The challenge: Marketing your startup in a saturated environment
As a startup founder, marketing your startup online can be exciting: It’s your chance to get your product in front of the people who need it most. Yet, while the “build-it-and-they-will-come” mentality is scoffed at, too many startup founders the world over do exactly that — put all their time and money into creating a great product, then sit back and wait for people to find it.
In reality, it’s no wonder founders hesitate a bit when it comes to spreading the word: Today’s information landscape has proved to make startup marketing more and more difficult as news cycles, social feeds, and search arenas become increasingly saturated.
Fret not, fellow founder. While this isn’t the time to kick those heels up and recline — because yes, the environment is noisy — we’ve got you covered when it comes to standing out.
But first thing’s first: We need to agree that startup marketing is not a one-and-done task to cross off your mile-long to-do list. Not only does it deserve a prominent spot on your to-do list — it deserves its own list; a list that is constantly evolving.
In this guide, we’re going to talk about the shifts occurring in startup marketing before diving headfist into a high-level overview of 52 different strategies and tactics startup founders like yourself can explore. The ultimate goal? Getting your stellar product in front of the people who need it, when they need it most.
If you’re feeling discouraged with what you’ve tried so far — or you haven’t quite known where to start, at all — you’re in the right place.
Part I: Don’t just make announcements. Create news.
Sean Ellis, founder of Growth Hackers, said this waaaaay back in 2014:
“Breaking through the noise is very difficult when well-entrenched companies have the resources to dominate traditional channels.”
Correct. Which means a few things:
- Startups need to find and/or create the resources. Whether that means hiring top talent or attracting funding, no great startup founder ever made it happen alone.
- Startups need to think differently. It’s this relative lack of resources that led to growth hacking — rapid experimentation across channels to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business — in the first place, and it’s the relative lack of resources that leads to innovation.
Of course, you can’t innovate without the basics. But before you go relying on that funding announcement that previously might’ve landed you a spot on Product Hunt or TechCrunch, consider this: What worked as recently as two years ago can easily get lost now.
Translation: Even for the tactics startups previously relied on, innovation is required.
Take the funding announcement, for example. Previously viewed as a rite of passage, the traditional press release announcing your first, or latest, round of funding no longer creates the splash it used to.
Maybe that’s because VCs will “throw money at people who’ve failed 99 times if they think they can squeeze a dime out of the latest idea” (an optimistic view from one of our favorite startup consultants, Kara Swisher, at 2016’s StartupFest), detracting from the weight funding holds.
Maybe it’s because until the money’s in the bank, that funding isn’t actually guaranteed — as PVP Live found out when it “won” funding in 2015, but saw its investors bow out just a few days before the announcement.
But finally — and this is the big one — maybe it’s because funding no longer translates to success the way it used to. And for that reason, it doesn’t attract media attention like it used to.
The thing that traditional announcements and tactics forgets is this: In the SaaS world, getting — and retaining — users is the ultimate measure of startup marketing success.
It’s your user base that will generate stories. It’s your user base that will bring in referrals. And it’s the success of your user base that determines the success of your startup — which is the story you want to be telling.
With that, let’s dive into 52 facets of your ultimate startup marketing plan that’ll have you attracting, retaining, and referring users on the regular.
It’s the success of your user base that determines the success of your startup
Part II: 52 ways to market your startup
This might seem simple, but it bears repeating: Every great marketing organization needs a strategy. Strategy is the foundation upon which tactics are layered.
At Onboardly, we know that marketing isn’t one-size-fits-all when it comes to startups. We also know that one single tactic isn’t going to be the grand slam you need.
That’s why we’re so firmly behind our strategy of demand marketing: the combination and intersections of public relations, social media, and content marketing.
A robust startup marketing plan is focused, yes — but it’s not focused on just one area of demand marketing. That’s why it’s essential to know just what’s included in every bucket (content marketing, social media, and public relations) and at every intersection (social relations, thought leadership, and message amplification).
That makes for a long list of tactics — 52, to be exact. And a list of 52 tactics requires an instruction booklet. Why? Because it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here’s how we want you to use this list:
- Be picky: Evaluate each tactic in context of how it can help your startup attract and retain users.
