Startup CEO? Here’s Your Great Marketing Strategy Pep Talk.
By Marc Apple
A startup company is much more than a killer idea. It’s a business, and as a business, it needs a marketing strategy. Problem is, many startups focus on the technical aspect of things to get off the ground, leaving the marketing side in the dust.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your marketing strategy. As a startup CEO, you’ve probably got a little voice in your head (or your wallet) wondering how you can actually make it happen. Don’t worry, for every concern, we’ve got you covered:
“I have no marketing budget”
If you’re a startup, chances are you’re strapped for cash. That means you probably also think that you don’t need a marketing strategy (or maybe you want one but you simply can’t afford one). First off, the very fact that you’re a startup means that some form of marketing strategy is essential. Without the means to broadcast your message like a large corporation, there must be some plan in place to really push publicity and your message forward.
Even if you have a very limited budget, it’s possible to still execute pieces of your strategy. Keep in mind that modern marketing strategies focus on many digital channels. It costs nothing to film a video and put it on YouTube or launch a social media account to begin building buzz. While you won’t be able to buy time for TV ads, there are many avenues that simply require effort to get things started.
“I have no time for marketing”
As a startup CEO, you personally may not have time to craft every single piece of content for your marketing strategy. However, even with a small staff, everyone can chip in, and by doing things as a group, you’ll gradually gain traction piece by piece. Marketing isn’t always about writing blog posts and making demo videos (though those are always effective pieces of content); simply engaging via social media is enough to get your message out and establish an identity.
Whatever path you follow, your strategy can be executed if it’s a collaborative effort. To that end, marketing should be viewed as an important regular task to the health of the company, particularly for small startups. The worst way to approach things is to shrug it off because you have something technical to focus on; without marketing, there will be no reward for technical achievements, so marketing is just as much of the job as, say, engineering.
“It’s hard to be heard in this industry”
These days, smartphones and instant access have shrunk everyone’s attention spans. So no matter who you are, it can be difficult to get heard. That’s doubly so for startups. However, startups — even those working with tiny marketing budgets — have two means of getting the word out.
First, social media has leveled much of the playing field. You’ll still need to build up your following, but regular engagement and crafting viral content can help with that. Second, creating and posting content builds out your search engine footprint, which will allow people to discover you via Google, Bing, and other search engines. Not only does this lead to site traffic, it establishes you as a subject matter expert, which then builds your brand.
“I don’t know how to execute my strategy”
For startups, the best way to start a marketing strategy is to pick an avenue (preferably a low-cost one that only requires a time/energy investment) and just go. Getting something out there (executed with high quality, of course) is better than being indecisive. Startup marketing is a long-haul journey, so sometimes the most important step is the very first one.
Marc Apple is a Strategist at Forward Push and VP of Marketing Strategy for the San Francisco American Marketing Association.