By: Roshni Wijayasinha, Founder of Prosh Marketing
A Startup Marketing & Fractional CMO Agency
Marketing at a startup often falls to the CEO or a junior resource brought on board to help. Admittedly, neither has the skills to lead a Marketing department but with tight budgets and a product or service to build, the Marketing function often gets few resources. Working with a number of growing startups, here are three quick tips we suggest to maximize your impact.
1. Set a strong foundation
When first launching your company to market, take this opportunity to introduce yourself to your target audience. It is crucial that this introduction goes well, so the importance of its preparation cannot be overstated. Performing in depth market research on your competitors, customer preferences and behaviours, distribution channels, and business and regulatory environment can help you shape a strategy that is based on more than just guess-work.
Customer interviews are a specific primary research tactic that we recommend startups engage in to truly understand their customers’ attitudes, influences and journey. This can shape branding (including brand personality), messaging and positioning, and distribution channels. Once you’ve got some hypotheses, creating a survey can help you validate these ideas on a larger scale. Purchase intent, however, is harder to measure through a survey when people don’t have to put their dollars behind their decision. If you can simulate or set up a buying situation like taking pre-orders, you can get closer to actual intent.
2. Leverage a “one-to-many” approach
Porter Gale once mentioned that “your network is your net worth”. This is especially true in startups where resources are limited and every single penny counts. Encourage your stakeholders to help you scale and grow. It can be as simple as asking your network to share your social media posts and content with their networks. Mobilizing employees, shareholders, advisors, partners and even customers to get involved and advocate for your brand can help you increase your reach significantly.
Referral programs are another great way startups can use existing networks to help scale. By empowering and rewarding employees and customers to refer their friends and family, you can keep your cost of acquisition down, enjoy higher conversion rates associated with the trust of a referral, and ultimately drive increased business. Further take advantage of the multiplier effect when those referrals refer business, continuing the cycle.
3. Make your budget work harder for you
There are so many different platforms and tools that can help you run your business and marketing programs. It may seem extremely attractive to use these to help you attain your goals but the associated costs can quickly add up. Consider free tools, freemium offers or negotiate startup pricing for tools and resources like email management and automation, social media scheduling and analytics, search engine optimization (SEO), stock photography and attribution modeling.
Public relations (PR) is another great strategy that works within a limited budget. Focus your efforts on creating a few key pieces of newsworthy (interesting and relevant) content that can be shared with journalists, influencers, and key opinion leaders who have large audiences. By using centers of influence to distribute your content, you can focus your efforts on creating content that positions you well with your target audiences, and ultimately save distribution costs.
Though Marketing can seem like a challenge when you’re starting out, there are a number of creative things you can do with a limited budget as I shared with Forbes earlier this year. You also don’t have to take on the Marketing function alone. Even if you don’t need (or can’t afford) a full time head of Marketing, Fractional CMO’s can help bridge the gap by bringing in part time expertise to help develop your strategy and guide whatever human and capital resources you have to implement it.
This is a service that we offer our clients at Prosh Marketing. If a Fractional CMO is something you’re curious about or if you’d like to learn more about how we’ve helped companies build their Marketing, launched over 50 products and services to market, and helped two businesses attain 9-figure investment rounds, please visit our website at www.proshmarketing.com or feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.