- Prioritize: Start with a blend of tactics that has the potential to have the most impact. This is not a recipe meant to be followed in full; this is meant to be a repository of tactics that you can pull from to create your own ultimate startup marketing plan.
- Make it your own: This is a high-level overview of most of these tactics. Each and every one of them deserves an in-depth tutorial — which, for many, you’ll find in the additional resources section. Once you’ve decided where to start, jump into the additional info on each of your selected tactics, and make it relevant to your brand and business.
Take a deep breath, get your favorite note-taking mechanism ready, and dig in. Enjoy it — because as soon as we’re through here, it’s time to get to work.
To start: The basics of startup marketing (Tactics 1-9)
Goals: Create product/service demand, qualify and nurture leads, align sales and marketing, focus on KPIs, measure and optimize results
These pillars lay the groundwork for every solid startup marketing strategy.
1. Create a useful, relevant product with staying power.
“Nothing works better than just improving your product.” – Joel Spolsky, CEO of Stack Overflow + creator of Trello
There are a million and one quotes about the importance of a great product, and they’re all warranted. Without a great product behind it, great marketing is not only a waste of time; it will actually hurt your startup. (Great marketing brings great users; a poor user experience drives them away for good.)
When asked about the absolute best thing a startup could do to get the attention of tech media, Kara Swisher (founder of Recode) said this: “Have a great product — one that’s delightful, useful, and has staying power. That’s pretty much it. Having a great product is really the point.”
But even more important than getting the attention of tech media? A great product will get the attention of your customers — and that’s what’s going to make the difference in attracting and retaining users.
Founder of Clarity.fm and Flowtown Dan Martell gives a few pieces of advice on how to create a product people will love:
Product is where your marketing both starts and ends. If your efforts haven’t been working and you’re having trouble nailing down why, look first to your product. If you’ve already got a great product, you’ve made your life approximately 100x easier when it comes to marketing.
– From 0 to $1B – Slack’s Founder Shares Their Epic Launch Strategy, First Round Review
– Creating Successful SaaS Products, Ryan Angilly, Ramen
2. Identify your product’s market.
I’ve written about this before on the Kissmetrics blog, where I quipped, “It’s easy for startup founders to believe the whole world will love their products. After all, founders eat, sleep and breathe their products. The reality is that only a small portion of the population is interested in your product. If you try to market your startup to everyone, you waste both time and money.”
That was in 2012; basically eons ago in Internet time. Yet it’s still true, and will always be.
Your product can be stellar, but if you can’t find product-market fit, it won’t fly. A term attributed most to Marc Andreeson, product-market fit is that sweet spot where you find a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.
Now, let’s define good. When identifying a segment of the overall market that will be a good target, consider these factors:
- Market size: Who your market includes, and where they’re located. Regional tech executives? NYC-based millennials? Dig as far as you can into this to estimate how many potential customers are in your target market.
- Market wealth: Does this market have the money to spend on your product? Is this a need or a want?
- Market competition: How saturated is the market, and who is dominating? What gaps are left to be filled?
- Differentiation: What makes your product different enough from the competition to stand out in this market?
If you’re out to please everyone with your product, you’re more likely to please no one.
– The Startup Guide to Finding & Measuring Product/Market Fit, Josh Pigford, baremetrics
– Product/Market Fit: What it really means, How to Measure it, and Where to find it, Eric Jorgenson
3. Build your keyword library.
While link-stuffing and invisible text are blackhat SEO strategies of the past (thank the Google gods), keywords are still supremely important when it comes to your overall brand, and later, your content strategy.
With your audience in mind, brainstorm a list of keywords that apply to your target market. Here’s how to start:
- Build a seed list. This is a no-holds-barred brainstorm of phrases, from one-word “head” keywords to three- to five-word “long-tail” keywords. They should describe your brand, the solution your customer is searching for, and the problem you solve. Aim for a list of 20-25 terms organized into themes or categories.
