Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Creating A Road Map To Market Your Startup

This article has been in my bookmarks since January 17th and I wanted to clean up my bookmarks bar so here is an amazing article on marketing your startup and executing that plan by Ilya Pozin. The original article is still on linkedin. I find this is useful in any company looking at re-branding their marketing approach or even just confirming that their current plan is being executed properly and efficiently.

Spreading the word can be challenging when you’re new to an industry, don’t have a big budget, and have little help--but it’s possible.
You’ll need to set goals, work backwards, and create something that spreads on its own. All of this is much easier if you have a good product to start with.
While this may seem a bit overwhelming, don’t be nervous. Here’s a basic road map to follow, but be sure to tweak it to best meet your needs:
1. Focus on a niche market. This can be a location, like Los Angeles, or potentially a smaller group within your target audience. By choosing a specific niche, pain points of your target customer will be much easily understood, allowing you to market to them more effectively. Another positive point for a niche market is they are also much cheaper to market to. As a rule of thumb, the wider net you cast, the more money you will spend. Only expand after you’ve mastered marketing to a small group first.
2. Set goals. Goals come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re a key piece in the marketing puzzle. Whether your goal is financial or based on the number of users or customers you’re seeking to gain, it’s important to make sure it’s on the agenda and within reach. Keep in mind that goals usually vary from company to company.
3. Build a budget. Once you’ve chosen your goal or goals, you must set a marketing budget to accomplish them. Even if you have little to no funds for your budget, marketing is still possible--it may just require a little more time and creativity. This step is critical to your marketing success.
4. Define a conversion rate. When reaching out to a number of prospects, it’s crucial to consider how many will actually convert into paying customer. Make a smart assumption and try not to be overly ambitious. If possible, it’s helpful to conduct a survey by asking people what they would do. This will allow you to gain a far more accurate assumption.
5. Start brainstorming. This is everyone’s favorite part! Use this time to figure out the best ways to reach your potential customer. It often helps to be creative and come up with as many ideas as possible. Consider two main points: where your customers congregate and how you plan to reach them.
6. Test then execute. We’ll just say your startup is an online craft-supply store. Instead of carrying a variety of products and marketing to everyone who does crafts, you followed step one and decided to sell only sewing supplies to crafters in Washington. You set a goal to sell 100 sewing machines and use those profits to expand. Your marketing budget was set at $5,000 to accomplish your goal. You made a safe assumption that out of 100 potential customers, only one will purchase, a one percent conversion rate.
After this test, you know in order to sell 100 sewing machines, you’ll need to market to 10,000 crafters in Washington.
You've come up with a list of ideas of how to reach 10,000 crafters in Washington for $5,000. For the next steps, allocate a small piece of your budget to test your most viable ideas. It’s always a good idea to try each marketing campaign with a small amount before you spend your entire budget. If the response and conversion rate is equal to or better than you assumed, go all in.
7. Compel users to spread the word. Word-of-mouth marketing can be huge for a startup. It will allow you to interact with your target customers on a more personal level than other larger companies. Fortunately, social media has made this easier, but there are also other outlets like blogging and email newsletters. Consider the tactics that will do the most for your brand by enticing users to share content and invite friends through special incentives.
8. Make it exclusive. Being a part of something new and exclusive is likely to excite your potential customers. Limit your invites to targeted early adopters and allow them to become your brand advocates to help you improve your product along the way.
9. Target influencers. You will find success by identifying thought leaders in your niche and regularly interacting with them. Focus on getting these influencers to try and enjoy your product, so they can spread the word about it to a larger network. Social media platforms like Twitter are perfect for this kind of expression.
It’s also important to to follow bloggers and journalists--they will also act as an outlet to share your product. Search for writers within your niche and build a relationship with them through email or social media.
Keep in mind that marketing your startup is all about adapting. Be sure to take these steps and adjust them to the needs of your product. You will be more successful if you have the right tools and goals in place to measure against. While some things may fail, be sure to learn from your mistakes and change your strategy.
(Image Courtesy Of DearEdward on Flickr)

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