According to FreshBooks, it takes the average startup two to three years to become profitable. But there’s also no rule stating that your startup marketing strategy has to be average!
Being a company of people who are always a fan of the proverbial underdog, we’re here to share some amazing marketing strategies for startups.
Table of Contents
1. Find your biggest fans
Most startups need target audiences to become successful. Instead of letting your audience naturally accumulate, you can speed things up a bit by finding your company’s biggest fans.
So, who are fans of your startup? These are the people leaving likes on every social media post, opening every email, and otherwise engaging with your business.
With that in mind, some companies make the mistake of intentionally or not ignoring these fans. Worst of all, startups do this when they need supporting voices more than ever!
How to engage with brand ambassadors
So, let’s say that you use the tips above to find out who your brand fans are. What do you say to them now? Follow these tips to further strengthen the bond between your startup and its biggest fans.
Avoid group messages
There’s no quicker way to not make things personal than by using group messages. You know the ones. They start with “Hey, everyone” or “Hello, all.”
If you want your marketing efforts to create true fans, it’s time to make things personal. It’s best to use first names when speaking to members of your target audience. If you don’t have a first name available, including the words you and yours can help personalize your messaging.
Share user-generated content
One of the best ways to raise brand awareness is by sharing content generated by your fans. According to Stackla, 79% of people trust user-generated content.
User-generated content can be videos, photos, or text-based posts about a brand. An example of this type of content might be someone sharing an online picture of anything from their new car or a new pair of shoes.
Not only does user-generated content cost your startup nothing, but it’s also extremely effective.
Give to get
Another tip to help you engage with potential customers is to share something with them. What you share or send could be a free t-shirt, sticker, or other swag your startup has on hand.
While these gestures might seem small, people love free stuff. And they love it even more when they get free things from a startup they already like.
2. Set actionable goals
No startup marketing campaign is complete without goals. From our experiences, the power of goals doesn’t necessarily come from reaching them every time.
The power of goals is that they give your startup something to measure regarding its marketing strategies.
We recommend creating initial goals that you believe are reachable. From there, gradually broaden your short-term goals. It sounds simple, but you’ll be amazed at your startup’s progress within a few months.
3. Use blogging in your startup marketing strategy
Another must-have for any solid marketing strategy is an active blog. According to The Blogging Wizard, 77% of all people using the internet read blogs. That’s about 4 billion people!
If you want to reach such a massive crowd, it’s time for your startup to start blogging. Having a blog is like a digital magazine that your startup completely controls.
Blogs can let potential customers know more about a startup. Plus, startups can use their blogs as content marketing powerhouses. Everyone wins!
One of the best tips we can give you for blogging is to be patient and consistent.
It typically takes at least a few months for a blog to start really kicking off. The best way to spend those few months is to be consistent and get lots of content ready for your eager target audience.
4. Throw a lot of “stuff” and see what sticks
You might blame my slightly country upbringing for this next one. But there was a saying I heard a lot growing up: Throw a lot of crap at the wall and see what sticks.
I don’t know who came up with this saying, but, as crass as it is, it’s true.
If you’re having trouble reaching and engaging with a target audience, it could be time to momentarily expand into as many platforms as possible.
But why? Because it lets your business gain data. This data will show your startup where it’s reaching the most people or companies online.
A personal story we like to share involves a client of ours with a company in the B2C electronics industry. One of this client’s goals in its digital marketing strategy was to find the right platforms to post on.
With a company that had a lot of content involving tech and electronics, where do you think this company had the most success? Facebook? Nope. Twitter. No. Surprisingly, this company built over 100,000 followers on Pinterest.
Sometimes, the social media channels or platforms you find fans on can be surprising. The only way to know where your fans are is to start making and sharing content on the platforms they use.
5. Distribute content to your target audience
Creating content is an important part of any marketing strategy. But you can get even better results from the content you produce by getting serious about sharing it.
The internet is full of places to share content. Some of these places have bigger audiences than others.
When it comes to distributing content, we recommend using some or all of the following platforms:
While it might not be as trendy as it once was, Facebook remains a pivotal part of certain startups’ marketing strategies. Recent figures estimate Facebook to have about 3 billion active users.
So, don’t avoid Facebook because your Startup thinks it’s “too cool” for Facebook. It might be, but no startup should sacrifice popular platforms for the sake of looking cool.
Your startup can use Facebook in its marketing plan in multiple ways, including:
- Sharing content in posts
- Building a loyal following
- Creating a brand-based group on Facebook
Twitter is another popular platform for startup marketing purposes. Rather than for strictly social media marketing, many companies use this platform to send out shorter updates and communicate with their followers.
You can also run Twitter ads to ramp up your startup’s followers and views.
If you operate in the B2B space, improve your startup’s visibility by posting on LinkedIn. Using LinkedIn lets your startup effectively find and reach relevant companies and their employees (and decision-makers)!