- Whittle that list down. Now’s the time to get picky — which keywords hold the most klout for your audience? From your brainstorm, you should be able to narrow down to:
- A core keyword list — three to five keywords that summarize what your startup does (Onboardly’s: customer acquisition, content marketing and startup PR)
- Secondary keywords — 8-10 keywords that expand on your core keywords (Onboardly’s: corporate blogging, blogging best practices, email marketing how to)
Tip: See the Facebook Ads tactic below (#26) to learn how this can help you develop keywords.
– The Startup Founder’s Guide to SEO & PPC Keyword Targeting Research, Andrew Broadbent, StartupGrind
– SEO for Startups: 5 Rules to Apply Now, Sujan Patel for Search Engine Journal
4. Set your goals and define what success looks like.
A startup’s success is entirely dependent on the people and talent behind it. And goals are important to driving that talent. We love this thought from Peter Cohan on why goals are so important to startups, from Entrepreneur.com:
“Since startups can’t pay high salaries, how do they attract and retain top talent? The answer is to make talented people feel that they are working on a very challenging problem in an environment that respects their ability to solve it.”
The goals living inside your head from the time your startup was just a fleeting thought aren’t what will drive your team forward. Here’s what we suggest, instead:
- Know what success looks like. This isn’t something you can copy from the next guy. Maybe success is 250 new users per month for Startup A, while Startup B thinks success is $50,000 in monthly recurring revenue. You must know what success looks like in order to work for it.
- Work backwards and create SMART goals. Setting a goal of $500,000 in annual profit is great, but throwing lofty goals up in the air and hoping they’ll take flight on their own is wishful thinking. Start from the finish line and work your way back to create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
- Make those goals known. Write your goals out. Post it in a visible place. Send it to the entire team. Get everyone on the same page — because the team that’s working toward unified goals will always be more successful than the teams working in silos, unaware of everyone else’s paths.
– Using the SMART Approach to Goal Setting as a Startup, Robert Cordray for Business 2 Community
– 7 Key SMART Goals To Achieve Business Success, Brian Tracy
5. Determine your KPIs and record your baseline metrics.
With goals in place, it’s important to know your key performance indicators (KPIs) and build milestones into your roadmap. Failing fast, iterating often, and celebrating small successes is much more realistic — and efficient — when you know your KPIs and have milestones in place.
Your KPIs are the key metrics that truly impact your goals. If you’ve set a goal to sign up 250 new users per month, one of your KPIs would be focused on sign-up conversion rates.
If your goal is to reach $50,000 in monthly recurring revenue by the end of this year, one of your KPIs would be focused on customer lifetime value.
Your KPIs are the key metrics that truly impact your goals.
Meanwhile, milestones are the steps along the way that will prove your progress toward those goals.
Milestones can only be measured from a starting point, though — which is why you need to record baseline metrics from the beginning. What’s your conversion rate on user signups right now? How much MRR are you bringing in presently? You might be starting at zero on everything — and that’s okay. Make note of that.
You’ll also want to build in industry benchmarks to compare both your goals and your milestone progress against.
Finally, set aside time on a consistent basis — whether that’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly — to record progress and measure up against those benchmarks.
– 16 Startup Metrics, Jeff Jordan, Anu Hariharan, Frank Chen, and Preethi Kasireddy for Andreessen Horowitz
– A Newbie’s Guide to Startup Benchmarking, Benjamin Hoffman via Medium
6. Make a budget — and stick to it.
Is this really a startup marketing tactic? Of course it is. As much as we might want to pretend it doesn’t, it all comes down to money.
Even with inbound leads costing an average of 61% less than outbound leads, marketing still costs. Set a budget early in the game.
What’s most important is that you make a plan of how you’re going to divide that budget. Starting out, you might not know what’s best to get behind — for example, after a year, it might be clear that your blog is your most powerful traffic generator, so it would make sense to allocate 40% of your budget to the content produced for it — but right now, you’re likely grasping at straws.
That’s okay. Every startup starts somewhere. Build a plan for your budget based off the blend of tactics you choose here, knowing that your budget will likely be revised based on results.
– 5 Smart Ways for Startups to Spend Marketing Money, Adam Fridman for Inc.com
– How to Manage Your Entire Marketing Budget, HubSpot
7. Get comfortable with growth hacking.
Back to Sean Ellis and his growth hacking philosophy. In case you missed it: Growth hacking is the rapid experimentation across channels to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business.
