If you run a startup, marketing your business is key to your growth—and how you’ll set yourself apart from your competition.
In this marketing for startups guide, we’ll discuss how to market your startup—from developing a strategy and connecting with your audience to making adjustments and measuring your success.
Step #1: Outline your strategy
No 2 startups are exactly the same, which means marketing strategies vary, too. But all successful marketing strategies include 4 key components: your goals, audience, market research, and budget. Let's break it down:
1. Set goals
In the early stages of your business, your goals might vary depending on how you define success. But for many startups, goals often fall under 1 of 2 categories: raising brand awareness and acquiring new customers. And while both categories are important in the development of your startup, it can be helpful to prioritize the goals that make the most sense for you.
- Raise brand awareness. When starting a new business, it’s important to introduce yourself to your potential customers or clientele. You have to tell people who you are, what you do, and what sets you apart from everyone else. If you choose to prioritize brand awareness, your goals—and your marketing strategy—might revolve around getting people to recognize your brand name, logo, or products.
- Acquire new customers. If you choose to make acquiring new customers a priority, your goals might include getting new people signed up to your platform, encouraging them to become active users of your product, or converting existing leads into paying customers. To reach these goals, you’ll need to develop a marketing strategy using effective design, copy, and calls to action that grab people’s attention and make them want to engage with your business.
2. Define your target audience
No matter the type of startup, it’s crucial for your marketing to reach the right people with the right message. As you’re developing a marketing strategy, take time to think about who your ideal audience is—or who you want your audience to be.
Here are a few questions you might ask yourself as you’re deciding which audience to target with your marketing:
- What are you offering your potential customers?
- What makes you unique?
- Why would a customer choose you over your competitors?
- If you’re B2B, would your product be more beneficial to businesses of a certain size or within a certain industry?
- If you’re B2C, does it make sense to choose a preferred audience based on their location, demographics, or interests?
3. Find your place in the market
According to a study by CB Insights, lack of demand in the marketplace is the number one reason startups fail. Maybe the product or service being offered doesn’t solve a problem or isn’t unique enough to set itself apart from the competition. Maybe its focus is too narrow and the pool of potential customers isn’t large enough to build (and scale) a successful company. Or, maybe it just hasn’t been positioned correctly and never had the chance to reach the right people.
To give your new startup a better chance of avoiding these common pitfalls, take time to thoroughly research other products on the market and gauge interest from your potential customers. Once you’ve determined there is enough demand to sustain your business, you can start thinking about how you’ll tell your target audience about all the great stuff you have to offer.
4. Determine your budget
The marketing budget for a startup will be affected by several factors, including operational costs and revenue forecasts. But no matter how much money you’re able to set aside for marketing, it’s important to spend wisely. Think about your goals, and focus your marketing dollars on the channels that will help you achieve them. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way or to try something new if a particular channel doesn’t prove fruitful.
As your business—and your budget—grows, you can always start allocating more money toward your marketing and expanding your reach to previously untapped audiences.