- By: Subhash desai
- Posted On: 2017-10-10
John runs a high-end technology startup in Philadelphia and his technical team works on cutting-edge products that promise to solve the most complex problems of the financial world. But what is troubling John is not so much about product development but taking the product to the market before the competition catches up with him. John knows that he needs to start thinking about marketing sooner than later, but doesn’t know where to begin. It may sound naïve that while John’s company is claiming to work on trailblazing product development but doesn’t seem to get a website up and running.
At times, John would sit alone and ponder on marketing ideas he can start implementing. He has also been reading a lot of blogs on inbound marketing, outbound marketing, digital marketing, etc., but he doesn’t seem to muster strength to launch any marketing campaign. Moreover, his shoe-string budget doesn’t allow him any luxury to hire reasonably talented marketers. Fixing marketing without marketing team is what going on his mind. “Can I fix marketing without a marketing team in the first place?”
As he starts sipping his favorite morning cappuccino, John picks up a paper and pen and starts scribbling his thoughts. “Where should I begin?”, he ponders.
First-time CEOs, like John, always have this predicament on their mind – where should I begin, “who shall I go to for help”, “how can I effectively reach out to my target audience” and many more questions.
In his book “The Startup Curve”, Howard Love demonstrates the six phases of a startup curve – Create, Release, Morph, Business Model, Scale and Harvest. If you haven’t read this book yet, you should pick it. Your perspective about entrepreneurship and business will change for good.
In the first two phases of CREATE and RELEASE, you don’t need much of marketing tactics. Understanding what phase you are will determine what marketing tactics you will employ. Many first-time CEOs go by their guts and instinct, which is not the best always. Going by guts will have its own pitfalls and you don’t want to slip down the curve in the early stage of your startup journey.
Source: The startup curve book by Howard Love
Moreover, the six phases of journey apply not only for startups but also for any organization that is strategizing to grow faster than the competition. It’s critical for any organization to understand where it stands today and launch marketing campaigns. That’s the scientific way of driving marketing efforts around a product/service.
Howard has put it brilliantly in his book: “Once you know where you are on the start-up path, you are much better able to know what your next steps should be— as well as the common (but avoidable) mistakes often made at a particular point on the path.”
After carefully analyzing Howard’s thesis on startup curve, I have come up with a marketing model that can go in sync with the phases. Based on my own understanding working with my own clients – big and small – I have come to realize that marketing campaigns must go with the phases rather than the whims and fancies of a Marketing Head or a CEO. The success of marketing campaigns is largely dependent on the type of campaign a startup would launch after a thorough understand of its own position on the curve.
Successful first-time CEOs first conjure up market potential and market outreach as soon as a product idea is born! It’s never going to be easy to start working towards developing the market for which you are building a product. Getting a product idea is easy these days, but working on marketing execution along with the product idea is what holds the key to make a traction in the marketplace.
Here are the 5 things that the first-time CEOs can fix their marketing instantly and start building traction.
1) Fix your website first – an iPhone tip!
Get your website done without waiting for your product to hit the market. Start with surveys and some engagement program so that you start building relationship with your first buyers. If your team is too busy, outsource website design and development to a web design agency that can understand and articulate your value propositions well. There are
host of web design and development agencies that can just take your requirements on the phone and show you a few samples the same day. Don’t look for too much of design but rather aim to give a user-friendly experience to visitors. Call to action buttons and navigation need to be intuitive.
Photographs and videos are some attractive features you can think about, but don’t hurry up for videos if you don’t have one. Your iPhone is good enough to take pictures inside your office and people who work for you. One of the startup CEOs we worked with had shot a video on his iPhone and mentioned right below it “shot on iPhone 7”. And people loved the video! But then you should know how to retain the originality of photographs you post.
I would recommend you to go through the following sites that can give you a good insight into website building:
2. Medium.com Ghost.com
2) Fix your target audience – a cool tip how to go about it!
Engaging your target audience is the key to making your marketing engine work well. John for sure knows that he needs to identify his target audience and start engaging them even before he could launch his product. All you have to do is head to Facebook, create a post that you think your audience would be interested in and boost that post by selecting your “target audience”. The best part of Facebook is that it will make you think about the audience that matters to you most. Try this out if you have not tried it earlier.
Here are some tools you can start using today:
3) Fix your inbound marketing –
Many CEOs do not really understand the importance of inbound marketing. The word ‘inbound’ means something that is coming back to us voluntarily without having to push hard. Therefore, inbound marketing is nothing but getting traffic to your site or product/services page from interested users who would like to genuinely know and understand more about your product/services. The question of whether they will buy or not is important but what is vital is that the interest your content has generated among the likely buyers.
a) Start writing a blog that you are expert in
b) Promote your content on social media channels, mainly Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
c) Search for Groups that discuss topics relevant to your blog
d) Find influencers on LinkedIn and share your blogs and often leave a comment on their work – remember there is always a quid pro quo!
e) Blogs need to be consistent and informative about your chosen topic/field
f) Get featured in online publications – find your niche
g) Look for Guest Post on expert blogs
Inbound marketing is not just about blogs; it can be anything that drives relevant traffic to your website. Unlike outbound or traditional marketing where you need to push your content into the throats of consumers through emails, cold calling, etc., Inbound marketing is the surest way to get visitors that you want.
If you are not sure how to go about writing a blog, go to sendquotation.com or Fiverr and you can find a plenty of freelance writers who are just waiting for a blog assignment. The best way to get things done is to outsource the work to a quality agency that can handle with perfection and ease.
4) Fix your digital marketing –
Digital marketing is a new era marketing that covers seven components – social media optimization, affiliate marketing, Google AdSense, web analytics, email marketing, SEO and pay per click. Out of all these for a startup company, SEO is the key aspect of developing an online marketing strategy.
It is absolutely secondary to focus on social media marketing when you haven’t done any optimization of keywords. It pays to work carefully pick keywords that your prospects use to search on Google. For example, if you are a restaurant catering to continental food lovers, you strategy should be use keywords that have ‘continental’ in it or some examples related to continental – sweet potato pie, prawn pie, etc.
Check out these SEO tools:
5) Fix analytics –
Analytics is a core part of a website’s performance because it helps you improve your conversions and revenue, if done systematically. You would like to know how many visitors spent time on your key pages, what have they done on that page – downloads, filling up forms, etc., which content on your website attracts attention, etc. Google Analytics is the best place to start, which is anyway free, but if you want to have in-depth analysis of your website performance, there are many sites that can help you. You can try the below five to get your free heatmap and track user behavior.
Check out these analytics tools:
If you wish to know more about how you can aggressively market your products/services without spending a dime, feel free to write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line – “Startup marketing help”.