Is it important that you identify a list of growth-hacking specific tactics to try out in your startup marketing plan? Not quite.
“It’s a mindset not a toolkit.” – Aaron Ginn (h/t Ryan Holiday in this post on Clarity.fm)
The importance of growth hacking, really, comes from adopting the growth hacking mindset; a mindset that rapid experimentation and a focus on results is the only way to fail fast and iterate in order to make the most efficient use of your time, talent, and budget.
A now-classic example of growth hacking: At its beginning, Twitter was bringing in a lot of new users, but wasn’t successful at keeping them around. Through user observation, they found when users manually selected 5-10 accounts to follow on the first day, that user was significantly more likely to stick around. So the Twitter team, led by Josh Elman, built the “Suggested User List.”
The growth hacking mindset isn’t one of commitment; it’s one of experimentation. Had the Suggested User List not been effective in keeping users around, the team would’ve experimented with another idea.
Bonus: The growth hacking mindset also brings together various marketing and product development roles to ensure that your entire startup — whether it’s 2, 10, or 20 people — is working together.
8. Niche down where possible.
One of the first things we advised you to do was to identify your product’s market. Now, we’re going to take that one step further.
Where possible — so, for particular campaigns, for specific launches, or overall — niche down. That is, get even more targeted in your marketing.
Note: This will likely be 10x more possible once you’ve been in the industry for a while and have data to base your decisions off of.
When it comes to niching, start by ditching thinking around what people do, and focus on what problem your product/service solves. Then, within the demographics/psychographics you worked on previously, identify whether there’s more optimal niches by asking the following questions:
- Which of the segments that I’ve identified is largest?
- Which has money to spend in this area?
- Which is less likely to churn?
Keep this thought in mind, from Nathalie Lussier:
“Don’t try to be different just for the sake of standing out. Really think through what you can eliminate, what you can add and how you can create an offer that helps more people.”
Once you’ve identified an even more specific niche, test your marketing tactics within it to see how conversions are impacted.
– Dear startups: Go niche or go home – Bas Prass via Medium’s Off the Record
– Riches in the Niches: 10 Things You MUST Know About Your Audience – Pam Moore, marketingnutz
9. Be vocal.
Our final, brief foundational tactic for you, startup marketer: Be loud.
In the words of Kara Swisher: “Do NOT shut the fuck up. Obnoxiousness has done well for my career. Be articulate. Be clear. Be loud.”
As a startup founder with a product to market to people who truly need it, the worst thing you can do is cower in the corner silently hoping your product takes off. (And don’t force people to sign an NDA if you have a basic prototype or idea. No one really gives a f*** about your idea, anyway.)
No matter the tactics you choose to put to use or the media you choose as channels to make it happen, one thing is for certain: You need to be vocal.
Your startup marketing toolkit: Demand marketing tactics
Demand marketing is made up of three individual categories of tactics, as well as three hybrid categories, as follows:
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Public relations
- Message amplification (content marketing + social media)
- Social relations (social media + public relations)
- Thought leadership (content marketing + public relations)
Now, while we looove building a solid foundation with the tactics above (it makes everything easier), we do get a little more giddy over the tactics that are about to follow. After all, this is the grab bag from which you can generate an endless supply of marketing ideas to design, implement, test, and iterate.
And as startup marketers, there’s nothing quite like bringing a new way of connecting with our audience to life.
Now let’s not delay this party any longer…
Content Marketing (Tactics 10-22)
Goals: Educate, increase brand awareness and loyalty, connect personally with audience, capture + convert leads, build trust
10. Blog with a purpose.
“Blogging is growing ever more popular, but that doesn’t mean that everyone knows what they’re doing.” – Neil Patel
Yup, the blogging industry has pretty much exploded — and you better believe there are other blogs out there covering what you cover. Should that stop you? Absolutely not.
Of course, you should never blog just to blog. Building a blog with a purpose means investing time and resources. To make that time and those resources worth it, build a blog that’s a go-to resource for the customers who are experiencing the problem your product solves. Build your blog off of content based on the problems those customers have, on the questions you get asked frequently, and on the conversations you regularly have with others in the industry.
