Top Marketing Strategies for Early Stage Startups

Businesses have different marketing needs as they grow and evolve. A company that has recently launched has different objectives and target customers than a company at its Series A or B. This means that your startup needs a marketing plan that is tailored to where you are on your startup journey and also takes into consideration your business model.

There are tons of promotional tactics available to businesses. Here are some of the top marketing strategies for startups that you can build into your plan.

Build Your Name With Broadcast Advertising on a Startup Budget

Broadcast marketing focuses on reaching a large number of people and presenting multiple messages so that customers will remember your name. In the startup world, this might mean skipping the million-dollar super bowl ads or prime-time commercials in favor of podcast promotions and mini-sponsorships. Look for niche opportunities to connect with your audience directly through streaming services that broadcast across the country — and the world. You see examples of young companies start out this way all the time, from the diet platform Noom to the MeUndies. 

With broadcast marketing, your main goal is to increase the number of impressions. You want people to see your name, learn about your products, and remember who you are within the industry. This will boost conversions in the long run as more people feel comfortable engaging with your brand.

Prepare Your Online Presence

As your business grows, more people are going to seek you out. They will further evaluate your brand based on how hard you are to find online and what sort of impression you make with your digital presence. For example, if a customer sees that you launched a Facebook page but only updated it twice in six months, they might not think your company is still operating or meeting their size needs.

Consider your digital footprint in your startup business marketing plan. Developing content to reach your audience and communicate your expertise will take time and energy, which may require some budgetary adjustments. A few tactics to consider include:

  • Design a modern, mobile-friendly website that highlights your products or services.
  • Launch and maintaining a social media presence that engages your audience.
  • Create content that can grow your SEO and make your brand easy to find.
  • Curate your presence on review sites so customers can recommend your business to others.

Many of these tactics are non-negotiable for startup companies. The fact is, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. If your name isn’t showing up — either for your main website or for review sites like Yelp and Google My Business — then you aren’t going to get the site traffic and lead generation you want.

Get People Talking About Your Brand

The world of publicity and promotion has evolved in the internet era, but it still looks the same in many ways. As your startup launches, work with a public relations team to announce your new business and get the media excited about what you do.

The media you choose will vary based on your industry and target market. Startups offering B2C services to Generation Z will be better off working with Instagram influencers, while a B2B brand in the energy sector could be more successful with features in a few key trade publications or partnering with well-established businesses. Know your audience and develop a set of goals for the media blitz. This will help you choose the right time and journalists to pitch to. 

If you don’t have the money for PR or influencers? Build a list of specific journalists or influencers, then write a personal message telling them about your company, accomplishments, and providing them value. Make these early customers into raving fans by calling them up individually for product feedback, or giving them a special experience. Think how Zappos made a splash in its early days with personal connections and care. This can move your brand forward. 

Give Limited Access With a Beta Launch

Developing a soft launch for an app or technology system is often included in a software startup marketing plan. Teams can grant early access to a tool and see what customers think of it, which allows them to make changes and build up hype around the product before releasing it to the masses.

Startups and new, small-budget companies are uniquely situated to use this tactic. You can launch a website through Wix or Squarespace that teases out your brand and introduces who you are to potential customers. You can develop your SEO infrastructure early-on so your customers can find you when they learn about your brand. 

Take the time to check the boxes for your online presence. Make sure your meta titles and descriptions are well-written and optimized for search. Register your business to Google Business, so you appear in the search results. Launch social media pages. Go through the customer journey and see if you can be easily found online and what your customers will see when looking for you. 

Turn Early Customers Into Brand Advocates

Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels

You don’t need a large promotional budget to take advantage of some of the top marketing strategies for startups. Referral programs continue to be a trustworthy and popular way for businesses to grow and for customers to get rewarded. Consider offering certain perks for customers who bring in other people to use your product or buy from your business. For example, if you just launched a software as a service (SaaS) brand, you can offer a free month or service or extra access if one customer brings on someone else.

Your referral program can also tie into your beta launch. After you initially grant customers access through your beta system, open your business to a new round of users. You can give your existing customers exclusive invites for them to pass on, allowing you to control who gets access. 

Even if you don’t have a SaaS brand, don’t be afraid to ask your first customers to write online reviews or create testimonials for you. These early advocates can bring in new business to your brand and help it grow faster.

The best marketing strategies for startups are tied to the business’s goals. Determine whether you are trying to get a few loyal customers to sign up immediately or want to raise awareness of your brand in preparation for launch. Once you know where you are in the promotions process, you can develop a marketing plan that drives measurable results.

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