Marketing for Startups

A startup can be a magical place. The energy, the enthusiasm, the creativity and the sense of changing the world makes it a very exciting place to be. But as anyone who’s ever worked at a startup knows, it can be bloody hard work. Customers aren’t queueing up outside your business to buy your product or service. Investors aren’t throwing money at you and governmental organisations aren’t waiting for you to save the country. These things don’t happen, because you’ve been too busy building the company.

The truth is that no one knows about you or your business. Sure, you may have garnered some interest in your industry and amongst techies and innovators. You may even have been talked about on a blog or in a magazine. But the ones you are trying to get to use your service or buy your product, have never heard of you, your idea or your company. And you can’t live off enthusiasm. So what to do?

Along with all the business plans, technology plans, staffing plans and implementation plans, you need one more plan; a marketing plan. Without any idea on how to do marketing, you will not succeed. The marketing plan doesn’t need to be traditional with advertising as the output, but you do need a plan that allows you to connect with the audience in an effective manner. Honestly, you’re going to need help on this one.

Quite obviously, most startups don’t have huge amount of cash, so it can be hard to figure out where to spend the money you have in the most effective way. The importance of creating a strategic plan and an implementation plan is absolutely crucial for a successful launch. This plan has to cover both short term and long term objectives, insights from your target audience, a key differentiator (not just in terms of product or service, but in terms of positioning), a creative concept, and an idea of how to utilise different channels and disciplines (like PR, events, advertising, social media, online videos etc.). And you can’t afford to misstep.

Many startups think that because they are a startup, they are the epitome of great ideas. And that’s great, you need to believe in yourself and your product. But the truth is that many startups follow the exact same track as others before them. They have a great initial idea, but they rely too much on the product idea, and too little on the ideas on how to create an experience for the customer.

So, if you are running a startup, thinking about creating one, or just interested in new ideas, take a step back and look beyond your idea and start focusing on how to win over customers. All businesses need the same thing; customers and revenue. Investors alone are never enough (and they aren’t interested in ideas without market potential). So take that great idea of yours, and make it matter to someone. That’s what success really is. Now, go forth and create!

Erik Ingvoldstad is the Founder & CEO of Acoustic.
Follow Erik on Twitter @ingvoldSTAR, follow Acoustic at @AcousticGroupSG
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[Main photo from Silicon Valley, copyright HBO]