A consistent blog with your customers at the forefront will give the time spent on it purpose by:
- establishing thought leadership,
- acquiring new customers,
- improving SEO,
- generating leads and referrals,
- selling specific products,
- building your list, and
- increasing brand visibility and awareness.
– Why do Most Bloggers Fail? A Review of Flawed Blogging Practices that Knock Most People Out, Neil Patel
11. Put those search engines to work for you. (SEO)
From Gregory Ciotti: “For many startups, SEO is viewed in the same vein as Tarot cards and palm readings.”
Right you are, Greg. It’s about time startup founders change that — because organic SEO is one of the single best things you can have working for your new startup when you’re looking for as much relevant exposure as possible.
It’s easy to get frustrated by SEO efforts for a few reasons:
- SEO results take time. Most experts recommend waiting it out at least three months before making judgments
- Hiring can be expensive. Yet it’s almost always the only way to get it done right. Beware SEO services that cost less than your quarterly oil change.
- There’s constant change. If you’re sick of hearing the phrase “new algorithm”, you’re not alone, but, fellow startup marketer: That’s most of this digital marketing landscape. And it’s why there are experts.
Now that we’ve aired our frustrations, let’s talk about why SEO is important: Because not only does Google process over 3.5 billion searches per day, making it a very active environment; but the people searching via Google are doing it intentionally. They’re not logging into Facebook and getting interrupted by your ad; they’re intentionally seeking information.
So when that prospective customer searches for the solution to their problem — you know, that one you provide — you want to be there.
Now’s a good time to dig out a beginner’s guide to SEO (thank you, Moz) and revisit those keywords you brainstormed during the foundational tactics. Go for understanding, not mastery.
12. Get graphic.
It’s safe to say that the old adage, “a picture is worth 1,000 words” applies here. Visually appealing content is more likely to connect with your audience, and with tools like PicMonkey and Canva, creating branded images for your startup is easier than ever.
– How To Make The Best Blog Graphics (For Non-Designers), Puranjay Singh for CoSchedule
13. Upgrade your content.
When you’re creating content that educates, engages, and inspires, a natural byproduct is that your readers are going to want more. So, why not give it to them?
Now, content upgrades seem like yesterday’s news at this point — but here’s what most people miss when it comes to doing it right: A content upgrade isn’t one PDF that you repurpose as an upgrade for all of your content. A true content upgrade is a resource that is specific to each blog post.
So, your post on the top three pieces of social scheduling software that features platforms like Buffer, CoSchedule, and Edgar? A high-converting content upgrade might be along the lines of “how to get started in filling your scheduling queue,” “the categories you need in your social library,” or maybe a step-by-step guide to getting started with one of them.
– How To Boost Conversions by 785% in One Day (The Content Upgrade), Brian Dean, Backlinko
14. Build an email list, and put it to work.
Email marketing is no longer just collecting emails that you send the occasional newsletter to. It’s the single best way to engage with people who have opted in to hear from you.
Treat that VIP pass with the importance it deserves.
Email marketing can be used to not only keep a consistent touchpoint with potential customers; it can be used to enhance the user experience once they’re engaged in a free trial. Advanced marketing automations using software like HubSpot, OntraPort, and ConvertKit give your email marketing more segmentation options — and therefore more relevance to your customers — than ever before.
15. Harness the power of video.
YouTube has its own music awards — hosted by a YouTube-made star — for a reason.
But it’s not just YouTube channels at the center of video marketing anymore. Videos integrated into landing pages can significantly impact conversions, by up to 80%. Videos used in emails lead to a 200-300% increase in click-through rates. And a video on your home page? That can increase conversions by 20%.
Video marketing isn’t just limited to filming your next commercial: Use video as a crucial piece of your content strategy by creating interview series, Q&As, and unique-to-your-startup series that encourages engagement with your audience.
– YouTube Killed the TV Star: How to Leverage Video in Content Marketing, Onboardly
16. Give your audience an explainer video.
Three words here: Dollar Shave Club.
