing budget and little experience in the market.
Implementing The Startup Marketing Plan
The final step will be implementing the startup marketing plan you have spent so much and worked hard to create.
It would be best to break down the big goals into smaller goals that you can achieve weekly and daily. It makes achieving the marketing goals more manageable while keeping the bigger picture in mind.
Assigning roles, for example, who will manage each marketing channel is also a crucial implementation step. Moreover, you should have a marketing manager who will push things along and ensure goals are achieved. You should not rush it, though, and taking one step at a time is the way to go.
Every startup dreams of growing to become a multinational behemoth, and marketing is crucial in that regard. Creating a marketing plan for a startup is challenging, and implementing it equally so.
However, if you follow the above plan and stick to it, your startup will grow. Do not try to do too much in the beginning. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.