When we start marketing without much planning we get some results; but we don’t know if we are on-track or not. We don’t have any idea if we are going in the right direction or not. This is the story of every other startup.
Before starting the marketing campaign, we should ask ourselves why we need the marketing effort in the first place.
Only when we know the core reason/s for the marketing effort do we have clarity on what to do next. OK…….you need more customers for your business; but then every business needs customers. This does not explain why you need marketing and what type of marketing is a good fit for your startup. You must be aware of some of the more important things that should define the marketing roadmap for your startup.
Let's discuss what marketing is and the purpose it serves.
Reaching out to more people (broadcast)
The first, and most important purpose, of marketing is to reach out to a wider group of potential customers and tell them about what you have to offer. The simplest form of marketing is, of course, ‘word-of-mouth’.
If you are a B2B company, then your marketing efforts will help you collect information about your prospects, and the sales team can convert them into customers. If you are a B2C company, then your marketing message should have a call to action to convert to sales directly.
Remember that marketing is pre-step to sales (collecting leads) in B2B; and ‘sales’ is a part of marketing in B2C.
The traditional way of marketing
Newspapers, Television, the phone, pamphlets, and hoardings are the all time favorites of marketers. These are mediums through which you can shout out your product and services, and a lot of people can hear your voice.
Every place or event that people are watching or listening to can be your marketing channel. That is why we see ‘ads’ in cricket stadia, on players’ uniforms, and political and religious gatherings.
The modern way of marketing
Today, more people are present on the internet. Marketers are tapping into social media, search engines, emails and instant messaging. These modern gathering places come with an extra benefit – it is easy to filter audience. You can craft a message for a specific target audience – e.g. all males in the 25-40 age group, residing in metros, and having an interest in outdoor sports.
Analyze where your target audience is?
It’s easy to find the potential customer when you clearly define his personality. You should know your customer more than customer himself. You should know what types of friends he has, what are his spending habits, where he dines out on Saturdays, what he does on the weekends, where he hangs out in the evenings, etc.
The more you know about your customer, the better you will be able to make a marketing plan. One more thing, you cannot please everyone with your offerings. It is better to target only one person: define the niche, think of your ideal customer and create a message for him.
You don’t need to put all of your energies on all channels. Startups have limited time and resources. It will be a challenge to understand all the marketing channels all at once (unless you have a team of 4-5 people dedicated to marketing).
“Only one marketing channel is sufficient for your growth if you figure out how to take full advantage of it.”
Try out various channels and find out which one you understand well.
What marketing channels do you have?
Social Media – Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest
Search Engines – Google, Google, Google
Email/Phone – Email/Phone numbers collected from your blog and landing pages (don’t buy databases for spamming)
Now it's time to draft your marketing plan.
Start with a six-month bird’s eye view. You never know what will happen in the future, but you may have an intuition about where you might be after six months. If you are clueless; probably, you need to fix something else (your business plan/vision) instead of working on the marketing plan at this point of time.
Your marketing plan should look something like this:
Month One – Create presence on social media. Start with SEO and content marketing.
Month Two – Experiment with all social channels and ‘seed’ audience. Do the A/B test with the website’s landing pages. Optimize your blog/landing page for email data collection.
Month Three – By this time you should have some customer emails. Experiment with email marketing.
Month Four – By this time you will have data about your social media channel’s performance. Select one or two channels and put all your energies in growing your audience. You will also start seeing the results from the SEO effort. Optimize what works in SEO.
Month Five – Buy tools to optimize and monitor marketing. Automate things that are working well.
Month Six – Repeat the success of the previous months.
Remember, this was just an overview. Make a detailed plan for the first month.
Important points to be considered for a marketing plan
- What would be your pitch on social media (a persuasive message is must to attract your fans)?
- Powerful content strategy – This can be a game changer! You must define what types of articles you will write, frequency of the articles, length and depth of the content, utilize the power of guest posts, and collect email-ids of your visitors.
If you cannot do these things by yourself, then hire a content strategist.
- Message through visuals (images/infographics/videos)
- How will you ‘seed’ the audience (Organic + Paid)?
- Participate in discussion forums and communities like Quora & Reddit (Manual)
- Engage with your audience and understand what they like/dislike (emails and calls)
Finally, read and learn from the marketing Gurus – Seth Godin and Neil Patel.
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