When the men’s monthly shaving subscription startup released its “Our Blades Are F***ing Great” video in early 2012 on YouTube, it prompted 12,000 orders in a two-day span. Was it an ad? Yes — but it was also one of the first viral examples of what would become the explainer video. (Who else nailed it? Dropbox.)
Explainer videos provide a challenge: In just a few short minutes, you need to capture the essence of your story and convince viewers why your product is the answer to their needs — while also integrating personality and production value.
Are they worth it? We’d say so: According to Unbounce, explainer videos increase conversion rates by 20%.
17. Go live.
Where Twitter used to feel like the most in-the-moment way to broadcast your information, live streaming has taken over in full force.
Platforms like Facebook Live, Periscope, and YouTube Live seem to have the most staying power (RIP Vine and Meerkat), which works out well for startups who’ve already built an audience on Twitter (who owns Periscope), Facebook, and YouTube.
There’s no shortage of ways to use live streaming for your startup, from behind-the-scenes updates to launch teasers and tutorials to open Q&As. One note: These streams are not meant to look professional and polished. Focus on a well-lit area and decent sound quality, and let the rest come naturally.
– , Katherine Starr via HubSpot
18. Pop that quiz.
Does the average quiz used in content marketing get:
a.) 10 shares
b.) 100 shares
c.) 1,900 shares
If you answered ‘c’, you’re a content marketing genius!
The average quiz used in content marketing gets over 1,900 shares
See what we did there? All jokes aside, quizzes are one of the most shareable pieces of content you can create — and the best part is that you likely already have the content you need to build a quiz off of. (We highly recommend basing your quizzes off of checklists or how-to’s that you’ve created.)
– Why Quizzes Are Content Marketing’s Secret Weapon, Stephen Walsh via BuzzSumo
19. Write a better call to action.
What is the single most important aspect of your blog post, email, webinar, or landing page? Telling the visitor exactly what to do next, and (strongly) encouraging them to do it.
We turn to copywriting guru Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers on this one. She gave these three tips when asked if there’s a formula for the perfect call to action on the GetResponse blog:
- “Don’t think of a CTA as a call to action. Think of it as a call to value. An action may be “Read the blog post about button formulas” but the value would be “Convert better with these 3 button formulas.” Test the two against each other. I’d put my money on the call to value.”
- “Write button / CTA copy that completes this phrase: I want to ________________. The underlined part becomes the button copy.”
- “Never introduce work in your CTA copy. So if you’re writing a newsletter that leads to a landing page where the user will have to sign in to watch a video, don’t write a CTA in the newsletter that goes, “Sign in to watch the video.” That’s introducing work. It doesn’t matter that, in fact, they will have to sign in to watch the video; all that matters is what the end user wants. What do they want? To watch the video. So test CTA copy that reads something like “Watch the video” (and then add a few words about the value of doing so).”
– How To Write A Call To Action In A Template With 6 Examples, Julie Neidlinger via CoSchedule
20. Invest in copywriting that converts.
Good copywriting isn’t just run through a spell check and looked over for grammar. Good copy is a set of words that converts.
A strong copywriter will be able to liven up your words with your startup’s unique tone, so that whether they’re reading your copy on the back of a cereal box or the front page of TechCrunch, your audience knows it’s you — and they want to follow along.
– 10 Super Smart People Talk Copywriting for Conversion, Oli Gardner via Unbounce
21. Add pre-roll advertising to your video.
The pre-roll ad: It’s a love/hate relationship, really. After all, it disrupts the viewer experience by giving them a forced commercial before the content they actually came to see.
So, take a cue from Brad Higdon of the Martin Group (the team that created Geico’s “Unskippable” pre-roll ads): “We had the research. We knew the skip rate after five seconds was 96 percent, so we collectively challenged ourselves to find a workaround. If we’re going to interrupt someone on their way to watch something they actually sought out, and want to watch, we better make it worth their while.”
For brands with a little creativity, putting these 5-30 seconds to work can be a game-changer.
