Startup teams often find themselves overwhelmed with a long list of tasks. And with so many different moving parts, it’s easy for the important, growth-oriented responsibilities to become deemphasized and/or fade into the background. Marketing is one such area.
Marketing is vital to a startup’s success, but it often feels less important in the moment. When compared to product design, manufacturing, or sales – which produce very tangible and relatively immediate results – marketing is like a bottle of wine. It can take weeks, months, or years to mature to the point that it can be enjoyed. Thus it gets neglected in favor of the instant gratification.
As we’re going to show in this article, you don’t have to be intimidated by marketing. Stop viewing it as just another responsibility with dozens of subtasks and duties attached to it. Instead, think about marketing as if you’re building a house.
When you first start building a house, you don’t have to worry about the kitchen countertops, bedroom paint colors, or what size TV you want in the living room. The only thing you’re focused on is getting the foundation right. And so it is with marketing. Forget about all of those details that will come later on down the road. For now, it’s all about building a foundation that will allow your startup to grow into the future.
4 Principles to Set Your Startup on the Right Path
Every business has a unique marketing strategy, but here are some sound principles that will give you a sturdy platform to build upon in the months and years to come. If you can get these elements right, you’ll be amazed by how many opportunities open up.
Develop a Simple, Customer-Centric Message
Have you heard of the SB7 Framework? It’s a system of marketing and branding developed by Donald Miller, author of Building a Story Brand, that attempts to simplify messaging and help businesses connect with their customers.
The basic gist of the framework is this: “A character has a problem and meets a guide who has a plan and calls them to an action that helps them avoid failure and ends in success.” The customer is the hero and the company is the guide. It’s your goal to come alongside your customers and portray them as the heroes, while providing them with clear value that’s easy to act on.
Everything you do in your marketing and branding should be predicated on this concept. From your website design to blog content to social media interactions, always remember that the customer – not your brand – is the hero.
Design a Clean Website
Your website is not always your most important marketing asset, but it’s something you have to get right. It’s your slice of virtual real estate and must be dealt with accordingly.
Whether using best free website builders or paid platforms, the biggest piece of advice is to keep your website simple and clean. A minimalist approach that offers clear value for the customer will do far more for your brand than a site that’s focused on selling. (Ecommerce sites are the one exception.)
Invest in White Hat SEO
Perhaps you’ve worked with a shady company in the past or have failed with SEO in the past, which leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But even in 2020, SEO is considered one of the single most important aspects of growing a startup’s online presence.
The key is to focus on white hat tactics like link building and technical website optimization, while avoiding spammy practices like keyword stuffing. If you are interested in getting it right, here’s a guide for startups to learn link building. It goes through everything you need to know to build backlinks that will pave the way for greater visibility.
Quality Over Quantity With Social
Social media can be a fun component of marketing. It gives your team a chance to let their hair down and show a lighter side. But if you try to do too much too early, you’ll fizzle out.
The best strategy is to focus on one social media platform in the beginning. Once you’ve mastered the ins and outs of that platform and built up an audience, you can move on to a second one, and so on. You’ll probably want to start with Instagram or Facebook. Those seem to be the most important from a credibility/visibility perspective.
Sound Marketing for the Win
Marketing isn’t everything, but it sure is an important element for startups that want to build up their brand’s presence and experience efficient growth. By following these principles, you’ll be able to establish a sturdy foundation for future growth. Good luck!
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