LinkedIn has several ways for you to share high-quality content. You can share content on this platform by creating and sharing LinkedIn posts.
Another area of this website you might be unaware of is LinkedIn’s Articles. You can share completely new articles that go out to LinkedIn’s audience. It’s also possible to repost content from another source (typically your blog) to get more eyes on it.
Lastly, don’t forget about the benefits of using LinkedIn ads as a paid way to reach people on this platform.
While it’s not for every startup, TikTok can also be a valuable part of your company’s marketing plan. If you don’t know about this platform, it’s primarily used to share 15 to 60-second videos.
If you either want or have older teens and young adults making up your website traffic, it’s worthwhile to start posting content on TikTok.
Since many younger generations lead TikTok, they can be relatively quick to catch and call out companies for being overly promotional on this platform. So, we recommend using this platform to share information rather than push products or services.
Stepping away from social media, another way to reach your target market is through Medium. As you can with LinkedIn, you can share both new content and previously published pieces.
This website easily has over 100 million active users per month. With so many users, Medium can become a powerful tool in your marketing plan.
Medium is also an incredibly authoritative website. The advantage of this website’s authority is that your published pieces on Medium can grab top spots in search engines.
Best of all, Medium is totally free.
Some of the most effective marketing strategies are ones that don’t look obvious. One way companies do this is by answering questions on a website called Quora.
As you know, Quora is a website that features questions from users that other users can answer. So, you don’t want to be super promotional on Quora.
Instead, look for questions on Quora that your startup could answer. Next, create a free account and start sharing your knowledge.
Like Medium, Quora is a website that gets a lot of traffic and has a lot of authority. So, don’t be surprised if some of your answers turn into valuable content from a traffic perspective.
6. The power of retargeting
A lot of startups use paid ads to reach audiences. With that said, you can take the effectiveness of a paid ad campaign up a notch with retargeting.
Retargeting shows relevant users repeated ads on different web-based platforms. And this strategy is one that many startups use in the digital era.
So, why should your startup use retargeting in its marketing strategy?
For one reason, retargeting is a great way for people to see paid ads they didn’t interact with the first, second, or third time around.
Retargeting is also for companies that create ads with different variations. With this marketing tactic, you can gain valuable data about which ads people like more.
Retargeting is also a great marketing strategy to use on people who are slow decision-makers. Showing multiple ads in a relatively short amount of time can help speed up these people’s decision-making processes.
7. Use social listening
Whether it’s about a good movie or a bad fast food experience, people aren’t shy about sharing their opinions on social media. Fortunately, you can use all of these opinions as part of your startup’s market research!
Companies of all sizes use social listening to find out the positive and negative things people have to say about:
- Their own companies
You can start by using a social listening program to see what people are saying about your brand. Expanding further on these searches with variations of your startup lets these programs scan social media.
As you know, the public’s opinion about something rarely stays the same forever. So, continue using social listening as part of your social media marketing strategy.
8. Focus on benefits and not features
While creating your startup’s marketing plan, we’ve mentioned where your company should post content to. But just as important is how you speak to your target market.
Understandably, startup leaders want to let the world know what their respective companies offer. However, many startup marketing strategies crash and burn when they speak in terms of benefits instead of features.
Whether you create content for a blog, social channels, emails, or anything else, let these examples help you speak in terms of benefits.
Feature-driven text: Our company’s software features cutting-edge technology to speed up your content marketing efforts.
Benefit-driven text: Our software helps you save a lot of time.
Feature-driven text: Our startup’s ad software automates the creation and monitoring processes for Google Ads.
Benefit-driven text: Save money and avoid wasting money on ineffective paid ads.
9. Start a referral program
Another tool in a startup’s arsenal is referral marketing. A referral occurs when one person recommends your startup to someone else. This strategy is beneficial because referrals are typically recommendations from trusted sources, such as friends or family members.
So, using this strategy is a great way to build trust in a startup business for its new customers.
10. Create an email marketing strategy
Some parts of a marketing plan seem to never go out of style. One of those strategies is email marketing. But before you can start using email marketing, you’ll need people to send emails to.
That’s where the power of an opt-in form comes into play. This important form makes sure your company legally collects email addresses from willing participants.
With a big enough list, your startup can begin sending out emails that lead to a lot of sales.
Wrapping things up, we hope you enjoyed this look at marketing for startups. Use the previously mentioned growth hacking strategies for more traffic and more engaged customers.
Alex Eagleton is a copywriter and digital marketer passionate about helping companies connect with customers. Throughout the past decade, he’s worked with companies including Referral Rock, Connecteam, and Ramsey Solutions. He’s a versatile writer who understands how to align with companies, truly matching their voices and tones.
When he’s not writing, he enjoys spending time with his dogs, reading, and playing guitar.
You can reach him by emailing email@example.com.