– 3 Ways YouTube Pre-Roll Is Forcing Marketers to Rethink Video Advertising, Kavi Guppta via The Content Strategist
22. Divide + conquer.
Potential customers will never all be at the same point in your buying cycle. Let’s look at a few places they might be:
- Problem aware: They know they’re experiencing a problem
- Solution aware: They’ve discovered the solution(s) to that problem
- Product aware: They’re aware of how your product solves their problem
Then, once you’ve got them in your free trial, there are undoubtedly several stages to that.
Which is all to say this: Not all of your users are the same, and your content needs to account for that. To have the most impact, the content going to the problem aware should have a different goal than the content going to the product aware. And the only way to determine what kinds of content you’ll need to create is by segmenting those users.
– How User Segmentation Really Works in Content Marketing, Neil Patel via Content Marketing Institute
Social Media Marketing (Tactics 23-29)
Goals: Create engagement, generate responses, inspire loyalty, achieve memorability, build community
23. Be present — and active — on social networks.
We’re going to bet you read that and instantly felt a tinge of overwhelm. We feel ya. Facebook! Pinterest! Twitter! Instagram! LinkedIn! SnapChat! Oof.
Being active on all.of.the.social.networks, all.of.the.time is nearly impossible — unless it’s your full-time job. (It’s not.)
The remedy? Choose 1-3 social networks that make the most sense for the audience you’re looking to appeal to, and give ‘em each your A-game. For those that you aren’t going to be active on? Clean up your presence there (if it exists), and make it known where people can find you instead.
A tip: You can use different social networks to target different audiences. Case in point: While Pinterest will cater to the visual, mostly female crowd, Twitter is a great place to network with journalists and influencers in your industry.
24. Make your content easy to share on social.
25. Take advantage of remarketing.
26. Get familiar with Facebook Advertising.
27. Tell stories.
28. Use LinkedIn for more than your resume.
- Reach: LinkedIn provides ample exposure when you publish a post
- Search: LinkedIn posts rank well in organic Google searches
- Trust: Because of the inherently professional nature of the site, its content ranks high in trust factors
29. Test other social advertising sites.
Public Relations (Tactics 30-34)
30. Build an amazing pitch.
- Is it relevant? Consider why this journalist would care about your story. Figure out if there is a way you can relate your pitch to something the journalist is currently writing or is interested in.
- Is it brief? Journalists are busy and don’t have time to sift through a long and tedious background story. Get to the point.
- Is it newsworthy? If you want your launch to be in the news, you have to make it newsworthy. Unfortunately, your product launch isn’t inherently interesting to the journalist or general public. Find a unique and intriguing angle to frame your story based on each news source and person that you’re pitching to.
31. Have your media kit at the ready.
- Press release and/or video pitch
- 3-4 versions of your story (ready to be customized)
- High resolution photos of your office and team
- Videos, screenshots, or images of your product
- Screenshots of your website
- Founder names and short bios
- Your startup’s logo
32. Create stories.
33. Be the party planner.
34. Get close with your community.
Message Amplification (Tactics 35-43)
35. Lend your voice.
36. Host webinars.
- While working at Kissmetrics, Neil generated approximately $1,638,000 in revenue from just 77 webinars. In his words: “And those results are good but not that unusual.”
37. Connect with influencers.
38. Put your users to work.
39. Get discovered on different content platforms.
40. Repurpose content.
41. Host a contest or run a challenge.
42. Pay to play with Google AdWords.
Social Relations (Tactics 43-47)
43. Build relationships before you need them.
44. Monitor your mentions and opportunities.
45. Empower affiliates.
46. Be direct.
Thought Leadership (Tactics 47-49)
47. Give away your knowledge.
48. Get comfortable in front of a crowd.
49. Answer your own emails.
Tying it all together (Tactics 50-52)
50. Create customer feedback loops
51. Test, test, test
52. Iterate and fine tune
Now, where to start?
- Be picky: Evaluate each tactic above in context of how it can help your startup attract and retain users.
- Prioritize: Start with a blend of tactics that has the potential to have the most impact. This is not a recipe meant to be followed in full; this is meant to be a repository of tactics that you can pull from to create your own ultimate startup marketing plan.
- Make it your own: Once you’ve decided where to start, jump into the additional info on each of your selected tactics, and make it relevant to your brand and business.