If you have ever watched the series ‘Mad Men’ set in 1950s North America, it paints a picture of a cut-throat business where advert and copywriting genius’ work together to trick customers into buying the latest cigarette. Marketing for a start-up is not quite like that…
Often founders of start-ups decide to build a business because they know a lot about the thing they want to sell. They may well be experts in the widget they build and the industry they plan to centre their business around. Also, start-up founders are usually not marketers. Some even shun marketing as a “dark art” that can never truly be understand.
But worry not! As with most other things in business you can learn how to market and use the many proven processes and tools to do a good job too.
GoFounder has put together a quick guide to the art (and science) of marketing.
What is the point of marketing?
You may think that because you have the best product in the world you don’t need to market it. You may even believe that you’ll sell your product once and the rest will follow because of word of mouth. But even Word of Mouth Marketing requires cultivation, know-how, and hard graft. Basically, in the world of business, unless you have the backing of an extremely wealthy family, there is no such thing as an easy ride.
If you get your marketing act together you can create effective marketing campaigns, even on a budget. Great marketing can give your business:
- A way to build a brand for your company
- A way to build a brand for a product or service
- Product/company awareness with your target audience
- A competitive edge
- Placing the company in a good position in your core sector
- Sale leads that your sales team can follow up on
Marketing raises your business head above the parapet. If done well, it then raises it again, above your competition. It makes the audience you are trying to capture aware of your existence, it can even create a buzz around your product and business.
When all is said, marketing is a multi-faceted and EXTREMELY important part of your business.
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Marketing is a single word to describe many techniques. But before listing common methods used by marketers, we need to go back to basics:
Marketing is ultimately about encouraging customers to buy.
How you get to the buying stage is a process that requires diligence and strategy to do effectively.
By the time you get to the point of making sales, you should have already done some marketing (perhaps without realizing it). The process of creating an MVP involves talking with potential customers and the wider market to get intelligence on the design and development of your product. This know-how will come in useful when you develop marketing campaigns, even informing the choice of marketing methods used. For example, during MVP development you may have found out that your target audience would find any social media marketing a turn-off.
The 4-Ps of marketing
If you study marketing as a subject you will come across the pillars of marketing, known as the “4-Ps of Marketing”; the “Ps” being product, price, place, and promotion. This is a useful place to begin to think about your marketing and how each area can impact the other. The image below gives you a quick, at-a-glance look at the four Ps. You can populate the items under each P to help focus your ideas around each area.
- Sales Team
The trick is to get the right balance for each…
Types of marketing
Some well used and proven types of marketing:
Big mouth strikes again
Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) is the marketers’ dream. It is about getting your customers to market for you. There is even a WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association). This type of marketing has been very useful with online sales – the reviews you see in Amazon are a form of WOMM. People like to buy from trusted people. Nielsen’s “Global Trust In Advertising Survey” is often quoted as providing firm evidence for the power of WOMM. But word of mouth is not suitable for all types of products or businesses.
A web of marketing
A website is like a modern-day shop front. In times of old, shops would compete to have the most attractive and engaging shop displays. Now it’s all about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and attracting interested customers to your site via search engines. Once in, you can nab them using great copywriting that makes them want to buy – copywriting is where art meets science.
Content is king
Content, in the form of blogs, videos, podcasts, etc. is a way to get the word out on your business and push people to your website, demo, or sales team. The use of content as a sales tool is a subtle way to create interest around your product, without sounding too ‘salesy”. Some companies excel in this area, they create compelling content, with little or no reference to their company or product and yet, magically, it sells product – this is a lot to do with that elusive quality that all marketers want to create – trust…
Getting down and social
Social media can be a godsend for smaller companies, as it is (usually) free to use as a marketing tool. Of course, social media posts need reach, and building a large following takes time and a lot of focus. Alternatively, some companies will turn to ‘Influencers” to market on their behalf. Influencers are people who are well-known to the target audience. They usually have a large number of followers on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Marketers will pay them either in money or in kind to put out a post positively talking about the product.
Mad Men and Ad Women
Adverts can take many forms in the field of marketing. The social media postings of influencers are a form of modern ads. Others, such as Google Ads, as seen when searching for certain terms online, are another. Ads can be invaluable or a waste of money, they need much research before opening your corporate wallet. And ads are more effective under certain circumstances.
A word on targeted marketing
When creating online adverts, the software used to generate an ad will often allow you to choose certain customer types that the ad will be displayed to: For example, women over 50 with no kids. There is a mixed opinion on the effectiveness of this. One school of thought believes targeting customer types will produce a higher return. The other school of thought believes consumers are now savvy to targeted marketing; a survey from Ogury, finding that 79% of consumers were annoyed by targeted ads.
“It probably took me longer than it should have done to really understand the importance of proper marketing. When I first started out, I was fannying around with leaflets and booklets that took a long time to create – cost a bit to produce and really offered me very little in the way of actual return for money.
Once I started to understand marketing a bit more, I started to focus on the actual strategy of it all – which in turn helped me decide what types of marketing it was that I needed to do. I think new founders often overlook that marketing is going to be a mainstay of your work – so either you need to up-skill on it, or get some help onboard”
– Eddie Whittingham, FounderRead more
Do I need a marketing strategy?
Having a strategy that defines how you will approach marketing not only keeps you focused but helps to set out your ideas and campaigns.
The thing about marketing is that is a massive area and can be complicated.
What you do not want to do (which I have done in the past) is spend money, ad hoc, without really having a game plan. Taking out a random ad can be like flushing money down the toilet. Effective marketing is about building a presence. Knowing what options fit your business, and being clever in how you use them, and importantly, how you tie them together to create the big picture.
Where to start in marketing when you haven’t a clue
If you have the time and patience it can be worthwhile doing some of the courses offered by organizations like HubSpot. Some are free or fairly cost-effective (and might be offset against tax).
GoFounder also offers guides in various aspects of marketing that can help you plan out your marketing game for maximum impact.
Whatever route you take, you should always do some work to understand marketing options and which are the best fit for your business and product.
Once you have a decent understanding of how to make a start in marketing you can build your marketing strategy, set a budget, and begin the foray into the marketplace.
Need a little guidance?
Marketing can be a bit of a minefield. Hell, I made some expensive mistakes along the way! So, we’ve pulled together a super simple, step-by-step course to help you from start to finish – strategy, the do’s and don’ts and how to get it all planned out.
Better yet, as with all of our content – it’s written by someone who’s actually sat where you are, struggled and succeeded.
So let us help you get going and you’ll have your marketing up and running in no time.
Here to guide you
To make life a little easier, GoFounder has created a more detailed guide to help you get your marketing strategy sorted.Learn more >
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