If you are reading this, you already know that succeeding in today’s startup market is no easy task. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, 70% of businesses fail within ten years. Failure is mainly due to one reason. Those businesses did not prepare a startup marketing strategy.
Every business needs to develop a marketing plan to ensure the success of its startup. It’s the only way to go from a startup to a pillar of your chosen industry. Marketing plans cover much ground. So, revisit the needs of your business often. Consider looking at your marketing plan every quarter. Crafting the perfect company culture, marketing your startup’s jobs, determining your startup’s unique selling proposition (USP), sales funnels, knowing your competition, knowing your target audience, and mapping out their customer journey can change the direction of your business repeatedly. Coming up with a startup marketing strategy can be very intimidating. Heck, it can be challenging for any company at any stage. These five steps will put you on the right path to creating a successful startup marketing strategy.
Create a Situation Analysis
Prepare to spend most of your time creating the situation analysis. It is an essential part of your startup marketing strategy. Once complete, you can step back and assess your business’s situation for what it is. That reality is usually drastically different from what you thought it would be before completing your situation analysis.
The overall goal of completing a situation analysis is to find out how many customers you can sell your product or services to. Your situation analysis will reveal how you compare to your competitors and customers and what goals you might set to beat the competition. To create a situation analysis, you will need to complete the following:
How many potential customers are there for you to sell your products or services? After this part of the analysis, you will know where to find your customers. Potential customers will fall into one of three categories:
- You already have
- Belong to your competitors
- Do not belong to either of you
Compose a competitive matrix. List each of your services, size, strengths and weaknesses, market share, and what competitive advantage each of you holds. Consider how you can appeal to what is essential to your ideal customer over your competition.
Create a Strategy
Once you have assessed the situation, you can create a solid strategy to get all those available customers. The plan will include segmentation, positioning, and reasons to support your claims.
First, segment your customers by their:
- Behaviors (when they purchase, price sensitivities, or whom they choose to buy from)
- Psychographics (attitudes towards the products they want to purchase)
- Demographics (age, gender, height, weight, salary)
- Geographics (location)
These considerations will help you narrow your audience to a select group of characteristics covering each segment.
Then, create a positioning statement. Why should your customers believe in your product or service? Include your target audience in your message. You want that ideal customer to feel your product or service was just for them. Emphasize whatever you decide would appeal to your perfect customer in the situation analysis. Show them what you have that the competition does not.
Finally, you must present evidence that supports your claims. After all, customers will not believe anything that you say. You will need to prepare to have testimonials, reviews, before and after photographs, or whatever else will support the claims of your product or service.
Create a Tactical Plan
You will use the 4 P’s to create what actions you will take to bring your product or service to life. The four p’s refer to:
Create a customer journey. Imagine every step they will take – from conception to after they purchase your product or service. Consider:
- When the customer decides they want or need a product or service
- When the customer looks for information to attain that product or service
- When the customer considers their options, and which offer matches what they want best
- When the customer makes the purchase
- When the customer decides if the purchase lives up to their expectations
Now, decide what to charge for your product or service. Pricing will involve:
- What you pay
- Why you demand your price (i.e., luxury item, budget item, membership level)
- Where you will advertise your charges (i.e., on the product packaging, on your website)
- When you will demand your fee (i.e., after they give their email address)
List all details about how you will promote your product or service. Consider anything related to where and when promotions or advertising will take place.
- Email campaigns
- Social media
- Store promotions
Decide how your product or service will end up in your customer’s possession. Each step has to be considered; for your customers to receive their product or service.
How will you implement your plan?
Now you will need to decide who needs to hear your plan and when this should happen. For each tactical project, consider all the circumstances of that product or service that will bring it to the market. Everything involves the who, what, when, where, and how. Decide:
- Who is responsible for getting each step done.
- Plan out the timeline, with specific target dates, for each step.
Decide which key performance indicators, or KPIs, are essential for your startup to track. Keeping track of KPIs will help you measure your performance and make necessary changes. Without monitoring KPIs, you would never know if your tactics are working or pivot at critical times.
Planning your Budget and Forecasting
Seeing the results of your marketing campaign will take time and money. Deciding on how you plan to get to the goal of your marketing campaign will require making an adequate budget. Consider the 4 Ps. Evaluate how much money is needed to present yourself in the best light. For example, consider product packaging and how many people you need to reach for an effective marketing campaign. Next, forecast or measure what will result from your marketing campaign. For example, do you expect to acquire ten new clients, each spending $100,000 per month, after spending $20,000 on a PPC campaign for one month? Set a measurable goal (i.e., number of products sold, amount of time).
Now that you have developed a plan for your startup, you are much more prepared for success. You have taken a necessary step that 7 out of 10 businesses do not even attempt to do: create a startup marketing strategy. You have now considered your situation in the marketplace, including your competition and your startup’s unique selling position. You have a solid system where you can create a calendar of events that will trigger how you can implement your marketing plan. And most importantly, you now understand how much this will cost your startup in dollars and sweat equity, personnel, talent, and skillsets. A startup marketing plan can be an investment in time.
You will find that preparing this plan is a vital investment and one that will aid you in the future success of your startup. Which part of a marketing strategy do you find challenging? We welcome any comments, questions, or suggestions.